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.


Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Ugh, the ending with the blood was too hard to watch given my kids are about Abel's age. I have to agree that somehow Wendy gets a hold of the incident to use in getting / trying to get custody.


@Ghost Rider: about the white shoes - apparently those white kicks are NorCal style. Charlie Hunnam said in an interview he based Jax's look off of a young real life bike-gang member that he knows so apparently that's where those shoes come from. And also, I don't think Gemma had a heart attack, if that was the case we wouldn't have seen her smoking pot with Wayne the scene before. She probably knew very well that she was in no condition to drive but she just jumps at those chances that Jax gives her, she wants her family back so when Jax reaches out to her, she's not gonna say "sorry honey but I'm high so I can't drive, you're on your own." The relationship is too fragile for that. And yeah, she coulda told Filthy Phil to drive, but... I mean come on. It's Gemma we're talking about. She choked on her pride there.


Otto's gonna write whatever he wants to write, as long as "it's something that's never been done before". We don't get a vote. There's two seasons left and the story is gonna go the way it goes. This show is better than almost everything else out there imo.
I'm just grateful that, at least it seems so for the time being, that they've stopped chopping up the last scene of recent episodes with some crappy song mixed in with dialog (thank God for closed caption with the mute button.
The song during the chase scene with Nero getting the Caddy was pretty bad, whatever the heck it was suppose to be, as was the song at the end of Ope's funeral...but things are much better than they were so I can't complain :)
Knock on wood!


Jax's first thought on hearing about the SUV accident is that it's tied to the drive-by attack against him, especially if the trucker happens to be black or brown; remember Gemma was knocked unconscious. He will lash out against the Niners and Pope if Abel and/or Gemma are seriously hurt or killed. Gemma may encourage those thoughts to get out of trouble especially if she blabs the truth to Clay; he'll use her to help put together a convenient lie for the both of them.


One...there should be no way that the niners firing a machine gun while Jax was riding, that they missed, it showed Jax limping up the hill, was it from the fall or a bullet? Two...maybe Gemma had another heart attack (has a bad heart) and that is why she passed out. Three...Clay is one of the main characters, I think he will be around for a long time...I also agree with the above comments ( as a long time rider ) " WHAT'S WITH THE WHITE RUNNING SHOES "


I swear my heart almost stopped when Gemma crashed that car. This is gonna set off a custody trial that Wendy's most likely gonna win. Gemma what the hell were you thinking... I got SO MAD at her when she started dozing off in the car, that's two little kids in there! I can't believe that actually happened. That was dark. I'm also starting to get a little scared for Juice, what with him being so "close" with Clay, that relationship can't end well. But for some reason, even though everybody else wants him dead, the more vicious and twisted Clay gets, the more I love him as a character. This stone-cold devil kind of person for some reason always fascinates me.


Tammy, Jax is always wearing those white shoes because it's the NorCal style. And the fictional town of Charming is in northern California after all. Jax is one of the younger members of SAMCRO, & I think it's another way for us to see him express himself. I know this because my friend lives in NorCal & the first time we watched together she pointed out shoes (me being from Phoenix I didn't understand why he'd wear white shoes either), she said "look at those white kicks!! That is NorCal style!"


There is no way that Kurt Sutter will "kill off Abel". Bringing Wendy back into the picture on a more regular basis would be a really good scenario, testing Jax and Tara's newly-wedded vows. Loved seeing Joel McHale as a guest star. Can't wait to see Pope's reaction when he finds out what went down...


Unser should just kill Clay before he gets killed...Clay should have been finished off last season. Juice is starting to see that everything Clay says is a lie and that it will only benefit Clay, Juice needs to go to Jax.
Poor Able, blood dripping from his shoe onto the stuffed dinosaur.....I think he's dead, if he is.....Tara is going to kill Gemma! Jax is going to end up losing it and I don't think Tara and him will stay together, I see Tara taking off with the baby to wherever it was she was going to interview when her hand got screwed up. I was disappointed that Opie died.


i'm still one of those people who thinks clay should've died last season. i'm just not buying it anymore. it's the same stuff over and over. when exactly is this infamous deal with the irish going to happen, so that they can finally get rid of clay??

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Sons of Anarchy Season 5 Episode 7 Quotes

Jax: She's a goddamn trainwreck.
Nero: She's still your mother ... Women like your mom, they don't do so good without family.

When he died, I felt so bad. It wasn't because he was dead, it was because I'd have you all to myself. I knew how wrong that was. I love you mom. We're gonna get through all this, I promise.