Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sons of Anarchy, "Na Triobloidi": From Abel to Zobelle

A review of the "Sons of Anarchy" season two finale coming up just as soon as I get some books on tape out of the library...
"Any idea where we're headed?" -Unser
"No." -Gemma
You may want to go read my interview with "Sons" creator Kurt Sutter about the finale before we get too far into the review. Not only does Kurt explain why Half-Sack died, why Zobelle lived and other plot points (including the origin of the book on tape Big Otto listens to before getting his revenge), but he says that while the third season renewal hasn't happened yet, it's essentially a matter of dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's, and will get finalized sooner or later.

And a good thing, too. Because if "Sons of Anarchy" wasn't coming back, "Na Triobloidi"(*) would be one of the more aggravating series-ending cliffhangers of all time, with Gemma a fugitive (and framed for killing Edmond) and Abel kidnapped by Cameron Hayes as misguided vengeance for his own son. But because Kurt is confident that the show is coming back, and because he says he has a plan for how all the story bombs he dropped here are going to play out (as opposed to shows where they write the cliffhanger, go on vacation, and figure out how to solve it once they come back), I'm at peace with the insanity of the closing moments of season two.

(*) The title refers to The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

I found "Na Triobloidi" to be a much stronger episode than last week's "The Culling," but both seem of a piece. The emotional climax of the season - and the climax of the part of the show I care most about, which is the war for the heart of SAMCRO - happened in episodes 10 and 11, and these last two have mainly been about wrapping up unfinished business with Zobelle and LOAN and setting up the major story arcs of season three.

It's just that "Na Triobloidi" did a better job of taking care of the plot while still servicing the characters, where "The Culling" was pretty much wall-to-wall story. The 90-minute running time certainly helped on that score - a standard-length episode might not have had room for a moment like Clay's double-edged "You're a good son" compliment to Jax, followed by the club toasting to "Sons" - but whatever the reason, I felt like I was watching a story about these characters, as opposed to a story simply featuring these characters, if I can make that distinction.

Certainly, there's more visceral satisfaction to be had in SAMCRO's plans (mostly) working this time around, compared to the thwarted plotting of "The Culling." Jax gets to execute Weston in the tattoo shop's toilet and Piney and Happy take out Zobelle's Mayan escort by using one of Wayne Unser's shipping trucks as a Trojan horse.(**) Zobelle gets away in the end (and Kurt explains why nobody stays behind at the convenience store to deal with him), but at a very heavy cost: the daughter he used as a tool in his schemes dies over one of them, and his reputation with the white supremacists who made up his power base is lost to him.

(**) As on "The Sopranos," I think there comes a point with this show where we just have to throw up our hands and assume local law-enforcement isn't capable of doing much of anything about SAMCRO, whether they're shooting someone with a cop in the next room, or turning a highway into a shooting gallery. As the showdown on Main Street scenes made clear, this show is at its heart a Western, and sometimes you just need to hand Sutter his literary license and let his cowboys just shoot 'em up.

But while it's fun to see some ass get well and deservingly kicked, the parts of "Na Triobloidi" that I imagine will stay with me dealt more with the emotions of the people in and around the club: Tara terrified and incapable of speech(***) after Cameron stabs Half-Sack and prepares to take Abel, or Clay seeming utterly lost when Jax tells him about the abduction, Unser looking strangely pleased to be helping Gemma on her fugitive journey, and Jax despairing at the sight of Cameron getting away with his son(****).

(***) In a cast that's been superb all season, and even in this episode, Maggie Siff really rose above with that scene. Cameron killing Sack and taking Abel is so left-field and strange (and not just because the club still seems to be going to the mattresses, and therefore Tara shouldn't be anywhere near Jax's house) that the whole plot development maybe shouldn't work, but Siff sells the hell out of it. And whatever issues I had with the Margaret beat-down last week, I thought that moment - and the scene before that in the car where Tara listens to Gemma talk about God putting Polly in her path - did a nice job of showing Tara reaching the limits of her journey back into SAMCRO country. She may have come from this world originally, and she may have embraced it again after hooking up with Jax, but repeatedly in this episode she was reminded of the woman that she became when she left, rather than the woman she turned back into.

(****) Charlie Hunnam is also incredible in that moment, but what I want to add about that sequence is that I still can't figure out how Jax or one of the other club members doesn't catch up with Cameron (older, slower, and carrying an unhappy baby) before he can get his boat started and unmoored. Nor, for that matter, can I figure out how Zobelle, driving on at least one destroyed tire, outruns a bunch of SAMCRO bikes to the convenience store, and I'm still a little fuzzy about how profoundly Stahl has to screw up before someone higher-up at ATF says, "Hey, maybe you oughta take a rest for a few months while we put somebody else in charge." Which brings us to...


Well, Stahl has now created quite the pickle for everyone, huh? Gemma's on the run, in part for a murder she committed, but also for one she didn't, and Cameron stole Abel and killed Half-Sack as a result. And that's on top of the gun charges from the church raid, which Kurt confirms didn't disappear just because Zobelle left town, and the very uneasy detente between Opie and the men responsible for his wife's death.

And if I have a larger concern about what happens at the end of this episode, it's that the combined fugitive/kidnapping stories have the potential to put the club civil war even more on the backburner. How can Jax worry about the true mission of the club when he knows his son is out there somewhere, and when his mother is running from a pair of murder charges?

Like "The Shield," "Sons of Anarchy" is a show where our characters are dealing with a lot of simultaneous problems, all day, every day. Kurt insists that the inter-club tensions will still be there even as the club is trying to get Abel back and keep Gemma out of prison. Based on so much of this amazing second season, I have no reason not to trust him. But nine months (assuming FX sticks to the usual schedule) is a long time to wait to be sure suspicions are off-base.

And in the incredibly unlikely event the renewal deal falls apart? Well, then both Kurt and John Landgraf need to keep an eye out for any Unser shipping trucks that might pass them on the highway.

Some other thoughts on the finale:

• Not counting some a brief teaser prequel to "The Shield" season six, this was only Sutter's second directorial job (after the season one finale), but you wouldn't know it from the job he and director of photography Paul Maibaum did. "Na Triobloidi" was packed with memorable visuals: the glow of the Sons' headlamps overwhelming each bike to make them look like fireflies (or UFOs) and the shots of the showdown on Main Street, to name just two.

• Once more, with feeling: first the explanation for what happened to both Darby and Chuck in the Caracara fire was cut out of the end of "Fa Guan." Then Chuck turned up alive and mostly well in "The Culling," but with no explanation for where he'd been or what happened to Darby. Sutter told me (in an e-mail conversation before our interview) that, once again, they had to cut that scene for time, so the Darby issue won't be resolved until season three.

• We finally find the source of Zobelle's mysterious, intermittent accent, as we find out that he's originally from Hungary.

• Hale is, for the most part, defined by his belief in the rule of law, and here we see that he's not above using strict adherence to those rules - specifically, the matter of his jurisdiction - to punish a monster like Zobelle by leaving him alone at that store, then taunting him with the news of Polly's death.

• Lots of great music, as always, including the inevitable '60s cover (Paul Brady tackling The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter") and the appropriately apocalyptic "Freeze And Pixilate" by Monster Magnet as the club arms up to follow Zobelle and the Mayans.

• Henry Rollins has been acting regularly for 15 years now, and because of the way he looks, he tends to get typecast as angry tough guys. But over this season, he's shown that he's about more than just his look. Weston was impossible to like, for obvious reasons, but at times during the finale - staring at Zobelle in the jail, saying goodbye to his son (and telling him not to rat to the cops) - I at least understood him, you know? A very good performance in what could have very easily been a cartoonish thug role.

• I know they tried to establish it last week, but I never really bought that Polly had real feelings for Edmond. In previous episodes, it seemed like she was just using him the way she used every other man in the area who wasn't her beloved, creepy daddy. So hanging a lot of the finale plot on her need to say goodbye felt a little odd.

If you haven't by now, go read the interview, and then tell me... what did everybody else think?

109 comments:

Christy said...

Isn't this the way a season of Angel ended?

Justin said...

I'm not sure if you could call what Gemma did murder - Polly was trying to shoot her, but then, Polly was acting in self defense.

I was thinking it was going to be a kind of weak finale (but this show's weak is still pretty damn good) but the first half hour really brought it home.

I didn't like Weston, and I didn't respect him but...you know, I don't know how to describe it. But he faced his death with dignity, and it elevated him, somehow. It's interesting - he's probably the most monstrous of the characters on the show, but he was still a person.

Carolyn said...

I am completely SHATTERED by the last 10 minutes of the finale. I can't even think straight.

I'm stunned.

Fantastic. FANTASTIC.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'm not sure if you could call what Gemma did murder - Polly was trying to shoot her, but then, Polly was acting in self defense.

Gemma goes in with her gun out, looking to kill Polly. Whether she changed her mind or not during their conversation, she still killed another person while in the commission of a crime. That fits my understanding of the legal definition of murder.

vicmackey187 said...

