If last week's controversial and divisive school shooting twist was meant to spur any soul-searching among the "Sons of Anarchy" crew it wasn't evident this week.
Does Jax even have a soul left to search at this point? He claims to care about his family and his club, and wants to follow in the supposedly noble footsteps of his father, but it feels like a lot of empty talk. He only acts is his own self-interest. It's no wonder Tara is secretly plotting to divorce him and arranging for Wendy to get custody of the kids if need be.
When Jax finds out that the gun used in the shooting was a KG-9, belonged to Nero's cousin Arcadio (Dave Navarro) and the deceased 11-year-old shooter was the troubled son of Arcadio's junkie old lady (Samaire Armstrong), all Jax cares about is limiting the blowback to the club. And all that leads to is the weekly badass biker smackdown/shootout, this time with Arcadio and his old lady winding up dead, thus severing any emotional ties the show has to the pre-teen shooter -- both he and his family quickly dismissed like the plot devices they are. It's a disappointingly shallow turn of events that only bolsters the argument that the school shooting was unnecessarily exploitative and sensationalistic. (The official death toll, by the way, is four -- three of them kids -- and two more in critical condition.)
It's also a convenient reason for Jax to make another push to get SAMCRO out of the gun business, telling the Irish there's another club waiting in the wings to pick up the deal. Since Jax has been wanting to do that for some time, the shooting has no dramatic impact on him at all. He's simply too far removed from the worst of it. Even Gemma shows more concern for what actually happened, due mostly to her feelings for Nero.
It's with Nero that we get some degree of moral angst. He shoots and kills his own cousin to prevent Arcadio from running away with the old lady. Then he freaks out on Jax when she winds up dead too ("Don't matter what the risk is, we don't hurt people like that!" he rants). Jax lies and pretends her death was an accidental overdose, when in reality she was bumped off by Juice on Jax's orders. Nero may be back in the game, but his head still isn't in it completely, and he's all the more interesting because of it. It seems likely we'll see this develop into a bigger conflict between Jax and Nero down the road.
Even if the murder of children doesn't weigh on his conscience, Jax may have to reckon with the school shooting in a different way. Toric works on convincing D.A. Tyne Patterson (CCH Pounder) that the Sons will make an attractive legal target since they supplied the gun to the Byz Lats gang. And maybe, just maybe, Patterson's ambition mixed with Toric's thirst for vengeance will stir up some real trouble for the Sons. Casting Pounder certainly raises expectations, given her shared history with "Sons" creator Kurt Sutter on "The Shield." Then again, it wouldn't be surprising to see Sutter subvert that by sending Patterson in a completely different direction, as he did with other former "Shield" stars (Jay "Dutch" Karnes as season 1's psycho ATF agent and David "Ronnie" Rees Snell as season 4's FBI agent working with Lincoln Potter). Time will tell.
Odds and ends:
- Keeping Clay cooped up in prison avoids hitting some repetitive story beats but so far isn't giving Ron Perlman much of interest to do. Was he genuinely declaring his undying love for Gemma during her visit, or just trying to get under her skin?
- I'm pretty sure the episode's title refers to Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, which Toric quotes ("Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom") after eavesdropping on Clay and Gemma.
- Chibs is still frustrated with Jax making decisions that should be handled by the club; Juice seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown; and Bobby Elvis is another man closer to forming his own Nomad chapter. Jax realizes his club is in trouble, but does he really know how dire it's getting?
- Was there actually enough story here to justify a 90 minute (with commercials) running time? These padded episodes are getting out of control, but the record ratings the show keeps posting aren't likely encourage anyone to stop.
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