Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sons of Anarchy, "Fix": Ima let you finish

Spoilers for tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I dry out under stress...
"Just father-son s--t, you know." -Jax

"Nobody likes seeing Mommy and Daddy fight." -Tig
Ethan and his buddies in the League spend a lot of "Fix" hatching various schemes to bring down Samcro, but they almost don't need to bother. Thanks in part to the emotional trauma they already inflicted on Gemma (and Gemma's refusal to share this with Clay), and in part to events that happened long before the League rolled into Charming, Samcro seems to be doing a bang-up job of trying to destroy itself.

Clay and Jax are still pushing at each other, trying to establish both authority within the club and moral superiority over the other. And Gemma's increasing, unexplained coldness to Clay finally pushes him over the brink and leads to a nasty scene outside of Luanne's studio. Opie's still looking to go out in a blaze of glory, and now Bobby is getting sexual favors from Luanne (the wife of another club member) in exchange for keeping secrets from Clay.

As the two lines quoted above suggest, the Sons treat the club as a family - Clay's the dad, Gemma's the mom, Jax is the favorite son, Piney the crotchety grandpa, Tig the dirtbag cousin, etc. - so when the three people who really are family start going at it, the ripple effects are much stronger than if, say, Half-Sack and Chibs had a beef going. And making matters worse, only a few people know what the Clay/Jax feud is about, and nobody who's actually a club member has any idea why Clay and Gemma aren't getting along, Clay included.

In the middle of a surprising amount of action this week is Bobby Elvis, who I suppose in this family metaphor would be the guy who's not related to anybody but is called "Uncle" because everyone's known him so long and likes him so much. (That he does a mean "Hava Nagila" helps in the latter portion.) Bobby was in jail when the hit on Donna went down. Given the way Clay leans on him for counsel (he's the angel on the shoulder to Tig's devil), it's entirely possible Bobby could have prevented the tragedy had he been out on the street at the time, and now he's trying his best to shut down this current problem before it boils over. But if it comes out that he's screwing Luanne to cover for her skimming - "prison clause" or no - the club's internal strife is only going to get worse, no?

While the club members are fighting with each other, Tara gets stuck in a metaphorical catfight with Ima the porn starlet, who wants Jax for herself. Because Gemma is such a force of nature on the show (and so well-played by the creator's wife, particularly during this current rape arc), there's always a danger that she'll start to be right about everything. So I was glad to see Tara resist the advice to brawl with Ima, and that she instead found a more emotionally satisfying way to mark her territory, even if that's not what she intended when she ripped Jax's shirt open in the bathroom. (The "I won" look on Maggie Siff's face when Ima walks into the room is priceless.)

With the club still in business with Luanne, the problem with Ima likely isn't going to go away anytime soon. Nor are the issues between Jax and Clay, Clay and Gemma, and, of course, Samcro and the League. We've got a whole lot of season left to go, and knowing the way Kurt Sutter rolls, things are going to get a lot uglier before they get prettier.

A few other thoughts:

• Usually, "Sons of Anarchy" pre-credits sequences tend to run so long that they're more or less regular acts, with the credits thrown on 10 minutes in for the heck of it. But tonight's teaser was extremely short.

• While Unser is still taking a barrel-ful of cancer meds, Hale lets himself be talked into siding with the League. I wonder if his conversations with Ethan are what Wayne's talks with Clay were like a few hundred years ago.

• This is the episode where I first noticed Adam Arkin's shifting accent - specifically, the way he says "vig-i-LAWN-tee" when Hale's at the cigar shop - but several of you said that it was in the first two episodes, as well, so I must have just missed it.

• With the talk of the prison clause, and with Clay getting serviced by a groupie during his quasi-split with Gemma, it may be time for the show to revisit exactly what the rules are concerning fidelity in this world. Last year, it seemed like Gemma was suggesting you can fool around on the road so long as it doesn't follow you home.

What did everybody else think?


Phil Freeman said...

Did you notice the "Mad Men" gag at the porn studio? Made me laugh... "You're a bad boss, Mr. Draper!"

greentara said...

Bathroom scene=dirty hot! And you know there really has to be at least a dozen Mad Men-themed pornos by now.

Chris Littmann said...

Meek Men was too funny. Although the open was short, it was a funny standalone.

