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Sons of Anarchy Review: Flipping Out

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It all came crashing down on Sons of Anarchy this week.

Literally for Gemma, whose irresponsible ways came back to haunt her in the most frightening way possible; figuratively for Clay, who was forced to call a deadly audible on his plans to regain the Presidency; and somewhere in between for Jax, who is juggling more balls than a circus performer as the head of SAMCRO.

Indeed, as SOA Season 5 has done so well, "Toad's Wild Ride" focused on the show's primary trio.

Joel McHale on Sons of Anarchy

More than ever before, this year has been all about Jax, Clay and Gemma.

Juice has been reduced to Clay's errand boy; Chibbs is mostly just Jax's right-hand biker; Tig was given a mesmerizing platform at the outset, but has receded a bit since; Bobby is good for the occasional word of wisdom; and Opie... well, rest in peace, warrior friend. Rest in peace.

This show will always be about father, step-son and the woman caught in between them. That was never more evident than throughout this episode.

I was among the many who believed CLAY had to die last year. I didn't see any way the series could believably go on with him at the table. But kudos to Kurt Sutter and his staff for keeping Clay around the edges of the club, for maintaining his dark side and yet also letting viewers in a bit to see his motivations.

The guy is nothing but self-centered evil at this point, there can be no debate. He is only after what's best for him, damn the cost. But we're getting a chance to see him in quieter moments and to watch as he tries to pick up the pieces of a disastrous plan that has led to Rita Roosevelt's death, along with a clear path of evidence back to him.

Clay remains a villain, but he's a multi-dimensional one. He's also an intelligent one, although it must be asked, setting up the Nomads to take the fall when it became obvious the scheme had fallen apart. But it must be asked: Does Unser really believe Clay didn't set up the Nomads to be killed? Does Juice? I need not ask about Jax.

GEMMA, meanwhile, has been spiraling out of control all season long. It dragged on for a bit and it culminated here, but leave it to the ever-awesome Nero to make the reasons why apparent to Jax: this is a woman in desperate need of her family. She's without her husband now, Tara took her children away for awhile, Jax has been rather distracted as President. Gemma isn't nearly as strong or independent as she wants everyone to believe.

And now she's dead! Just kidding. She isn't dead. Neither is Thomas or Abel I'm sure. Not even Kurt Sutter would go there. But the flipped SUV and the fact that she placed the kids in such peril will not bode well for Gemma's state of mind or her relationship with Jax and Tara.

And then we come to JAX. Sons of Anarchy has felt a little all over the place on Season 5 - there's not really a constant through-line, between Opie's death... the deal with Pope... the Irish/Mexican mess... the presence of Nero and his companionship business... a surgically-enhanced Walton Goggins - but perhaps that's almost meant to mirror life for the new man in charge.

Jax has a lot on his plate. An awful lot. He's trying to broker a gun-running deal... while navigating a secret alliance with the CIA... while mourning his best friend... while partnering with Nero... while both expanding his drug dealing and hoping to get out it... only to be interrupted occasionally from club business because his hungover mom just slept with some guy who stole her SUV.

(And let's give props here to the series for properly using guest star Joel McHale; instead of spending way too much time on a big name unrelated to the overall story - yes, we're looking at you, Ashley Tisdale - the Community actor only popped up occasionally and was used instead to shed light on both Gemma and the wrath of Nero.)

And now it looks like, what, the Niners have turned on SAMCRO? Is there any other takeaway or anything else we know at the moment about the shooter aside from his skin color?

Again, it does feel like there's a great deal going on at the moment, perhaps too much, perhaps too many directions all at once. The show is barreling toward some major payoff as we close in on the final third of the season, but it's hard to predict anything going forward considering all the balls in the air right now.

Will the final, undead Nomad be the final nail in Clay's coffin? Will Gemma ever be allowed to see her grandchildren again? What sort of vengeance will Eli enact for the murder of his wife? How, if at all, will Jax extricate the club from its dealing with Pope?

Many questions. Not many answers at the moment. Just a handful of bodies left bloodied on the freeway.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
  • 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (106 Votes)

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

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I'm hoping Wendy DOES come back into the scene and demand custody-her son isn't safe with Gemma & the rest of the bunch. I'd LOVE to see Wendy, now straight, get over on Jax & Tara for keeping her from her own son-he doesn't even know her as his MOTHER! I'd also love to see Clay get what's coming to him! I have a "thing" for Tig, but I don't see him making it to the end of the entire series-his death(when it happens) is going to be violent & BLOODY!
Heck of a show, we never miss an episode!

Jaxs-girl

I love the tennis shoes!! Up until seasons 3 they were always "cocaine" white. I always commented to my boyfriend how white they were. They must give him a new pair after every commerical. I'm wondering what's up with the plaid shirts!

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CUT OFF FROM BELOW POST I know I am stretching it, but something has to give. If the accident is real and something happens to Abel, how can the remainder of the season and series not become utterly ridiculous (another corpse)? If Sutter plays this off as another- Gemma is going to lie and say she was run off the road and everyone is gong to believe me- than this show is officially DEAD! And Clay- this whole 'more cunning than everyone else' is just getting over played. Next he is going to fool everyone into making him the mayor of Charming. Hope next week brings me back around..............

