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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 think Otto is going to use his meet with Bobby (the one he included in his demands to Potter) to alert SAMCRO of Potter's plan; then he'll attack Bobby to get taken down by the guards and be free of his obligations to Potter (a dead man can't rat). Or maybe that's not it, but he has something up his sleeve.
I'm growing more and more convinced that Tara is going to die and that will be what throws Jax back into the club (ala Dexter). I really hope that isn't what happens though. Her losing her career and bitterly resigning herself to life as an old lady in Charming could work too.
Clay is going down, and either Jax, Gemma, or Opie is going to do it. But how are they going to get out of this cartel mess?? I can't help but think that maybe Romeo and the cartel end up involved in Clay's demise somehow...

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I view Wendy as a chess piece in Gemma's plans for the future. She will most likely contact Wendy, playing the biological mother card, so that Jax has to remain in Charming. Jax is only getting out of Charming in one of three ways: 1) Death
2) Prison
3) "Dexter"-ized; all his loved ones die and the club disbands, so there's nothing left If I had to guess, my pick would be number three. SOA is a great show, but one of the things that doesn't seem to be highlighted very well recruitment. I really liked "Half-Sack" and how he was brought into the fold. We had an opportunity to invest in the character and see how he progressed. There's no new blood coming into the club that provides any hope for continuing the legacy of SAMCRO. There really should have been prospects that were introduced over the course of the seasons that were well developed characters that engaged the audience. The two current prospects, no clue what their names are, are total duds. All that being said, Ryan Hurst was amazing at the end of this episode and Kurt Sutter does a good job I getting strong performances from the stable of actors he has available. I just wish the story arcs and new editions each season weren't exclusively based on individuals outside the club. With the exception of Chucky I can't really think of any character that has been brought into the SAMCRO fold who I am evenly remotely attached.

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oh and as for what Otto is planning I think it's fairly obvious he plans to set up Lenny as the rat... after all Lenny is the one with the Russian connections and would have reason & and I can't see why Otto would want to get his eyes fixed if he is "checking out" sooner......... I just don't see a solid reason why Otto would want to frame Lenny

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the unfortunate swerve i see is with all signs pointing towards the demise of Clay, this will then make Jax for all intents and purposes the Prez ( I know it needs a vote to finalize but he is the V.P. ) How is that a problem? Well if you remember the "agreement" is that except for "the club president" the bulk of SAMCRO be kept out of the Rico charges. If Clay dies and the charges go forward that will all fall on Jax wouldn't it?

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My problem is that they've renewed for another season. To me, this season has been setting up really nicely for the big showdown and hopefully, the death of Clay.
But if they've got another season to do, then how can that happen? They'll keep Clay going - which means another entire season of dancing round the confrontation we all want - no - need - to see.
This season was setting up for the perfect end. Now it's not going to be the end. That's a mistake for starts, and the continuing Clay getting out on top yet again (inevitably) is way past where it should be. The acting in SOA is superb - but even Sutter can only take things so far without it becoming tiresome.

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Man, that sucks that they killed off Kosik. I kinda liked the guy. He did go out in style, though. Blew up into pieces! lol RIP Kosik. Now, it's going to be interesting to see how the dynamics will work between Opie, Clay, and Jax...I feel a bad moon rising.

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I don't know if Otto will actually turn on the club. He always has something up his sleeve. And I also don't think Sutter would play a rat. Juice's aliance still seems up in the air, and I don't know if we'll see where exactly he stands until we see his death, or the sheriffs, or Potter's, or all three. As for Clay, it looks like his days are numbered. The Opie and Clay confrontation is gonna be good! But with three seasons left, who is gonna be a good antagonist that Clay was? Something is going to happen to keep Jax in the club... maybe the death of Tara?

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My fear for the swerve you mention is that Otto will use Lenny's new privileges to somehow 'get' to Gemma, making good on his threat to her from the beginning of the show. Kurt Sutter is not the type to put something in like that for no reason, and it would be the swerviest of all swerves ever if he killed Gemma. It would be unexpected simply because she's his wife, not to mention the backbone of the show. Hope like hell I am wrong.

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If they kill off Tara and then try to bring in Wendy I will be sickeningly pissed. It would be a slap in the face of all this time put in to making this relationship as important as it is to Jax. Granted she did say that she was now into women but still it would feel like them cheapened the Jax and Tara relationship.

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I feel like I am missing something, the tension from last week as diminished but I am still wondering what the curve ball is going to be here. I feel something coming and it has me concerned and curiose while still being worried. I personally bought Tara's outburst mainly because she has no real self control right now, her head is all over the place. She has just "lost" her hand and now Wendy comes in just wanting to know her son doesnt want to stop having Tara and Jax raise him. Just wants him to know who she is. All Tara is hearing right now is Wendy is trying to take one of her sons away from her. I like how Gemma told Wendy now was not a good time for that kind of like I am going to use you when I need to. Someone really should of just OD her ass. That is all I am going to say. P.S. I wander if Clay will off himself.

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