Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Televangelist: 'Sons of Anarchy' Season 4, Episode 2

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 10:26 AM

There goes the neighborhood

Last night's episode was so all over the place I felt like I needed a map to keep up with its changing focus. From as many heart-to-hearts as an episode of "The Bachelor" to drug-running cartels, a club-room beatdown and most importantly … the return of Juice's hair, "Booster" took us from one end of Charming to the other, throwing in a few explosions for good measure. Was it entertaining? Sure. Did it work well as an episode? Let's take a look at the specifics.

The World According to Clay
Clay made some controversial choices last night, including hooking up with a drug-running cartel and promising to grant Jax his freedom in exchange for his show of support for this endeavor in front of the club. In many ways Clay is one of the only things holding SAMCRO together: his vision for the club was so strong that it overpowered John Teller and landed him his wife, the presidency and uncontested power in quick succession. Yet it is also Clay who is tearing the club apart: getting involved with Galindo for a quick payout (a decision that causes a club schism), the attempted murder of Opie (and the accidental murder of Donna) from seasons past, deals brokered with the Mayans, Niners and other local gangs, and playing favorites within the club. Whereas Tig and Bobby used to stand at the right hand of Clay, they have now been replaced by Jax. And Clay's antagonistic approach to the new development and bullying of Elliot Oswald is sure to come back to haunt him … right? For those who have always felt something a little Oedipal in Jax's relationship with Gemma, might this be the season that Jax overthrows Clay for the good of the club, himself and most of all his mother?

Talk is Cheap
What struck me most about the myriad of one-on-one conversations in "Booster" is that few, if any of them, gave us any new information or moved the plot forward. Bobby tells Clay his reservations about working with the cartel, then gets Tig wise to the fact that they are no longer in Clay's inner circle. Gemma tells Clay and Unser about Maureen's letters, but both dismiss it as unimportant. Jax and Opie air their differences over the Galindo situation, but neither one surprised us with any revelations. Clay continues to "own" Oswald, and Linc and Roosevelt crack wise over their SAMCRO problem. So? Maybe the show is catching newbies up to speed on the current alliances, but for long-time viewers there wasn't much to these exchanges besides some lingering shots of Tig's killer eyes (and I do love lingering shots of Tig's eyes).

Who Killed JT?
"Sons of Anarchy" is not "Twin Peaks" - while "Twin Peaks" was always about Laura Palmer's death (which lead to the death of the show, really, once it was revealed), "Sons" has managed to create enough of a world beyond the circumstances of John Teller's demise to keep it as little more than a haunting shadow. What we learned from the police report Tara had in her possession was that JT was sideswiped and dragged, and died in the hospital two days later. There's obviously a strong stench of foul play, especially with the way Gemma is telegraphing her panic to anyone who looks her way, but what could be the worst-case scenario? That Clay, possibly with the aid of Gemma, plotted to kill John? Why? It's a secret that will drive Jax away for sure, but as for the rest of the club, do we know the stakes? Piney seems to have a pretty good idea that Clay is somehow involved, but it hasn't stopped him from being a part of SAMCRO. Would the others (especially the younger or newer members like Juice and Happy) crucify Clay for something he did to a man they never knew? What if he had a reason?

Two of the oddest scenes last night revolved around explosives. Jax and Opie roared away from the Wehewah reservation with bullets blazing - not an unusual day at the office for SAMCRO. But Opie leaps from the speeding truck just in the nick of time before it's plowed into from the side, flipping over several times. Jax, presumably without a seatbelt on, emerges with nary a bruise. The two are held hostage briefly before Romeo (the fantastic Danny Trejo) saves the day, the guns and further trouble (for now) from the Russians. I mean ... what? Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Roosevelt plays a clever trick using the local fire department as an excuse to break into - and break apart - the SAMCRO clubhouse. But the move did not feel like Roosevelt to me, it felt like the ghost of Agent Stahl at work. Roosevelt, an otherwise cool, calm and collected figure seemed to take personal delight in smashing up the SAMCRO HQ. It struck me as odd, especially when, as the members returned, we find the entire clubhouse in utter devastation. Roosevelt really went wild with that ax, huh? Both events seemed like overkill, especially for a quieter episode that seemed to want to focus mainly on club politics.

Bottom line: It was an uneven episode that didn't serve to do much more than remind us of who's friends with whom, plus a little Boom! Wham! Pow! to keep things rolling. I'm hoping for a more cohesive narrative next week. We have thirteen episodes, no need to rush!

Musings and Miscellanea

— Gemma rummaging through Tara's office really bugged me, mostly because she sat down to read the letters. How much time did she think she would have? Why not just snatch them up and return them later?

— Hair Care: Gemma's hair is dark brown, as is John Teller's (from his mug shot, anyway). How is Jax so blonde? #ThingsIThinkAbout

— More Thoughts on Hair Care: They brought back Juice's regular hairdo, why not Tig's mustache? Tig without his mustache feels wrong.

— … oh congratulations Jax and Tara! And the club drank on …

— I can't believe there was actually a scene of the guys working at the shop for once - I forgot that place was operational!

— "I'm pretty sure homicide is a parole violation" - Unser.

— I wonder what happened between Clay and Bobby? Tig looked so hurt when Bobby told him he was out of the loop. Interesting that at the end of the episode when Tig goes to mope in a corner Clay goes to comfort him. Is Tig as far out as Bobby thinks?

— "Be the badge!" I like Linc but I hope they don't overdo his quirks - the chocolate milk was a bit of an eye-roller for me.

— I loved that moment at the end when Bobby "poured one out" … for John?

— I've never heard the term "gash" used on TV more than I have in the past year. Is this becoming a thing?

— Interesting juxtaposition between Tara telling Jax to reveal to her "everything," while Opie continues to lie to Lyla.

— "Well we wouldn't want to upset the Prince of Labia." - Opie. Did anyone else find it a little creepy how Opie said "the sooner we get you knocked up the sooner you can stop working"? Yeesh.

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