Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sons of Anarchy, "Fa Guan": Evil will always triumph because good is dumb

Spoilers for tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I deputize the nomads...
"Jesus, Gemma, when does this settle? When does it stop?" -Tara
"I don't know, baby." -Gemma
I had the pleasure of watching "Fa Guan" and the show's next two episodes over this weekend, and it should tell you how mind-blowing the next two(*) are that I would call this tremendous outing easily my third-favorite of the bunch.

(*) Next week's episode is 56 minutes long without commercials, and will run 90 minutes with from 10-11:30 Eastern. So be prepared for longer-than-normal commercial breaks.

I have one complaint about "Fa Guan" (which, per Kurt Sutter, is Chinese for "The Judge") that I want to get out of the way first, which is that it seems like the writers are making things a bit too easy on Ethan Zobelle. I get that he's a criminal mastermind, that the club doesn't have all the information we have (like the attack on Gemma) and also that he has the good fortune to be going after SAMCRO at the perfect moment when the club is distracted by the Jax/Clay beef. But it felt like there were too many moments in "Fa Guan" where Jax or Clay ignored the possibility that Zobelle - who has caused them so much trouble already and seems to be attacking them on a different front each week - might be behind any of their porn problems. And then for Darby, who just found out he got screwed over by Zobelle, to go to Caracara accompanied only by Ethan's goons... well, I know (as Frank Pembleton put it) crime makes you stupid, but that stupid?

And yet, if I could put my frequent cries of, "Why aren't you thinking it's Zobelle?" aside, "Fa Guan" continued the season's riveting downward spiral for SAMCRO. The series began with the club's gun factory burning to the ground with people inside, and now the porn factory has suffered the same fate, possibly taking Chuck and/or Darby with it. And Jax, consumed with his hatred of Clay, and frustrated that things in the club are getting worse, not better, takes the radical step of deciding to go nomad(**).

(**) Next week's episode will explain a little more about how being a nomad works, but keep in mind that Happy was a member of the Tacoma charter who went nomad so he could be closer to his sick mom in Bakersfield. He hangs a lot with our charter, but he's not a voting member.

Though Jax is wrong to blame Clay for the destruction of Caracara, you can see his anger and self-loathing grow throughout the episode, starting with that devastating visit to Otto in jail. Kurt Sutter did a really nice job playing Otto's bitterness towards the club - the very quiet way he said, "You should go, Jax" spoke volumes about how angry he is, and yet how hard that is on him, since the club is all he has left - and I loved the way they left the glimpse of the wheelchair until the final shot of the scene, like an added punch to the gut.

Things only get worse as Clay tries to use Luann's murder as an excuse to shut down Caracara and flex his own muscles as club leader, and while Jax calls his bluff - for the second time in a week daring an enemy to shoot him - neither the fight in jail nor Gemma's potluck dinner nor Bobby's pleas for healing has done the least bit of good in repairing this rift. Though Jax isn't nearly to blame for Luann's death as Clay is for Donna's, hearing Clay accuse him of getting someone's wife killed was perhaps one indignity too many.

And then there's Clay's ongoing campaign to bind Opie to him by appealing to the big man's violent side, which ties into Tig's increasing post-Donna aversion to the dirty work. That comes to a head in that harrowing sequence at the judge's house, with Opie making things too personal as he screams, "Look what you've done to your family!" while Tig - knowing all too well what he did to Opie's family - practically goes fetal.

This is not the club that Jax knows and loves. This is not who Jax's best friend wants to be. And yet this is what everything and everyone around him is becoming. Is it any wonder he just wants to hop on his bike and head for parts unknown?

Some other thoughts on "Fa Guan":

• Keeping things all in the family, this episode was co-written by Liz Sagal, one of Katey Sagal's younger sisters. Liz and identical twin Jean spent a few years co-starring on the '80s sitcom "Double Trouble." (Here's the two of them in a short promo.)

• Outside of Don Draper (or insert name of your favorite "Mad Men" character here), does any character on television smoke as much as Jax Teller? That nicotine habit leads to that great moment right after Opie flips out on the judge, as Jax and Opie stand outside on the porch, just smoking and thinking about how they got to this point.

