'Sons of Anarchy' - 'Caregiver': Bachman books
Due to premiere week demands on my time, a shorter-than-usual "Sons of Anarchy" review coming up just as soon as I'm in the mood for some '80s music...
"Days like this, when I can remember everything I usually forget - these are the worst days." -Nate
The thing that Kurt Sutter does so well on this show, and that he and Shawn Ryan and the rest did on "The Shield," is to put characters into holes where they more they try to get out, the deeper they wind up digging. The trick to this kind of plotting is to make it seem organic, so that the viewers will say to themselves that of course Character A would react that way in Plot B, making Story Arc C last for an additional D number of episodes.
The danger is in doing it in a way where the audience can see the producers pulling the strings, which happened for me a few times in "Caregiver," in both the Gemma and Abel/Belfast storylines.
Abel is the big story of the season, so Jax isn't likely to get his son back by episode four, or five. But with Cameron dead, the reasons for the separation being extended have to feel natural, and I'm not sure they do here. We don't know nearly enough about what the conflict is between Father Asbhy and Jimmy O that's making the Asbhy drag this out. And when Maureen decides that she doesn't care and wants to tell the Sons about the son, she recruits Half-Sack's ex-girlfriend Cherry (Taryn Manning, reprising her season one role) to get Gemma's number, when of course Half-Sack's dead and Gemma is a fugitive without her regular phone.
Now, we established back in season one that Cherry was heading off to hang with the Belfast charter, so it wasn't a completely out of left field move, but my reaction to most of those scenes was to think, "Well, that oughta slow things down for an episode or two."
Similarly, I rolled my eyes when Tara was dumb enough to free one of Amelia's hands, and then turn her back on her. Tara's not a stone killer, nor a nutcase like Gemma is becoming(*), but she helped cover up a killing once before, has been hanging with Jax for a while, has been getting tutored by Gemma and didn't hesitate to lay the smack on Margaret in the hospital late last season. She's in so deep that I had a hard time believing, even with her medical training, that she'd let herself get suckered in by that. But Amelia was a complication who had to be dealt with, and in a way that would pull Tara in deeper into this world, and so Tara had to make a dumb mistake.
(*) One of my favorite running elements of this season is how people keep asking Gemma if she's lost her mind, and how Gemma never quite denies it. She's been through too much over the last couple of seasons that she's not even bothering to put up her usual facade most of the time.
Yet in spite of some of the plot contrivances, "Caregiver" still had a lot of the show's usual strengths.
The favor-trading storyline with the Mayans, the Grim Bastards and Lin briefly gave the episode the feel of a world that isn't being dominated by Abel's abduction (Jax even smiled a few times), and finally addressed the elephant in the room of Opie and Lyla's relationship when he lost his temper during the sex party. This season doesn't seem like it's going to be as Opie-heavy as the first two were, but man was Ryan Hurst good in the scene where he tells Lyla he doesn't want her to be "sad," when his eyes show that, as always, Opie is the saddest person in Charming.
Hal Holbrook was, unsurprisingly, fantastic as Nate contemplated ending it all with his hunting rifle, and then as he talked to Gemma about how much harder his lucid days are than the ones where the dementia overcomes him.
And "Sons" fan Stephen King had himself a perfectly twisted little cameo as Bachman (named, of course, after King's occasional pen name Richard Bachman), the corpse-disposal expert. I laughed a very long time when Bachman requested some '80s music and Tig, without missing a beat, said, "I'll make that happen."
This was probably my least favorite of the four episodes FX sent out in advance of the season, but "Sons" is still "Sons" enough when it matters.
A few other thoughts:
• As the Jacob/Oswald mayoral storyline heats up, we're starting to see the people of Charming understandably beginning to resent SAMCRO for the drama that's come to the town over the last few seasons. As Jacob told Unser last week, it's one thing to look the other way when the hooligans are helping to keep the peace, and another when they become part of the problem.
• So Maureen and the late John Teller were an item at some point? Interesting. Sutter has said he wants to take some of the halo off Jax's dad with this Belfast storyline, and I look to learning more about his time in Ireland.
• Another episode, another "Deadwood" alum, as Robin Weigert replaces Tom Everett Scott as the Sons' defense attorney. If the season ends without Weigert and Dayton Callie having a scene together, I'll be very disappointed.
• Note that Clay won't step out on Gemma due to all they've been through together lately, even though (from what I think the show has taught me about rules for old ladies) Gemma being out of town gives him license to do so. But here's my question: given how out of sorts Jax is, and how mad he is that Tara disobeyed him to go help Gemma, would he have taken Ima up on her request for a ride home (with another kind of ride implied) if Juice hadn't come up with the photo of Cameron's corpse just then?
• This week's songs included "What Do You Do When You’re Lonesome" by Justin Townes Earle, "Not Today" by Preacher Stone, "(I Don’t Think I’ll) Love You Anymore" by The Young Dubliners and "Damned" by The White Buffalo.
What did everybody else think?
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
Let Streaming Genie help you.