Recap: 'Sons of Anarchy' - 'Toil and Till'
Waiting to catch Tuesday night’s “Sons of Anarchy?” Better water those nicotine-laced azaleas and clean up those airstreams because spoilers abound in this review.
“Toil and Till” was less poetic than last week’s extended season opener (in large part thanks to its lack of melodramatic musical montages and its faster pace), but it continued down the dark, fiery path that Jax and co. have established that they are in fact on in Season 7.
The episode kicked off with Jax, alone in bed and then at his kitchen table, staring at the spot where he found his dead wife. The cameras then panned to Juice, also alone at his table, before flipping to Gemma in juxtaposition to show how the actual person who caused all of this suffering is also the one who continues to win because she has a man who loves her by her side. Sure, we’re seeing her guilt come through with her inability to push back when Wendy suggests Abel goes to junior kindergarten, or from the fact that she can’t be alone with the boys. But at the end of the day she is still responsible, and after seven seasons of such behavior I’m not sure any of the viewers out there are ready to deem her redeemable.
On the plus side it looks as though she’s finally starting to slightly emerge from her deluded world. Emphasis on slightly, because while she did urge Juice to blow Dodge, she also defended pointing the finger at an innocent man by explaining that Jax needed “closure.” As if he’s now going to move on rather start an all-out street war. Watching those two together it’s hard to pinpoint who’s worse—Gemma or Juice. These past two episodes we’ve seen them use Wendy’s couch as a therapy tool of sorts as they talk about their “truth.” At this point, the word would make an excellent drinking game.
I was hoping Juice actually would get out of there and move that story along, but as we’ve seen in the past, this is a guy who has no identity without his SAMCRO cut. He’s gone from the happy-go-lucky, diaper-wearing comedic relief of the show to the scared-as-hell coward who can’t bring himself to leave but can’t bring himself to do what he tried to do several seasons ago either — end his own life. It’s a terrible place to be, but the fact that he went back to Wendy’s at the end of the episode pretty much solidifies his fate. At this point he either wants back in with his club, or for one of his former friends to finish him off.
Juice is the least of the Sons worries after Tuesday night though. Jax is clearly intent on bringing down everyone around him and he doesn’t care who goes down in the crossfires. While we can at least try and understand his intentions behind bringing down the Chinese and Lin in particular, the fact that he killed the “local muscle” and made a potential enemy out of the Indian Hills charter is a new low — not just for Jax, but for Bobby and Chibs as well. Those two have always served as Jax’s moral compasses, but now they’re blindly helping him exact his revenge. In this episode alone their mutual decisions put them in the sights of August Marks, Lin and the Mayans, not to mention Nero who continues to be put in the middle. For someone who no longer has “a vision” of where he wants the future to go, Jax is certainly doing a good job of leaving fires behind.
Little does he realize that his true enemies are actually the ones he holds dear, and maybe they always have been. While he hasn’t rekindled with Wendy yet (although who out there wasn’t waiting to see which bedmate Jax would actually have in the opening sequence?), he’ll get to that point eventually. As for Gemma, she’ll be sticking her nose in where it doesn’t belong soon enough now that she knows about Unser signing up to be the local police consultant. The fact that Unser left the paperwork out in the airstream was more than a little convenient, but we might as well get used to those coincidences for now and enjoy the ride. (There are too many at this point to count anyhow.) I’m just happy Gemma wasn’t privy to Juice holding Unser hostage because at this point, because I wouldn’t have put it past her to pull the trigger rather than go the Juice route and let him go. As it stood, I was surprised she didn’t smother Unser in his sleep when she found the Sheriff’s paperwork.
Speaking of, we welcomed Annabeth Gish as Althea Jarry. With her sunglasses on she has the same hardened, narrow face that Ally Walker had as Agent Stahl (RIP). Jarry’s quiet presence in that quick scene was enough to transport me to the days of Sons past, when the police actually showed up when the gangs started shooting at each other. Hopefully with the local authorities now sorted out in Charming, we can get finally address the fact that it’s not exactly normal for gangs to go all-out in high speed gun chases and kill hoards of people at a time without repercussions. As Tig mentioned, they really running out of space out there in those woods.
*** Tig and Ratboy could easily head up their own web series. Even though their banter and “Momma” jokes were completely gross, it was nice to see at least one lighter moment in the episode. “Shitty head” and all.
*** Happy dumping the Chinese kid’s head felt more like a Breaking Bad moment than a Sons disposal. I blame the yellow Hazmat suit and barrels.
*** In what world does a police unit supply health insurance and a permit to carry but no gun?
*** I’m into this Nero and Wendy alliance, especially when it comes to talking some sense into Gemma about the boys. They obviously have a common bond as club outsiders and former “junkies,” and they’ll make good allies going forward. Especially if Jax keeps putting Nero in these positions.
*** This week’s closing montage felt mercifully short, but that could be the aftershocks from last week’s excruciatingly long rhapsody. I will say that Jax finally returning home to his kids (and shedding that single tear) was more effective than all of the over-the-top gang leader stuff we’ve seen so far. I miss that side of him, and hope we see more of it soon.
What did you think of “Toil and Till?” Are you surprised none of the regular characters have died yet? Were you worried about Unser’s fate? Happy to see a new sheriff? Sound off below.
"Sons of Anarchy" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.