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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Televangelist: 'Sons of Anarchy,' Season 4 Finale

Pick Your Poison
  • FX
  • Pick Your Poison

Despite some unevenness and throwaway storylines, I would consider Season 4 the best that "Sons" has ever offered. I'm not sure if the finale felt so much like a series finale, as creator Kurt Sutter first told us, but it certainly sets up a reboot for the club and for the lives of everyone in it. And speaking of life, I utterly admit how wrong I was that a dead Clay would be the only way to make this feel like a series ending. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition CIA as a Deus Ex Machina!

I was excited for Season 4 more than any prior season because of the promise that there would be big changes to SAMCRO, and that the majority of the action would revolve around club issues. I think that this held true, to a point, and even though I wavered on my acceptance of certain dangling plots throughout the season, last night's ending could not have been more satisfying. If viewers had been asked before the season began who they would like to see ruling SAMCRO, I think most of us would have hoped for Jax as the President, Opie at his left, Chibs at his right, and probably keeping Bobby on as secretary. And so it was, with the interesting future addition of an impotent Clay sitting at the end of the table, a shadow of Piney. JT's crew is gone, and a few of Clay's guard remain (mostly embodied in Tig). The rest belong to Jax, and what that means for the future of the club will be fascinating to behold.

Was anyone shocked by the reveal that Romeo had been recruited by the CIA? Torres had been a guess, sure, but Romeo himself was a neat trick. The forgotten housing development storyline came back suddenly last night (and was presumably thwarted) as a last act by Linc Potter, himself thwarted by government agency hierarchy. While I appreciated the political note of "look how our government is corrupt, this is why these guys choose to live off the grid because who wants to be a part of this kind of complete bankruptcy?" everything tied up so neatly and quickly it was emotionally unsatisfying. Though Linc was a weird and quirky character, there's a feeling that still more could have been done with him. When he first appeared on the scene as a throwback Harley rider, I thought he might befriend and interact with the club members more, gaining their trust through a common passion. Instead he stayed locked up for the duration of the season, mostly smoking in inverted chairs, dancing on table tops and vexing Eli. On the other side, Eli turned out to be everything one could hope for in Charming law enforcement - a good guy who is looking to lock up the bad ones, but who will work with them just enough that there's a kind of complicated but mutual acknowledgement (if not respect, exactly). I think that the CIA storyline will be a good, dark blanket over Season 5, where the club's moves and motivations will always be controlled in ways that Jax cannot always like or predict.

We learned last night too that Laroy's girlfriend who was slain by Tig was the daughter of a "major player" in Oaktown, which will, again, kick off the next season with instant complications. Within the club, Opie will return (according to Sutter), but it will take him some time to come to grips with everything that has happened, and his necessary silence. Bobby will surely return, too (Romeo made an off-handed comment about having the charges dropped. So Otto sacrificed himself for nothing? Otto is the only person on the show who has had it worse than Opie!) Tig has been displaced, and was positively fuming over it. His connection to Clay in the end will be an interesting micro-alliance. And on whose side with Gemma fall? What kind of relationship will she have with Clay?

We know, at least, where Tara stands. "He's mine!!" she sobbingly whispered into the ether, deciding to stay with Jax rather than taking the boys elsewhere to safety. Her getting to him first before Gemma did, and recreating the Gemma/JT pose was a powerful moment. I don't at all believe Tara is a mini-Gemma, though I think that she has has to take on some of her traits only because of their similar position (being the Old Lady to the head of, or heir-apparent to, the club). Tara is smarter than Gemma, can be just as manipulative, but she is not as ruthless. She is, in the end, a doctor and a healer. Jax is not Clay, and my prediction is that he and Tara will establish a new face to the club that gets away from its most sordid past.

The finale was certainly the quietest in "Sons" history, but it was deep, haunting and reflective. While I can see how it could serve as a series finale (a very unsatisfying one! But most are), it has just made me more anxious and ready for Season 5 than even the one that just passed. Sutter, in a recent interview, said that he has three more seasons of story to tell. I know that fans have been skeptical, and there were plenty of things in this season and the last that proved restraint may be the better option, but at the end of the day I will admit that I want to stay with SAMCRO for as long as possible. It's a New Day in Baltimore Charming, and it looks like the best is yet to come.

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Gemma giving Jax the green light to kill Clay this season reminded me of a scene from "Boardwalk Empire" (which has had a myriad of strange parallels with "SOA" this season) where Gillian calls for Jimmy to "finish him!" in regards to the Commodore. Wait ... Gemma/Gillian, Jax/Jimmy, Clay/Commodore ... Sheriff Eli (on both shows)!!

— There were plenty of people who didn't like this season and were totally underwhelmed by the finale - give me your thoughts!

— Potter: "Our government is backing one cartel over another." CIA agent: "That's how we keep the politics in line."

— Interesting that Tara wouldn't have been killed, only kept in custody. But how would they have explained that to Jax or the club?

— LOL forever at Juice watching Sutter's other show "The Shield" on the jail TV.

— Baby Thomas should get all the awards. He watches Jax leave, looks at Tara and crawls up towards her? Flawless!

— "The good guys need a win" - Potter

— Charlie Hunnam had a lot of emoting to do this season, and I thought he nailed it. Last night he looked so full of venom when he was considering killing Clay, while Clay meanwhile looked so vulnerable (until he spoke). His tears with Tara, his talk with Opie ... everything was just right.

— I love that Jax no longer hesitates in telling Tara the truth. It's what kept her in Charming, I'm sure of it.

— "You're already dead ::spit::" - Jax to Clay

— I worry for my poor, misinformed Tig. But even if he knew Clay had killed Piney and ordered Tara's death, Tig was willing to murder Opie on Clay's command. He would probably still be loyal to him. Tig's worst issue with Clay is when he's left out of his plans.

— Where did Bobby get that guitar?

— Tara seemed to go a little crazy again during this episode.

— I wonder what Rat and Filthy Phil know of what's going on? Can you imagine being on the outskirts of the club this season? I think I might turn in my pledge badge.

— What a long, strange trip it's been.

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