My eyes kept flickering nervously to the DVD clock while I watched the screener for last night's "Call of Duty." I knew that the season had been mercifully extended by one episode (to total 14), but I wasn't expecting the episodes leading up to it to be expanded in their length as well. At around 43 minutes - usually the time when the show wraps up, or is given a few more minutes to do so - I was about to jump off of the couch. "It can't end now" I kept thinking, hoping really, because the amount of chaos had me so amped up I was praying there would be some kind of episodic revelation at least so I would stop shaking from nervous tension (blessedly, there was).
Meanwhile I was thinking back to everything that had already happened. Kurt Sutter has never shied away from complicated plots but when the gruesome death of a regular character is barely able to register because you're being flung hither and yon emotionally, there may be too much at stake. But let's break it down as painlessly as possible (because Lord knows there was plenty of pain being inflicted all over "Call of Duty").
I know that the alliance with the Gallindo cartel is what has brought SAMCRO to the brink because of the amount of violence "which no one saw coming, not even me," Clays says to the Sons - to which Bobby rolls his eyes so far up to the heavens I thought they might fall out - but the shootout scene seemed extraneous to me. There was already so much emotionally at stake. In the wake of Clay's battle with Gemma, Tig attempts to reopen the channels of their friendship, which Clay shuts down. Tig tells Clay he's lost the club because he goes into the meeting room, shuts the door, and shuts everyone out. In doing so he has alienated the entire club, most especially Tig and Bobby, his former right hand men. And even if Bobby wasn't always on Clay's side on things, Tig was unfailingly so. Later in the episode, Clay retreats to the meeting room and slams the door once again, causing a grimace of pain to flicker across Tig's face. And with this, after the shocking and unnecessary death of Kozik, and after seeing Gemma's busted face, Tig did the unthinkable - turned in his badge to Clay, and rode off. Nothing, not the fight with Gemma, not the thought of accidentally killing Jax or his grandsons when he sent the bounty hunters after Tara, seemed to affect Clay more than that moment. The vulnerability on his face, his realization that he has lost everything, was telling. These are Clay's last days. Is anyone sad to see him go?
Meanwhile Wendy made a surprise return as a lesbian and a sobriety counsellor. Wendy may be an irritant to the Teller family, but she's one Gemma can swat away with relative ease. Unfortunately her timing could not have been worse for Tara, already in a "FML" catatonic state, now being confronted by a woman looking to snatch away a child Tara raised. Tara completely lost it, understandably, after Wendy's departure, smashing the vase and her hand. But I couldn't help thinking, when the hospital supervisor told Gemma that the Portland hospital still wanted Tara despite her injury … shouldn't this be info that she tells Tara? It probably would have cheered her up and kept her from smashing her already broken hand to bits. Just saying. Communication is key!
Speaking of communication, the long-overdue conversation Juice had with Chibs over his paternity was met with nearly a giggle from Chibs. "What does your birth certificate say? Latino? That's all that matters. Most of us don't know who our dad's were - it's what's on paper that matters." Wow, way to neutralize that entire plot line up in one fell swoop. Yet Juice still called to check-in. Is he hoping to turn the tables on Potter? He should have confessed the whole thing to Chibs - like when we thought Jax might actually be selling out the club to Stahl in Season Three, it turned out the club was in on it all along and playing the double cross. I worry, with all that Juice is keeping to himself, especially given his mental state. Still, with SAMCRO and the relationships within crumbling further at every turn, the Juice/Chibs relationship has been a heartwarming and necessary one to remind us how strong the bonds of brotherhood are among these men.
But wait, there's more! We got a nod to the development plot line (remember that?), probably the least of SAMCROs problems at the moment, though still something looming on the horizon. It also forced a fateful meet with Georgie to discuss the problems with the investors that gave Bobby some emotional closure over Luann (too bad the same could not be said for Otto, poor guy). It also gave Opie a moment to talk to Lyla, and admit their rushed nuptials were a mistake. I doubt things are truly over between them, especially since Opie is going to need some serious support in the wake of his revelations regarding his father's death. Speaking of which, how great did Ryan Hurst, who plays Opie, nail that scene? Opie has not had much to do this season besides shift uncomfortably in the background, but the shock and grief he displayed towards his father, and the angst he took out on Unser spoke to everything Opie has kept bottled up. He has no one - not Jax, not Donna, not Lyla and now no more Piney. The club, the thing he clings to, has betrayed him once again. More specifically, Clay. Next week as Opie races to kill Clay, Gemma asks Unser to stop it. Meanwhile Clay pays a visit to Tara, who really should be watched by Gemma and not that poor Prospect. In other words, next week looks to be just as intense, if not moreso, that this week. Does anyone have a Xanax?
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I want to start though with an R.I.P. to Kozik and his great arms, one of which landed on the already beyond traumatized Juice! Kozik has been "traveling" a lot this season, and I wonder if it's because the actor has moved on to a new project, or because with everything else going on, the writers didn't want us to spend too much time mourning the death of one of our own who we knew really well.
— "I flew my broomstick into a brick wall" - Gemma, on her injuries.
— "This is some Call of Duty shit!" - Juice on the sudden Fallujah scene that broke out.
— I like how even the Sons are shocked by the casual and sudden violence of Gallindo. They are efficient though - "where are the others? no? YOU DIE. Next up … do you know where they are? Thanks for the info, YOU DIE TOO. And the rest of you!" as well as "here are the people who tried to kidnap your fiance. Their charred and tortured corpses are just casually in the back of my SUV, check them out. Ok? We go now."
— "I knew you'd resurface. Or show up dead. Honestly I was hoping for the latter" - Gemma to Wendy.
— I liked the touch of having handlebars attached over the SAMCRO toilet. "Riding through this world …"
— "Couple of guys hugging in a bathroom, Jesus …" - Chibs to Juice
— As regular readers will know, I was especially happy Tig got some extra screen time in this episode. Not just in some serious moments, but also a comedic one: his dealings with that life-sized doll. His hand over her face … I just lost it. And then to follow it up with, "I'm terrified … but totally erect" was too perfect.
— So now Gemma knows Jax wants out. And Opie knows Clay killed Piney. Group hug, guys, the next few weeks are gonna be rough!
— Also check out this great little interview with Maggie Siff (Tara) who says: “Something had to have happened to Gemma to make her Gemma, and this is the thing that’s going to make Tara the Tara we see her become”
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