Once again, big fat spoilers. Read at your own risk.
After Kurt Sutter's Twittered thoughts about non-professional blog reviewers of his show, I went back and forth a bit about whether or not to keep writing these Wednesday Morning Quarterback posts. Ultimately, I decided I may as well. For one thing, I don't for a second think Sutter is reading a blog with my low readership. For another, I very rarely have anything but good things to say about the show, so even if he were, would I really be one of those about whom he is so upset? Probably not. Maybe when I stop having nice things to say, I'll stop writing these synopsis/reviews, but that hasn't happened yet.
So, on to last night. Since the episode's last minutes were so incredibly dramatic, it's hard for me to put together coherent thoughts about the rest of it. So, I'll start at the end--Juice's suicide. I don't know whether I think he was successful or not, but either way, it's dramatic. At this point, it's impossible for me to see a way for Juice to get out of this season alive, and while I was surprised to see him try to kill himself in only episode 7, I wasn't surprised at it as an eventual outcome. What did stun me, last week as well as this week, but especially last night, was Theo Rossi's acting chops. He was incredible. The scene between Juice and Clay, when clay gives Juice the "Men of Mayhem" patch, very nearly had me in tears. Juice has always been this character who struggles to be taken seriously in the Club, and to have that happen just as he's so far dug in there is no way out, is so incredibly bittersweet. It was one of those beautifully scripted, perfectly acted, heartbreaking scenes that the show does so well, and it isn't one that will leave my mind soon.
Beyond the Juice story line, I thought the episode did an excellent job of increasing the growing tension between Gemma and Clay, without hitting anybody over the head with it. Gemma is really starting to distrust Clay, and the potential of danger from Gemma working against you is not insubstantial. I am really interested to see where her allegiance will ultimately lie. As the season progresses, I have a harder and harder time seeing how Clay can survive it, and yet I am equally unsure how the show would continue without him (and they got picked up for a 5th season this week!). It will definitely be interesting to see how it turns out.
Tara also continues to interest me. She took the news about the cartel and Jax not having been completely honest with her about it far better than I would have expected her to, especially after having been issued a death threat and spending the morning pulling a bullet out of a Mayan. She still seems, to me, to be leaning to roll with the Club lifestyle more with each episode. I wonder, too, about Lyla's taking off and whether it was meant as a juxtaposition, what Tara could, or even should, have done. She also seems increasingly trusting of and friendly with Gemma, as if maybe Gemma's confession about her love for and betrayal by John Teller had its intended effect. I'm still not convinced she wants out.
Another character I want to shout out to, even though his actual role in this episode was small, is Bobby. With all of the Shakespearean overtones of the show, it's impossible not to see Bobby as a The Fool, telling everyone what they need to hear, but not what they want to. His calling for a vote on Clay's presidency is a huge, dramatic move, and signals without any doubt that the status quo is not going to fly. I love Sutter's willingness in this season to push action and drama so much harder than usual, stuffing every episode full of it. Things develop not slowly, but quickly, the entire previous three seasons' foundation making them realistic. It's risky, and it's working.