• Unser's story acquires more pathos, as we find out that his wife bailed on him during his cancer treatments, but he manages to use that news to help out Gemma by inviting her to join him at a revival service. And note the return - looking somewhat the worse for wear - of the homeless girl whom both Gemma and Jax met last season. I'm not exactly sure whether she's supposed to be real, or a ghost, or an angel, or a symbol, or just Sutter exercising a bit of literary license, but I can handle a little magical realism (if that's what she's about) in these very brief, occasional doses. Even bikers (and their old ladies) need a little help now and then, right? And Katey was her usual stellar self at showing Gemma's reluctantly to let the music and the mood of the service wash over her. (Side note: I'm perfectly happy with my inherited religion, but if I were ever of a mind to comparison shop, presence of a gospel choir would be high up on the priorities list.)

• Maybe I'm just trying harder, or maybe my confession a few weeks ago that I couldn't understand Chibbs helped lift some kind of mental block, because he made perfect sense to me in this one. Interesting to see Tara getting in deeper with the club, by helping out Chibbs (telling him how to lie so he could stay on the critical list) on her own turf at the hospital.

• Hale's also getting in deeper with the club than he might have ever planned, choosing to let Clay take out Darby's meth lab rather than doing it himself. Hale still means well, and I believe him when he says he intends to go right back to attacking the club as soon as the greater evil of Zobelle is out of the way, but why do I have the feeling that this is how Clay and Unser's relationship began several decades ago?

• One other plot nitpick: early in the episode, Clay's on the phone with SAMCRO's lawyer, Rosen (played in previous episodes by Tom Everett Scott, but unseen here), who apparently says he can get the charges from the church assault dropped because the video was inconclusive and the church members don't want to testify. But isn't there still the rather large matter of the Sons being caught red-handed by the cops while carrying a bunch of illegal weapons? And wouldn't respectable Ethan testify rather than let his new enemies walk?

• God, Ryan Hurst is just sensational, whether in an explosive scene like Opie flipping out on the judge, or a much smaller one like Opie's reaction to being kissed by Lyla. He's so sad, and so reluctant to get involved with another woman this soon after Donna's murder, yet you can tell how much he needs this.

• Things could be (a bit) worse for Otto, I suppose: he could find out that Bobby was having sex with Luann (which Bobby admits to Jax was "a little scary").

• Half-Sack's boxing skills, not mentioned since midway through season one, come in handy when he punches out one of Darby's goons during the raid on the meth lab.

• As the reluctant judge, Hey, It's That Guy! Michael O'Neill adds a new item to the list of acceptable occupations for which he may be cast. Others include cop, FBI agent, CIA agent, special forces soldier and, possibly, stern private school headmaster or stuffy dean.

• Is Neeta a 24-hour nanny? Or does Abel just nap a ton? Jax and Betty Draper either have outstanding child care or very well-rested babies, I think.

What did everybody else think?

50 comments:

Hoosier Paul said...

Wasn't Michael O'Neill a judge in the bank-robbery episode of Leverage? So, sadly, his list of acceptable occupations remains the same.

Glad to hear the next two episodes keep up the momentum. This show just keeps getting better and better.

Matt said...

Wow. If this is third-best, I can't wait. There were a half-dozen times this episode when I thought, "oh, that's huge." Big things are happening. I agree completely about the charges being dropped; a little disappointing, that. Thin gruel. I also agree that Zobelle is becoming a little too much of a super-villain. The guy's only human.

But on the plus side: things between between Jax and Ope may be turning for the better. Tig may be coming around to Jax's side. I think Bobbie is starting to suspect the nature of the Jax/Clay beef. I was right that Fiona is tied to Jimmy O and Chibs, though I may have been wrong that he'll play into solving SAMCRO's problems. (I still think he may, but it wasn't looking so good tonight.) I so look forward to Tuesday nights!

Matt said...

Er, well, we already knew Fiona was tied to Chibs, being his wife and all. What I meant to say is that we've now confirmed that Chibs and Fiona have to do with the club's Irish connection, which I speculated about last week.