Very nice job, Sutter & co.

• Once Clay and Jax started taking about Half Sack getting patched last week, I had a feeling something terrible was going to happen to him. Sadly, I was correct.

• I actually felt a tiny bit bad for Weston at the moment of his death. Having his son around did a lot to humanize him.

• Unlike Dexter Season 2, I think the writing staff did a good thing by letting the main villain go free (if not unpunished) at the end, therefore enabling him/her to pop up at just the wrong moment in some future installment...

• I too wondered how Cameron could have outrun the Sons on the dock. Made for a good cliffhanger though...

carly said...

Agreed on the time issues - it felt like they could have caught up with Cameron, etc...

Definitely thought that Tara's shock and devastation was a nice follow up/result of her big blow up with the admin last episode.

Still digesting.

Well done, Sutter.

Cheers,

Carly

commish rawls said...

"And if I have a larger concern about what happens at the end of this episode, it's that the combined fugitive/kidnapping stories have the potential to put the club civil war even more on the backburner. How can Jax worry about the true mission of the club when he knows his son is out there somewhere, and when his mother is running from a pair of murder charges? "

To me thats sort of a point to the whole show. That you can't change this club/lifestyle no matter your intention because there are always messes being made and being cleaned up. It's always f*cked in other words.

Anonymous said...

Did Clay bomb the scene where Jax called him about Abel? Sutter said he wanted Clay to be so shocked and fulled with rage he would not think about leaving someone like happy to stay behind and get Zobelle. I just did not feel that when I watched it. Maggie Sigg and Charlie Hunman rocked this episode.

Question, why on two separate occasions did Opie and Chibbs run to help Jax?

Chris Littmann said...

(I preface all of this by first saying it was a really good episode and a fun ending to the season but ...)

I wasn't a watcher of The Shield, so maybe I don't get all of the master planning here that Alan does, but as much as this was an intense and good episode, it carried maybe the worst trait of the season as a whole. I thought throughout this entire season it was like it wasn't enough to just deal with the dozen conflicts on the plate. There always had to be a dozen more created. (Not literally a dozen, but you get my point.) It's like ... we go into this episode with Weston, Zoebelle, the Mayans, the Church charges, Otto, a potential Sack patch-in, Gemma coming to terms, etc. And somehow, that isn't enough? We have to create these new things, like the clustercuss (Who saw Fantastic Mr. Fox?) w/ the Irish/Gemma/Polly/Stahl and of course the abduction.

In a way, I felt like they kept getting back into the buffet line when they had three full plates at the table already.

Maybe I've become some used to the penultimate episode of a series having all the action and the finale having resolution and wrap-up that this is throwing me off.

Really looking forward to Season 3. S2 was outstanding and easily one of my favorite shows. I'm not even sure how they go about topping some of the high points of this season, because they were just that good.

Anonymous said...

Like the episode & already impatient for next season, but I think I missed something--if Zoebelle is such a useful FBI informant & he's got the goods on judges & senators, etc., why is the FBI letting him leave the country? Wouldn't they be protecting their witness instead of him going to the Mayans for protection?

Also, I really thought Stahl was going to stage the Polly/Edmond thing to look like a lovers quarrel so Gemma would owe her. Then again, how lovely to be surprised during an episode of tv! Lots of great moments tonight--(Hale on the phone w/Zoebelle was awesome). Well done Sutter & company!

Kimmy said...

Never before have I been this satisfied with a season finale. Action, tears, lack of breathing. My entire family, and friends were sitting here all suffering from multiple emotions.

I don't see Weston calling the cigar shop to threaten Zobelle, and then taking a break to get a tattoo, in town. But oh well.

Stahl is now my favorite person to hate. Death does follow her, was a trending thought tonight on Twitter.

I love Gimme Shelter as the closing song. I remember Chase did Moonlight Mile once, I was just as happy. (Except nothing ever happened on Sopranos, and Kurt doesn't have to escape to France)

LOVE YA ALAN! Thank you!

The Topiary Cow said...

Was furious about this episode but after reading your interview with Sutter am now calming down.

What makes me maddest is the score-Sons 1, bad guys 4 (counting Stahl as a bad guy).

Would just like some wins instead of the Sons always looking so impotent and stupid.

They clear the deli then can't spend one minute to shoot Zobelle? They race after the baby and can't hijack a boat to go after him?

Feel better about Sack getting Sacked after knowing from the interview that he wanted to leave. Too bad. Cute guys on the show now down to one.

In all, a well-written episode but disappointing to have so few wins--I'm beaten down enough in my life it's depressing to watch a show where the same thing happens.

All in all a pretty depressing season. All this bad crap happening and very few wins. Too bad. There's enough depressing stuff in real life, I don't need to tune in to see heroes lose.

Krista said...

Minor question: Why kill the Aryan in prison? I was confused by the timing of the retribution.

Though I found myself straining to buy some of the plot developments that occurred in the last two episodes, I was sucked in by the performances and gave the dubious threads a pass. Furthermore, this finale surprised me because I did not forsee things playing out like this. Sutter and company keep me on my toes and I am anxious to see how Season 3 plays out.

Finally, the scene in which Half Sack died was devastating and though multiple people are to blame for his death and Abel's kidnapping, I was pissed at Gemma for (unwittingly) putting the events in motion. I think Tara is going to have a hard time forgiving her for this too.

Tom said...

Anyone else think Weston's son was going to be the next to get a tattoo? Matching tats, something like that? Agreed that Rollins did a nice job.

In a show with a powerhouse cast -- a deep, deep bench -- Maggie Siff might be the best of 'em. And I know that's saying a lot, given how unbelievably great Katey Sagal has been this season. Alan, I think you're right that she is still more doctor than Friend of SAMCRO. She's petite, but she looked even tinier as she was being comforted by Hale.

Speaking of Hale: He sure let Zobelle know how he felt about his time in Charming, didn't he?

Great ending to an amazing season. Too many thoughts. Somebody else talk while I organize mine.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I thought it was an interesting parallel that Gemma turns to Unser and Tara turns to Hale in time of crisis.

JanieJones said...

I thought it was an excellent end to S2.
I read your interview with Sutter and I could empathize and see Tara and how much she has been affected by the club and Gemma. Tara tried to talk her out of taking action by telling her that she had grown but Gemma was blinded with grandiose vision of her duty or hate? Hate/revenge seemed to be the culmination of sorts this season, particularly this episode. Hate does affect your judgment and usually puts bad decisions into play.
*I thought Rollins did a good job in his end scene. I wasn't upset but it did humanize his character a bit by telling his son that he loved him, etc. and then he took his medicine, the Sons way.
*Siff did an amazing job. Her character is evolving. I wasn't happy with the beat down given to Magaret last week but she did get a certain comeuppance.
*Sutter is right to a degree about bad people getting away. It happens all of the time. Someone else pays a price. I was surprised that Polly took off to see Edmond but crazier things have happened. Zobelle getting away seemed inevitable after Cameron took off with Abel. Also, while Clay does make rash judgments, he wanted Zobelle for himself. I could not see giving up Zobelle to another Son when he stated that he was going to kill him.
*Stahl walked over the line and stepped into a brand new hell with her actions tonight. I would like to see her get some comeuppance the legal way such as being fired, arrested for murder, etc. Anything will do.
*The entire cast and crew have done a wonderful job this season.
*The ending was a parent's worst nightmare.
I am sad it's over for the next nine months.

JanieJones said...

Also, thank you Alan for your critical thinking and insightful reviews.

knocsucow00 said...

Just utterly amazing. I am forcing my friends against their initial will if need to be, to watch both seasons immediately.

knocsucow00 said...

Alan, does it seem that all the best shows come from the minds of creators that are left to work to their vision, and resulting in great television (Sopranos, The Wire, The Shield, Mad Men, SOA...).

Granted autonomy isn't always going to result in greatness, but do tv execs realize that autonomy always seems to be one of the reasons for great tv series?

J.R. said...

I'm sad that Johnny Lewis wanted out because I wanted to see what it would be like for a prospect to get patched. I hope at least that Half-Sack gets a cut laid to rest with him.

Still in shock like most folks by the last few scenes, but I like the idea of the club being out of their element when family is threatened and they have to leave the world of Charming.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was interesting that Tara seemed to have shopped at the Old Lady apparel store since last week's coming out party at the hospital. I don't recall her ever showing so much skin.

Many examples of parent/child loss in this episode. Zobelle/Polly, Weston/Dukie, Cameron/Edmond, and of course Jax/Abel.

I don't usually talk to the television, but I found myself yelling No! No! No! during the scenes at the end with Abel. My stomach still hurts.

Tom said...

Question, why on two separate occasions did Opie and Chibbs run to help Jax?

Opie makes sense, because ever since their conversation in the clubhouse bedroom, Opie seems to be re-establishing himself as Jax's best friend ... and that his vision of the future of SAMCRO has him as Tig to Jax's Clay.

