Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sons of Anarchy, "Gilead": Jail bait

Spoilers for tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I let you know that I don't want to be set up...
"I ain't never seen us beat up this bad." -Bobby
That Bobby can say this only midway through the episode, before Agent Stahl turns up again, and before Clay and Jax have a protracted, ugly brawl the likes of which I haven't seen since Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David threw down in "They Live!"... Well, that tells you what kind of awful shape SAMCRO is in by the end of the hour, and what an intense, terrific hour of this increasingly great show "Gilead" was.

This week is going to be lighter on writing time than I would like, so I can't go into everything I liked about "Gilead," but I'll try to make do with the short version.

Kurt Sutter said on Twitter that the episode was an homage to "Oz," his favorite TV show of all time. But while it had that prison setting, and a few convenient shiv attacks and beat-downs out of sight of the guards, it felt very much like a prison-set episode of a Kurt Sutter show, where the protagonists are scrambling to solve an ever-increasing set of problems, most of them of their own making. So we had the SAMCRO guys in jail trying to watch each other's backs and arrange for protection from the Niners, Opie and Sheriff Trammell (who's more overtly in SAMCRO's pocket than the Charming cops are, including Unser) trying and failing to set up the tranny snitch, and Gemma trying to guilt Oswald into springing for the bail money.

And, as per usual on both "Sons of Anarchy" and "The Shield," things mostly worked out, in that the club guys get bailed out before one of them gets killed. But in the larger picture, matters are more screwed-up than ever: Juice is stabbed (which, as Bobby notes, is only going to add to the mountain of debt that Chibs' hospital stay will bring), Trammell is shot, Stahl is back in the picture, Oswald and Gemma are going to be hard on Clay to keep the club from forfeiting the bail money, and Bobby's plea for "a healing" between Clay and Jax instead leads to that savage brawl that solves exactly nothing.

In the end, Clay and his guys go back into the clubhouse (where they plot out all their illegal business), Jax goes into the Teller/Morrow tow office (the one legitimate aspect of SAMCRO), and Gemma and Tara are left standing in the middle. This club needs a healing, but instead it seems more deeply wounded than ever.

Hell of an episode. Hell of a season.

What did everybody else think?

56 comments:

Brian said...

Great episode. So good I can't really even put into specifics why it was so good.

Jax is rapidly becoming one of my favorite TV characters ever. His conversation with Stahl was win.

Chris Littmann said...

Maybe because I have a tendency to overthink things, I'm struggling to figure out how they get past these charges in a way that isn't ridiculous. I really thought Jax would consider the deal, but perhaps it was too obvious and would've dealt with these charges too quickly.

Six episodes remain, so I suppose there's a lot of time to get that all figured out.

A question came up with my roommate that I've been wondering since last week. Are we assuming the Irish actually made the car bomb for the League, or am I making a jump about their budding relationship? The thought crossed my mind.

Good, although I cringed when I thought they were going into a spontaneous, mid-fight, let's make up hug during the brawl. Thankfully that didn't happen.

greentara said...

Stahl is a persistent $#!t-stirrer, isnt she? Really good at pushing Clay's buttons, though it didn't get her anything from him or Jax. Jax actually seemed to enjoy toying with her, and great reaction shot when he asked her about Cohn. Speechless! I hope we don't waste a lot of time with her, though. I want to see SAMCRO come together and figure out how to waste Zobelle. I don't think it's going to happen until the truth about Gemma comes out. It's possibly the only thing to get Jax and Clay on the same page.
Meanwhile, Opie is breaking my heart and being completely terrifying at the same time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

His conversation with Stahl was win.

In keeping with a couple of things Chris just said, it would have been so easy to have Jax side with Stahl to A)make the charges go away, and B)help him with the League, but Jax ain't having it with the woman who played such a central role in the drama that led to Donna's murder. (Hale did tell Jax about Stahl's role in that, right?)

greentara said...

Wow, Chris Littman, I cant believe I didn't think about the Irish being behind the car bomb before. Certainly looks suspicious in hindsight.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, whatever issues I had with Charlie Hunnam at the very start of the series are long, long gone now. I just loved that look on Jax's face when Bobby talked to him about healing the club; you can see Jax thinking, "Why the (bleep) do I have to be the one to make peace with that murdering, stubborn moron who got us put here in the first place?"

Rachel said...

Juice was hilarious as bait. Loved that scene. I also enjoyed the return of Stahl. Her scene with Jax was fantastic.

