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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
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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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Am I the only person that thinks the car wreck at the end was the most contrived scenario ever in TV? Why is it necessary to have something that dramatic happen in the wake of Opie's death? Terrible writing.

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What is up with Jax always wearing white tennis shoes. I've been riding for years and know a lot of bikers and they all wear boots. It drives me crazy when I watch the show and he has those white shoes on.

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I think Gemma snaps and tells Jax that she was part of the killing of his father and that is why she is so out of control..
Kurt will not let anything happen to Able..
Ables been the center to many times...
Wendy will be back now because of this...
Hopefully Tara will not be pissed at Jax for letting Gemma have the kids..
That fighting between Jax and Tara can't start again.. That was played way to much...They need to stay strong together at all cost..

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Killing Abel kills plot movement. Jax would be inconsolable and not functional as President of the club since his son is dead, his wife hates him and would leave him over this (she would totally blame Jax for pushing Gemma to babysit). Wendy would be out of the picture (without Abel she has no reason to create friction). This is maybe 10 days since Opie died. That is too much damage too quickly. On the other hand, injuring his son might build a bond for Jax in Pope and Roosevelt (Pope lost his daughter and Roosevelt his unborn child). I hope Filthy Phil followed Gemma and will get to the boys quickly. Maybe Gemma to get help to detox/dry out and put her into Wendy's recovery group. I find it interesting that the truly injured parties from Season 4 (Clay and Tara) are healing fine but Gemma is the one with the physical beating scars gone but the emotional damage of that situation debilitating her more than anyone. Like Nero said: "stuck between a husband she hates and a son she thinks hates her." Awesome episode except for Joel McHale's character who basically didn't move plot and didn't have much value (other than creating another spiral moment for Gemma and give Nero someone to smash)

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And...when Abel is in the hospital and Wendy gets word that he's been injured because of a drug-enhanced Gemma - A LOT more hell is going to break loose. And it will rain down all over Jax (and Tara), of course!

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Having said that, I believe Jax will climb out of it and finally discover what is truly worth all of the sacrifice - his family. Hopefully, his loved ones will still be among the breathing when he arrives at this realization. A couple of personal observations - - The SUV wasn't upside down. Hybrid was clearly visible. A tree fell when struck and a limb went through the window.
- Abel was bleeding of his teddy bear, right? The one that was lying on the bed at the beginning of the episode, maybe?
- Gemma wasn't drunk, but maybe a little high. She was falling asleep at the wheel. She turned up the radio to try and not fall asleep, but dozed anyway. I'm guessing that was a long day - so drunk she couldn't remember the dude, hungover, Unser, joint(s), and then it was clearly late. What's-his-face-Teddy-Bear-member was glaring at her in the car as if he didn't trust her. (I'm guessing they're going to come down on him, too.)

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I think Abel is hurt and there will be many angry Tara vs. Gemma interactions at the hospital in the near future. Hospital Administrator will probably continue to whisper "get out of this mess" type things to Tara. With Gemma isolating herself by being irresponsible, Clay at odds, the club's in-fighting, Pope and CIA pressure, an injured child, and a wedge between Tara, Jax will continue to feel like the proverbial spinning top. I think this season will further show how the head of the table isolates you from the "you" that you wanted to be. This season showed us Jax's introspective, hopes-for-the-future ways in the beginning. Quickly, his life was irrevocably changed with the death of his best friend. All of these other events are simply going to test and strain those ideals that Jax wants to maintain. We have to see him enter this dark, alone place to be able to believe that all of these choices have appropriate consequences. Having said that, I believe Jax will climb out of it and finally discover what is truly worth all of the sacrifice - his family. Hopefully, his loved ones will still be among the breathing when he arrives at this realization. A couple of personal observations - - The SUV wasn't upside down. Hybrid was clearly visible. A tree fell when struck and a limb went through the window.
- Abel was bleeding of his teddy bear, right? The one that was lying on the bed at the beginning of the episode, maybe?
- Gemma wasn't drunk, but maybe a little high. She was falling asleep at the wheel. She turned up the radio to try and not fall asleep, but dozed anyway. I'm guessing that was a long day - so drunk she couldn't remember the dude, hungover, Unser, joint(s), and then it was clearly late. What's-his-face-Teddy-Bear-member was glaring at her in the car as if he didn't trust her. (I'm guessing they're going to come down on him, too.)

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Wow. Next week's episode is title "Ablation". Look what the definion of that word is:
ab·la·tion-noun
1. the removal, especially of organs, abnormal growths, or harmful substances, from the body by mechanical means, as by surgery. 2. the reduction in volume of glacial ice, snow, or névé by the combined processes of melting, evaporation, and calving. Compare alimentation 3. Aerospace . erosion of the protective outer surface (ablator) of a spacecraft or missile due to the aerodynamic heating caused by travel at hypersonic speed during reentry through the atmosphere. How do y'all think this will play out?

Jaxs-girl

I hope Able isn't dead, but I see what CPC is saying. @ Bret, I didn't get that part either (crash). She wasn't drinking just smoking. Maybe she was still hung over from the night before. Still a strech though. The ways things are looking Eli is going to give up Juicy for the last Nomad. He promised he wouldn't, but I guess when you lose a loved one, all bets are off. I still don't think Pope is behind the "black" attack. I think someone is trying to undermine him the same way Clay is trying to undermine Jax. Things are getting interesting.

Razorofpow

I Don't think Abel is Dead, that would be really low of Sutter almost disrespectful. First Opie,then Eli's wife (who was pregnant) and now a child that had such a little role it was actually lovable... I think he will be hurt cause the truck that Gemma nearly hit saw where she went down, so atleast help should be on the way. As for Pope and the niners, thats all one big shit pile but I think Pope will get whats coming to him. 5mil insurance plan or not, he is fucking with the wrong people. Pope has city pull, SOA has international pull...

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.

Jax

Sons of Anarchy Season 5 Episode 7 Music

  Song Artist
Soundgarden-been-away-too-long Been Away Too Long Soundgarden iTunes
The-quaker-city-night-hawks-aint-no-kid Ain't No Kid The Quaker City Night Hawks iTunes
Justin-warfield-headlights Headlights Justin Warfield iTunes
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