But Chibs? Good question. (Yet another night where I had to put the subtitles up to understand Chibs.) When the Irish were clearly involved, it made sense that Chibs would want personal vengeance. But why with the unspecified (to him) trouble with Tara?

Tariq said...

The book Otto was reading:

http://books.google.com/books?id=3g4JAQAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PA19&dq=%22Sons+of+Anarchy%22#v=onepage&q=%22Sons%20of%20Anarchy%22&f=false

Tariq said...

whoops. shortened the link:
http://bit.ly/6ZdSdf

^ the book Otto was reading

Jim said...

As the crane shot pulled away from Jax & the gang, devastated on the dock, Cameron speeding away with Abel, all I could think about was the finale of Lost: Season 1.

WAALLLLLLLTTT!!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exodus_%28Lost%29#Part_2

Anonymous said...

I was...underwhelmed. Hanging another season ender on Stahl (another death at her feet) and hinging so much on so many coincidences (and unclear vehicle speeds) just didn't feel right to me. The cast did their best to sell the hell out of it, and I've really trusted Sutter's plotting this season, but the level of tragedy here was a bit too much to take -- so god help me, I almost giggled at Cameron outrunning Jax (and felt really sad that a dock full of mechanic-bikers couldn't hotwire a single boat). There were already plenty of interesting, smaller scale loose threads lying around (Georgie, Chuckie/Darby, the Native American bullet makers) that could have lead to a more nuanced finale, a la season one.

But if Abel shows up next season mysteriously teenaged, all will be forgiven.

Abhimanyu said...

A very definite mixed bag. I really am sick to death of Stahl's shenanigans at this point. They're reaching a point that is running past literary license and approaching cartoonish. The whole left-field bit with Cameron and the baby felt out of place and forced (not to mention that I think it was a big mistake to lose Half Sack from this show over something that stupid). That crazy babysnatcher better not be antagonist front and center next season - he can't live up to Rollins, Arkin and crew. And oh my god, can we please get over the whole 'children present to extend tension on execution scenes' device!!

I don't know. So much felt unnecessary and random to me. Why couldn't Clay have popped Zobelle real quick before rushing to catch up with Jax? Gemma's whole 'getting religion' deal over the past two eps felt so clunky to me that I was afraid it would lead up to something silly and I have to say that her going after Zobelle's daughter that way counts as such.

Having said that (sorry), it was a Kick-Ass first hour. Weston took his bow in an awesome fashion and the interplay between the club members was all manner of awesome. I don't want to give the impression that I disliked the finale outright. It's just that the last 15 minutes or so did absolutely nothing for me.

A mixed bag. But I'm certainly looking forward to the next season.

Anonymous said...

While I did like the episode, I really wish we'd had at least one YEAH! moment for SAMCRO. Weston getting his wasn't it, which is okay because it was a quiet death w/a modicum of dignity & murder should never be a fist pumping moment. The closest we got was the Hale/Zoebelle phone call (which was awesome).

I guess I was just hoping for a little more in the plus column for the club after they'd "gotten back together" to do what they do to avenge Gemma. Everyone ending up in a bad place was kind of a downer. (Yeah, I know Gemma has her mojo back, but what happens when she finds out she put into motion the events that led to Abel's kidnapping & then can't be there to help Jaxs through it? I guess this wouldn't bother so much if it wasn't going to be so long before we got some answers. But cheers to Sutter & company--excellent season--and especially to Charlie H. Man did the room get dusty hearing his primal yell for his son at the end.

Anonymous said...

So much father/son stuff tonight, with Weston, Cameron, and Jax. Loved the finale, although I wish we didn't have to wait so long for season 3. It'll be interesting to see Gemma without SAMCRO, since she, like most of the old ladies on the show, have been defined so much by it for most of their lives. Any chance of Gemma & Unser: Roadtripping webisodes?

Regarding the question about why the feds would let Zobelle leave, my thinking was that Stahl was willingly (but without authorization from the higher ups) cutting him loose by telling Unser he was a rat. She knew it would get out - as it did; Unser was quite the busybody the first few scenes! - and wanted out from Zobelle's bargaining power with the feds.

Still not entirely on board with Stahl being such a big bad, partly because it feels like we've done this before, partly because it doesn't seem quite believable that she can pull all this off, and partly because I don't like Ally Walker (but will tolerate her if it means Landgraf giving the okay to season 3, of course). I'm looking forward to more SAMCRO and Irish-centric material next season, which I hope means less ATF.

Ada said...

"Question, why on two separate occasions did Opie and Chibbs run to help Jax?"

Opie's pretty obvious. Chibs and Jax are close. That relationship was established from the beginning, I think, and reinforced in scenes like the vote on Jax's move to go nomad.

Not to mention the fact that Chibs and Gemma are fairly protective of one another as well. It stands to reason Chibs would be the same way with her son.

I don't know about all the holes people seem to want to poke in the finale. I'd much rather just enjoy the episode for what it was - a damn good one.

Though I can't for the life of me figure out why Johnny Lewis would want out of the show. I was shocked when they killed him off, and torn that his death was so completely eclipsed by Abel's kidnapping. The latter's far more serious, of course, but Half-Sack was probably my favorite of the Sons. It was a rough way to see him go.

Enjoying all the SOA/LOST parallels, by the way.

toonsterwu said...

It was a bold finale, to say the least. First, before I forget, I thought the Sons knew some people down at the docks? Also, the chasing thing Alan mentions is spot on - I think the intent was to show that the Sons were much further behind, but the cutting made it seem like they were only seconds behind.

But bold is only good if they can take care of it next year. I do like the direction they went with Tara. Actually, Maggie Siff is the most fascinating character to me in how she's stuck between both worlds. But Tara was getting too sucked in too quickly. This was a much needed wake up call.

I thought that this ending showed more of Hale than we'd ever seen before, and I can imagine next year, we're going to learn more about Captain Hale. He showed some toughness, some direction, some awareness, some leadership. He also showed that, like the Sons, his first priority is Charming.

I'm not sure where this really takes Alvarez and the Mayans. I'm also not sure they have enough time to play out the turf war between the Triad, Niners, and Mayans on screen, but I hope they don't leave it to simply a snippet here and a snippet there.

I like Sutter's idea of forcing these men into the larger world next year. That should be a fun journey to take. That said, I'm very apprehensive about the way the charter going to Ireland will play out. (At some point, I also have to wonder why they simply don't call in other charters.) I know they have friends in Ireland, but it seems like such a tricky process.

It'll be interesting how dark they take Jax. I could easily see them dip Jax really into the darkness, because it was Abel that turned his mind around in many respects (along with his father's stuff). Without Abel, is he lost?

toonsterwu said...

Post was too long ...

Gemma and Unser's wild trip seems like another tricky area. I'll trust the writers, but shouldn't Hale be smart enough to realize that Gemma might call Unser? He might be willing to follow the letter of the law to not help Zobelle, but I can't imagine he'd break the law. Also, wrapping up the Gemma mess will be interesting. It's going to be hard for bikers to make the ATF realize that one of their agents is framing Gemma. Also, addressing Gemma's mental state has to be expertly done.

Like Alan, I'm concerned how all the problems may distract from the club's inner turmoil. At some point, the story needs to get back on Jax vs. Clay. That was what drove this season - the ending was just a bow on a box.

I was happy they let Zobelle live. I had actually expected it, thinking that they may utilize him like Antwon Mitchell ... but then, he's boarding for Budapest, so it makes me wonder, considering the time between S2 and S3 isn't supposed to be much based on the interview, if they can actually utilize him. Actually, it's crossed my mind whether or not Zobelle could turn out to be someone that buys his peace with the Sons by somehow helping them out since he's a FBI snitch. Oh, I'm not too pleased with the FBI angle put in there. I buy it, but I felt that they should've left some more crumbs before this to give a hint of that.

I gotta say, Stahl simply reaching back and firing on Edmund seemed like a means to drive the story. I mean ... why not call for backup and let them know that she was punched? Why not get up and chase after him? If there's one thing in the finale that I really didn't like, it's this. I can sort of understand some of the chase things, as I imagine that may have as much to do with how things are cut. That said, it just seemed like ... a wtf moment? Why is she pulling the trigger instead of going after him. Why not yell out, stop, or I'll shoot (I know, Edmund probably would've preferred dying, but still). Yes, Stahl's supposed to be this loose cannon, but it just seemed off to me.

It was a bold finale, a finale with some good moments, but it really left a lot out there. As a fan, it was a good episode by itself, but as a season finale, it's one of those that just didn't give enough resolution. They did such a good job with this season, though, that I'm fine with the finale, but it sure leaves me antsy.

Anonymous said...

My one big laugh of the night... Happy telling Jax how proud he was of him for taking care of Zobelle. God, I needed that.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, meant Jax taking care of Weston...

Jim Treacher said...

"Bloody day for both of us." GEMMA TELLER IS THE MAN!!!