OK, so this far into the season, what's the death pool looking like this year? I mean you gotta figure even odds on the Zobelle and A.J., but the number of figures in trouble in the club rises by the minute. Opie has a death wish. The possible ramifications of Tig being revealed to Opie as the one who killed Donna. And now Bobby puts himself in a tough spot by basically enabling Luanne to steal. And of course Jax and Clay are at odds. Like you said, they could just all draw on each other and empty their clips with no help from the separatists.

Chris Littmann said...

Also, your "somewhat cheesy" dialog moment of the week from Jax: "Go get the boom." Still didn't touch last week's really bad "Baseball Time!" line which made me LOL hard. Overall another good episode. I'm just waiting for Gemma to break down and tell them, setting off World War III in Charming.

ALSO, left out of my first comment: Hale. Holy crap. I think he's going to regret THAT choice. I forgot to mention him and Unser in my death pool.

Matt said...

I don't see Gemma breaking down and coming right out with it of her own accord, but I do see someone in the club finding out, potentially leading to a revelation. It almost looked as if Tig had overheard her discussion of the sexual assault support group with Unser (I don't think he did, but it was close), and if she starts going to group someone is going to discover it sooner or later. Plus it looks like she's about to get religion, literally, and that's bound to raise antennae (though of course she can shrug it off as an after-effect of the near-death experience of her "accident").

Chris Littmann said...

@Matt: How about an Unser deathbed confession to Clay or something? I could see that toward the end of the season.

Howard Chaykin said...

I don't know where anyone is hearing this "accent" from Adam Arkin. He chose to over enunciate on "Vigilante" but he sounds just like the nice Jewish boy he's always been--which makes the character all the more interesting.

Unknown said...

man, Hale let me down big time. Does he really think SAMCRO is the greater evil?

JanieJones said...

There are definitive fractures occurring in SAMCRO. Chris, you listed many of them.
I thought for a moment that Tig had heard Gemma talking with Unser but it seemed as though he didn't. Tig may not be the brightest bulb in the bag but he is aware that something is going on with Gemma and Clay.
Katey Sagal is doing an excellent job portraying a person who is experiencing PTSD (from the vicious rape). Her nervousness, anxiety, and desperation at not being able to talk to anyone about her experience has forever changed her. I don't know if Gemma will cling to religion but she needs to do something in order to personally deal with her tragic experience. It is not uncommon for people to turn to religion for comfort when dealing with tragedy.

Luanne-not surprised to find out that she has been skimming money for six years.

Hale-major disappointment. I can't believe that he actually chose Ethan's propaganda over SAMCRO. I thought he was smarter.

Alan, you mentioned the lines of fidelity. I also thought I understood that it was okay on the road but a big no at home from what I gathered last season.
I couldn't figure out if Clay looked at a little remorseful (besides experiencing pleasure) while the woman was servicing him.

Opie-self-fulfilling prophecy waiting to happen. He needs to think about his kids as Jax told him. He is completely grief-stricken and full of anger to not realize that his wife's memory lives on in his children.

Matt said...

@Geoff: Maybe Hale is so fixated on SAMCRO that he can't be objective. Or maybe he has no basis for a good comparison -- I assume that he grew up in a SAMCRO-run Charming.

@Chris: That's interesting. I hadn't taken Unser's looming death into account. Here's another possible end-of-season angle on Unser's death: realizing the threat that LOAN and Zobelle pose to Charming, that he'll soon be in no position to do anything about it, and that he has very little time left on Earth, Unser kills Zobelle. In case that's not enough motivation for Unser to act, maybe he also finds out that LOAN, on Zobelle's orders, carried out the attack on Gemma.

Sharon said...

Hale is choosing what is, in his mind, the lesser of two evils. I think he believes that once SAMCRO is out of the way, Ethan and his minions will pack up and leave Charming. I'm sure that's far from Ethan's plan, but Hale has been chafing at the entire town being under the control of SAMCRO for a long time and believes the short-term pain will be worth the long-term gain.

The one note that rang slightly false for me last night was Clay allowing the girl to service him - it has only been three weeks since Gemma's accident. Given how much he loves her, it just seemed to me that it was too soon for him to turn to another woman. He knows there's a problem, and he knows Gemma is shutting him out - just the fact that she tacitly gave him permission by telling him to go to the wrap party should have set off all kinds of alarms for him, after the skateboard incident from last season. Just a minor point - I have really come to love this show and can't wait to see what happens next!

Hatfield said...

