Recap: ‘Sons of Anarchy’: Everyone suffers at the ‘Hands’ of Clay this week
Sometimes when a television show has been on for several years, it is necessary for the writers to do something drastic to keep the show on new ground, to keep the viewers interested. Sometimes it requires them to take a previously likable character and turn them in to the villain. This seems to be the case on ‘Sons of Anarchy’ this season.
Kurt Sutter, the creator and executive producer of the show, has always said ‘Sons’ story was influenced by / a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Jax Teller has always been the Hamlet of the story. He’s the VP of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club and he’s always been the heir apparent to Clay Morrow’s president. If we take Sutter’s words seriously, then we’ve truthfully always known this moment was going to come. We’ve always known that Clay was the King Claudius to Jax’s Hamlet and anyone who’s taken a high school English class knows how the story ends.
From the moment the show began, viewers have been led to believe that Clay had a hand in murdering Jax’s father, John Teller. And this season we finally got a confession. We also learned that Clay Morrow is, more than ever, a douche bag out to save his own ass.
Ron Perlman has played the hell out of a role, that by all means, should never have been likable in the first place. He’s the leader of an outlaw motorcycle club/gang who runs guns along the western coast of the United States. By all measures of sanity, we should hate Clay Morrow and the rest of SAMCRO. These are not good guys. We’ve seen that from the get-go. From the way Clay castrated the rapist in the third episode of the season, to the way Jax killed Joshua Kohn without remorse after he attacked and tried to rape Tara, to the ambush of the Russians in this season’s opener, it’s clear that these are very dangerous men with mostly questionable morals. And yet, week after week we sit on the edge of our seats rooting for them to pull through, to elude the traditional good guys, the guys on the side of the law, because they’re not quite the evilest of all evils, and because for the most part they play as sympathetic and relate-able men . Sons of Anarchy is just one of several shows that has found success telling the story of the antihero. And it’s doing it better than ever this season.
Perlman has turned in phenomenal work week after week, making viewers believe that Clay really would go as far as to issue a hit on Tara because she knows what’s in JT’s letters to Maureen Ashby. Up until this season there had been no concrete evidence that Clay had killed JT. But we’ve always known he was a man capable of murder, we’ve always known he wasn’t a good man. The last three seasons we’ve been able to look past his wrong-doings because they were for the good of the Club, because Clay and the boys of SAMCRO have been the lesser of two evils. They keep drugs out of Charming, they take down rapists and kidnappers, they protect their town and only kill when they’re threatened. And yet, somehow, we’re all still a little surprised when Clay brutally beats and kills Piney to keep him quiet about what’s in JT’s letters. We’re all still a little shocked that he would arrange a hit on his future daughter-in-law and the mother of his grandchildren because he can’t take the risk she’ll tell Jax the truth about JT’s death. And I think that means Kurt Sutter has done his work well. He’s made us feel for and empathize with a character that by all accounts should never have had our sympathy.
And I think it’s safe to say he never will again. In last night’s episode, “Hands,” not only does Clay issue the hit on Tara resulting in a botched kidnapping attempt that leaves her right hand broken and with nerve damage so severe that her career as a neonatal surgeon is likely over, but he brutally beats Gemma, the one person who has always been on his side. The one person who knew all of his secrets and loved him anyway. And although Clay calls her “just an Old Lady” and claims she’s never been a part of the Club, we viewers understand that Gemma has had her hands in plenty of SAMCRO business over the years, not to mention a role in John Teller’s gruesome death.
When Gemma, face battered from Clay’s beating, utters the line, “Clay can’t be saved… No, he’s not going down by law. He’s gonna die by the hand of the Son,” I cheered. And shivered. I’ve long suspected (or known, based on the way Hamlet ends) that Jax would be the one to kill Clay, but over the course of this season the man has made more enemies than friends. If he would go to these lengths to keep the contents of JT’s letters a secret, what will happen when Jax finds out that not only was his step-father responsible for the murder of his father, but that he was also behind the attempt on Tara’s life? And let’s not forget that Clay should be looking over his shoulder for Opie, a man we know is capable of menace and skilled in revenge (remember the way he orchestrated Stahl’s death to mimic wife Donna’s death at the end of season one?) Because once Opie discovers his father’s lifeless body (can that be soon, please? It feels like his body has been lying on the cabin floor for weeks now) and finds out the truth about how he was murdered, I don’t see how Opie would sit idly by and let Jax have all the fun. No, Clay will never have our sympathy again. And I don’t see a way for this season to end except for Clay’s death at the hands of his step-son.
- Given that the title of this week’s episode was “Hands,” I’m a little sad to see that SoA’s resident hand-y man, Chucky, was nowhere to be seen.
- I hope that Sutter sticks by his early comments that Wendy was Ophelia and not Tara, because a show without Maggie Siff is not a show I want to watch. She owned last night’s episode, and if come awards season she isn’t nominated, I’m going to become more irate than Kurt Sutter himself. In fact, if this show doesn’t get Emmy love for a season this outstanding, I will personally start the riot.
Note: Photo courtesy of FX.