Sons of Anarchy Review: Shots by the Son

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What table?

Ryan Hurst stepped into the intense spotlight on Sons of Anarchy this week, summing up the theme of season four with the two simple words above, asked by Opie of Jax soon after the latter learned of Piney's death.

It's been quite the turbulent few weeks for our favorite motorcycle club members, with multiple deaths (noted hilariously by a menage-a-massaged Tig), fatal threats and extreme tension hanging over their every move. The latter only increased on "Burnt and Purged Away," a relatively slow hour whose first 55 minutes were saved by the final five seconds.

Holy $hit, Opie shot Clay.

Otto in Jail

Regardless of where this goes - whether or not Clay survives the shooting and the season, a poll question you can vote on HERE - allow me to stop and say: Bravo. Not many programs would go here. They'd find a way for the main character to escape harm, for some contrived development to take place and for the status quo to mostly remain intact because, hey, it keeps delivering strong ratings. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Dexter).

But Sons of Anarchy will be a completely different series on season five. That much is certain. Miles and Kozik are dead; Bobby is in jail; Opie has gunned down Clay. The table can never be the same and, with complete trust in Kurt Sutter, that's a good thing. Shows needs to evolve.

But do I think Clay is a goner? No. I see this as an out for the murderous leader - and an in for his stepson.

With his newly chosen President-in-waiting locked up, and with the current President in the hospital, and with club turmoil at an all-time high, there's no way Jax leaves Charming. The club will literally cease to exist if he does.

I can't see Jax allowing that to happen, although I can't get enough of seeing Charlie Hunnam simply react to the situations around him. We were treated to his quiet shock and sadness at the sight of Gemma last week; then a similar response here to Piney's burning body; followed by a stunned stumble when Opie actually fired his gun at Clay. Go back and view that final scene again. Look at Hunnam's face. It's great. Jax has been watching his escape plan crumble each week, as events spiral out of control, and the actor has played his character's bewilderment perfectly.

It's the opposite of Gemma, really. She's always in control. Or she at least always thinks she's in control, whether it's manipulating Unser or handling a savage beating at the hands of her husband. I love you, Clay. What a cutting, unexpected four words.

She could have lashed out, she could have plotted his demise. But she knows Clay's time is coming and she used this opportunity to say farewell. Such a calm certainty is far scarier than any rage-filled confrontation. You could see that on Clay's face. He didn't know what to say or do.

These moments - Gemma literally kissing Clay goodbye, Opie opening fire, Clay chatting with Tara - made up for the rest of the episode, which spent far too much time on the Irish... and their American baby-selling operation?!? Talk about coming out of nowhere. Considering Sutter's open disdain for critics, and their take on an uneven third season, it's hard to believe this wasn't a purposeful eff you from the show's creator. That's his right, and maybe I'm wrong and this will lead to something significant over the final two weeks, but for now? For this installment? It certainly didn't hold my interest.

But that's been an exception over the course of a very strong, suspenseful season. Next week was originally scheduled to be the finale, but FX extended the season by a week. Because the club needs extra time to bury Clay? Because plans will change now that he's fighting for his life in the OR? Because Unser still can't get his car started? Meet me here next Tuesday and we'll go over it together.


Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (239 Votes)

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


Clay won't die unless Ron Perlman has something else he wants to do. It's practically unheard of to kill one of the main actors off -- unless they have another project or are tired of working on this series. There are exceptions like Game of Thrones. However, it is difficult to see how they can write their way out of all the murders etc. that Clay has done in order to keep him in the same role. By their code, even if he lives, they should kill him. Also, it's really hard to have any redemptive feelings towards a wife beater.


April there is no way Potter can be JT as some one else pointed out he would have close to 70yrs old, on his head stone he was born in the 1940's but there is definitely something really weird about that one I just hope it doesn't get silly and Potter turns out to be Thomas! food for thought


Taino - I agree what you wrote about Clay, I think he found something out in Prison that has flipped a switch. He wont die from gunshot wounds, apparently bikers don't die that way (according to the show) so just like JT now it seems all has or all will be revealed about his death, well lets say the next time Clay gets on a bike might
be his last! How poetic LOL


I love SOA and can't wait each week to see it. I want to keep Tara in the show and her with Jax. I am not a fan of the new character Potter. I'm sure the actor is great but like his character. I don't want Clay to die but I would like to see him get knocked down a peg or two. I think Tig (I think that is the right one) has always been in love with Gemma. Would like to see that story line progress more. LOVE ME SOME JAX AND SOA!


I think that the reason for the baby factory was to drive a rift between the Irish and Jax so that they would balk at doing business with him at the head of the table with Clay gone. Not to mention, the meet between the Irish and the cartel is in jeopardy so Potter will have to make a decision on what to do with Juice. Not to mention, Tara still in trouble with the cartel. Absolutely insane what has happened to the table since episode one - Piney, Miles, Kozik, Clay all dead, with Bobby and Juice in legal trouble, Otto seemingly turned in prison, leaving Jax, Opie, Chibbs, Tig, and Happy. Filthy Phil better be ready to step up!


I LOVE the " Clay" Character THE MOST, As much as Jax is The Man.... You must have " Clay" in the mix. He is my favorite and he carries the Gavel well. I want Clay to Survive and in the Hospital they find out that Clay has a " Brain Tumor" From Vietnam Causing him to "Flip out" and be SO VIOLENT! SON'S of Anarchy RULES! I don't know how TV survived without SOA!


*POSSIBLY SPOILERY* So I'm a psycho and I watched next weeks promo and I'm about 97% positive the person going through the window is Tara. The Cartel is going to finish the hit because Clay can't.


i would like to see jax and tara still together even if jax ever leaves charming and i also hope in season 5 we see jax's sister visit from ireland and stay in charming


I swear I have more questions now then I ever did before about this show and this season. I usually get a feel for what might be coming some ideas different path Sutter could take but I have nothing. What happens next? Where is this all going?


The show started out kinda slow last night, but sure made up for it the last 5 minutes. Kurt you are a genius, can't wait to see next week.

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