LakeRosenberg said...

So, is it safe to assume that our two fingered friend saved Darby, who is now one big fat wild card in the Charming War.
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Jax looked so very, very bitter at the end of this episode.
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Who knew Bobby Elvis was an accomplished chef?
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So extraordinarily weird that Clay thinks porn is too dirty but guns from Hamas isn't.
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Tig is so far inside his head he doesn't know how to get out. Kim Coates was A+ in this episode.
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I cannot wait to see the chaos agent that Jimmy O. promises to be.

Matt said...

Oh, a prediction: Chuck survived, and will ultimately reveal to Jax that Clay wasn't responsible for the fire.

Matt said...

If Chuck managed to save Darby with just two fingers, he deserves a patch. But you might be right, Lake. That'd be a great move. Last week I was reflecting on SAMCRO's need for allies. The Nords switching sides would be a step in the right direction.

Dave F said...

1. I really think that an attack on a federal judge was just too much- mafia families don't do this...and they have much more experience and manpower. This really should have ramifications...

2. I didn't understand why Tara didn't solve the problem last week...it seemed so easy- wouldn't Gemma has common sense...she should have come up with it.

3. I know the IRA are terrorists just like Hamas, but I didn't think a former soldier like Clay would work with a group like that.

4. Why does Clay always reveal his sources? Can't he keep his mouth shut?

Kimmy said...

Thanks Alan for explaining the details to us on the whole nomad situation. I was in a state of shock at the end of the episode trying to take it all in. I think I got Nomad and Nords confused a moment there! haha!

Clay and Jax are annoying me. to me, there are so many bigger issues on the table that need to be dealt with. I hear little Carmine in my ear, "This in-fighting has got to stop" or something about a bottom line...lol

Otto, Opie, Gemma, Bobby, Chief Unser all pull emotion out of me that to me, makes the show.

I am glad Tig was wearing a mask when he lost it. His voice breaking was very powerful to me as well.

I am starting to babble so I will wrap it up.

I only have one complaint..and it's the same one I have had since the Toadies, I Want Your Love. I need more music. I know budget and all has to be considered, but I love the music choices to date. I look goofy driving to work listening to my created SOA soundtrack, but I need more!

Thanks again Alan!

Kimmy

Tom said...

Add high-ranking Secret Service agent to Michael O'Neill's occupations list. He was terrific in that recurring role on "The West Wing." It occurs to me that you only become a Hey It's That Guy by being a true professional.

I loved the incongrous image of Bobby Elvis walking into SAMCRO's church with a plate of banana bread, and what looked like a cup of whipped butter. I suppose if you're a spot-on Elvis imitator and have financial acumen, an ability to bake doesn't seem so far-fetched. He's the Renaissance man of the Sons.

I was presuming Darby and Chuck were killed in the fire. Did they turn up in the preview, and I just missed them?

At some point, Zobelle has to make a mistake, right? Isn't that how this ultimately plays out?

zodin2008 said...

Great episode, great show. I have to second Alan on the performances, in particular from Ryan Hurst as opie and Katey Sagal as Gemma. Stellar as usual.

I also agree that it's very convenient for Jax to immediately assume that Clay was behind the fire, and ignore the obvious with Zoebelle.

Tom said...

Agreed, zodin. Those two are so obsessed with each other right now. Clay was table-flipping pissed to find out that Jax had gone to intimidate the judge. Presumably because he doesn't want Jax to have anything positive with the club in the wake of his "I'll kill you" bluff being called.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great episode! It was so hard to watch that scene between Jax and Otto. Heartbreaking. Jax feels so bad and Otto - well, he has to be at the end of his rope. As far as the immigration judge is concerned, that is an ALJ position (administrative law judge), so while he would be a federal employee, the position is not nearly on the same level as an actual Federal Judge. Nevertheless, what concerned me was the part where Opie took his mask off. I think it was only when he was out of the sight of the judge and his son, but I couldn't tell for sure. And Gemma's transformation this season has been stellar. She so desperately needs some help to get past the rape and yet she fights it every step of the way. OK, enough rambling for tonight.

