This review contains spoilers.
Never underestimate Sons of Anarchy‘s ability to throw in a scene to make you cringe within the first ten minutes of the show. You knew that Unser was in trouble when he opened his trailer door and was greeted by three hooded men but I’m pretty sure that not many people were expecting them to carve a swastika into his flesh. Unser also being positioned in a Christ-like pose helps to symbolize just how much this man has suffered for the sins of Samcro. Arguably Unser has sold the most of his metaphorical soul to help the club survive throughout the years and it was fitting that this broken man continues to get kicked when he’s down, but there is something extra brutal about carving this symbol of pure hate into a character who, despite being flawed, is ultimately a sympathetic and tragic figure.
Now, I’ve long suspected that the endgame for Samcro was going to involve the neo-nazis from season two. In particular AJ Weston, played brilliantly and disturbingly well by Henry Rollins, had a son whom he instructed to follow in his footsteps right before Jax killed him. This would tie in nicely to the theme of fathers and sons that has been so central to the show since its first episode. Wouldn’t it be fitting for the son that Weston left behind to come back and be the one who destroys Jax’s family? Again this is pure speculation, but why else are the nazis back all of a sudden? In Hamlet the young prince Fortinbras despises Hamlet for killing his father, King Fortinbras, and as such, this would make a great tie-in for the series if they go down this route. I may be wrong, but I think that we may see something developing with this possible angle.
We learned this week that Jax’s continual transformation into Clay is moving forward at an alarming rate. We know that Jax sold out Tig and then we’re given the revelation that August was using the idea of killing Tig to avenge Mr. Pope’s death as a ploy to test out Jax’s loyalty to him. It’s a great move by August, who continues to prove that he needs to never be underestimated and always respected as a potential adversary for the club. The best news in all of this is that Tig is alive and got to become involved in probably his funniest moment on the show in which he and Rat pretend to be white supremacists who are trying to join the new neo-nazi group that has set up shop in town. His hillbilly accent was hilarious, and then the scene took a turn from comedy to utter sadness when Tig used a method acting technique to help get the neo-nazis to trust him by recanting the details of his daughter’s death. It was a brilliant bit of acting by Kim Coates, and Tig is a character I’m ecstatic to see alive!
Catholic symbolism was abundant in this episode and deserves a moment of our time. The episode starts off with Unser’s beating and we see him shortly afterwards in the aforementioned Christ-like pose on a makeshift crucifix. Nero mentions in his alibi to Roosevelt that he went to an early mass on the night he was supposed to have killed the prostitute who was actually killed by Lee Toric. Jax tells Galen that people like him and Jimmy O are “killing people with Catholic bullets to line your own pockets.” Of course, we are reminded of the IRA’s connection to Catholicism. We also have a more indirect reference to one of the founding principles of Christianity about the idea of turning the other cheek. Chibs wisely advises Jax not to follow through with what he perceives as needless retribution and as we’d expect, Jax won’t even hear him out. Then we also see Clay through a sort of metaphorical divine intervention attempting to redeem himself by becoming Otto and sacrificing his own well-being to save the club. The very Catholic theme of redemption plays heavily into this episode and to me it reached its climax in the brilliant scene between Otto and Clay in which Clay, for once, helps his brother out. That was an exceptionally emotional moment in the Sons of Anarchy series for me and it was just beautifully done.
I have to admit I was shocked that Otto was able to get his revenge on Lee Toric as I thought Otto was going to end his life and finally be free of his unrelenting misery. As strange as it sounds, the fact that he was able to accomplish both of those things actually gives his character a sort of happy ending in a bizarrely disturbing way. Lee Toric in many ways can be seen as being a false prophet because his lust for revenge has lead him to commit criminal acts and as such he continually lies to everyone around him by making false promises about what he can do for them. Give the writing staff on this show kudos for once again proving that any character can be taken out at any time. Clealry Lee Toric was being set up as a major adversary for the group and to take him out in episode four is a surprise but it felt right and in my opinion this was the best episode of the season the far.
Also in keeping with the theme of personal responsibility, I think it is important that Nero realizes how much of a mistake it was for him to get involved with Samcro, but rather than pass the blame on to someone else, he accepts the fact that he was responsible for his involvement with the group. To me, this is the show’s way of telling us that Nero is a man who is grounded in some sort of morality while Jax is not. It also sets up an interesting situation in which perhaps the show is foreshadowing the idea that Gemma will probably have to choose between Jax and Nero at some point in the not too distant future and that Nero would be the wise choice to make but probably not the one she will make.
Lastly, because one death on Sons of Anarchy is hardly enough, we have Phil, who was probably the most lovable prospect-turned-Samcro member, murdered with his brother by Galen and the Irish. Galen certainly demonstrates a flair for the dramatic by following Jax’s advice of taking a “hands off” approach to the group to its only logical conclusion according to him. This infuriates Jax to no end and acting recklessly, Jax seeks revenge against the neo-nazis and with his fellow members, blows these guys to pieces. It was interesting that the camera manages to show us the corpse of the younger neo-nazi whom Jax slaughtered in this scene to once again make the connection between the death of children at the hands of illegal guns.Of course, Jax is always smarter then we give him credit for and his plan is to plant the Irish guns at the neo-nazis’ place and then put forth his plan into action. We also have the not so shocking revelation that Tara is behind Wendy’s lie about having a stalker, and we learn that Roosevelt is going to probably resume his role as the main law enforcement adversary that the group has to face.
Overall, this was a fantastic episode that continues to move the narrative forward while at the same time completely turning the show on its head with some major surprises. This is why this show is a cut above the rest.
Read Matthew’s review of the previous episode, Poenitentia, here.
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