Kimmy said...

Alan, I cherish your articles on Sons of Anarchy. I rush here right away after the show. Once again, this show brought a gut wrenching episode. I know Jax is everyone's favorite character, but my goodness. OPIE, and Gemma captivate the screen in my house. Opie with Tara, and Gemma with Tristan tore my heart out. The rest is building to be a jump out of the seat shocker. I wish every day was Tuesday.

Stephen said...

I agree with what everyone else has said but I wanted to add my thoughts about one scene.

Did anyone else enjoy Gemma & Tara staring down Layla when she came to pick-up Opie's kids as much as I did.

I just loved it. I've really been enjoying the dynamic between the 2 of them these past couple of episodes. I think it is more fun to watch then when they were at each other's throats.

Dave F said...

I loved the episode, but was surprised by Jax's conversation with Stahl in regards to one part. I completely agree that Jax hates Stahl for her role in what happened to Donna and it was cathartic for him to go after her. However, after mentioning how he thinks now and puts aside his rage, he insinuates that he killed a federal officer to another federal officer (no matter how awful the dead officer was) in order to intimidate her. Seems like the short-sided move.

Matt said...

If we know anything from the Shield, it's that Sutter isn't afraid to make likable people pay for their bad choices, while really bad people dodge the bullet over and over. Thus I continue to believe Opie's a dead man, though I think Sutter will torture Ope a lot more before killing him off. On that note, have we seen the last of that "Jap" drug dealer Ope ripped off tonight?

Continuity complaint: Tig shouldn't have gotten out of jail when bail was posted. He should be on his way to Oregon on that outstanding warrant.

"I'm struggling to figure out how they get past these charges in a way that isn't ridiculous."

Me too.

"I really thought Jax would consider the deal, but perhaps it was too obvious and would've dealt with these charges too quickly."

Jax is smarter than that. (But see the caveat, below.) He remembers that Agent Stahl speaketh with forked tongue, and that doesn't work out very well for the people she's talking to. Aside from his personal hatred for her, he knows that no real salvation lies that way.

Great question about the Irish making the bomb, Chris. But I got the impression that the meeting between the Irish and Zobelle last week was a first, and that took place after the bomb blast.

I loved Stahl's reaction to the very subtle Cohn threat/revelation, too, Tara. But I'm not sure how smart Jax was to piss off Stahl like that.

Ron TheMacKool said...

What can I say that hasn't been said... Can you just love the concise camera work when Jax and Stahl go back and forth? I'm not one of those "what was the author's true intention when he said..." stuff, but damn... these writers are beyond fantastic and these actors are beyond... beyond... Well you know what I mean. when I was in school, I always wanted it to be Friday at 3pm. Now, I want it to be Tuesday at 10:00.0000001pm

Mark B said...

Men no longer fight each other to the death for entertainment, however, not so long ago, an actual fight to the death is a considerable audience draw. It is brilliant story telling to have Jax and Clay dive into person to person violence for control. Is it a credit to our civilization that prison personnel overwhelm to struggle before one contestant dies? One hundred thousand some years of human existence and men still fight and women still care about them and their children. The final shot with Gemma and Tara standing alone in the night perfectly counterbalances the episode. Sons of Anarchy is the best conceived, written, acted, lighted and photographed show on television. IMHO

Drifter said...

Stahl offering Jax a deal defines why Sons of Anarchy is so bold a show. The typical hero/protagonist school of thought would have Jax consider Stahl's offer to present him as a reasonable and scrupulous alternative to Clay's stubborn immorality. But in reality, no matter what the cops offer you a true outlaw isn't going to deal with the law no matter what. Hale is one thing because Jax has known him since they were kids and he isn't ratting out his associates to him. To a real dude like those in SAMCRO, you die before you snitch, period. I'm so happy we have a hero like Jax who doesn't sell out to the conventional mores of typical broadcast TV.

MAdouble said...

Can someone please tell me jax's last line while talking to Stahl? he said " dangerous being a ______ " anyone know what he says? i bought it on itunes and still cant make it out. he was referring to Cohn

Anonymous said...

Opie's tragic/self-destructive spiral has me so worried for him with each passing week. I think Kurt Sutter mentioned something in his interview about how SoA shouldn't really be compared to the Sopranos because, among other things, SoA only has 40-something minutes per episode? but man, do they know how to ratchet up the pressure, all while building story/characters, in that short time.

