Recap: 'Sons of Anarchy' Final Season Premiere - 'Black Widow'
If you still haven’t watched Tuesday night’s "Sons of Anarchy" season premiere then go do some naked pushups, get your canned stew aligned and catch up immediately or you might be angrier than a dude in a wheelchair being dragged down the street when you’re spoiled by this review.
“Black Widower” was the extremely long (105 minutes) debut of the FX series’ seventh and final season and it was clear from the opening moments that the tone has shifted to a very dark place indeed. Jax is in prison, proving he’s lost a piece of his own humanity with Tara’s death in the Season 6 finale, carving swastikas and yanking teeth from a snitch in order for a sit down. Gemma has finally taken back her long-sought-after matriarchal throne but has to swallow guilt every time she looks at the boys she’s now tasked with taking care of. And Juice is apparently getting naked and eating a lot of canned goods while hiding out from the club that once saved his life.
Of course it doesn’t take long for the action to pick back up, beginning with Patterson’s mom-style interrogation and Jax’s subsequent release from prison. It seems too easy that Patterson wasn’t able to find anything to pin the club leader to the wall with, given the fact that he agreed to turn himself in a mere 10 days prior to Tara’s death. But we all know the series doesn’t work with the lead character behind bars, and we’ve seen plenty of that life thanks to creator Kurt Sutter’s turn as Otto in previous seasons.
By putting Jax back on the outside early on we see him have to deal with two things right away: the future of his club and the future of his family. As a broken man—one who wasn’t even able to attend his wife’s funeral—he’s not able to deal with much, opting to stay away from his boys almost in fear of dealing with the guilt of their mother’s death. Instead he sticks to his mission of focusing on his first love, the club, instead. That leaves Gemma and Wendy—two very questionable ladies—in charge of Thomas and Abel instead.
For someone who once shot his ex full of drugs in order to keep her away, Jax sure let Wendy back into the fold fairly easy. Obviously Gemma vouching for the character formerly known as The Junkie had a large part to do with that, but we’re also seeing Jax revert to a version of the character he was before he found JT’s letters. Since then this show has been about his entire attempted to realize his father’s lofty ambitions of turning the club legit, and he’s been thwarted at every turn.
Tara’s death was the last straw. With her exit, Jax’s softer side also departs. Now he’s a hollow version of himself, a brand new character. We see that several times in the episode through the beatings and the scene in which he coldly finishes off the pastor. He also makes it clear to the remaining Sons (and a couple of new faces) that he’s come to the conclusion that going the JT route only leads to loss. “I’ve already lost the woman I love. I’m not gonna lose my club too,” he says. Little does he know that by keeping his mother around he has little choice, because she is unraveling him the same way she unraveled her ex-husband.
Gemma established herself as an unsympathetic character a long time ago, and solidified it in Season 6 when she rammed a fork in Tara’s skull. For all the good Jax does to rectify giving the gun business to the Blacks with the Chinese and the Mayans in this year’s premiere, he is once again undermined by the “strong woman” who claims to be the only thread holding her family together. By claiming an innocent man killed Tara and blaming the Chinese, she effectively ruins the peace brokered by her son and boyfriend earlier on in the episode, but also seals her fate with viewers. We now know exactly how far this deluded woman will go to keep her “truth,” and it sure ain’t pretty.
Thanks to the brutal, nine-minute closing montage set to a remake of Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody," that’s the truth we’re going to be sticking with, it seems. With Gemma having sealed that poor man’s fate, we had to watch in frustration as Jax refused to let the man talk at all, opting to torture him with a variety of kitchen objects instead. Heck, even Tig looked a little blanched at the way it all went down, and we all know Tig secretly enjoys the violence of it all in his own twisted, “Little Alex Enema” way. Did we need to go so far as to see Jax ram a carving fork in the guy’s skull the way his mother did last season? Probably not. But at least now there’s little question as to what we’re in store for during this final season.
Stray bits of Anarchy:
*** We all knew Unser was going to discover Juice thanks to Patterson’s nudging and promises of “consulting.” Unser has been through more than most on this show, but I’m still not worried that Juice is going to kill him. Not yet, anyhow. Now if Gemma makes that call … well that’s a different story.
*** Speaking of Patterson, she chillingly called the way this season is going to go when she revealed her reasons for getting personal with Jax: “I’m trying to connect with the man who knows the importance of family and that more violence will only destroy what’s left of his.” What’s that saying about hindsight?
*** Was anyone else impressed that Wendy was able to get sober in nine short days? And does anyone else see Wendy and Jax “going there” in the near future? Jax is a man of many needs, after all.
*** Who knew Chibs drew the line at bloody cigarette? Guess everyone has their limits and puffing on wet blood just so happens to be his.
*** The wait for Red Woody Incorporated merchandise is officially on. In the meantime, who can find Happy’s reaper-themed t-shirt online first?
*** Bonus points if you spotted Marilyn Manson without his usually slab of makeup.
Do you like the new Jax? Has Gemma gone too far? Were you impressed by Juice's pipes? Sound off below.