Anonymous said...

I think Jimmy-O will end up being Fiona's brother. In the last episode Chibbs said something like "He wouldn't let her come alone" or something. Sounds like something a brother would do.

Seems like Jimmy-O is a/the IRA leader. Maybe he hates Chibbs b/c he came to America and left the IRA or b/c things didn't work out with his sister or maybe he never wanted Chibbs to marry her?

I think we'll find out soon.

michael said...

As I understood it, Rosen wasn't saying the charges were dropped. He was saying that, with the shaky video footage and the reluctance of the witnesses to come forward, Sam Crow has more breathing room.

cgeye said...

Waitaminnit -- Clay thought Caracara is dirty and icky, but din't he get his obligatory blowjob, at the party? Hell, Jax had no prob keeping his pants zipped, but Clay couldn't, even when he knew Gemma needed him? What. A. Douche.

And since when Chibs is the most sensible and intelligible member of the gang? Who knew head injuries improved the diction?

And I am afeering Mr. Welliver. It's them husky-clear eyes, they're never up to any good.

Hatfield said...

This show is so far beyond what I thought of it when it first started. I used to have to sit through people rolling their eyes and raising their eyebrows when they heard what I was watching; now I'm the one rolling mine at them for missing the best non-AMC show on TV.

With the rapid accumulation of problems the club is facing, I am extremely curious to see how this all plays out. The beef with the Mayans seems worse than ever; this IRA thing is obviously worse than any of us probably thought, based on Chibs' reaction and the line last week about Jimmy O being someone you'd not wanna meet; and of course Zobelle tied into it all. If only these friggin guys would stop fighting each other they'd be equal to the task of all of them, but based on the dark trajectory this season I fear there will be casualties.

It feels like they're all so close to coming clean with each other, but Clay and Jax are right about one thing: if the club finds out about Donna, it could destroy SAMCRO.

Side question: when was the last time an episode 10 was allowed to be 90 minutes? Finales cheat all the time, but with 3 episodes to go after it, I can only imagine that some serious shit is gonna hit next week.

El Reyalto said...

Another fantastic episode. The scene with the judge was amazing, especially since the gang was under ski masks but you could still read their emotions just from their eyes. Fantastic acting by all involved.

Alan, since you've seen the next two episodes, curious if you think at this point the student is getting close to surpasing the teacher. Aka Sutter's show is better at this point than Ryan's Shield was at a similar point.

Nawid said...

@El Reyalto

I dunno, S2 of the Shield was fantastic.

I still don't understand how they're going to lost the gun charges. Hijack a evidence truck?

Jack said...

Great episode, Jax calling Clays bluff in front of the whole club was a real stand-out scene. But was there any way (a clear-headed) clay would've shot him? It would've destroyed the club instantly.

I also loved the shot of them arguing with bobby out of focus in the background, leaning towards Jax side. Foreshadowing him confiding it jaxs and lying to Opie for him, or am i reading to much into it?

And is it only me or has the prospect (full-sack?) grown some metaphorical balls since his operation, not hesitating to run down Darby's goon or last episode in the firefight, first to pull a gun and leave cover to protect clay.

Alan Sepinwall said...

A lot of Clay's objections to Caracara have nothing to do with the porn business itself, but with it being a brainchild of Jax's, at a time when the two of them are ready to kill each other. If Clay himself had thought of it, or even Tig or Bobby, he'd be on board. But any problems at Caracara are additional problems caused by The Little Prince.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wasn't Michael O'Neill a judge in the bank-robbery episode of Leverage?

Dammit, I had forgotten about that.

So, sadly, his list of acceptable occupations remains the same.

Not sad at all. The man has a very narrow range - or, at least, casting directors think he does - but within that range, he's always great.

I think I mentioned here a time or three - shortly before The West Wing went off the air, and back when I was still watching 24 - that I would have loved to see O'Neill and Glenn Morshower team up for a Ron Butterfield/Aaron Pierce action series. Alas, it never happened.

Alan Sepinwall said...