Never much cared for Ally Walker (she does this fast loud inhale thing before some of her lines that's very distracting to me), but definitely worth having Stahl back for those scenes with Jax and Clay.

Sharon said...

Nothing to add to the observations already made - just really love this show. Stephen, I'm with you on the scene with Gemma, Tara and Ally - I so love the relationship that has developed between Gemma and Tara - did you see the look Gemma gave Tara when she offered to put up her father's house as collateral for bail? Katie Segal is perfection - if there is any justice, she will have an Emmy nomination next year.

Sharon said...

Oops...obviously meant Layla, not Ally in the previous comment. This is what happens when you hit publish instead of preview early in the morning...

Marc said...

In-tense. Every scene, every single scene from the prison to the church there was an edge. You felt Gemma's urgency, and you couldn't help feel it throughout the show.

re: Jax's subtle threat to Stahl. At first I was wondering about that too. But notice they got released hours after bail was posted. More importantly, after Stahl spoke to Jax. Was she trying to set Jax up as a snitch the same way she set up Opie? Did Jax basically say that he wasn't the lamb that Opie was to her?

Bobby went with Clay and Jax went his separate way - exactly what Bobby said he'd do when they talked in the cell.

When Tara dissed Layla with her last line before Layla left (I don't remember the words), I remember Gemma give Tara a real look of admiration. I loved it.

Broken bit: When Clay came back to the cell (and got into a fight with Jax), cops were waiting to take Jax to see Stahl. Where were those cops when all the fighting took place? If they had to wait until a special squad came in, then fine - but I would have expected the squad to be armored with batons.

Finally, this show has made me way too used to the violence. When Tig popped Juice in the back and broke his rib, I laughed myself silly.

HMM2 said...

MAdouble said...

Can someone please tell me jax's last line while talking to Stahl? he said " dangerous being a ______ "


He said "Dangerous bein' a Fed."

HautieTx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gina said...

I agree with everyone's comments about how amazing the episode was, and how excellent the show is in general.

I don't know if it was intentional or not, but after the show ended and I started thinking about what I liked, I realized that the episode was basically an hour's worth of amazing one-on-one scenes - Opie/Tara, Opie/Lyla, Stahl/Clay, Stahl/Jax, Stahl/Hale, Bobby/Jax, Gemma/Tara, Gemma/Elliot, Gemma/Trista - a tour de force of acting that I wanted to last forever.

Here's a question I don't think anyone's asked yet: When Jax was setting Dionne up with Juice, why did he tell him that his name was Clay? Was he setting Clay up for any possible retaliation later on down the road?

I also did a forehead slap when Jax basically told Stahl that he killed Cohn. Oy!

The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre said...

what a great episode

the scenes with stahl show you just how stubborn and headstrong clay is and how "big picture" jax is....but still jax can be one mean, intimidating m-fer.

those 2 scenes of dialogue were sooo intense. i havent seen dialogue the intense and gripping since deadwood.

stahl was greatly cast, ive always hated that actress, and now she is a villain so i can justify, kinda.

only for this and its always sunny do i shut off my phone and make specific time for television

-jr
Twitter
Blog

NoMoreVegas said...

I love that Agent Stahl has been brought back into the picture, esp since it feeds into my Ally Walker crush. I can't wait to see these loose threads get tied up, particularly the tranny who gutshot Trammell, and the "jap" drug dealer. If I recall from "The Shield" generally storylines were all tied up without many loose threads (unlike The Sopranos, which was content to leave storylines like the Russian from Pine Barrens unresolved)...so I fully expect a reckoning on all counts.

Anonymous said...

Last night's show left my heart racing and a bit shaken. I found it difficult to get to sleep afterwards and I woke up thinking about it. This show affects me.

I woke up thinking about Little Trista rape victim.

Little Trista rape victim showed Gemma she could also be happy again. Who did Little Trista rape victim Baptize really?

Little Trista rape victim got the big bad bikers out of prison.

Are these characters really beyond redemption? Can innocence Baptize men so "old and mean"?

In this show of such powerful and aggressive characters, there's Little Trista rape victim.

Stiff Shots Photography said...

Screw the haters, I plotz with happiness when Agent Stahl shows up. (And I have fond enough memories of PROFILER to pop huge whenever Ally Walker does her trademark tuck-the-strand-of-hair-behind-her-ear.) I kind of miss the ballsy, hilariously profane Stahl of those first Season One appearances, but the cold, calculating version on display here is still compelling. (Loved the shots of her watching the Clay/Jax brawl from a safe distance...)

