'Sons of Anarchy' - 'Home': Spread out the misery
A review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I go redhead for a while...
As mentioned in a couple of other posts today, the flu has ravaged the Sepinwall household, leaving me as the last man standing, giving me less time than I'd like to write about "Home," which was the last of the four episodes FX sent out for review before the season began. So while there were a number of good things about it - Katey Sagal with Hal Holbrook, Jax confronting Tara (and vice versa) about Amelia, that great little scene where Jax ties an arthritic Clay to the bike to help him get through the ride, a relatively light-hearted story for Piney and Bobby (as light-hearted as a stand-off with a bunch of homicidal crank dealers can be) - I want to take the brief amount of time I have to focus on the biggest concern I had when I finished watching these four a few weeks ago.
As I alluded to in my initial review of the season, and as I talked about last week, I'm not crazy about how Kurt Sutter and company (here on a script co-written with Elizabeth Sagal) are dragging out the Abel/Belfast arc more than they should.
My problem isn't so much with Gemma's heart attack at the end, which puts her on the ground before she can tell the Sons what Maureen told her about Abel. I mean, sure, it's strange that Clay and the others didn't try to call Gemma on the long drive back to Charming to explain why they need her to stay on the loose with them. But the show has spent enough time over the years on the family heart defect, which killed Jax's brother and nearly killed Abel as a newborn. And this season had spent enough time laying the groundwork for why Clay was keeping Abel a secret from Gemma and why at the same time thoughts of Abel were looming so large in Gemma's mind, and at this point in the episode she's coming off of that devastating scene where she had to put her confused, angry father in the home. So I buy that under these circumstances, with this woman and her bum ticker, that something bad would happen when she got the news she wasn't expecting (and that Maureen assumed she already knew), even if the timing couldn't have possibly been worse, or more clearly designed to slow down the Abel search.
No, my concern is more with how much the Belfast storyline relies on characters and conflicts that are alien to us. We know Jimmy O a little, mainly as the arch-villain of Chibs' life, and we know Father Asbhy not at all. Nor do we truly understand what Jimmy O is up to and why it's so important to the good Father to use Abel as bait to draw SAMCRO across the pond to put a stop to things. The show hasn't done a good enough job of making me understand and/or care about this conflict, and so right now it's just another excuse to keep Abel away from Jax, even though the man who abducted him in the first place is dead and irrelevant.
I have high hopes for where the season goes once the Sons actually get to Belfast, but I fear we have another episode or three to go involving Gemma in the hospital, Jax again trying to go to Vancouver, etc., before our main characters actually wind up on the same continent as their various opponents.
Again, there are plenty of fine moments while we wait, but the shadow of Abel looms so large over the whole season that it feels particularly frustrating that we're clearly going to have to wait most, if not all, of the season before Jax gets him back and we can move on to something else.
A couple of other quick thoughts (mainly notes I made before Influenza 2010 rolled in):
• I liked the Peggy Bundy in-joke I used for the review intro this week, with Gemma being horrified at the idea of having to dye her hair red.
• Every network, cable or broadcast, seems to have a stable of guest actors who just rotate from one show to the next, so here we get both Frances Fisher (who was the mother of Dutch's teenage opponent in the final season of "The Shield") as the friendly neighborhood prescription drug dealer and Ray Porter (who was Crowder family henchman Hestler on "Justified") as one of the crank dealers looking to rob her.
• Tig comedy: Jax is mad about whatever role he played in Amelia's death, and Tig says, "Actually, I just made a phone call." Kim Coates is funny.
• This week's songs include "All You've Left" by Six Organs, "Son of Shame" by Flatfoot 56, "I Took the Poison" by Mystery Girl, "Spraypaint Alley" by Damien Dempsey and Katey Sagal & The Forest Rangers on "Bird on the Wire."
I should be getting a few additional episodes later this week, and my plan is to watch them a week at a time so I'm not ahead of you as I write the reviews. But sometimes the real world gets in the way of plans (as it did today), so we'll see.
What did everybody else think?