As I understood it, Rosen wasn't saying the charges were dropped. He was saying that, with the shaky video footage and the reluctance of the witnesses to come forward, Sam Crow has more breathing room.

That's a clearer way of putting it, yes. But the larger point stands, I think: the cops catching the Sons with illegal automatic weapons should mean there's no breathing room to give, regardless of what's up with the witnesses and the video.

Otto Man said...

A lot of great acting on the show lately, but for my money Mark Boone Jr. is absolutely crushing it as Bobby Elvis this season, and especially in this episode.

Justin said...

"the cops catching the Sons with illegal automatic weapons should mean there's no breathing room to give"

The thing there is that merely having an illegal weapon (and not all of them did) isn't much of a charge, in the grand scheme of things.

It's plausible that the DA wouldn't be willing to invest the time and manpower to try and get members of a well funded and well connected criminal organization on charges that will only send them away for a couple of years.

Although it is a little odd that when it turned out to be a clear set up, they didn't just drop the guns.

(Next bit is so I don't multipost)

The judge thing isn't unheard of - white supremecist organizations target judges, and it's been known to happen with biker gangs, too.

And yes, the Mafia.

NoMoreVegas said...

Very satisfying ep. Because of Sutter's ties to "The Shield" along with "SoA" I find myself inevitably comparing the two. SoA feels much more serialized - The Shield certainly had serialized elements (season long focuses on the robbing of the Armenian Money Train, Forest Whitaker's season long Internal Affairs investigation, etc.), but you could pick up an episode of The Shield and enjoy whatever hijinks Vic and the Strike Team were up to that episode (in addition to the "B" stories with Dutch and Claudette). With SoA, it feels like all of the storylines are much more serialized. Understanding the rifts in the club relies on understanding so many elements, from Zobelle to Luann, etc. Even "B" stories such as Gemma's relies on the knowledge of her rape several episodes back. While I find this incredibly satisfying and a huge step up from the first season overall in terms of quality, I find it very interesting of how the storytelling feels perhaps thematically similar but in many ways is much more in depth with SoA. I also welcome the fact that it doesn't feel like The Shield's weekly "what will Vic get into and out of this week" episode approach (my lone complaint about The Shield).

Matthew said...

did the prereq search for "Hale", turned up nothing, so I wanna mention this:

My thoughts when Zobelle began asking if Darby wanted retribution, etc, was that this was yet another of Zobelle's interwoven plans. I immediately thought that him giving Hale that tip on Darby so quickly after the last was because he KNEW Hale would take it to the Sons, to lead Darby to him, who he would push into taking out reprisal on the caracara, which is where he would take him out.
So in two ways Zobelle hurts the Sons:
- The factory is fucked, they main legit cashflow which he began tarnishing by putting some of hte hoes on the street and getting them arrested, PAWNING Darby in the process
- Letting the Sons destroy Darby's operations (and using Hale as a pawn to make them think the town would support them cleaning up teh streets) but making sure the dead body will show up in where? a Sons owned building. So now, the popularity play is voided, cuz the public might wonder if they also killed Darby.

So yea, long winded way of responding to one of your bullets: Hale was being used again, in a typical Zobelle power play. And like yo usaid, Clay and Jax should have realised it. As Hale brought them the info they should have asked where he got it from, then be skeptical of it.

Matt said...

"The thing there is that merely having an illegal weapon (and not all of them did) isn't much of a charge, in the grand scheme of things."

I disagree. These are exactly the sorts of gotcha crimes that a prosecutor would use to destroy SAMCRO if he couldn't prove the more serious underlying crimes. It'd be no different than putting Capone away for tax evasion. And if you've never looked at California's gun laws, there's plenty there to work with.

How many SAMCRO members are convicted felons? Catch one with a gun and it's a five-year federal felony. There's a California equivalent that's also a felony. And our hypothetical SAMCRO felon could be prosecuted under both statutes for the same act of possession; different sovereigns means no double jeopardy.