Yeah, when God told Gemma to do that, He forgot to tell her how amazingly awful the consequences would be. But then, He never does, does He?

As aggravated as I was at the end, I was like: Okay, stupid Rollins got 6 in the face, the bad Irish accent and his rape-enabling girlfriend both bought it, and we finally got to see Mancow. Wait, what???

I kinda would've liked to see Weston survive, just to see how that chest tattoo went over in the joint.

nfieldr said...

Alan said:
Lots of great music, as always, including the inevitable '60s cover (Paul Brady tackling The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter"

According to @sutterink, he wanted to use Adam Raised a Cain for the closing montage, but had problems getting the ok from Springsteen's people. In the end, I think Gimme Shelter was the perfect choice.

me said...

Like others, I'm concerned with a number of the plot holes. Stahl's taken worse than a punch to the hoo-hoo without pulling her gun, and Edmond posed no real threat. So I don't get why she shot him, unless she was just generally fed up.

And not sure if it was Perlman's delivery or a problem with the setup, but I yelled at the TV, "OMG it'll take you two seconds to cap his ass, check it off your list, and get going." I didn't buy the urgency that he leave immediately with the bird in hand.

I do like that Sutter screws with the expectation of the storytelling. The end-of-season scatter is what will keep SoA on my mind for months on end, and I happen to like that.

I have two questions, though. Did Unser really pick Gemma up in a Charming police cruiser to go on the lam? I will have to watch again to check....

And what was Weston getting tattooed on his back? I think it was "DU..." but I couldn't figure out what it would turn into and I can't remember his kids' names.

Mike said...

Terrible finale, awful, awful writing!

So the irish kid decides to punch Stall in the cooch and make run for it? How about going for her piece or jacking her in the face? What kind of move is the cooch punch in a situation like that?

So much made little sense and the scenes, for the first time in the history of SOA, felt contrived and staged.

I am pissed that Sutter wrote the finale this way. I believe he totally sold himself out in trying to have cliffhanger JUST so the show gets picked up. I'm sure Kurt would admit he is greedy and say FU, but he has lost some integrity in my book as an artist. Instead of writing the most kick butt finale, he wrote some ridiculous story lines into play that feels contrived and unrealistic.

I love the show, but this finale was horrible. I loved season one finale! I could not wait for season two and it felt as if the plot was building! Now, it just feels like Kurt is bsing us all!

cgeye said...

"To me thats sort of a point to the whole show. That you can't change this club/lifestyle no matter your intention because there are always messes being made and being cleaned up. It's always f*cked in other words."

Megadittoes, Commish. The crap just keeps piling up.

And the lack of hotwiring boats bothered me, too. They've got friends in Charming, but no one with a yacht? No one bribed on the Coast Guard? With all the smuggling they do, it just seemed they stopped to grieve. Especially when they know through Chibs that the Irish have absolutely no problem destroying families in retaliation.

These are the people they've done business with, for decades. And just last episode they were willing to fight them to get Fiona and her kid out from under Jimmy O. Why the frak are they surprised?

Jim Treacher said...

What kind of move is the cooch punch in a situation like that?

You'd be surprised.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Question, why on two separate occasions did Opie and Chibbs run to help Jax?

Others have explained Opie, but Chibs and Jax have always been shown to be tight (Chibs votes with Jax pretty much every time), plus Tara protected him in the hospital, and he owes her.

Otto Man said...

I loved the first hour or so, but the ending just seemed wildly off.

Half-Sack's sacrifice was an amazing moment, but they stomped all over it with the Abel abduction, which seemed like something out of an '80s action show, complete with a grief-stricken nutcase, the Race To The Docks™ and the awful "noooooooooooo!" scream from Jax. Eh.

JoeE said...

I don't see why Clay abandoning Zobelle is such a surprise - I think the end of this season has largely been about family and the compromises we have to make with ourselves and others in order to be a part of one. Opie puts aside his anger with Clay and Tig because he knows that the Club is more important and that he needs the support that his brothers provide. Jax puts aside his beef with Clay because seeing that Gemma's attackers are brought to justice just overrides all his other issues. And in the end, when Clay has Zobelle cornered and is ready to drink hot blood, he simply drops everything due to the emergence of a far more serious family crisis. I had absolutely no trouble believing that Clay would abandon Zobelle and devote the full resources of the club to getting back Jax Jr. without a second thought.

The Topiary Cow said...

"I love the show, but this finale was horrible. I loved season one finale! I could not wait for season two and it felt as if the plot was building! Now, it just feels like Kurt is abusing us all!"

That says it all.

What a downer. Bought Season One as soon as it was out. Will NOT be buying Season 2.

I like my protagonists to win, not be wimply incompetent losers.

Bleah.

MDS said...

The bigger plot hole than Cameron outrunning the Sons on the dock is how Team Jax knew where he was going after they untied Tara. They seemed to be pretty sure of where he was headed when the rest of the club caught up with them on the road. While I'm sure they knew he kept a boat at the marina (we saw in earlier episodes that he did gun deliveries there), he could have really gone anywhere. I doubt Cameron told Tara where he was taking Abel as he was tying her up at Jax's house.

Overall, though, season 2 blew season 1 away. Reigning "Best Show on TV" for me.

carly said...

Question, why on two separate occasions did Opie and Chibbs run to help Jax?

Others have explained Opie, but Chibs and Jax have always been shown to be tight (Chibs votes with Jax pretty much every time), plus Tara protected him in the hospital, and he owes her.


Also I assumed that since Fiona showed up again Chibs is quick to hop on board the "defend the wife and kids" wagon.

Tausif said...

Didn't Joss Whedon already do this plot? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_Tight_%28Angel%29

Matt said...

"I didn't like Weston, and I didn't respect him but...you know, I don't know how to describe it. But he faced his death with dignity, and it elevated him, somehow. It's interesting - he's probably the most monstrous of the characters on the show, but he was still a person."

Yes. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that he was a monster, I felt more sympathy -- combined with a weird sort of respect -- for Weston at the moment of his death than I did any other character who died last night. (Well, except Sack, of course.) Maybe it's because I'm a father several times over, but the, "'children present to extend tension on execution scenes' device" actually works on me.

I would be tickled if a Weston kid avenging his father played prominently into the final season of this show. Seems like a perfect fit.

p.murray said...

Want to give some more recognition to Henry Rollins for a death performance that rivaled Stringer Bell's.

Tom said...

-- Stahl consistently overplays her hand, doesn't she? Decided to gratuitously taunt Edmund, ended up killing him. She's someone who f--ks up and still keeps her job, which is much more realistic to me. Reminds me of "The Wire," actually.

-- Speaking of "The Wire:" p.murray, great death comparison.

-- I really liked some of Sutter's directorial choices: the opening shot of the rats gnawing at the body of the crow; the shot of Zobelle's daughter in the foreground, with Gemma's big ol' car turning the corner way in the distance; and the closing pullaway as Jax howls in horror.

JanieJones, it is every parent's worst nightmare, isn't it?

H. said...

I really hated this finale. HATED. It completely ruined a great season for me.
I'm all for suspension of disbelief but this was asking us to take it to a ri-frickin-diculous level. Some examples:
The Queen and VP's woman are going to mill about town w/ only the Prospect as protection? Oh, and Tara has no gun? Really???
Weston, who knows he's a marked man but doesn't want to leave town w/o his sons, picks up only one of them.... And then decides this is the best time to pop in to the local tattoo parlor? He might not be a super-genius, but he wouldn't remember to breathe if he was that stupid.
Gemma murders Polly and can make the leap to realize Stahl is going to frame her for the Irish kid's murder as well and still trots off w/ Unser to parts unknown w/o ONE phone call to either Clay or Jax to give them a heads up that she's on the lam and oh yeah, since she's being framed, just might have upset the IRA? There's no way THAT woman doesn't call her family and doesn't put two and two together on that. I don't care what kind of psychotic break she had.
Eddie looked at the bullets. He can't tell the difference between live rounds and blanks? When he deals guns for a living? Not bloody likely.
ATF doesn't leave ONE person watching the wharf when they know Da Irish might go there?
Annndddd.... Da Irish manages to stow crying kid and get the boat started before Jax etc. are within firing range? There's just no way.
I love the show but all of those things in one episode was just too much to take.
Color me disappointed.
(Apologies for my grammar, run-ons, etc.)

Hatfield said...

Wow, the last part of this finale was insane, and it made up for the relatively perfunctory feel of the first part. Maybe it was just me, but Weston's death had no tension for me. It was played really well, and it definitely takes Jax further into the dark side of the club, but it felt like a foregone conclusion.

Half-Sack's death, on the other hand, was brutal, and I am glad to see that it wasn't done just to do it. It worked, but the whole Crazy Kidnapper Cameron bit at the end took so many plot machinations to get to that I was a little mad they killed a Son. It's a shame he wanted out, because Johnny Lewis has always carried whatever they've asked him to, and I just kept waiting for Sutter to give him more of a spotlight this year.

