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Sons of Anarchy Review: Low on Juice

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Sons of Anarchy was due for a letdown, following what many (myself included) consider to be one of the best episodes in show history. So I was prepared for "Call of Duty" to dial back the action a bit, to let the awesome insanity from last Tuesday night sink in for both viewers and characters.

But, while there was a lot to like about this installment, I wasn't ready for a couple of major storyline snaufs to pop up, the first of which I especially must address.

Romeo and Clay

Let's talk about Juice. Consider the two options with which he was faced after getting approached by Roosevelt with information on his father:

  1. Go along with Roosevelt and Potter's demands, which included stealing a sample of the cartel cocaine and ratting out his club's role in gun and drug running.
  2. Tell fellow SAMCRO members about the blackmail attempt.

Juice, of course, chose the former. He reasoned that it was actually safer to side with the law than to trust his supposed family members, even though Sons of Anarchy has spent very little time establishing the motorcycle world's racist rules. It's the only complaint I've had about this season, never really buying into the basis for one of the most important ongoing storylines.

It has seemed hard to believe the club wouldn't be understanding of such a loyal member's predicament and now it turns out... I was right? Assuming Chibbs isn't misleading Juice, the African-American heritage really isn't a big deal and Juice simply made the world's most dangerous assumption?!? That makes the entire arc seem rather contrived. Think of all the dangerous actions Juice undertook. I'd have thought they were at least grounded in a fear that couldn't be brushed off by a few words of assurance.

It's still possible that Chibbs was lying. He might still go to various club members and Juice could still be in major trouble with SAMCRO. But I doubt it, and that makes this storyline feel a bit cheap.

My other beef rests with the return of Wendy. It's not as big of a deal because it's certainly conceivable that she could be clean and anxious for some relationship with her son. It just feels like too much at this point. I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the show tacking on yet another obstacle for Jax and Tara to overcome.

Isn't her broken hand, the attempt on her life and Jax's overall involvement in a cartel war enough?!?

Those complaints out of the way, there was a lot to like about "Call of Duty," starting with Juice's funny reference to the video game with that title. But we had Otto painfully agree to work with Potter, while soothing his conscience as much as possible by putting in a request to help Lenny, a member of the Original 9.

We also watched as Gemma lined up her own little army against Clay, never outright calling for anyone's assistance, but making a point of showing her face to Jax and Tig in order to get them on her side. Unser, of course, is already there and while Clay may have meant to belittle him with that cancer remark, the bottom line is that he's correct: a dying man has nothing to lose. I'm assuming the initial plan was not to keep Unser around past his retirement, but Kurt Sutter has adjusted and made outstanding use of this character.

Then, finally, we witnessed that final scene. What raw hurt and outrage from Ryan Hurst, an actor who isn't typically asked to emote beyond Opie's grave demeanor. But that just made his reaction to Piney's death that much more effective. Couple it with Tara's outburst at the hospital last week and no show can depict such enormous pain as Sons of Anarchy. These scenes are far more explosive than even the most advance's grenade launcher.

And that's where we left things, in nearly the same spot as the prior episode: Clay must die by the hand of the son. But which son? And why did Unser call an audible from Gemma's request that Piney's murder not fall on Clay? Everyone has some kind of agenda at this point, and almost everyone is aligned against the SAMCRO President. It's starting to seem too obvious that the season will conclude with his death.

I smell a swerve. But I'm not about to make any actual predictions. I'm just gonna take as many breaths as possible over the coming days in preparation for whatever SOA shocks me with next.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (181 Votes)

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

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I absolutely love juice I would love to take him out for dinner! I would rock him soooo good, my email is darlener 14@gmail.com! I'm 32the bklyn NY girl living in southern NJ n would love a chance to hang out with you him!!!

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I wonder when the club is going to find out they're about to get taken down by Potter. This to me is the most intriguing aspect of this season, nobody but Juice has any clue as to what is about to go down. They have made no attempt to get out from under this RICO rap cause no one knows what's about to happen!! I fear it may be too late to do anything about it when they do find out. Although I'm quietly holding out hope that some info gets spilled when Bobby sits down with Otto.