Besides that, there's a ten-year California firearm ban for anyone convicted of one of a dizzing array of misdemeanors (even simple assault and simple battery), and a lifetime ban for anyone "addicted to the use of any narcotic drug." (There's a similar provision under federal law.) There are also sentencing enhancements for possession of a firearm during various other crimes.

Chibs supposedly was court-martialed out of the British Army, right? Federal law prohibits anyone "discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions" from possessing firearms. That might or might not stick to Chibs's British court-martial, but it'd be worth a try.

Of course concealed carry without a license is also illegal in California, and concealed carry seems to be pretty very in the club. (Jax certainly carries all the time.) Some of the SAMCRO guys might have permits due to their relationship with Unser, but many probably have prior convictions that make them ineligible. And we haven't even gotten to the guns themselves yet!

I believe you're right, Alan, that some of the guns at the Christian center clearly weren't machine guns. We don't really even know if the AKs were; they could've been semi-auto. But even if they were, California has a state level assault weapon ban that would almost certainly apply. I believe the maximum punishment for mere possession is a year. It's not a lot, but it's another charge and more leverage.

And assuming these were in fact SAMCRO's standard, illegal, full auto AKs, things get really bleak for the club. Possession of an unregistered machine gun is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. California has a state equivalent of that statute, too.

zodin2008 said...

NoMoreVegas,

"The Shield" not as serialized? WTF? The entire 7 years of the show, events from the pilot episode, aka, the shooting of Terry Crowley, profoundly affected the events of the series finale, aka, the de-clawing of Vic Mackey as the Feds realize they were trapped with a monster and stuck him on desk duty.

And yes, plus the Armenian Money Train storyline, not to mention the Kavanaugh story which was ongoing even after Kavanaugh left, with IAD investigating Vic, plus Claudette, once she was in charge of Farmington and the Strike Team, was solely focused on continuing Kavanaugh's work in eliminating Vic.

Sorry, but there's arguably not been a MORE serialized show in TV history, with the exception of maybe "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica". The only other shows where the events of the pilot episodes continue to affect ongoing story arcs and episodes throughout.

And it seems "Sons" is carrying that mantle well. I have no doubt the hatred that exists between Jax and Clay will continue to live on throughout the show, since I seriously doubt they will kill off either character before the very end of the entire series.

(perfect ending of series has to be Jax finally putting a bullet in Clay).

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think (and correct me if I'm wrong), NoMoreVegas's point is that even as "The Shield" dealt with the Crowley murder and the money train and all the other ongoing stories, it was designed to have two or three self-contained police plots each week to provide more immediate viewer gratification. (Shawn Ryan has said that the structure of a "Shield" script wasn't all that different from the "Nash Bridges" episodes he used to write.)

"Sons of Anarchy" in season one dabbled with one-and-done stories (like the return of the guy who got Opie sent to prison), but mostly even the episodic stories are tied into much larger arcs.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, in terms of any kind of qualitative comparisons, I don't want to get too deep into that, because I think both shows are terrific. That said, "The Shield" got off to a much stronger start, where it took "Sons of Anarchy" about half a season to find itself, and until this second season for the show to find a higher gear. But at the same time, the intensity of this season of the show feels a lot closer to "The Shield" when it was in its home stretch and Ryan, Sutter and company could do whatever the hell they wanted to the characters without worrying about long-term consequences.

zodin2008 said...

While I still don't completely agree, "The Shield", by virtue of being a police drama, was forced to ahve a lot of self contained stories simply because of the setting of the show.

A rebellious bike gang in Northern California isn't bound by that structure, so in that sense, you are both correct.

I also agree that both series are excellent. My brother and I have made the comment to eachother many times that in 7 years of "The Shield", we can't remember one hour of the show we didn't enjoy.

Even the stuff that made us really uncomfortable, like when Aceveda was forced to pleasure a gang leader or when Dutch strangled the cat outside his house, even those horribly uncomfortable scenes felt well incorporated into the fabric of the show. I see the same kind of quality being delievered every week by Sutter on SOA.

Anonymous said...

While I enjoy the show overall there have been many things that rang untrue over the last several episodes.