Otto Man said...

On that note, have we seen the last of that "Jap" drug dealer Ope ripped off tonight?

I doubt it. The fact that he said he was Chinese and the ominous "we'll see" makes me think this might be a Tong mafia connection.

If so, Opie's end might be in the making.

HautieTx said...

When Lyla got mouthy with Tara, all I wanted was for Tara to pop her in the face and break her nose. Too bad there was not a skateboard near the door.

I was curious about the Irish taking the meeting with the League. Now the real question is what will Clay now do with that bit of info.

Loved that Stahl made it clear to Clay that Jax knew who killed Donna. And the look of fear on his face.

I was surprise by Jax making the comment about the dead FBI agent. Was that really the smart move to make at that moment.

And even more stunned that the Deputy got shot by the tranny. Having Opie being the one with the deputy when the shooting happen, can not look too good.

It was a nice touch to see Oswald's daughter and her influence to help out Gemma.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that more often than not Jax is wearing clothing that is different from the rest of the club. He wears gym shoes rather than boots. He wears the long-sleeved flannel rather than the dark-colored t-shirt. His jeans are lighter than the other MC members'. Even in the prison when they all have the same clothes, Jax differentiates himself by not wearing the orange top.

Rich in Denver

E said...

Anyone know where half-sack is?

HautieTx said...

"Anyone know where half-sack is?"

Getting his new ball.

Tom said...

Did anyone else enjoy Gemma & Tara staring down Layla when she came to pick-up Opie's kids as much as I did.

raises hand Right here, Stephen. I thought that was great. Especially this moment: Lyla is sent away, Tara says to Gemma "Is he out of his g--damn mind?" and storms away. Gemma has the slightest smile. Looks like pride to me. Kudos to Katey Sagal, but I could say that every week, couldn't I?

Alan, I thought Charlie H. was overshadowed by Sagal and Perlman early in Season 1, but I couldn't agree with you more about how great he is now.

The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre said...

getting his nuticle

-jr

Danny said...

Who did Little Trista rape victim Baptize really?

That was Abel, Jax's son.

Tom said...

I was surprise by Jax making the comment about the dead FBI agent. Was that really the smart move to make at that moment.

Good question, HautieTx. But it certainly made for a fantastic ending, didn't it? ;-)

I wonder if it was an impulsive response to Stahl messing with him. She revealed that she knew his bail had already been posted when she was trying to get him to flip; that may have pissed him off enough to hint at the true cost of crossing SAMCRO.

I was happy to see Stahl/Ally Walker return. Stahl's an intriguing antagonist to the Sons in that she's not quite as good at playing this game as she thinks she is.

FNRosado said...

Probably doesn't matter that Jax mentioned Cohn. Dude's burned up and there's no evidence. Tara is the only other person who knows about it. But I guess nothing's safe on this show.

Debsa said...

Hell of an episode indeed.

SOA is a perfectly written drama, each and every week the tension is ratched up just a bit and I cannot wait for it all to erupt.

Kevin Michaels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Michaels said...

Brilliant story telling.

Like the Shield, Oz, and The Wire, everything moves forward in so many ways that you need to sit back and take a moment to absorb it all. Great story and excellent sub-plots. Little things (like Jax telling the con his name was "Clay" to the interplay between both Opie and Trammel and Opie and Layla (yea - either Opie ascends to the throne to sit at the right hand of Clay, setting up a real power struggle with Jax, or he's toast somewhere down the road....), to the relationship between Gemma and Tara..... I also love the quiet introduction of Happy into the weekly mix. Some times it's not the words (since he has very few), but the way he carries himself - body language - and the attitude he into each of his scenes.

The only thing that would have made this one really kick was a cameo by Anthony Anderson in jail (would have been a nice flashback from the Shield...)

Dennis said...

Nice to see someone else was annoyed by the Ally Walker breathing-thing-before-dialogue because I mentioned to the ladyfriend how it seemed like a rare mistake in what's usually a super-tight show.

Also, I didn't mind Jax giving Stahl the Cohen warning because Stahl played dirty last season and that one move lead to the killing of Donna and the club's current rift so I can see how the jailhouse talk was the last straw for Jax.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the show, all of them go into the club house while Jax goes off by himself to the garage. Does anyone else think that the club might be having a meeting (Church) about the fight. (A few episodes ago Clay told Jax if he heard anything else about him being responsible for Donna’s death that he would kill Jax.) I’m sure Clay wants to see what everyone else thinks about the fight. It wouldn’t surprise me if Clay tried to take a vote to kick Jax out of the club. (Not that it would pass or anything, but you never know. They are good at throwing curve balls)

Tom said...

