The Sons of Anarchy Season 7 premiere set records for FX - but how did it go over with our round table team?
Below, TV Fanatics Leigh Raines, Amanda Wolf and Christine Orlando are joined by Patricia from Sons-of-Anarchy.net to debate whether Unser was set up, which of Gemma's crimes was worse and whether Jax Teller can be redeemed after Sons of Anarchy Season 7 Episode 1.
Did Wendy set up Juice to be found by Unser?
Leigh: I think she might just have killed that many brain cells from her years of drug use. Why would she want the blowback from hiding Juice?
Amanda: This scene felt so fishy to me. Wendy was trying to be very casual and normal throughout but we have seen her attention to detail in the past when she faked an assault to fool Gemma. I just could not shake the feeling that she was giving Unser the opening he needed to go full detective and figure out that something was up. Like Unser being suspicious of the groceries was not me just being an omnipotent viewer, there was maybe a tone in there that communicated something between these two characters who have known each other a long time.
Patricia: Honestly, I don't believe Wendy has the same thought process skills that Tara possessed...but, by allowing Juice to remain in her apartment, she has now unknowingly become a part of the web of deceit that Juice and Gemma are weaving together...
Christine: I normally don't give Wendy that kind of credit but when she left the perishable groceries out and then asked Unser to get the coat directly above Juice's bag, it's hard to believe she wasn't setting him up.
Is Gemma right, would Jax finding out the truth about Tara's death do him more harm than good or is she justifying more lies?
Leigh: She is justifying more lies. Jax is not going to get over the death of his wife. If he found out it was his own mother he'd lose his mind. But the bottom line is that Gemma is covering her ass and justifying her reasoning per usual.
Amanda: I am torn about this one. On the one hand it would do serious harm to Jax if he found out his mother was the one that killed his wife. It seems like it would validate in a final way all of those trust issues that I am convinced he always knew his mother had and take away the person he trusts most. On the other hand I think Gemma is using it to bury some guilt she is struggling with. But the pessimistic and hard realist side of me thinks she also wants to survive in the terms of keeping her club, grandsons and well life as close to normal as she knows it.
Patricia: Gemma thinks ONLY of herself in her twisted and sick mind...Unser told her when he picked her up from jail after the miscarriage incident that her love was so twisted in hate and lies that he doubted she could ever find it...I almost threw something at our 80" TV when she told Juice that JAX and his sons needed a strong woman in their lives. Gemma killed that strong woman and has now robbed her son and his children of the one good thing in their lives. Gemma's entire life has been one manipulative and self serving lie, beginning with her participation in JT's murder.
Christine: Yes, finding out the truth would do Jax harm but the lies have him torturing and murdering an innocent man. Gemma is justifying her lying to save her own ass. In the end, she's gotten what she always wanted. Jax and his boys all to herself.
What's your take on Gemma talking to Tara?
Leigh: Gemma is haunted. Look what she did, she's obviously lost her mind. Now to live with that guilt? We might be getting ready to see the craziest Gemma yet.
Amanda: This I found very interesting and am honestly not sure what we were seeing here. Was this an expression of some guilt she is feeling? She was standing right over the sink where she committed the crime and in the middle of sending someone else to their death for it. Or was she trying to work out her thoughts about the future for the boys and Wendy's place in that? Maybe a little bit of both. In any case it was a good look inside Gemma's state right now.
Patricia: Gemma is slowly driving herself crazy and still trying to rationalize and justify the fact that she took the life of her son's one true love and the mother of her grandsons. She has waffled back and forth and manipulated Wendy so many times...her lies and deception can't continue and when she is with Nero, that seems very evident to me. She told Tara early on that it was either ALL the truth to be a part of the MC world and to be an ole lady. She just can't continue to function under the weight of what she has done in the name of truth and love.
Christine: Talking to someone who has passed on isn't all that unusual. Doing it over the sink where you murdered them while standing next to the man you just set up to be tortured and murdered for your crime? That's a whole new level of twisted, even for Gemma.
Gemma killed Tara in a fit of rage. She set up another man to be tortured and killed to protect herself. Is one worse then the other?
Leigh: At first my answer was that the second one was worse because she set someone innocent up with malicious intent. But then I checked myself and hello! She murdered Tara!! She could've slapped her or something but she stabbed her to death. Bottom line: two people are dead because of Gemma.
Amanda: Maybe I am wrong but in retrospect none of these things surprise me with Gemma. We have always had an idea how far she would go to "protect" her family. Which one of these is worse..well all of this is happening because she killed Tara in an INSANE fit of rage. With that there was for sure some poor schmuck who was gonna bite it as a result of the blame game. I will go with that as the worse thing to do since the truth will come out anyway.