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First, I was not real happy with the episode. Love the drama of the show, but this is too much! There has been at minimum 2 dead bodies per episode, and various street chases- ending in gun fire. My initial feeling after watching the final scene (Gemma crash/ Jax dumping his bike again) was that this is the official 'Jump the Shark' moment. I hope Kurt has not run into the same roadblock as all other shows- PREDICTABLE!
So here is my last ditch effort to try and think how this one is going to bring all of us back around. What if the Gemma accident turns out to be a dream? Be it Gemma dozing off while driving and the moment to make her see the light of her recent wrong doings, or dirty Phil dreaming forward when he looks into the car and sees Gemma is in no shape to drive. Think about it, why wasn't there any mention of it in the teaser for next week? Nothing! I know I am stretching it, but something has to give. If the accident is real and something happens to Abel, how can the remainder of the season and series not become utterly ridiculous (another corpse)? If Sutter plays this off as another- Gemma is going to lie and say she was run off the road and everyone is gong to believe me- than this show is officially DEAD! And Clay- this whole 'more cunning than everyone else' is just getting over played. Next he is going to fool everyone into making him the mayor of Charming. Hope next week brings me back around..............

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I hope those kids are ok. That said, I've read things like "Kurt Sutter won't kill babies" but honestly, I have watched him in his video blogs and yeah, I think he would take the story there. Not because I think he's cruel or anything but because he's a master storyteller & if anyone can do shock, Kurt can. Plus, these are characters- not real people so it's not as if he's really a baby killer. When Opie's character died, it was the first time in a long time that I had been seriously affected by a fictional character. I can only credit that to SOA being a great show. I read something recently that someone posted on FB I think that was something to the effect of season 5 made them think "oh my gosh, what am I watching?" I've felt that season 5 has been hugely traumatic. I know he's got an end game in sight for the series but man- season 5 is intense. I'd really like a death free episode. That'd be great....

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I think Abel will need a blood transfusion and Wendy will have to give it, bring her back in the story again, plus a custody claim. I think Clay ordered the hit on Jax to make it look like a 9er attack. I agree with some other people that the car scene was contrived and too much in an action packed series... there are so many complications going on. From the minute Tarah offered the kids to Gemma, there was a bad feeling, just waiting for the slipper to fall....

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There seems to be more to Gemma's accident and I think Clay is behind it...Gemma has been high many times, she smoked during the day and it's now dark. One of the final scenes show Clay looking over his marriage license and reflecting. Clay is somehow responsible for Gemma's accident. Clay is determined to make Pope the fall guy and used what appeared to be Niners to try to kill Jax and Chibs. Clay is behind it all...he needs to kill Unser, Tara, Jax and Gemma and possibly Bobby so that there is no one who can say Clay murdered John Teller. All that is left are Tara and Tig at the cabin...I feel sure they will be attacked next. And then Clay will find a way to get rid of Unser (who I hope is not falling for Clay's pretend save).
Clay would kill Tig too because Tig did not remain loyal to him. Who will be left for Clay to rule over...the cheese stands alone.

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Abel is not dead. This only gives Wendy the foothold she needs. Abel will probably need blood or something. But it will be the last straw I think for Tara and Gemma. Unless Gemma can explain it away somehow. We all know she is good at that. I have watched this show from the very beginning but this is the most anxious I have ever been. This season is so all over the place. just like someone said previously...kinda like Jax's life. Im upset that Clay is so predictable. And Gemma is becoming that way too.
Tara will wear LouAnn's perfume to get Otto to do what she wants. But I don't think for a minute she will leave Jax. Good grief. Look at all she went thru to get to this point. She will expect Jax to take care of it.
Opie's death was sad. But Juice's is coming. Notice how he is hardly seen or heard from. That way its easier to kill him off. We are not so invested anymore. Just like Mr. Sutter did Opie. We hardly saw him at the end of last season. It got us prepared to loose him.
Pope...he's a trip. I never missed "Lost" so when I heard "Michael" was gonna be Pope I had my doubts. But he's bringing me around. Oh well that's my thoughts anyway. See ya'

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I see the the "black" attack on Jax as another attempt by Clay to lead blame away from him. Feel like he probably hired some rogue bangers to make it look like Niners were involved and that it could be possible that Pope was trying to undermine Jax from the beginning. Just my thoughts on the matter.

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And also... Kurt Sutter wrote this whole story down, the whole seven-seasons arc, before he started writing out the single episodes. He knows exactly where he's taking this. (Almost) nothing is arbitrary on this show. He's not running the characters or the show into the ground by making it darker and darker, he's got an end game just as well as his characters do, lol. The fact that he didn't kill Clay last season was definitely planned from the very beginning, that wasn't Sutter chickening out at the last minute. This show isn't like your average soap opera. This is a thought-through, finely spun story about a man's journey. Wendy came back last season, and this season Gemma almost kills Abel - that makes complete sense people, it's a slow build-up. Cause this last episode will send Wendy into an all-out custody battle, but Sutter had to bring her in sooner and let her check out the situation a little bit, cause if she'd only come back in now it would've seemed forced. The way this all happened just goes to show how well Sutter thought this through.