For those who don't do Twitter,this is via Mo Ryan of the Chicago Tribune: No stuntmen used for the Jax/Clay brawl. Sutter says Charlie H. broke a tooth.

Anonymous said...

Alan,

I just knew that your intro into this was going to be "Right after I go and get the condoms", but the one you used was fine. I really hope that New Sack is back next week and we get progress reports on the rest of the boys.

Hatfield said...

I'm late to the party, so I'll just echo the praise for the show in general and this episode especially. They kinda telegraphed that Trammel was gonna get shot, but I'm glad he didn't die.

Two quick things, though: What does the episode title refer to? And, as if I needed more proof that Alan has great taste, he referenced and linked the most amazing fight ever. Well done, Sepinwall.

Matt said...

Hatfield,

Gilead means "hill of testimony" or "mound of witness," according to Wikipedia. There's a hymn entitled, "There Is a Balm in Gilead." Trista's choir was singing it when Gemma showed up at the church. The first verse goes,

There is balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole
There's power enough in heaven,
To cure a sin-sick soul.

There are lots of sin-sick souls in SOA, though I'm not sure which one(s) got healed last night. Was Gemma partly healed by seeing how Trista is recovering from her rape? Opie, by the realization that he's not the only parent who feels unworthy of his children? No healing between Clay and Jax, of course, though Bobby was hoping for that.

gordy said...

That was by far the most beautiful episode to date. It played the human angle with Opie's line about single moms, progressed the Clay/Jax feud and made it clear that the women are the glue. Everybody is human no matter what you make your money from.

Anonymous said...

Great episode. I didn't think I'd enjoy a SOA prison issue, but it was fantastic.

Opie has become very dark. More dialog this week which lets us a ittle into his character.

I hope all the loose ends are tied up when this series ends it's run. I hope that's a long time from now!

Chip said...

Alan, how are the ratings doing? I really need to know this show is far from over. I hope Kurt gets to realize his 7 year dream. Cuz damn is this great TV. Although I'm scared to watch 5 more seasons, things are so bad now that it's frightening to think of what else Sutter has up his sleeve.

Chip said...

Alan, how are the ratings doing? I really need to know this show is far from over. I hope Kurt gets to realize his 7 year dream. Cuz damn is this great TV. Although I'm scared to watch 5 more seasons, things are so bad now that it's frightening to think of what else Sutter has up his sleeve.

Hatfield said...

Chip, the premiere had great ratings, and if you look at Alan's Twitter feed on the side of the blog he has a link to the ratings from this week.

Carolyn said...

for Marc who asked why the guards that were dropping off Clay didn't jump in to break up the fight:

I think those were guards with guns. They waited for guards who weren't carrying guns to send in to break up the fight / in a prison brawl, a guard with a gun on his belt doesn't get sent into the midst of a fight as they'll surely get stripped of it and then you've got more than a brawl on your hands.

Fantastic episode. I just love this show more and more.

So Cal said...

@Chip-

Ratings are good. While in households it is not doing the greatest (45th on cable last week), it is crushing in the demos. 18-49 last week was a 2.1. That beat the forgotten and Jay Leno! Broadcast shows!

In other words, i think this show will stick around.

So Cal said...

and that Adults 18-49 rating was 3rd overall for teh week, behind a couple of football games.

For any ratings info you need, check out http://www.tvbythenumbers.com

Anonymous said...

Didn't read all the comments, but I'll throw this out there in reference to Bobby complaining about the medical bills.

If you get sick or injured in prison the state picks up the tab. There are documented cases of prisoners being diagnosed with heart ailments and the state ends up paying for heart surgery.

That's how it works in NJ and I'm pretty sure its the same in CA, so I didn't really buy into that whole money problem thing as far as Juice is concerned. Seemed a little sloppy on the part of the writers.

But still a great episode. Lots of intense stuff going on.

Anonymous said...

Re: the medicals bills

It's not only Juice, there's also Chibs in the hospital.

bombaygirl said...

@ gina: I think when Jax said "Clay" and the other guy said "Dionne", they were referring to the leaders of their respective groups. As in "I'm with..."