Eight episodes in, I am seeing the issue with this season of Sons of Anarchy. And it's not the show--it's me. I made a big mistake. While the show was on hiatus, I got all interested in the interworkings of it--I read Kurt Sutter's blog, watched all his WTF Sutter? videos, read articles, got into long discussions about the plot arc. And all of this thought, and information, about the making of the show has left me unable to simply sit back and enjoy the story.
What I mean is this: last night, when I watched with my mouth open as Clay killed Piney, my first thought was the same on that has been plaguing me since the beginning of this season--how does Clay, after committing all the crimes against his Club that he has now, make it out of Season 4 alive? And if he doesn't, how does the show go on without him? No matter how great the drama is, my brain goes back to that. And I wish it didn't--it takes something out of the joy of spectating. I can't just be in awe of Sutter's brilliant writing, I have to wonder how in the world he's going to write his way of this.
So, a warning: if you really love a show, don't read ANYTHING about it. Take it from me.
That being said, episode 8 was another link in this season's brilliant chain. It continues to be one of the bar-none best things I've ever seen on television. Obviously, watching Clay's downward spiral is epic--both because of great writing and because Ron Perlman is nothing short of spectacular. And this particular few episode arc, with the fight-and-making-up between Opie, the increasing issues between Clay and Piney, and then Piney's murder, brings SoA firmly back into Hamlet territory. It was clear, the moment Piney touched Opie's face and Opie said, "I love you," that Piney was going to die.It became even more clear in this frustrated conversation with Jax. Oh, Polonius.
I have a friend and fellow fan of the show who is convinced that the arc will come to an end with Opie's killing or otherwise destroying Clay. Now Clay has taken away his wife and his father, and Opie, in the role of Laertes, will avenge them. I like this idea, but I don't see it playing all the way out (remember, Laertes eventually kills Hamlet). Still, I'm stoked to see the show returning to the Hamlet plot lines, and I love to see how Sutter plays with them.
There were two other relationships highlighted in this episode that intrigued me. The first was the one between Gemma and Tig. Gemma and Tig have always interested me, particularly since their brief sexual encounter in season 2. In last night's episode, Tig seemed to be looking askance at Clay more than usual, and there was something, a single moment, between Tig and Gemma that made me pause. This one:
Did that give anybody else a tingling feeling in their tummy?
The other relationship that I can't keep my mind off is the one between Juice and Chibs. I loved last night's interaction, where Chibs interrupts Juice's second suicide attempt, beating on him for a second and then hugging him fiercely. I have no idea how it will play out--will Juice confess to Chibs? If he does, what outcome will there be? Last week, I believed Juice's sins against the Club to be so grave he'd never get out of this season alive, but perhaps he will? This part is all mystery to me, and I am very much enjoying how it plays out. Theo Rossi has been bringing serious chops to Juice's plight for weeks, and last night I thought Tommy Flanagan was equally brilliant. Chibs is probably my favorite of the show's characters, and I love it when he gets his own plots. I think his involvement in this one is perfect.
Finally, there is Jax. There is always, at the center, Jax. And right now, Jax is a big disappointment--to the viewer as much as to Piney, and, I think, to himself. He's trying to do what is right, maybe not most right, but most livable and still sorta-right, and it is biting him in the ass. He's losing his family, at least short-term (though I sort of doubt Tara is actually going anywhere), and the Club is still disintegrating. At the end of the day, it's on Jax to fix all of it, with whatever and of merry men he can assemble. With only 5 episodes left in the season, I'm thinking that has to be about to start happening.
Last night's episode is another one I simply can't say enough good things about. The pacing was perfect (again), the acting was stellar (again), and there was just enough humor (thank God for Chuckie) to keep it from dragging you down completely. Kurt Sutter ought to be really, really proud of his show.