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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sons Of Anarchy: “The Separation Of Crows”

Illustration for article titled iSons Of Anarchy/i: “The Separation Of Crows”
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Here’s something unequivocally good: Jax is being an asshole. More to the point, the show clearly and intentionally foregrounds Jax being an asshole, to a degree which is pretty unmistakably intentional. I realize the writers and I have had differences of opinion in the past, and I’m guessing we aren’t seeing exactly eye to eye even now, but still, having Jax first deal with the mother of one of the men he ordered murdered earlier in the season, and then having him confront Jury, and learn just what Jury thinks of him… that’s making a statement, and that statement is not “Jax Teller makes good choices.” The scene with Jury is excruciating, in the best possible way. Jax faces against someone with every reason to despise him, and the one bit of leverage Jax seems to have in his defense doesn’t even work; Jury denies ratting out the club to Lin and the Chinese. So Jax starts a fight with Jury, and shoots him dead when things go south. We’ve seen Jax get violent this season, and we’ve seen him get close to, and even dangle over, the edge on occasion, but this feels like the first time a line has been well and truly crossed. Jury wasn’t the bad guy here. And he’s not the one standing when the shooting stops.

So, points for finally making some moves towards wrapping this shit up. There isn’t a whole lot of plot in “The Separation Of Crows.” Last week ended with the club getting Bobby’s right eye in a Tupperware container. This week ends with them getting the fingers of his clutch hand (or the whole hand? I couldn’t tell from the angle) in a box. They’re standing on the roof of the club house instead of in a park, and there’s no video footage of the actual attack, but other than that, not much has changed. Jax can’t find where they’re holding Bobby, and his only play, to try and negotiate terms for Bobby’s release, ends badly. All he really manages to accomplish is finding someone to pin the rat label onto, and even that’s a hollow victory. Maybe Jury was lying when he said he didn’t rat to the Chinese, but he sounded sure of himself. So, Jax: club member still in captivity, and the one mystery you sort of figured out, you ended up a murderer with nothing to show for it. Yyou came off looking considerably worse than a militia mom. It doesn’t matter how many times Chibs tells you the boys have your back. You fucked up, and it doesn’t look like there’s any easy way out of this.

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That’s appropriate; after all, the most logical guess would be that this season is building towards Jax discovering who really killed his dead wife, and that discovery is going to undo everything he’s tried to accomplish. A revenge plan is one thing— morally questionable and with an unimaginable impact, but it’s still a motivation that fits in with the SAMCRO code of conduct. A revenge plan based on a lie isn’t really revenge at all. The justification is gone, and without the justification, that means every step Jax has taken has been out over thin air. So far he’s made his way forward without looking down, but sooner or later, gravity’s going to kick in. That’s the moment we’re waiting for— the fall that takes the whole thing down.

The problem is that until this information comes to light, until someone (this week, it looked like Unser might be starting to put the pieces together; maybe he and Nero will have a “last decent men left in a crazy world” chat soon) figures out what Gemma did, nothing that happens really matters all that much. None of it resolves anything, and each plot twist is really just a delaying action until the actual story can finally arrive. The Chinese were bland villains, and Marks barely registers no matter how many bits of Bobby he has his associate remove. There’s no real excitement or suspense to any of this; the action set-pieces are still well-shot, and it’s mildly satisfying to see Jax make some smart play, but the victories and defeats don’t matter a whole hell of a lot when the real central conflict of the season has been sublimated to the point of being practically invisible.

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There are more hints this week that things are going astray. Abel is having trouble at pre-school, again, and Gemma gets into a fight with Courtney Love about it, which is exactly as much fun as it sounds. This is supposed to be foreshadowing, but it’s mechanically done, and what’s worse, it provides no information on any of the characters involved. Gemma is still a troubled person who lashes out at anyone who questions anything about her family, and Abel is still a tedious cipher, less a character than a glowering four foot high summation of his family’s sins. He and his brother are pawns in a game they don’t understand, which would be horrifying if they existed as individuals, rather than props. It’s understandable that Thomas hasn’t gotten a lot of development, but Abel’s creepy commentary seems to come from a shitty ‘80s horror movie about a Satan-possessed toddler. Any pretense of psychological acuity or depth is lost in the foolishness of it all.

So, really, the high point of the hour (and change) remains Jax’s confrontation with Jury, a sequence that finally delivers on some of the uneasy tension that’s been held at bay for far too much of this season. Finally, Jax comes face to face with what his choices have cost him— not just bodies he can bury with a few platitudes, but actual, and entirely justified, rage. His quest for vengeance is destroying SAMCRO, but nearly everyone is too blinded by routine and unblinking faith to question him. When someone finally does, that someone ends up dead. I’d be surprised if anyone is left standing when this thing plays itself out, but if the story takes any longer to unfold, I’m not really going to care.

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Stray observations:

  • Some slight movement on Juice’s storyline. He offers proof of the Chinese involvement in Tara and Eli’s murders (he’ll give names and tell them where to find the murder weapon) in exchange for getting released into general population. Or something like that. Basically, he’s going to lie so he can get a crack at Lin. Wheeee.
  • “This isn’t on you, Jacky.” How is it not? I thought being the leader meant taking responsibility for the people you’re in charge of, for good and for ill, not sitting around getting back-patted when your schemes work, and then dodging the blame when everything falls apart. Jax’s made plans against Marks, and those plans led to Bobby’s getting kidnapped. Marks is still a bastard, and a very bad guy, but acting like this whole situation just fell on the Sons utterly innocent heads is absurd. Which may be intentional, I guess. Maybe this is supposed to be indicative of how the club’s hero-worship of Jax has doomed the lot. But the scene doesn’t play out as ironic or cutting; it’s just another in a long series of conversations between dudes comforting each other for the pain of being manly.
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