Patricia: Gemma has no moral conscience because she feels everything she does is for her family to love and protect them at ALL costs. I believe she has justified the set up of the guy to be tortured to death as the ultimate resolution for JAX in his loss of Tara. She has no conception of anything that has taken place with the Chinese and the other MC's. She has just set a war in motion leading to more lies.
Christine: Is one senseless murder worse than the other? No. One may have been expertly manipulated while the other was done in a fit of rage but they both show how arrogant, violent, and selfish Gemma can be. It's scary to think that Jax's sons could be raised by such a woman. Just look how Jax turned out.
Will Juice kill Unser?
Leigh: I hope not! Unser is the OG of Charming.
Amanda: Juice kill Unser? I'm gonna go with no. I just don't think that Juice would be able to kill Unser. If anything he would skip town leaving Unser tied up in the apartment and leave him for either Wendy or Gemma to discover. Both would probably lead to interesting conversations. I think we could all appreciate some more shots of Theo Rossi's chiseled behind though.
Patricia: Juice won't kill Unser because he is a follower and has to be told when to act and how. I haven't come up in my own with what Juice is going to do next...that's a tough one to try and outthink Sutter.
Christine: Of course anything is possible on SOA but I don't think he will. My guess is that he'll try and run. Eventually, I think Gemma will set up Juice to be killed as he's the only other living person who knows her secret. And I completely agree with you Amanda. Theo Rossi has a mighty fine behind.
Is there anything redeemable left in Jax Teller?
Leigh: Can I say his abs? I feel like that's an acceptable answer, right? Okay yeah. His abs. Also his loyalty to SAMCRO.
Amanda: He still has his sons so I think there is hope. Whether he is redeemable kind of depends on what path he goes down now that Tara is gone and the ugly truth that his mother did it will most likely come out. I am not optimistic about the fate of Jax since the show has never really been about redemption and death is always there as an oh so likely outcome for all of these characters. But whatever happens to Jax it won't be because there was nothing redeemable in him.
Patricia: By ALL means there are many things left redeemable in Jax Teller. He knows part of the story of his father's murder and I believe that when Abel begins asking about his mother that JAX will begin to slowly love again and remember what Tara said to him about becoming a monster. Thomas and Abel can certainly be his redemption, along with his deep and profound love for Tara. Remember she told him that he was a good man with a good heart. Chibbs and Bobby may be a huge part of his redemption too.
Christine: I think Jax is too far down this road to ever actually be redeemed (unless as Leigh said, you're talking about his abs!) but I do think it's possible for him to make better choices for his sons. At some point he'll have to look in the mirror and decide if he wants Abel and Thomas to turn into the monster that he has become.
What was your favorite scene from the episode?
Leigh: Despite watching half of the last scene through my t-shirt after some spoilers, I would say the full ending montage to that cover of Bohemian Rhapsody. It took us full circle, checked in with everyone, and put us on the course of what's to come on this final ride.
Amanda: This is a seriously tough one to answer considering all the great scenes we were given in this episode. Despite my bashing on Gemma I really liked a lot of the scenes she had in this episode. Her and Juice talking about Tara's death and how she can face Jax was amazing for watching these two characters reflect on it. Gemma is also a self proclaimed non-psychopath after all, so it was enlightening. I also really liked the scene between Lila and Gemma. They were just having a chat about the club's porn business but it was between two women that have been through a lot and care about each other. Loved it.
Patricia: To choose a favorite scene is a very, very difficult dilemma because there are two, but they are opposite ends of the spectrum. Both scenes included Charlie and all of his brothers. The first was at the table when he began by telling them he never wanted to sit in the president's chair. The despair he carries was so evident. Then the last scene when he tortured the Chinese guy showed us the rage, hurt, anger and revenge he has. His heart and soul have been taken away and he was not even able to attend the funeral of the love of his life and the mother of his children. How much agony and despair can one man shoulder? Charlie Hunnam was magnificent and brilliant in bringing all of those emotions to the audience as horrific as it was to watch.
Christine: My favorite was also my least favorite. It was the final scene of Jax torturing and killing the man he believed killed Tara. The music for the entire montage was excellent but it was Jax's quiet, almost gentle voice telling the man to stay with him because it was almost over. He sounded so tender just before he plunged the carving fork into his skull. The scene was brutal, which I hate, but so well executed that I can't help but love it at the same time.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.