Jax vs. Clay. Tara vs. Gemma. Gemma vs. Clay. Jax vs. Gemma.
The repetitive nature of the conflicts on "Sons of Anarchy," and the way they always seem to resolve themselves through time or plot contrivances, have led to a frustrating state of inertia. It feels like the more these characters argue, the less there actually is at stake. Nothing ever really changes.
But what if something actually does change? Maybe, after last season's cop out finale, Clay actually could die. Or SAMCRO could splinter. Or Jax could, finally, leave. We know that "Sons" has at least two seasons left in Kurt Sutter's master plan, but we don't know what those seasons will look like. And right now, halfway through Season 5, it's a tantalizing prospect to imagine.
I say this because the events of tonight's episode will either mean a whole lot, or very little, depending on where the show goes from here. I'm trying to be optimistic because I liked the way the fallout from Gemma's accident last week played out. We learned very quickly that Abel didn't die, but needed to spend some time in the hospital. And instead of Jax and Tara immediately discovering that Gemma wasn't sober behind the wheel, Clay invented a story about her getting run off the road to protect her.
Clay, of course, was trying to pin the accident on Pope. But that wasn't much of a plan. The heat was inevitably going to come back around on him, and it did when Jax, Chibs and Bobby caught up with Frankie Diamonds holding a gun on Lyla at Nero's place. Frankie confirmed for Jax that Clay was behind the home invasions, and Jax assumed that meant Clay sent someone after Gemma and the boys as well. (And why not, after everything Clay's done in the past?)
It's actually Nero who reveals the truth about the car accident after Gemma had confided in him earlier. Nero's pretty much the lone voice of reason on the show at this point, telling Jax: "You gotta accelerate the end game, get away from this shit that's killing you." And countering the Gemma information with a few levelheaded questions: "What you gonna do Prez? You gonna beat the shit out of your mom? Ain't that been done enough by your family?"
But Jax isn't thinking of anything that extreme anyway. He's got an alternate plan. Whether it's better or worse depends on how you look at it. He wants Gemma to go back to Clay, earn his trust, become his old lady again, and pump him for information that Jax can use against him. It's exactly the kind of thing that could completely break an increasingly fragile Gemma, or even backfire on Jax in ways he isn't anticipating.
I'm just hoping it leads to something different and more complex than putting us right back where we were in the middle of Season 4: Gemma still with Clay and Jax still battling Clay for control of SAMCRO. We've been there, done that. It's time to change the game and raise the stakes, for real.
Odds and ends:
- Did Juice pick the wrong guy to confide in or what? Now Roosevelt is trying to make a deal with Jax: turn over Frankie (and anyone else responsible for Rita's murder) and Roosevelt will give Jax the name of "the rat at your table" (Juice). Roosevelt demanding Frankie is just a minor irritation at this point, but now Jax knows there's another member of SAMCRO who isn't being straight with him.
- Unser had one of the lines of the night with his reaction to doing an identity check on a severed hand: "Next time, a few fingerprints on a glass would suffice."
- Jax had another while looking at Abel in the hospital: "Like this kid hasn't been through enough shit?" We know the feeling.
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