Speaking of all those machinations, was anyone else reminded of The Wire in an "It's all connected" type of way? So many things had to go down to lead to the final scene, except they mostly happened in this one episode. And though Stahl is mostly to blame because of her lying (though, c'mon, Cameron, remember the bond you and Gemma had last season? You really think she'd shoot your son just because?), if Chibs doesn't give up Edmund, we never get to this point. And he had a fondness for and bond with Half-Sack even beyond the others; will he be saddled with guilt next season?

I am in agreeance (heh) with Alan that the important arc of the year played out two episodes ago, with the club tension being at least temporarily put to rest, and that all the stuff with LOAN and the Irish wasn't nearly as interesting, but it's been nice to see Clay and Jax on the same page, culminating in Jax's "I need you" last night. Chills, but maybe that's just me.

Sutter, you magnificent bastard, even though I shared some of Alan's issues, you've still managed to complete an absolutely impressive second season of a show, one that will hopefully only get better, with a cliffhanger that'll drive me crazy between now and next September. Well done.

shara says said...

@Krista - I read through all the comments and I didn't see a response to your question - apologies if I missed it. You asked about the timing and reason for the retaliation on the Aryan (by Otto) in prison - I think that was the guy who attacked and blinded Otto, and Otto was still apparantly recovering from the attack. Otto was a man of action with nothing to lose taking revenge against the person who cost him his good eye, and that beef existed apart from whatever SAMCRO-LOAN crap was going on on the outside.

I'll agree with the class that AJ Weston's death scene was extremely well done, and that Rollins gave a pretty fantastic performance. he was definitely humanized, throughout, by the presence of his son (even if his son was an obnoxious racist). Someone had asked a question about why AJ would stop to get a tattoo with his son before going to finish his "get Zobelle" plan (or whatever he meant to do next) - Mr. Shara Says thought that AJ was getting his son's name tattooed on his back, which would make sense to me. If he's going into a battle that might be his last, that tattoo, and the experience of his son being there to see it, probably meant a lot. But maybe that wasn't the tattoo - did anyone see what it actually said?

shara says said...

@H - Gemma's quiet departure wasn't so unbelievable/unrealistic to me. She knew what the club was doing, that they were going after Zobelle and Weston and that they had to finish that job and didn't need distractions. She did the same thing that she did in Episode 2 when she decided not to tell them about the rape - she tried to keep her troubles from hurting the mission of the club. If she's thinking that far ahead, she might have even been trying to keep them from being accessories after the fact, and will get in touch with them as soon as she thinks its safe. A tip-off about the frame-up sure would have been helpful, but maybe she knew that her fugitive status meant that any contact with them would put them in danger (phone records, etc). I can see her doing whatever she can to protect her family, even if it might be somewhat misguided (I mean, she did go murder Polly because she thought God told her to, so she's certainly capable of going in misguided directions).

I also thought it was strange that Gemma and Tara were going around without a "real" escort, but as Jax and Clay had just been discussing patching Half-Sack maybe they were already considering him as a full-member capable and worthy of such an important task... Plus, they really wouldn't have gotten into any trouble if "god" hadn't intervened...

word verification: rumsit.

Anonymous said...

Minor issue that has been bugging me and I'm aware that the timeline doesn't call for a resolution yet - won't it be pretty easy to determine the DIFFERENT caliber of bullets in Polly and Edmond, thus debunking Stahl's story. Does Stahl's ATF-issued pea shooter launch the same projectiles as Gemma's hand cannon?

On a whole, a mixed bag for me - some stuff worked, but a lot didn't - and thus I'm a little disappointed.

Chip said...

Crazy: Sons dealings indirectly cause Gemma to have the worst night of her life in the premiere, and inadvertently in the finale Gemma causes half's death, Abel's abduction, and thus the freedom of the man who orchestrated her rape.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Does Stahl's ATF-issued pea shooter launch the same projectiles as Gemma's hand cannon?

Stahl covered herself on this. She said Gemma took Stahl's weapon, shot Polly with her own gun, then shot Edmond with Stahl's.

It also helps explain the trajectories, gunshot residue, and a lot of other forensic issues far more easily than if she were to leave Gemma out of it and suggest that Edmond and Polly killed each other.

SoBlogless said...

Fantastic interview with Kurt Sutter. I admit I'm a little nervous about the Sons going to Ireland - it's going to take some careful writing to keep them fearsome/powerful when they aren't "the big fish in the small pond."

So many of the coincidences and problems have been mentioned, (knowing where Cameron was going and outrunning Jax and crew, etc.) but overall I was able to just throw them aside and sit on the edge of my seat throughout the whole show. Swear I almost had a stroke I was so tense.

The only time I was thrown out of the story is when Clay left Zobelle in the store - as one other poster said, it would've taken a minute to take care of business. A minute. If the intent was to show that Clay was so stunned he just left, it didn't work for this viewer.

As to Stahl - I did buy her losing it and shooting Edmund. She's been getting more frustrated by her impotence. You could see the moment she cracked. Can't wait to see how this comes back to get her next season. (And love the fact that there was that moment when Stahl and Gemma bonded - this show really does life can be complicated.)

Matt said...

H, you forgot, "Sons in full club regalia engage in full-auto shootout with Mayans on a major highway, outside Charming, then proceed to hang out indefinitely at the deli just down the road from the multiple murder scene -- and no one in law enforcement seems to notice or care."

I was all hung up on that stuff, too, until Alan made the suggestion to take SOA as a Western. I think I can do that. For a while, anyway.

"Minor issue that has been bugging me and I'm aware that the timeline doesn't call for a resolution yet - won't it be pretty easy to determine the DIFFERENT caliber of bullets in Polly and Edmond, thus debunking Stahl's story. Does Stahl's ATF-issued pea shooter launch the same projectiles as Gemma's hand cannon?"

No, I believe Stahl's explanation was that Gemma shot Polly with Gemma's own gun. When Stahl tried to arrest her Gemma took sucker punched Stahl, took her gun, and shot Edmund when he "panicked." That's how she's explaining two killings by Gemma with two different guns.

SoBlogless said...

I do have some questions - I am missing something about Otto getting the shank to kill the guy that hurt him. How did he use the information (Jax gave him) about Zobelle being an informant? I know I'm probably missing something obvious.

Also, why didn't Clay shoot Alvarez? Why let him go at that point?

Lastly, did Stahl know that Cameron would hear her transmission about Gemma killing Edmund?

SoBlogless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SoBlogless said...

"H, you forgot, "Sons in full club regalia engage in full-auto shootout with Mayans on a major highway, outside Charming, then proceed to hang out indefinitely at the deli just down the road from the multiple murder scene -- and no one in law enforcement seems to notice or care."

I was all hung up on that stuff, too, until Alan made the suggestion to take SOA as a Western. I think I can do that. For a while, anyway."

Exactly! Otherwise nothing works. One of the easiest charges to make stick are gun charges. In California, you can't have a loaded weapon with a permit (impossible to get nowadays), and if you're an ex-con with a gun (or even NEAR guns) you go away to prison. It's an easy conviction.

The show works as mythology, for me. That's why I'm a little concerned about them going to Ireland, but I'll trust Sutter.

Just Asking said...

So will the interview and your footnoets be on the season DVD to keep everyone satisfied? In other words, too much seemed contrived and it is no wonder explanations are needed.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I do have some questions - I am missing something about Otto getting the shank to kill the guy that hurt him. How did he use the information (Jax gave him) about Zobelle being an informant? I know I'm probably missing something obvious.

Two separate things. Jax told Otto about Zobelle to cut Zobelle off from the entire Aryan network. (Presumably, Otto passed the word along off-camera.) Otto getting vengeance for his eye was its own thing, sort of like how all the Godfather movies climax with all the Corleone family enemy's being taken out at once.

Also, why didn't Clay shoot Alvarez? Why let him go at that point?

Because killing Alvarez under those circumstances would have led to a long war with the Mayans that nobody wants or needs. All Clay cared about was separating Zobelle from his bodyguards.

Just Asking said...

Having read the interview now, it makes sense.

SoBlogless said...

"Two separate things. Jax told Otto about Zobelle to cut Zobelle off from the entire Aryan network. (Presumably, Otto passed the word along off-camera.) Otto getting vengeance for his eye was its own thing, sort of like how all the Godfather movies climax with all the Corleone family enemy's being taken out at once."

Okay, thanks. I had thought that the information enabled Otto to get the knife, and that didn't make any sense to me since the guy he killed was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. Two separate things.

Meant to also add that my favorite moment of the show was Hale talking to Zobelle at the end. I go back and forth between my favorite characters but Hale's really rings true for me. Can't wait to see where he goes next season.

Justin said...

Otto getting vengeance for his eye was its own thing, sort of like how all the Godfather movies climax with all the Corleone family enemy's being taken out at once.

I think having the informant information allowed Otto to do that, thpugh - getting to shank the guy that took his eye is probably part of what he bargained for with the information.