First the assault on Zobelle was very shaky, once they entered the dinner red flags should have been raised and once they knew the cops had been called it should have been abandoned all together.

The jail scenes were very contrived if Samcro was in that much danger they would have been jumped in mass in the prison yard not just one member.

In the latest episode the whole judge scene made little sense, he broke down at the thought of letters being burned but valued his integrity enough to risk the life of his son? IMO they should of found incriminating info such as him being a pedo or ties to maybe an Aryan organization to be more believable.

Anybody else having problems with these types of plot elements lately?

greentara said...

I was surprised that the cut tag wasn't "as soon as I serve some fresh-baked banana bread." Bobby Elvis is winning my heart a little more every week.

I can understand how Jax jumped to the conclusion that Clay torched CaraCara, but it is starting to seem like our guys are getting stupider while Zobelle is becoming Machiavelli on steroids. It doesn't even look like a fair fight anymore.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I was surprised that the cut tag wasn't "as soon as I serve some fresh-baked banana bread."

I feel like it's becoming too easy with a lot of shows to just pick the random food reference. Gotta keep people guessing.

Matt said...

"Bobby Elvis is winning my heart a little more every week."

Mine, too. Which is why he's doomed -- maybe not this season, but eventually.

El Reyalto said...

The point of the judge caving over his dead wife's memories vs. his son showed how little he cared for his son. The stare his son gave him when that happened was great. That was the tiniest bit of comic relief in an otherwise insanely intense scene.

Alan, I hear ya re: the comparisons and obviously agree both show are great. I also agree that SOA does feel like the end stretch of The Shield in terms of truly going for broke.

It thrills me to no end that the show has found an audience and is big enough of a hit to ensure that Sutter can continue to do it his way.

waterboy100 said...

i loved the kids reaction to opie and lyla kissing. hilarious.

Greg said...

Another really good, intense episode.

Matt: Fair points, but Chibbs wasn't part of the church assault, he was already in the hospital.

After all this talk from Jax about Clay being responsible for a woman's murder right in front of Opie, how is Opie not questioning Jax about it? And even if he just assumes that Jax means indirectly (similar to how Jax is possibly "responsible" for Luanne's murder), shouldn't he still say something about it?

There has to be insurance on the studio, right?

rhys said...

Clay pushing Tig away seems to be causing problems. I wonder if Tig would bail on Clay over the guilt of Donna and being put out by him. The implication at the end with Opie and Jax riding off on their bikes together was they had re-bonded. Not quite sure though.

The lawyer only said that the tape would get thrown out and that a lot of the witnesses would not be interested in cooperating. Bobby then replied that would slow down the DA. They are still on the hook for now. Zobelle probably would not want to testify because they could try and bring into court all sorts of stuff about his white power movement and having a vendetta against SAMCRO.

My impression is the DA would want to get them on attempted murder. However, there could still be gun charges regardless. When they are loading up to go in Clay says "AKs and shotguns." Watching the scene, it appears there are mostly shotguns and handguns. Shotguns do not need to be registered and you do not need a license. Handguns need to be registered and you need to be licensed, which may be true here. If the AKs are fully automatic they'd be illegal no matter what. If they are modified and are considered rifles, rifles do not need to be registered and you do not need to have a license.

Darby was stupid to get into bed with Zobelle in the first place. But I don't see why he'd suspect he was going to get whacked by fellow white-power enthusiasts. I thought maybe he'd switch sides at the outset, but that wouldn't be believable. Trying to kill him would probably be enough to make him switch though.

Now Hamas is involved? Wow.

Tom N. said...

About those bits of Chibbs and Fiona's dialog that you couldn't understand -- it's because they were speaking Gaelic. I recognize the language because of having Irish and Scottish friends, and it was confirmed by watching the show with the closed-captions turned on. Hope this helps.

greentara said...

"I feel like it's becoming too easy with a lot of shows to just pick the random food reference. Gotta keep people guessing."

You do keep us guessing! That's part of the fun of reading your reviews. Great job as always.

Dennis said...

