Recap: Wives, daughters and brothers: Family reigns supreme on ‘Sons of Anarchy’
I killed a Fed for you. Nothing says endless love like capital murder. – Jax Teller
This episode (thankfully) reigned in the intensity a bit from last week’s season premiere. And I think it’s a good thing, because my heart can only take so much. No one’s child was burned alive before their eyes and no one was beaten to a bloody pulp in a home invasion, but that being said, the show hasn’t actually slowed down in terms of storytelling.
This week a number of things happened, but in the end it all boils down to same theme: family above all else.
Family and familial bonds isn’t a new concept for this show. Hell, it’s not even a new concept for TV. This show is a walking, talking commercial for the unconventional family. But this week the show focused and highlighted the importance of the brotherhood of the Sons of Anarchy more boldly than those that have come before it. The idea that these men aren’t just friends and brothers because they wear the reaper, they’re brothers because they’re family, is drilled home and hung on the wall under a giant spotlight.
The fact that they share no biological bloodlines doesn’t matter – when you’re in the club, you’re in. And in this episode we saw several of those relationships tested and extended and finally validated.
Facing the threat of incarceration yet again, Jax, who’s never really been the best planner, spontaneously decides to make an honest woman of Tara once and for all by marrying her, I kid you not, in a modern day brothel (swoon). Almost all of his brothers stand witness to the short and sweet nuptials, though Gemma nearly missed them on account Jax and Tara didn’t want to tell her what was happening for obvious reasons. But as luck would (or would not) have it, Gemma begrudgingly becomes the messenger of their marriage license and arrives in time to share a few words of wisdom with the bride before the ceremony.
But that’s not all she brings with her. She gives to Tara, after a thinly veiled threat masquerading as a truce, the rings that once belonged to her and Jax’s father, John Teller – the man she helped to kill. Though the gesture seems innocent – and if this were any other show, I’d believe it to be sincere – it’s definitely the equivalent of a ball and chain.
When she accepted those rings, Tara finally locked in her place as the new matriarch of this family – even more than she was prior to this moment. Yes, she’s the mother of Jax’s children, and, yes, she’s been respected as Jax’s Old Lady, but there was always a tiny possibility that Tara could escape if she wanted to.
Some could argue that when she accepted his proposal or when she chose to stay at the end of last season, that her choice and position in the club was clear. But as we all know, nothing is ever certain until you sign a binding contract (or until you update your Facebook status), so with the marriage license – but even more so with those rings – she accepted Jax, she accepted Gemma, and she accepted the rest of the rag tag band of burly brothers as her blood.
And though she’s obviously still struggling with the last part of that, she’s slowly beginning to understand that her children are just as important as Tig’s children or Opie’s children. After voicing her unhappiness at the idea of Jax accompanying Tig and the guys to warn Tig’s other daughter, Fawn, to leave town, she relents and apologizes and tells him that she’s trying.
Slowly but surely Tara is becoming more and more like Gemma – and to be fair, though she often butts heads with the older woman, she’s the closest thing Tara’s ever really had to a mother. And although she recognizes Gemma’s missteps and avows that she’ll never be like her, she seems to be acquiescing a bit as she slides into the queen role.
She seems a bit more comfortable – or perhaps numb – to the idea that Jax is going to prison again. Obviously she’s not happy, but she doesn’t appear as scared as she was the last time. It’s possible that it’s because she’s A) not pregnant B) wasn’t just kidnapped and nearly killed and C) Jax didn’t just return from Ireland with Abel. But all of that aside, she seems to be more prepared for it this time, and perhaps it was the wedding, but it might also be because she’s becoming a little colder, a little more calculating and little more sure of her place in this world. In short, she’s becoming more like Gemma.
But while Tara is accepting her fate as a member of the family, Tig’s sole living spawn is fighting her ties and lamenting the fact that her father belongs to the group at all.
We’ve known for awhile now that Tig’s relationship with his daughters was rocky at best, but when Tig, believing that she’s in trouble, busts in on Fawn and her boyfriend having sex, it’s clear just how deep her disdain goes. But it’s never more clear as to when she finally realizes that Dawn is dead. Fawn flies into a rage, beating Tig and screaming in his face how much she hates him.
And as any person with a conscience can claim, Fawn is completely in the right state of mind. Tig and the rest of the Club are not good guys. Hell, by the time we’ve reached this point in the episode we’ve already seen them dispose of several bodies by way of chemicals and a lit cigarette and break the nose of Fawn’s boyfriend mostly because he’s black (this show’s nothing if not an extended exposé on race relations). No, as much as we root for the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, there comes a point in time where our own conscience chimes in and we remember that these are the bad guys.
But even bad guys have their shining moments. After the reigning king and queen swap “I dos,” Chibs gives an impromptu blessing to the newlyweds – and though I only understand half of what Tommy Flanagan says on the first time (the rest is caught via several well placed punches of the rewind button on my remote) I’m pretty certain that it was something sweet and not at all like, “I promise to treat you like my leathers and ride you as much as my Harley,” which is what the gang chanted at the wedding of Opie and Lyla last season.
Speaking of the second Mrs. Opie Winston, Lyla made a surprising return when Opie shows up to the studio, hands her an envelope with $20,000 in cash and asks her to watch Kenny and Ellie for a little while because he’s going somewhere. She reluctantly agrees to watch them for a few weeks, but only after asking Opie if he ever loved her or if she was just a distraction. Opie tells her she wasn’t just a stop on his road to another destination, but he also tells her that he’s not sure he really loves anything. Unfortunately for Lyla, Opie neglects to tell her that the place he’s going and the reason he needs someone to watch the kids, is prison.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but Opie hasn’t been back in prison since before the show’s timeline, right? And we all know how well-adjusted he was when he was released, so I can only imagine this stint will go well for him.
But before I start positing about his well-being, let’s take a step back. After a visit from Clay in which he tells Opie that’s he’s “almost dead” and “half done,” Opie makes the choice to return to the table. And he chooses to do it in the most idiotic but symbolic way possible. As Jax, Chibs and Tig are being handcuffed and carted off to prison, Opie pulls up on his bike and punches Roosevelt in the face after saying he’s come to say goodbye. This earns him a place in the van destined for Stockton (I imagine that’s its location). “Is this you becoming me?” Jax asks him once they’re inside. “How’d I do?” he responds.
The episode is closed out with several scenes, including Gemma returning to Nero for some action and the contents of Clay’s safe being examined. From what I could tell the documents were Thomas’ birth certificate (his middle name was Wayne?) and a marriage license.
Some stray observations:
- Jimmy Smits continues to impress and relish in the role of Nero the Companionator. In one moment he visits his son with spina bifidia and then in the next takes on a One-Niner tail in a dangerous game of chicken that almost has Jax shitting his pants. “I don’t get out much,” he says. I certainly vote for more Nero.
- Not enough Juice (though I suppose I’ll take this over him trying to kill himself).
- The CIA doesn’t really care if SAMCRO lives or dies, and they don’t have a Plan B if something goes wrong while the boys are inside. (And from the looks of next week’s episode,plenty goes wrong).
- Jax’s middle name is Nathaniel. Tara’s is Grace. Kind of fitting, I suppose.
What did you guys think? Did you like the episode or were you hoping for a higher body count? Did you get misty eyed during the wedding? And on a scale of 1 to 10, how annoyed were you just from seeing Ima for .03 seconds?
Note: Photo courtesy of FX.