Review: 'Sons of Anarchy' - 'Una Venta': By the time I get to Arizona
A quick review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I bring you my dead bulbs...
"Can't get any worse." -Piney
"Sons of Anarchy" has to walk a very tricky line between making the Sons - as individuals and as a group - empathetic and people we want to watch for 13 weeks a year, season after season, and just making it a show about a bunch of lovable, misunderstood outlaws who may be bad, but are never as bad as the people they have to kill. For a while, I worried that "Una Venta" was going to be one of those episodes that waved away everything that Clay and Jax are up to by comparing it to the similar, but worse, activities of a fellow charter. Instead, though, the two bad seeds in the Tucson charter are identified and punished, but the charter itself votes to keep selling meth, because the money's too good and they can't afford to draw any kind of high-handed, meaningless distinction between transporting the stuff and selling it directly. And while Jax and Clay can lie to themselves about what they're doing, or the reasons for doing it, or the implications of it, it's clear that they're no better than their brothers from Arizona(*).
(*) Note the high percentage of Latinos in the Tucson membership. While the Juice storyline introduced last week didn't come up here, Kurt Sutter did a blog post about the issue - and the way that motorcycle clubs draw a distinction between being Latino and being black. Interesting stuff, but something the show needs to clarify in extreme detail before we go too much further with the Juice story - and which, frankly, should have been introduced before Roosevelt told Juice about his dad. Extra-curricular info is great, but the show itself has to convey the necessary info. (There were similar issues last year with the origins of SAMCRO and SAMBEL, which Sutter has always gone into in greater detail on his blog, apps, etc.)
A few of you have compared the cartel deal to the Strike Team's attempt to rob the Armenian money train on "The Shield," and that comparison became plainer than ever in this one with the scene where the Sons stand around the crate of cocaine, pondering what they've just gotten themselves into. On the one hand, this coke represents more money than any of them have ever hoped to make with the club. On the other, the level of danger they're putting themselves in, and the things it says about them that they're part of a club that's doing this, seems to give pause to those who voted "yes" and an added layer of "toldja so" to the nay votes like Bobby Elvis.
We get a brief moment of Romeo and Luis alone, discussing their feelings about the Sons, and when Luis asks if they can trust the Sons, Romeo replies, "Much as we need to." This could be the cartel boys just being pragmatic about what could be a short-term relationship, or it could be Romeo plotting to cut the Sons out of the gun trade when the time is right. But no matter what his intentions are, I don't see any way this deal ends well for SAMCRO - and not just because Kurt Sutter would like to make three more seasons of the show after this one.
Strong episode. Maybe my favorite of the season so far.
Some other thoughts:
• Loved the staging of the scene where Potter tells Big Otto about his dead wife having sex with Bobby, with Otto - so wounded physically and emotionally from all the things he's endured since the series began - just lying their quietly in the dark, barely moving at all, finally letting a single tear come out after Potter leaves, but not even attempting to look at photos he doesn't want to see and probably couldn't given the lighting conditions and his eyesight. (Also good to have that murder - a dangler from season 2 - finally brought back up again.)
• Potter's stirring up trouble on multiple fronts this week by telling Gemma about Jacob Hale's deadline for losing the eminent domain rights, which he no doubt hopes will make Gemma and/or the Sons act recklessly.
• One of the first season's most memorable episodes involved the Sons administering justice on a former member who dared to keep his SAMCRO ink intact. Here, with former Tucson member Reggie, we see that the simplest way to avoid such punishment is to have those large tats completely blacked out.
• Is it my imagination, or has the show been doing more motorcycle chases so far this season than in any comparable four-episode stretch (particularly early in a season) to date?
• So Piney wants to go up against Clay not only to save the club, but to perhaps give himself a more dignified death than the emphysema will? Interesting.
• Even with the compressed timeline of each season, the show has been dropping so many hints about Clay's arthritis making him unable to ride that I have to wonder if he'll even make it through the season without falling off his bike - and, in the process, his throne.
• Potter notes that blowing up a grease truck doesn't seem to be the SAMCRO style, but it definitely fit the kind of bleak but beautiful Southwestern landscapes that "Breaking Bad" - a show that's blown up a truck or 20 in its time - utilizes so well.
What did everybody else think?