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**SPOILER...of sorts*** @Kal - IMDB isn't the greatest predictor of Clay's outcome. Granted, IMDB might inadvertently give away some information about a show, but it is constantly being edited and updated; it can also be wrong. Your conclusion based on the episode number may very well correct, but the reason Clay has 51 listed episodes is because he was uncredited for four episodes; three were the season recaps and one was the most recent "Call of Duty" (my guess shooting one of the many movies he's been in or will be in). My understanding, limited as it may be, is that due to contractual obligations an actor would go uncredited in his/her TV show (no financial compensation for that episode), but be allowed to be compensated for their work in their movie role (ex. Ron Perlman as Corin, Conan the Barbarian's dad). If you look at the list of episodes for Jax and Clay though (two windows side-by-side) you see where the four episode disparity exists that I mentioned above.

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Geez that promo just had me on the edge of my seat. I love this show. But okay, so we got the scenes of Opie on his bike obviously prepared for a destiny run, but deducting from the usual style of writing on this show (and judging by how this is a promo and according to advertisement tricks it's not supposed to give the story away but rather give the viewers a WRONG idea of the story) I honestly don't think Opie's gonna (be able to) go through with it, I think someone will be standing in his way and ultimately he won't be the one who puts that bullet in Clay. Even though he has an honest reason to, what with Clay killing his dad and his wife (even though Jax has the exact same reason, Clay killing his dad and attempting to kill his fiance, it's just that he doesn't know yet, which makes the whole thing another bit more suspenseful.) We know Clay gets into Tara's room and Gemma finds out, so there HAS to be a showdown in that room - between Gemma and Clay, and I'm pretty sure one of the three is gonna leave that room in a black bag.
I mean I love Clay, I absolutely love his character, but he HAS to die. Sad as it is. It's just so suspense-packed cause Clay is completely out of control, he's not thinking straight anymore, not at all. That makes him a psycho at this point and basically "a dead man with nothing to lose" as well. I'm so nervous, haha! There's this one frame in this promo video of Jax with a really shocked expression in his face and while that could "just" be his reaction to Piney's death, it could also be finding out Clay's plan for Tara. I'm honestly wondering how much crap Kurt Sutter is gonna put that poor man through before he lets him lose his shit completely. Pffff. Tough shit. So, personally, I think if Clay needs to die, I do think it has to be "by the hand of a son" (putting him in jail or wit pro would just be stupid and boring and Sutter would never make a wrong move like that, right?) but at this point I kinda feel like it'll be by the hand of a daughter rather than a son, the daughter being Gemma. I think if Jax were the one to kill him, Clay would tell him about the letters first cause he ain't got nothing more to lose upon confrontation, and I don't think Gemma is gonna let that happen because IF the truth about John gets out, it HAS to affect Jax's and Gemma's relationship, and personally I think this mother-son duo is one of the greatest relationships created in contemporary TV, so personally I don't think Sutter is gonna let Jax even find out about the letters this season cause that knowledge has the potential to destroy his relationship with his mother and that relationship makes up a big part of the very basis of this series. I do think though that Tara's hands are f*cked and they're not gonna be leaving Charming. Given there's a fifth season it's pretty much been given away I think.
I think Tara is gonna be following in Gemma's footsteps (even though I can't see how Tara is supposed to hold a candle to Gemma) rather than maintaining her good-doctor lifestyle, but Jax is completely lost here. I don't know, it just seems to me that he has no idea what he wants at this point and is just making desperate decisions without knowing why, and most of all he's completely in the dark about 50% of the story here. I do think he honestly wants to leave Charming and the MC with his family but he starts to realize that it's just not gonna happen and he's starting to fight against it trying to make it work but that's just making it worse. He's basically completely out of the loop right now and fighting a losing battle against himself rather than opening his eyes for a little bit and doing some damage control. Excitiiiiing.

