Just how intense was this week's episode of Sons of Anarchy? How riveting was "Hands?" Consider this admission: I forgot Piney was dead.
Seriously. I know we saw Unser covering up the crime, and I know Clay halted Opie's trip to the cabin early on, but then Tara was abducted... and her hand smashed... and we learned Potter was a fan of cartoons... and Eli offered up his services to Juice... and Clay went all Chris Brown on Gemma and... what can I say?
By the time Jax made his major apology to Opie and told him to go see his old man, I had forgotten all about the most significant development from season four, even though it only took place two episodes ago. That's how much action went down this week, and that's how deeply it was all seared into my brain.
No scene more than Tara's meltdown in the hospital. From silence to resignation to rage, Maggie Siff ran through every emotion in less than a minute, nailing her portrayal of a woman who only hours earlier was shining brighter than the sun she was under in the park, surrounded by her children and fiancee. Tara's dreams were coming true, until her biggest nightmare became a reality.
"No one will want me now," she bemoaned to Jax, post-surgery, clearly talking about far more than her profession. Tara now sees herself as damaged goods in every conceivable way. She's no longer a successful, independent doctor. She's merely an Old Lady, someone whose entire existence is defined by a man. She may be tough, but Tara has never wanted to be Gemma 2.0. She's never wanted her life to be the club. She's just wanted to be with Jax.
And now she is, at the cost of her self-confidence and her talent and with danger constantly looming over her kids. Heart-breaking, powerful stuff all around. The most jarring sequence of the season.
But it had competition from Clay's shocking, violent beatdown of his wife, which may have actually hurt Gemma less than Margaret's words inside the hospital chapel. You're an awful woman, and all this suffering landing on Tara? It's because of you. Hard to argue with that assessment, isn't it? Katey Sagal brings so many layers and such emotion to Gemma that it's easy to forget... this woman is rather despicable.
She played a role in one husband's death, she's complicit in the murdering ways of another. She's leading on an old man with cancer, and to what end? To keep her family safe? How is that working out? No, Gemma doesn't deserve a battered face, and at least she draws the line at her grandchildren, but consider Gemma's response to this blood-filled mess. She isn't Tara. She's not (angrily) lying back and accepting her fate. She remains at her most manipulative, refusing to accept Unser's solution to turn Clay in for killing Piney.
Clay can't be saved. He's not going down by law. He's gonna die, by the hand of the son.
A bit heavy-handed? A tad theatrical? Absolutely. But so what? The show has earned it. This is the sort of declaration that could easily pass for a season finale cliffhanger, yet we still have four new episodes remaining this season. What could possibly happen next?!?
Not everything this week was centered on the show's main two women, of course:
- What a great moment between Jax and Opie in the waiting room. The former manned up with his apology, even referencing Donna and admitting Opie's family would still be intact if not for his actions. What could Opie possibly say in response? Nothing. Does anyone convey silence better than Ryan Hurst?
- All that dropped on him and Ope still doesn't know about his dad! Man.
- Not sure I totally follow Romeo's reasoning for needing to take out Tara. Is he even aware of what she knows? It's a SAMCRO problem Clay outsourced to the cartel. It doesn't actually impact their deal. Unless this is a power play of some kind. Perhaps he just wants to send a message to Clay: This is the big leagues, biker man. There's no going back on any agreement.
- On a conference call this week, Rockmond Dunbar said Eli's storyline could extend into season five. Doesn't mean I have a clue how he'll play a role in helping Juice unsqueeze himself from Potter's grip... just passing along the intel.
- Is The Jetsons really still available on rerun?!? Thank you, Kurt Sutter, for getting that theme song stuck in my head.
I'll conclude a review of this amazing episode by revisiting a still-relevant poll question: WHO WILL DIE NEXT?