I don't think he'd have been able to if the Aryans hadn't sanctioned it.

pluvlaw said...

I for one was dreading seeing the cameras go into the tatoo shop. I just knew that Weston had somehow swung a juvie official to let him take his kid in to get tagged with some white power ink before he went away. I was hoping to see Weston give the kid some kind of whack racist peptalk before he told Jax to get on with it.

Sutter kind of went that way with the "don't ever talk to the police" fatherly advice. But it would have been absolutely heartbreaking to watch a kid hold back tears as he got ink that would brand him for the rest of his life as a racist.

Antid Oto said...

I'm all for suspension of disbelief but this was asking us to take it to a ri-frickin-diculous level.

The example that really drove me nuts (apart from Weston in the tattoo parlor), was the idea that Stahl and the rest of the ATF would have put a gun full of blanks back in the hiding place just to see if Edmund "had the balls to go through with it." I mean, I maaaaaaybe could have bought it if it was just Stahl playing mind games, but she radioed to her backup that the shots fired were "just the blanks," which means that her whole crew was in on it. WHAT?

And a big part of the remainder of the episode hinged on that complete absurdity.

Also, Sutter claims in his interview that Clay's drop-everything reaction to Abel's kidnap was because nobody goes after family in this world. In a show that's seen Gemma raped and Chibs's and Opie's families both threatened with death, is that even remotely believable?

Hatfield said...

I think having the informant information allowed Otto to do that, thpugh - getting to shank the guy that took his eye is probably part of what he bargained for with the information.

I don't think he'd have been able to if the Aryans hadn't sanctioned it.


Yeah, this is what I was thinking too, and that there was a scene showing him talking to an Aryan higher-up that was cut for time. But since Alan said it was just payback, I'll assume that came from Sutter.

I do have to complain one more time about cutting the Chuck/Darby explanations, and now incredibly waiting until next season to say what happened to Darby. Really? I mean, if this were 24, ok, fine, President Logan can always come back because we never heard he was dead for sure. But this show? Still feels sloppy to me.

All the other potential holes don't bother me for some reason. Blinded by love, I suppose.

Alan Sepinwall said...

But since Alan said it was just payback, I'll assume that came from Sutter.

Everything Sutter told me about this episode is in the transcript. That's just my interpretation. But of course you guys are right that the Aryans would likely have to sanction the killing.

zzzdog said...
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shara says said...

@antid oto - yeah, that seemed strange to me as well about the blanks - but, on the other hand, if he is their informant and they aren't sure if he's really on their side, it might have been a test of loyalty - if he tries to kill ATF agents/Stahl, he's not really a cooperative, reliable informant. That's how I justified it in my mind - they weren't sure where he stood and wanted to give him an ultimate loyalty test in a controlled experiment where nobody is really at risk... Who knows, tho.

mizery said...

Openning scene... 3 rats eating a crow... classic!!

Anonymous said...

I get why the scene with Clay receiving Jax's call about able did not work for me. Clay is wearing his sunglasses and you cant see his eyes. Jax delivered the line "I need you" perfectly. Clay looked to stoic. There may be holes, and sutter may have taken some liberties to set up season 3, but all in all, considering how well these characters developed this season, not to mention how much all these actors have improved (Hunman is fantastic) I have all the confidence in the world Sutter will give us a kick ass season 3.

Jersey said...

@ Anon 12:00 AM, December 02, 2009 “Question, why on two separate occasions did Opie and Chibbs run to help Jax?”

Chibbs has been Jax’s most loyal ally the entire series, why is that a surprise. Opie is the one, since the revelation of Donna’s death who has jumped back on Team Jax.

@ Abhimanyu “Gemma's whole 'getting religion' deal over the past two eps felt so clunky to me”

I don’t think Gemma ever “found religion” I think she took bits and pieces to fortify her world view. I doubt we’ll see Gemma joining a church choir anytime soon. She is preaching the gospel of Gemma, all hail the queen.

@ toonsterwu “At some point, the story needs to get back on Jax vs. Clay.”

Following the Hamlet frame most of the action is at the end, it wouldn’t be true to the story if Jax can’t usurps power from Clay in Season 3. The tension is between the two will remain but in times of peril the needs of the club outweigh all other concerns.

@ me “Did Unser really pick Gemma up in a Charming police cruiser to go on the lam? I will have to watch again to check....”

Yep, Charming PD issue Crown Victoria

Jersey said...

@ H. “picks up only one of them”

The other one son was in a psych eval

@ SoBlogless “Lastly, did Stahl know that Cameron would hear her transmission about Gemma killing Edmund?”

Not sure if that was her main intention, but she also knew earlier whent to conveniently turn it off

@ pluvlaw “But it would have been absolutely heartbreaking to watch a kid hold back tears as he got ink that would brand him for the rest of his life as a racist.

No reputable tattoo shop would, tattoo a child that young. Also I douibt Weston would have made the request with his police escort standing guard.

@ Antid Oto “Also, Sutter claims in his interview that Clay's drop-everything reaction to Abel's kidnap was because nobody goes after family in this world.”

I don’t think he meant that it doesn’t happen but that it is not the norm and that is why the club is less fractured when facing these threats. Votes are made about club business, action is plotted and meted out when family is harmed.

Jersey said...

Random thoughts:
- Weston died nobly – I agree with the Wire/Stringer comparisons
- Why a group of mechanics/criminals couldn’t steal a boat is beyond me
- Stahl shooting to kill, when Edmund was unarmed?
- I’m going to keep an eye out to see where Johnny Lewis lands
- Loved Ottos’ biblical revenge – eye for an eye

Alan thanks for your insightful reviews, interviews and for providing a forum to discuss the show.

Dave Weldon said...

I can't wait until this show pops it's head over the wall on another Canadian cable channel, good shows are thin on the ground and the airways are choked with flatliners. The only fear I have is that it will be another show that I will like and be canned by the authorities that be, thrust into a back room with the likes of Brotherhood, Carnivale, Millenium and a long list of shows that never concluded, left to flap in the wind...

Alan Sepinwall said...

The 3rd-season renewal is official, and Kurt has signed a 2-year extension, so a fourth season is probable, barring some unexpected ratings collapse when the show returns next September.

Kevin said...

Did I miss something on how the IRA guy heard about his sons death over a police scanner ? Was that broadcast on a public channel?

DejaDead13 said...

The only thing I can think of that would be worse than this episode is any possible story line set in Ireland.
As an Irish woman living in Ireland I find it distracting enough listening to the "Irish" accents of the Darby O'Gill branch of the True IRA; anything that extends this can only cause further damage to what was once (for 25 episodes) an excellent show.

Leaving aside the lack of believability of Cameron being able to actually smuggle the baby to Ireland (and don't the IRA still think he's a rat??) given the way its been handled so far I really fear that any depiction of Northern Ireland by this show can only be incredibly unrealistic and/or offensive.

And what exactly is Cameron's plan for raising Conor (I mean Abel) in Belfast (or do I mean Qour Toth?)? Although it would have been a horrifically tragic storyline I think Abel being killed in the crossfire at some stage might actually have been a pretty powerful way to throw additional stressors into the mix and it would have been interesting to see the impact of losing his son (or Tara??) would have had on Jax but this ridiculous kidnapping thing means I guess that we can look forward to "Sons .... The Quest".
On the positive side, I had been dreading the long wait for the next season of SoA. Now I really don't care when, or if, there is another season.
Anyone recommend a good t.v. show to watch?

Jersey said...

@ Kevin "Did I miss something on how the IRA guy heard about his sons death over a police scanner ? Was that broadcast on a public channel?"

Cameron had some type of scrambler

Antid Oto said...

I don’t think he meant that it doesn’t happen but that it is not the norm and that is why the club is less fractured when facing these threats.

Here's what Sutter said: "And also, I felt like him saying, "They took my grandson," that ultimately, Clay doesn't have the foresight to say, "Hey, you stay behind." Again, there was that notion that this was completely out of the rule book. And they're in as much shock as they are rage."

I'm pretty sure he's saying that the reason Clay didn't leave Tig or somebody behind to finish off Zobelle is that he was in such shock that someone would go after family.

amanda said...

I fell hard for this show, and on the whole, s2 blew s1 away. "Balm" was incredible. That being said, the finale was a disappointment.

I v. much dislike Stahl but her machinations and cartoonishness are nothing new (although leaning on her to make the whole episode happen was irritating). The pilings of developments outlandish (the magical Mercedes & Zobelle's escape, Abel-napping) and not *is* a bit much, especially with so much unresolved/answered already (Luanne, Chuck & Darby, Clay & Tig, etc.). I thought the point of the show was Charming, that while the club has outside ties it is essentially a microcosm, and within that the Jax/Clay dynamic. Characters come into Charming and affect the MC, but once they leave (unless called upon or visited by the Sons), they don't really exist. A Zobelle in Budapest is unreachable. A "Sons" in Ireland seems ridiculous. (I suppose Abel creates a transgression that breaks that barrier, but still. Guess they'll whip out the credit cards to get there?)