Screw whether or not Gemma's right too much (and by the way, her hatred of Tara and related behavior last season was ridiculous, so she's hardly infallible), Tara needed to kick that girl's ass! I have not seen a more irritating character on TV in a while.

I'm very upset by Hale's choice, though he looked very conflicted at the end (another Toadies song from their comeback album, No Deliverance; Kurt Sutter is clearly a fan). I have a feeling he'll come around once he realizes how bad these guys really are. Otherwise, I'm with Unser: Nothing makes sense anymore.

The Mad Men thing was funny mostly because of timing--this week everyone was talking about Don and Joan's potential chemistry, and then here we have a secretary being the aggressor with Don't shoe. So after the Adriana line last week, what's next? Unser goes to Zobelle's room and says something like, "Oh, I guess someone lookin' hard might could find you in there somewheres, peekin' from under the covers to make a f***in' threat?" One can only hope.

I notice Opie noticing the strife between Clay and Jax, and of course he doesn't know it was Clay who ordered the hit on him, so which side of that divide does he land on if they keep beefing?

I'm really glad this show has come back so strong.

Hatfield said...

Don's shoe, that is.

Sharon, I buy his infidelity. If he was mad enough at her to beat up her friggin' car, I doubt a little head would seem like much of a transgression.

Alan, I actually was hoping for, "Just as soon as I perform an anal rain dance," but I guess that would have been a little too graphic.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, I actually was hoping for, "Just as soon as I perform an anal rain dance," but I guess that would have been a little too graphic.

Oh, believe me, I thought about it. There were several potential "as soon as" options in this episode that I had to discard for similar reasons.

Myles said...

My favourite thing about this episode was having Tara reading Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

Considering Tara's arc (wanting to see more of the inside of how the business works), her reaction of "I really want a steak" is the perfect companion to her embracing of Gemma's strategy (in emotion if not in physicality). She is seeing what happens to women in this club first hand with Gemma, like the disgusting conditions in the meat processing plants, and yet she wants more - it's a fascinating position for the character to be in.

Plus, you have Jax admitting that the book almost turned him Vegan, asking again just how far he's willing to take this club in its current form.

Really strong episode, as the entire season has been.

DELINQ said...

Spectacular porn star/Kanye reference.

James Tango said...

Hale has kinda got an Agent Harris thing going on, though I'm not sure he'll ever be a fan of SAMCRO like Harris ended up with Tony. Still, it is and will be an interesting dynamic to observe.

Hatfield said...

I know the season premiere did great, but how have the ratings the last two weeks been? And where can I go to find this out so I'm not bugging people here?

The Notorious JMG said...

@Hatfield - pay a visit to tvbythenumbers.com. They usually have the cable ratings in addition to the broadcast ratings.

Anonymous said...

FOllowing up on the last comment, ratings look good

Hatfield said...

Thanks, Happy Prime! Yes, ratings do look good. I watched the episode again last night, and I nticed that the writers spent a lot of time having one character say "Hale would never do that!" and having another character say, "But wouldn't he?" Operating outside the law goes against everything we've seen about him so far, and the writers know it. Relatively minor complaint, but I don't buy it. If he continues down this path, I call shenanigans

Chip said...

Lmao at the title of this post. @Hatfield, yea the ratings are good...I'm waiting on that s3 renewal! I could just still have a new season high but I'm loving this show so much that I really wanna see Kurt's 7 year dream (http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/watch_with_kristin/b138316_sons_of_anarchy_boss_readying.html) come to fruition

Karl Ruben said...

I really, really, really hope there's some kind of reversal coming on the whole Hale storyline, because him throwing his lot in with Zobelle seems wildly out of character. I could have understood it if his decision came on the heels of some major SAMCRO transgression, but things have been relatively calm in charming lately, no? I'm joining @Hatfield on the shenanigans-calling if we don't get to see some more justification for Hale's actions.

Carolyn said...

I agree that in the past "infidelity was for the road" but in this episode, I interpreted that last scene between Gemma & Clay with him saying "I think I'll go to the party...but do you want to have supper first" and her saying "umm....no...you go ahead and go" was them having a sort of silent agreement as to "why don't you get some from someone else b/c i just can't give it to you right now."

i.e clay was really saying "i want sex and if i go to the party, i can get some, but what I really want is you" and gemma's reply was "i just can't do it right now / you are free to get some elsewhere tonight"

considering how sparkly with tears clay's eyes were during that conversation, that's how i read it.

the Tara/Jax stuff is pretty fantastic so far this season.