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Sons of Anarchy Review: Broken Bones, Bonds

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My. Goodness.

Just how intense was this week's episode of Sons of Anarchy? How riveting was "Hands?" Consider this admission: I forgot Piney was dead.

Tara in the Hospital

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?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
  • 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (161 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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    Richy

    Wow! Just my thought about why Romeo refused to change the deal with Clay. If he goes through with it, that's a lot of leverage over Clay's head, in case he decides to back out of their deal.

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    I love Gemma! How manyy people could play that character and not have you hate her. She is strong, And my absolute favorite part about her is She will stop at nothing to protect her family, and she cleary considers Tara part of her family. Gemma manages to be strong as nothing but an "Old lady" She doesent need anything else.

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    Great episode can't wait for next week. So many things happened; I figured Tara wouldn't die but would have to stay in Charming, but I did not see that kidnap attempt coming. And smashing her hand is the next best thing to killing her she is no longer this self sufficent doctor but for the time being will have to rely on Jax. That hospital scene said so much with just her screaming so much emotion. If you think about it none of this would have happened if Jax was so proudful and left with her in the first episode back. It makes you think how much can one woman take even a strong one like Tara. She watched the prospect get murdered, then Abel was kidnapped and she was kidnapped, Jax going to jail and raising 2 kids by herself, Jax brings the Mexican cartel and a psycho step father down on her and now her career as a surgeon gone. I would not blame her if she took the kids and disappeared. Sometimes I find it very hard to root for Gemma just like Clay there are shadys of good but also deep wells of awful. The kitchen beat down scene was so powerful it seemed like a turning point.I came to the same conclusion that Unser did, point Piney's murder at Clay, but Gemma had took the darkest possible path. I guess she plans to set up so Jax kills Clay. My question is what kind of mother does that to her son, to her grandchildren. Are they all just pawns in Gemma's game of MC chess?

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    Ifvim not mistaken Piney once mentioned that he had contingencies in place regarding the letters if anything should happen to him. If that is correct, I think hell is gonna rain down on clay when things come to light.... But first the club needs to find out he is dead!!!! As far as the spoiler for next week goes, I hope Tara has the mother if all crazy bitch meltdowns and beats the cage swinging monkey shit out of Wendy!!! Even at the expense of eventual use of her hand again. Can't wait till next week to see what is in store for our Outlaw boys and girls!!! Keep up the fantastic work Mr. Sutter!!!

    Maala

    Hey, Clay in jail by himself and killed by Otto. Intense episode last night, too many great scenes to even pick one. Loved it all and can't wait until next week. Although I haven't read much about Chibs and Juice. I think Chibs suspects that poor Juice is in over his head with the Sheriff. He might even suspect something else from higher up seeing as Stahl tried to get him to 'rat' too. Been there.

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    So, so good. I was so excited for last night's episode and did it every deliver. I expected Tara to get hurt, but I never imagined her hand being injured, leaving her unable to be a surgeon any longer. She was so great in her hospital scene. And Clay and Gemma. Wow. The only thing that bums me out is that I have to wait a week for another 90 minute (woo-hoo) episode.

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    OMG. So it was "Gertrude" all along, if Clay was speaking truth when he said that Gemma planned JT's murder and Clay was her patsy; she did the seducing, she connived Clay into killing JT for her, SHE is the 'bad guy' of the piece. "Hamlet" (on which the show is based) should be so exciting!!!! This twist sends our story into a whole new direction. I'm dying here. Want more, now!

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    Dan Forcella...thanks for stealing my line that I stole from Penny Hartz ;)
    AH-MAH-ZING indeed! I was verklempt throughout and exhausted by the time the Reaper made his appearance at the end. SOA has become sheer brilliance.

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    Clay did give Romeo the impression that the info Tara has is about the cartel, not an inner-Sons conflict, so Romeo is protecting himself, which is probably why he lied to Clay that he couldn't get in touch with the hitman, but then called into him that Jax and the kids were with Tara. And yes, the Jetson's are on reruns on Boomerang.
    I'm just wondering, on a few reviews when pondering who will/may die next, Bobby's name keeps coming up, probably because the leadership challenge that is still on the table but that would be a little too hard for Clay to play off as an 'accident' or caught in the crossfire. Admittedly, no one is safe, but Bobby isn't anymore an obvious (to me) choice than Opie or Happy.
    Although, I do think Opie might be a bigger target, especially after he finds out about his dad. And for all we know Piney might have written a letter or a note and left it somewhere in case something happened to him AND Tara.
    I have found it frustrating that Tara never showed Jax the letters, even after she explained to Gemma last week why she hasn't. Of course now, if Tara is convinced they are stuck there and Jax will never leave the club, and once she finds out about Piney, there really isn't any reason for her NOT to show Jax the letters. I have a feeling it might be Opie that takes out Clay (but the cliche would be Jax pointing the gun and Clay saying something about Jax being his son and Jax saying, "I'm not your son" and shooting him) - Clay has taken everything from poor Opie and after he killed Agent Stahl, do you really think he has any mercy left? I do hope he finds Lyla and brings her back, I kind of miss her.
    I'm just wondering, since everything seems to be coming to a head, how they are going to drag this out over 4 or 5 more eps. And not that I like Clay, but Ron Pearlman is such a central part of the show, and it is renewed for season 5 - how is that going to work? I have enjoyed watching Clay and Gemma's relationship crumble, and I think Clay has started 'putting his foot down' to her (between the "You're just an old lady" and the beating, and all the other horrible things he has said and done to her this season) has a lot to do with Tara, since Clay made it clear last week to Jax how he really feels about her. Since he thinks Jax is being led by Tara, and he sees that as a sign of weakness, he wants to be sure that he isn't doing the same thing and letting Gemma control him.
    We did get reminded that Gemma is actually an evil, selfish woman (although she did seemed hurt in the hospital chapel when Margaret said those things). I do believe she loves her family and that Clay has betrayed them to the point of no return, but the way she was talking to Unser, it almost sounded like she was going to order a hit on Clay; and that isn't going to stop the Cartel from going after Tara. I am wondering if this is going to bring Gemma and Tig together. Gemma only knows how to be an old lady; if Clay dies or goes to jail, I don't think she knows how to be by herself. And there has always seemed to be something between her and Tig, and there is no way she is going to end up with Unser (BTW - his acting last night, not so great). Tig hasn't been a central part of the stories lately and doesn't even seem to get much dialog; I hope that changes cause I love him.
    The Juice story keeps me reeling - I like Juice; I like that he has gotten some spotlight, but I actually get sick to my stomach thinking about how I don't see anyway out of this mess for him - unless, like Jax with Stahl last season, he has been secretly playing Potter, with the clubs support, but that is highly unlikely considering the way he's been acting. He is in danger of being killed no matter how this story plays out. And I'm really wondering what will happen with his friendship with Chibs, especially if he has to set of the IRA, and that Chibs went thru something like this himself not long back.
    *SPOILER - so the preview of next week we got the shot of Wendy showing up - if you go back to previous eps, in the RICO room where all the pics are up, I noticed Wendy's pic up there some eps back (and a nod to Kurt Sutter who seemed to get every cast members pic up there one way or another), so I kind of had a feeling she was coming back - could she be a plant working with Potter? I really hope we don't see another Abel kidnapping - I love this show, but a lot of stories seem to be being recycled one way or another. And I swear if Jax beds her again I'm going to be pissed!

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    Clay needs to go!! I like Lillyanna's answer about him.