Through three Sons of Anarchy Season 6 episodes, I can't shake the question:
Is Breaking Bad having a negative effect on my enjoyment of this series? Or does all the blame lie at the booted feet of Sons of Anarchy itself?
This is a show that formerly held the Most Intense Series on Television title all to itself, holding it loudly, violently and proudly. But the incredible final run of Breaking Bad episodes hasn't simply taken the belt from SOA... it's stuffed all intensity from this FX drama into a barrel and seemingly disintegrated it forever.
It's unfair and unrealistic to compare programs in this kind of manner, but it's also impossible to avoid.
When one (Breaking Bad) sets the bar so high, how can a viewer not notice when another (Sons of Anarchy) of similar nature - high octane, suspenseful, focused on a group of anti-heroes - fails to reach similar heights?
But even if I were to ignore the inevitable comparisons to Breaking Bad, "Poenitentia" was a good example of why my - dare I say it? - boredom with Sons of Anarchy these days may simply be due to the repetitive nature of its own ongoing storylines.
First and foremost: Clay has to die. It was interesting to keep him alive for awhile, even after he killed Piney and Jax learned of all his stepfather's sins, because we could watch him and Jax interact, awkward tension spilling out of every scene. But that hasn't been the case for awhile now.
Clay is off on his own, removed from SAMCRO and still breathing - and sucking all the air out of the series by doing so. First, Jax needed him to close a deal with the Feds. Now, he needs him to close a deal with the Irish. And even Damon Pope's crew apparently has a use for Clay, using him as a prison hitman.
The problem is that Clay's demise has been dragged out for so long that it will feel anti-climactic when his day finally arrives. This is the former SAMCRO President and co-lead of the entire show... but will anyone feel an Opie-like loss when his time comes? Or will most viewers shrug and feel relief that this extended death sentence is finally over?
Lee Toric, conversely, I will grant is someone who feels new and fresh. But also a tad too insane.
Give the guy a SAMCRO-based obsession, fine. Hand him a drug habit, I can deal with that. But now he's killing escorts and planting evidence and he just seems far too out there, far too one-dimensional as a crazy person. Pure lunacy does not make for an intriguing villain. We can't really comprehend his motives - Jax made a rather compelling, calm case in that interrogation room for why SAMCRO isn't to blame for Lee's sister's murder - and the more extreme lengths he goes to in his club-destroying mission, the sillier it all seems.
Toric, of course, is hoping to nail the Sons of a weapons charge related to the season premiere shooting. And I remain torn on its inclusion.
Subsequent episodes have certainly not used the event as any kind of political catalyst, and for that I am grateful. Nor has it been any real kind of emotional fodder, with the exception of tonight's opening, juxtaposing the killer's journal entries with Jax reading to his child and the fact that Jax so often reads in a journal.
But where is the fallout beyond what this event means practically for SAMCRO? Is the town now looking at the bikers differently? Does anyone else in the club share Jax's shame over dealing guns? I don't want to see a tragedy that has played out too many times in real life exploited by the series, yet once you include it, you need to depict some kind of emotional resonance for the club members and those around them.
So... what did I like about this episode?
- Bobby and his plans to start a Nomad chapter. I really have no idea how this will come into play, but couldn't you see Juice leaving to join it? He isn't exactly have a grand ol' time with SAMCRO these days. Seems like potential for some intriguing group dynamics here.
- Pope's crew finally getting Tig. I'm already anticipating disappointment over Tig somehow getting out of this alive (I ADORE Tig, but SOA is sometimes guilty of placing characters in seemingly impossible situations, only to come up with a contrived, last-second save), but I'm glad there's actual movement at least. Considering it was an arc over most of last season, we couldn't go on much longer with Jax simply owing Tig to Pope's right-hand man. The deal had to be completed.
- A conniving Wendy. Is her end game simply to elicit sympathy from Gemma? I doubt it. This has to be going somewhere fun, right?
Before I turn this review over to Comments, I leave you with one more question: Is Tara really pregnant? The look on her face toward the end could have suggested otherwise, not that I can determine what she has to gain by lying.
And assuming the test results are valid, will this make it more challenging for Jax to get out of guns? Considering his need to build his nest egg for an expanding family? Sound off below.