(a quick note: since this review is going up late, it’s going to be a short one. Don’t worry: the long ramblings you all love will be back next week).
In the wreckage of the Teller-Morrow motorcycle shop, “Salvage” sees all of its characters re-evaluating their positions in life – and for many, their proximity to the club. Where characters like Juice and Gemma are driving themselves deeper into the madness that is SAMCRO, “Salvage” also shows characters trying to get out (Tara and her “plan”, Nero’s growing concerns). And although it feels just as over-stuffed as all the 90-minute airings this season has, the thread of self-evaluation makes “Salvage” a much more coherent episode, and one that doesn’t feel like forty plots are spinning wildly in the abysses of the SoA universe.
If there’s one feeling I couldn’t shake while watching “Salvage”, it’s how much the episode feels like a calm before the storm: Jax certainly isn’t making lasting peace with the Irish (in fact, he basically declares a war), and for some characters (like Juice, Clay, and Nero) it feels like the clock is ticking on their departures from this world: but this episode gives them a few minutes to let everyone breathe, even with Eli, the D.A., and the IRA breathing down everyone’s necks.
I do wish they found a better way to spend their time than ripping off some pretty stupid dirty cops, and spending a looooong scene with Venus Van Damme for no reason except to run a long string of tranny jokes through an oddly-complex performance from Walton Goggins. Yeah, he’s fucking terrific – but in the end, “Salvages” isn’t really making a plea for Nero’s humanity (why would it need to do that?) as much as it feels like it’s making fun of transgender people for the sake of stunt casting. There’s just no need for it – just like the entire sub-plot involving the dirty cops, which strings along a few convenient facts to let the SAMCRO win again, nothing but a small distraction on the way to the “big meeting”.
Speaking of the meeting, the big meeting between the Redwood organizations of Sons of Anarchy didn’t have any of the drama one might expect: Jax makes his passionate speech, declares himself victorious over the ghost of his father, and lays down the terms for the clubs are supposed to be “independent”, but have acted mostly like lemmings through the run of the series (getting their members killed left and right along the way, all just part of the “cause”, of course). Even Bobby turns out to be drama-free: his Nomad journey was just a long fucking mislead: he was recruiting more members for SAMCRO, even though he declared to Jax just a few months ago (in the show’s timeline) that he didn’t trust the growing dictatorship that is Jax’s rule as President (for example; how often do we see the gavel anymore? Clay was swinging that shit around on a weekly basis back in the early seasons).
Despite the lame subplots and the annoying resolution of Bobby’s nomad adventure, for the first time in awhile “Salvage” was telling numerous stories in the same world, instead of fragmenting characters and narratives to the point where it all felt incidental and disconnected. Actions and story lines are finally coming together here: and although some of them don’t make much sense, or have a lot of interesting, new things to say about Jax and SAMCRO, “Salvage” suggests that the true dark times lie ahead for the Sons and the ones they love – as Eli points out, everything we do comes back to haunt us at some point: it’s only a matter of time for Jax and his leather-adorned family (and the ones surrounding them). When that day comes, what will be left to salvage?
– glad they addressed CCH Pounder’s wig in this episode; but it’s a very stereotypical moment of her declaring that she’s going “hood” in her illegal prosecution of Tara and SAMCRO.
– Will Tara choose herself over Jax? Boy, would that be an interesting little thread for season seven.
– Jax and Gemma have back-to-back scenes pleading with others for more time, for some patience: this guarantees things will not end well.
– Is Unser really going to turn on Gemma and help Tara? I can’t help but think the day will come soon when Unser spills the beans, and subsequently croaks with a joint in his mouth.
– so Juice is acting out because of Chibs? Are we going to see any interactions between them (besides the very short one early on) to develop this conflict a bit more?
– very lame commentary on “gang profiling” in this episode: when your characters are known through the entire western United States as a dangerous outlaw biker gang who deal weapons, it’s hard to justify the complaints of being “profiled”.