Those who’ve wondered, rightfully, how Sons Of Anarchy wants us to feel about Dr. Tara Knowles—including, I think, our own Zack Handlen, who’s off again this week—hopefully found at least a little bit of direction with tonight’s episode, “Huang Wu.” Tara has been spinning for a while now, and her actions this entire season were clearly meant to mirror something her current arch-enemy, Gemma, would do. Our bastion of humanity and reason (sorta) had become what she hated: a scheming “old lady.”
But in her two big scenes tonight, Tara proved that she’s a little more complicated than it might have seemed. Rather than simply becoming Gemma, Tara got the chance to realize that she didn’t have to—and that it might be too late to stop herself now. Maggie Siff does a great job with these scenes, especially the one in which the increasingly awful Gemma threatens her with this killer line: “Mommy moved away… or Mommy passed away. Your call.” There was a second there that I thought Tara, gun close at hand, was either going to cold-cock Gemma or maybe even shoot her, though I guess the latter is extremely unlikely for Sons Of Anarchy, which tends to keep its major characters alive even in the least likely of circumstances.
And then Tara—having run over Juice’s bike, awesomely—happens to pick just the right room at Diosa in Stockton, and at exactly the right moment, too. She catches Jax and Colette in flagrante delicto or, in less heady terms, balls-deep. It was kind of an excuse for Sons to show some T&A (oh what you missed, 50 Shades Of Grey movie!), but also a solid way to push Tara into sanity: After everything she’s been through, it took seeing her husband having sex with another woman to really push her over the edge—into sanity. “Look what you did to me. What happened to me?” she asks, and she’s half-right: The person she was meant to act as savior for has fully become her corrupter, and she’s in too deep now to get away. Her trip to see Patterson comes too late, and she’s left reeling.
But what, I wonder, are we supposed to think about Jax know? I think that Kurt Sutter and the Sons crew believe deep down that Jax is a hero, and that when push comes to shove, he’s going to make the moral decision at least some of the time. I felt that Jax’s reaction to Tara’s breakdown—again, the “look what you did to me” line—was that he thawed a little bit, and that it might pay off down the road with Jax actually allowing her to leave with the boys. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I don’t think Sons is ever going to push Jax Teller into full villain mode. He’s not Walter White—he’s the guy touched by his father’s journals, and who wants nothing more than to get the Sons out of the gun business.
And therein was the sort of dumb plot point of tonight’s episode, the one designed to provide some cheap thrills to offset all of the talking. Galen, who’s supposed to be this master planner and Real IRA bigshot, doesn’t think two steps ahead when it comes to just murdering one of the Chinese gun runners? He doesn’t know that that means war for Jax, precisely when he needs the Sons to help break Clay out of jail? Sure, it wasn’t as dumb as having Clay bite that guard’s nose off last week, but it was still just a silly excuse for a car chase, and of course a way to get the Chinese into play—clearly Jax is going to use them as part of his plan to bite the Irish in the ass. (And hey, any excuse to bring more Deadwood alums—Mr. Wu, are you who this episode is named after?—is okay, I guess.)
Clay also got a scene with Gemma in which he hints that he’s going to die—does he know something we don’t, or is he just worried because the plan to spring him has to come together so quickly? The whole “See you on the other side” line made me think it might actually be the end for him, but again… Sons can’t kill Clay, especially when he’s supposed to die. (Also, Hamlet doesn’t kill Claudius until the very moment of his own death, so if we’re still going with that theory…)
- At least they have a sense of humor about the clubhouse: “Our prices are DA BOMB!”
- You thought sticking the montage at the beginning would save you from the montage at the end and then BOOM—there it is, anyway.
- Jax looks longingly at the school where the shooting took place—is that necessary?
- Unser and Nero becoming buddies—is that necessary?
- “How long’s he been dipping into that?” “Not long, maybe he’s working out his mommy issues.”
- “You know why you hate what I did so much? Because it’s something you would’ve done.”
- Happy: “I’ll chill with old Wang Chung.” (But did they really need to handcuff him?)
- Tig: “The wife.”
- Is that supposed to be JT’s bike at the end? Is Jax going to discover some ancient clues about the “accident”? And where has this bike been the whole time?
- “Nobody can help me.” I think you’re right about that, Tara. So I’ll guess you’ll be running back to Jax once you find out his deal sets you free. Sigh.