Sutter or whomever writes the scripts haven't been afraid to show age creeping up on Clay - with the arthritic hands - and of course Piney perpetually rocking the oxygen tank but something struck me a little more deeply when I saw Bobby wearing the male equiv of granny glasses and sporting some newly crafted baked goods:)

We don't know when but I imagine we can guess that Jax will eventually have to kill Clay - Sutter says he wants the show to go seven years so the passing of the crown could be a long way off but there was something about that scene to me that said youth has to be served.

I could see Darby being tricked so easily because the guy's small time and he's living on crumbs and thus far Zobelle's been painted with nary a scar so I could believe that he'd be mislead to easily.

HautieTx said...

Random question:

Is it true that FX has not order the 3 season of SOA yet???

I am hoping it was a misprint that I read.

Because I am stunned that FX has not fallen all over them self to get Sutter to sign on for at least 2 more years.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now for me the most interesting development was Hale having to take sides with SAMCRO.

Hale realizing that they are the lesser of two evils.

Between Hale's power crazy brother and Zoebelle, it is a sad day in the life of Hale, to have to go to SAMCRO for help.

But I love that Hale did it.

And Hale's brother will freak the hell out when he finds out who undermined his big fancy plans.

Matthew said...

to Greg, re: Opie,

Here's the thing, and I wondered about this too, Jax repeatedly bringing up shit. It could be passed off by the guys as a reference to any thing over the past decades, or something private between them (cuz remember, no one in the club really knows whats the root of hte beef, they just know that it keeps building and more shit keeps coming up out the sewer - which is why bobby was trying to convince the rest of the voting rights guys to help solve it).

And the thing about Ope - he is such a soldier, he dont question his leadership, he respects the rank, and he keeps his head down, even more so now as he has thrown himself into the club work. key proof off this: when tig questioned clay's decision to send ope to the judge, he immediately straightened up into aggressive mode, because the authority had been challenged and he was ready to defend the prez if need be.

now, i think his head has been down/far up his ass since wifey's death. but this will all change as lyla opens him up, and begins to heal him. I mean, he is a serious wounded bird project for her, and when Ope comes up for air, he might not be pleased to see whats laying right in front of him.

Matt said...

Greg,

I realize Chibs wasn't present for the Christian Center thing (since it was in large part about him). My point wasn't limited to that one situation. I just meant that this group of guys is (probably) generally vulnerable to a variety of gun charges, which could be exploited by any prosecutor who wanted to take them down.

dez said...

Why does Clay always reveal his sources? Can't he keep his mouth shut?

That's his arrogance talking. He seems to think he's untouchable, even though events this season keep proving otherwise.

I hope Chuck was able to get out of the warehouse. Having Darby survive would be great, too, because I'd love to see him team up with Clay (which I'm sure would be a temporary truce once Zobelle is gone), and because I love Mitch Pileggi.

Dennis said...

I'm sure Alan will chime in anytime not but I thought I read that FX had already bought a third season??

There was a shot in the last ep that came slightly over Bobby's right shoulder and it happened when Tig and Jax were speaking about Opie being on point for the trip to see the judge.

Bobby raised his eye just a smidge and I think that was the first tip-off that he's on to something.

Schwindle said...

I think Zobelle is being given the untouchable supervillain treatment as a setup to his downfall. As they say, "The higher they climb, the harder they fall." I also think we're slightly overlooking the rift within LOAN between AJ's hardline stance (mirroring Clay's) and Zobelle's more measured approaches. This show seems to relish in mirroring the rifts and flaws of two opposing sides the way that The Wire used to.

Also, Bobby has quickly become my favorite character on television.

Anonymous said...

having lurked on a popular SoA forum the last couple of days, one thing strikes me as very interesting.

Why is the general consensus that it is absolutely shocking to see Clay deal with Hamas? Fair point to say they are much higher up on the list of Homeland Security than IRA, but everything else surely is nothing but religious and cultural prejudices. The are no more 'enemies of the US' than the IRA, since they are neither in Afghanistan nor in Iraq.

Zachary said...

damn it if there isnt a big part of me that wishes i had waited to watch this on dvd. these week long breaks are killing me. i'm loving this show.