MC character/emotion seemed absent, i.e., Jax took actions but was mostly silent, so much so that I was startled by his yell at the end. I want to blame this on the short season, that so much had to happen in this episode that the characters couldn't "breathe themselves", but a lot happened that didn't *have* to happen. As another poster said, I would have watched a s3 that came off a quiet or resolved s2 finale. I did not babynapping or Stahl framing Gemma. And the moments that were awesome or deserved time (Hale telling Zobelle where to go, Sack's death - hell, I wasn't even sure he was dead until I came to the blog) were run over. I don't think we had time to feel satisfaction for Otto, aside from the fact it didn't make much sense and certainly didn't have the same impact (haha) as smashing Stahl's face on the table. In fact it seemed like an attempt to recreate the latter and did so ineffectually.

Ugh, I hate that I've written all this because a few weeks ago I could never see myself doing so.

Dennis said...
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Dennis said...

I am somewhat conflicted over how to feel about the finale. Overall, I liked it but there were some good points raised her that along with my own original gut feelings did happen to somewhat taint the S2 finale.

To take it to the final scene, I guess we're to believe that Cameron is driven mad with guilt to the point where he'll kidnap Jax's son as a proxy for his own and, OK, let's say that would happen.

But is that something that would normally happen on an SOA ep?

I'm not quite sure though I imagine Sutter feels fine in doing what he did.

To me it's all about setting up the Sons to have to operate outside of their comfort zone in another country - as Sutter said in his interview with Sepinwell - and that dictates that whatever means necessary are put forth to set up that end and then of course S3's major arcs.

I am gonna roll with it now but I don't think there's a middle ground for how it will work with the Sons in Ireland: I think it comes off as ultra cool or maddeningly lame.

Some other things:

- I think Chibs jumps with Jax/Opie because considering that we know that's a schism within the club, Chibs and Opie will side with Jax when the time comes. Tig's clearly with Clay and Bobby's still in the middle but Chibs is all the way there with where he'll ultimately stand.

- I said to the ladyfriend at ep's end that I felt bad for Lewis because his character had been killed off but Sutter says he was unhappy and I can see that. He had the arc with the blonde cutie last season but not much this season and maybe he saw the way the wind was blowing and didn't think he'd be hitting any higher in the batting order than 7th or 8th come the remaining seasons. So, yeah, he might be giving up a steady paycheque but if he says he wasn't fulfilled as an artist, I can see that.

- I liked Sutter's idea that Zobelle would get away because sometimes the bad guys do. I can understand people wanting their heroes to win but as much as SOA asks us to suspend other areas of disbelief, I personally like that Sutter picked this hill to die on.

- I didn't catch if Weston had ink in mind for his kid but I thought perhaps he went for more just to show that he was more committed to his cause than ever; sort of a finger to Zobelle for misleading him and a personal affirmation for what he still stood for.

- I dare say Unser sends in his resignation from the road, no?

amanda said...

I thought Weston's tattoo would have been "Duke", his son's name, although maybe not, what with its proximity to "Destroy".

cgeye said...

@Antid Oto Also, Sutter claims in his interview that Clay's drop-everything reaction to Abel's kidnap was because nobody goes after family in this world. In a show that's seen Gemma raped and Chibs's and Opie's families both threatened with death, is that even remotely believable?

Yeah, that 'family is everything' trope is now bullshit, has always been bullshit, in organized crime dramas especially. The first thing the boys in Charming did is extort cash from their own townspeople and forced their loved ones to cover up their crimes. Their kids distrust authority, even though that authority could pull them out of abuse. You wanna bet that a charter member gets a beatdown when he beats his wife? That they've never gang raped themselves, when they saw the need to show that type of vengeance?

No matter what good or subtlety we see in these characters, they are as isolative and and potentially harmful to their kids as any religious sect with child wives. We just get such great characters as Gemma and Tara, to distract us from this, but for all the beta women who get on their knees and take the blows, life's even worse..

Anonymous said...

Great post about why you had problems with the finale, Amanda. Totally agree with you, and especially this:

"I thought the point of the show was Charming, that while the club has outside ties it is essentially a microcosm, and within that the Jax/Clay dynamic. Characters come into Charming and affect the MC, but once they leave (unless called upon or visited by the Sons), they don't really exist. A Zobelle in Budapest is unreachable. A "Sons" in Ireland seems ridiculous."

Although I was riveted to the TV during the finale, a day later I'm feeling pretty let down. Enough to say that I'm left thinking I don't love the show as much as did.

I do think that this season was very good - yet I surprisingly feel like season one was better. At least I feel more like watching shows from that season and I now have no desire to rewatch any of the ones from this one. So much frustration, and not much payback and satisfaction.

ScottyG said...

didn't see the kidnapping coming at all, and after reading your interview it's too bad Half-Sack had to go, maybe the Nomad (I forget his name) will step up more?

Margot said...

Big Trouble in Little Charming.

The opening scene with the rats knawing on the dead crow foreshaddowed for me that this would not end well for SAMCRO and somehow the Irish would hurt them because to me the dead rats in the boxes represented Cameron and Edmond and here they were alive again. But SAMCRO is a resilient bunch and they will adapt.

SAMCRO did have the satisfaction of revenge albeit not as they planned and not complete. Otto got an eye for an eye. Jax dispatched Weston who to his credit took it with dignity. Having read Alan's interview with Kurt I realize it was unintentional that Weston died in another bathroom after narrowly escaping Gemma's gun earlier in the season but I felt it was a symbolic purging. Gemma was just constipated before. She had to process a lot and she felt strong enough by the end, especially with the support of the club, to take her own individual revenge. Plus we have talked before about Gemma feeling more aggressive towards and willing to dominate women. With men she is very deferential. Taking out Polly was her job in her mind, just like Jax claimed Weston and Clay claimed Zobelle. Losing his daughter and partner in crime hurt Zobelle deeply and may be better revenge than killing him - to have him live with the knowledge that his choices let to his daughter getting killed. "I do everything you ask of me Daddy, everything!" is a line that should be wringing through his head. I wonder what effect this will have on him now. The way he tells it, the death of his wife, launched him into this life of crime. Will the death of his daughter take him out of it? I doubt it. The villain will return at some point and a wounded bear is more dangerous.

Gemma may feel now that her actions were justified and vindicated by facing one of her attackers but the sequence of events that Gemma set in motion will come back to torment her. It seems she lost the lesson she had learned from John's book about blindly exacting retribution for a wrong or perhaps it will just take longer to learn. I think if she had just played it cool, Polly would have walked into Stahl's mess and gone down for Eddie's murder dead or alive.

Margot said...

I actually like the setup for next season though. It was heartbreaking seeing Jax breakdown at the end but it is all necessary I think. Notice how Clay was holding him. Sometimes people need to break so that they know someone is there to help them pick up the pieces. When Jax called Clay and simply said, "I need you" it was deeply touching. That Clay dropped the bird in hand to come to his aid was also deeply touching. They will have to lean on each other much more next season, with Jemma and Able both gone.

There have been comments that Clay should have left someone behind and that his feelings of shock were not convincingly displayed. I don't think Sutter meant that people don't go after family in their world. What happened to Gemma proves that. I think what was unprecedented about this is that a baby was targeted. I think Cameron went to the house to kill Jax, a son for a son as he said or something to that effect. He found Maggie, Sack and the baby instead. You could see that he made a spur of the moment decision.
I think there will be tension between Jax and Tara, perhaps in the form of those unsaid words, "how could you let them take my son?" Was it just me or was there a bit of that? So many times she had an opportunity to do something ... Cameron put down the gun for a minute. He was crying and closing his eyes deciding what to do. Even if she didn't use force she could have tried to talk him down but I guess she did not have the presence of mind. No doubt she is probably regretting her use of force with Margaret. Although as I re-watched that scene I changed my mind about it - in order to achieve her objective she had to go that far. But now I can imagine she might be conflicted about her adoption of the outlaw way now having felt what it is like to be dominated and helpless before a gun for a second time.

Margot said...

I don't hate Stahl. She has shown remorse for what she has done in the past even if she did not reform. She let Unser in on the informant secret, information which proved very useful to a club seeking vengance. She showed Gemma compassion even as she was setting her up to take the fall. She could have done it to lure her in but I thought it was genuine and that in the end she was just looking out for number 1. She's bad but not all bad ... that's what I like about these characters.

I also found it interesting that at the end, comfort and aid was flowing from Unser to Gemma and Hale to Tara. The leading ladies were absent their leading men when they needed them. I found it interesting that Gemma didn't even call Clay, she called Unser not wanting to burden Clay or take him away from the business at hand. Tara has also done the same in the past.

I expected more body count for the episode. I think the actor who plays Sack probably got tired of being comic relief and the butt of the joke. Too bad. I would have liked to have seen how a prospect gets his patch and becomes a brother.