C-f-ohara

It was such a subtle change but when Opie started crying "Dad?" after he just previously addressed Piney's lifeless body as "Pop" we saw how the power of one word can change the whole tone of a scene. As a man he usually addressed his father as Pop or even Piney, often blurring the line between father and son, but as he called him "Dad" I felt like we were seeing the pain pour out from a much younger Opie if that makes any sense. It served so well to convey the pain that overtook him as the initial shock wore off and the sobering reality of the moment set it.

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SPOILER!! 'call of duty' was the 50th episode of soa. if you go to IMDB, you'll see that most of the main characters are listed with 55 episodes... ron perlman only has 51... if that`s right (which probably is) he'll die next week.
imdb is unconsciously ruining tv surprises. theo rossi has 52 episodes, but since he isn't a main character since the beginning of the series, is possible that he hasn't appeared in all episodes.

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Amkb, I'm pretty sure this season's Jax is a setup... especially with what Opie said, "I didn't stay cause of what you said.. I stayed because I knew trying to be anything else would be a lie, and thats the worst thing you can do to your family." I think Jax will go back to old school, long haired, ride or die Jax by default, either from Tara dying or Tara growing a pair and becoming the next old lady since her surgical career is going bye bye... every crew needs a medic...
...and NOT enough drama?? between Juice's sitch, Clay going ape** and trying to off everybody, failing to do so with the most important one and having to suffer the consequences, Jax trying to change but eventually not, Linc(obviously a former biker or a kid that got his bike stolen years back) being a mastermind (which will more than likely cause Roosevelt to bail and become a tougher Unser), Wendy coming back, Gemma turning on Clay, Opie going wild, Tig giving up sergeant, Jt's letters still out there... oh, and not to mention a literal WAR going on... What else do you want in the drama aspect?? I for one... could not handle that much drama going on around me.

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Is it me, or the dude that got blown up by the landmine was the one Juice shot in the face??? And I've been watching the show from the beginning, and remember Gemma giving Wendy the needle w/ the OD in it while she was in the hospital? She was foaming at the mouth and I guess I assumed she died... thought she did. Great show last night and yes, Tig does love Gemma- he just may be the one to off Clay, since he 'resigned' by pulling his patch. Opie FINALLY showed some emotion- and wow! he's an awesome actor. Can't wait till next week!!!!

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The biggest problem I have is the LACK of drama. There is no way Clay is going to be killed or the show is done. I just don't find Jax that interesting. I think the mistake was in not taking Tara out - then bringing baby mama back would make more sense. Pretty obvious that Opie is going to be rubbed out while trying to take revenge on the killing of Piney. If they get rid of him and Tara then there is a whole story line about who will be bringing up the next generation...Frankly, of late, Juice is the most interesting character. Really not liking the direction they have taken Jax in. I agree with the above posts stating he has become a wimp. The storyline of taking the club in the direction his Dad planned took a wrong turn.

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Nah man... Clay id definitely going to go down and soon... they are laying it on WAYYYY to thick for him to survive another season. Also, Perlman has three movie projects in production and was seen on an epi of Swardson's pretend time so it looks like he's going to have other things going on. Also it's setting up with Juice's sub plot and Lincoln obviously having more to him that meets the eye and the housing project coming back suddenly, that Potter and Hale will be the main "villains" for the next season.
Also, though Opie deserves to be the one to do it, I think it'll actually be Gemma, as an act to show club allegiance is higher than any member, and to calm the rising wave of discord in the club as she is the Matriarch, and Unser will cover it up. Think about it, if any club members did it they'd have to face reprisal because he is still a member, unless they boot him. No one has hard evidence on Clay to bring to the club for anything but beating up Gemma. Opie will be screwed out of vengeance yet again, and Jax just doesn't seem to have the intensity or hot-headedness since his haircut, and he has too much riding on this to do it himself..... UNLESS, my original thought rings true from the beginning of the season: Tara or Opie dies, Jax goes apes*** and bada boom bada bing

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