I think Chibbs was so admant about being at Jax's side this episode because of (a) his loyalty to Gemma (b) gratitude to Tara (c) his preference for Jax's type of thinking man leadership to Clay's (d) plain ole love for the boy. Notice how upset and even hostile he was when Jax was talking Nomad. Only Piney had a more extreme reaction.

I think this may be the best show I have ever seen. I seen some commenters that were bothered by the believability of certain plot turns and devices but the whole nature of television and film requires a suspension of belief in order to work. It is not real life. It is a dynamic world created for our viewing pleasure on a strict budget squeezed into a defined time slot and I, for one, cannot wait to see what Sutter & co. serve up for Season 3.

Kevin said...

Why go with the old “kidnapper escapes on a boat” routine, if you’re not going to have Jax and Clay hotwire one, and while Clay is driving, Jax jumps from one boat to the other to hand-to-hand fight the IRA guy?

J-rod said...

Unser Trucking = Utter Freight?

rcade said...

I was disappointed in the finale. The new storylines squeezed out events that could have been played for much more drama, such as Jax cold-bloodedly executing Weston and Gemma shooting Zobelle's daughter. The whole show has been about competing visions for SAMCRO's future, and we had two main characters choosing retributive violence. Yet we didn't see anything about how this decision affected them, because the show raced to the next plot point. I expect more from this series.

Also, I was shocked when Sutter said in the interview that he doesn't know who killed Luann. We spend a lot of time here trying to pore over the show to figure out where Sutter is going with his master plan. I would not have expected her killer to still be up in the air.

Critical Matt said...

Alrighty! I didn't have time to go through all 97 comments at the moment, so this may have already been covered, but...

Weston isn't dead. Sorry. Room empty. Jax watching him say goodbye to his son. Was that blood or urine on the floor? No slumping body? Hmm...

Anonymous said...

I do think that Weston is dead. No way Jax would just leave him there knowing that everyone would (eventually) find out he just let him go. And Weston was no innocent in Jax's mind - it was personal retribution.

I agree with rcades comments. I know that there was pressure to fit a lot in with just 13 shows, but everything felt so rushed and I was left feeling let down. Polly's death, Half-Sack, and to a lesser degree Weston - it just didn't have the impact on me it should have.

The scenes that stood out most in my mind were the scenes with the motorcycles facing off, and the Unser trojan horse decoy. They just had the feel of the old episodes I've liked.

I would have liked to have had more time dedicated to the retribution, and more set-up (like having us see Otto giving the information about Zobelle to the Aryans, things like that.) Instead, it was sooo rushed.

SoCal said...

So upset that we have to wait 9 months for more SAMCRO!

Good finale,definitely not the greatest episode. However, i guess i should have expected that so Kurt could set up stuff for next week. Can't wait for retribution.

O, and RIP Half-Sack

Jim said...

In general, and particularly as it relates to Sutter's mention of the IRA storyline: Let's not start criticizing Season 3 before it even arrives. Love or hate the S2 finale, it seems silly to me that anyone would decide now that they're not going to like Season 3.

Mike F said...

wow, has this series gone astray...so much for hamlet and internal character struggles...instead, we get manipulative plot pivots that don't make a whole lot of sense

everything about the scenes involving the ATF and the IRA guys felt like something out of a different show than the one I had been watching, poorly conceived and not taking this series in a direction it needed to go

this is a good show and I'll keep watching, but comparisons to the great shows of all time should be put away...its more comprable to Brotherhood on showtime...which is a very good show

whatever happens in Ireland, with the ATF, with Gemma on the lam...etc etc....I just hope the show comes back to its central internal struggles...I just feel like we're being taken for a detour by way of plot contrivance...and I can't help but be let down by this season finale after being absorbed and enthralled by last year's

Anonymous said...

You know what would be great? If we find out in season three that Cameron didn't take Abel to Ireland. Instead he took him to another kid's birthday party at Chuck E Cheese.

Karen L said...

I had to stop reading comments cuz the negative ones were starting to affect my total enjoyment of the finale!

But a couple quick bits others brought up (and apologies if someone already responded):
Question, why on two separate occasions did Opie and Chibbs run to help Jax?

Others have explained Opie, but Chibs and Jax have always been shown to be tight (Chibs votes with Jax pretty much every time), plus Tara protected him in the hospital, and he owes her.


I also think that this is an instance of things not 'happening in a vacuum' as Sutter says in the interview. They may not be at each other's throats at the moment, but the divisions in the club still exist, and Chibbs and Opie are squarely on Jax's side of the table. They're going to back him up over Clay pretty much any time imo.

Does Stahl's ATF-issued pea shooter launch the same projectiles as Gemma's hand cannon?

Stahl covered herself on this. She said Gemma took Stahl's weapon, shot Polly with her own gun, then shot Edmond with Stahl's.

It also helps explain the trajectories, gunshot residue, and a lot of other forensic issues far more easily than if she were to leave Gemma out of it and suggest that Edmond and Polly killed each other.


Actually, Stahl doesn't cover herself. She says Gemma suckerpunched her, grabbed her gun, shot the girl and then shot Edmund when he tried to run. I don't know how she thinks she's going to explain the bullet issue, except that a) she might have the same caliber as Gemma, in which case since the feds have eye witness testimony from an agent and Gemma's fingerprints on the gun, they won't check that the bullets were fired from the same gun. It could be that very issue that eventually gets Gemma off, because if there's a trial and that comes up during it, no question the case would be thrown out by any competent judge, and once doubt was thrown on Stahl's word, in fact she was tried for murder, there would be no way they could convict Gemma.

Regarding Stall shooting Edmund, I felt like that was highly believable. If she'd had her gun with her that day with Otto, I'm thinking the story would have gone a different way. I also feel like she, kinda like Tara, is influenced by this world she's on the periphery of...and she has a LOT of anger in her. So that anger, a very physical response to being punched in a very painful, very personal way...manifested itself in shooting first and thinking later.

Overall I thought this was a brilliant episode and a brilliant season...I can hardly wait for next year!

mojak27 said...

Thanks for the kudos for Henry Rollins. I've been a fan of his music his (bad) poetry and acting for years.

He did some stellar work portraying Weston this past season and I'm thrilled that didn't go unnoticed.

Mark B said...

A lot of young people dead tonight. Plus one commander executed. There is no mercy without ulterior motive or more immediate provocation. The season ends in a war of retribution.

In the prior seasons finale, Jax declares “we don’t kill women”, thus saving the life of the child witness. Violence, however, respects nothing and if women are combatants then some of them will die. Again in the prior season, Hale and Jax are in agreement that Donna’s death was over the line. Where the lines are in the fog of war is debatable and, of course, kidnapping is among mankind’s oldest traditions.

I agree with praise for the exceptional writing and acting of this season finale.

Michael Taylor said...

Jax didn't seem entirely satisfied by his moment of retribution in the cold-blooded execution of Weston. Yes, Weston was a truly vile, murderous human being who richly deserved it -- but the calm, matter-of-fact manner in which he accepted the situation (and his fate) displayed a dignity and discipline that surprised me -- and I think it surprised Jax as well.

Although Jax was later greeted with the usual bro-hug, have-a-drink camaraderie of the clubhouse, I got the feeling he'll have issues with the aftermath -- the echoes of that killing -- down the line.

Others have commented on the seemingly unrealistic time-line in the final chase to the harbor, thinking (hoping) those Harleys should have caught up with Jimmy O's car. My problem with that sequence comes from the other end of the equation -- all of the Sons were many, many miles away from Charming chasing and finally cornering Zoebell in that convenience store. In the real world, there's no way Jax could get back to his house and Tara (and the dead Half-Sack) in time to catch the Jimmy O on his way to the harbor. And how does he even know Jimmy O is heading that way? For the rest of the club to catch up with Jax as he chased Jimmy O makes no sense at all in the real world.

For a while, SOA's routine departures from physical reality -- the real world -- bothered me a lot. But the truth is, there's very little about the show (other than those Harleys) that resembles the real world. Kurt Sutter said he didn't intend to make a show about real bikers, but rather a "pulp" version of the truth. It took me a while to accept this, but I've come around to enjoy SOA for what it is: a fun show with lots of supercharged, over-amped drama -- and I'm looking forward to Season 3.

אורי said...

Hey Alan, just had a nice week or so of watching SoA from start to finish, all the while reading your posts on it (and AVClub's) and had a great ride, so thanks for constituting a part of it.

I got a small question I hope you can give me your take on... what do you think about the editing effects used in the last shot of the finale? Really, I can't remember when was the last time I saw these being used (...21 Jump Street?), and felt overall that it's a cheesy effect that doesn't belong here. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Lucky for Stahl that Eddie didn't put the gun to her temple and pull the trigger. She'd be dead, blanks or not.

If the Sons had sent someone into the store to shoot Zoebell, it would have been on the security camera.

Boy, Tara sure is worthless in a fight, ain't she?

RIP, Half-Sack. I hope the bury you in full colors.