This review contains spoilers.
6.8 Los Fantasmas
“I’m the dirty biker whore with the record, she’s the good doctor. Does it really matter what I have to say?” Gemma makes a very strong point about how in American society oftentimes the truth is always relative and oftentimes it is the perception of what happened and more importantly who is telling the ‘truth’ that becomes reality. Once again, I think Kurt Sutter and the writers do a superb job of showing us that the ‘American Dream’ works if you have the means and come from the right social status. Quite honestly, there are a different set of rules that certain members of a perceived ‘lower class’ have to live with every day while the affluent members of this same society do not. Throughout the series, we have seen our beloved outlaws face countless amounts of stereotyping and they have undergone more then their fair share of abuse from organizations such as the police, the IRA, and now arguably their most lethal adversary, the overly ambitious American politician. Manipulating a national tragedy to further one’s own political agenda is something that District Attorney Tyne Patterson does all too easily and perhaps the club’s new arch-nemesis is proving to be more cunningly lethal then our old friend Lee Toric, who at least had the achilles heel of being a loose cannon. DA Patterson is completely rational, calm and calculating.
This week saw Nero sacrifice himself to save SAMCRO and to protect his son. “I’m responsible for the death of those children.” We should have known that Nero was no Judas and his constant association with Christian imagery pays off here. If we’ve been paying attention, this revelation from Nero is anything but shocking, it makes perfect sense. Additionally, as martyrdom is the entire basis for the Christian religion one can argue that on some conscious or subconscious level that this is in fact something that Nero has always longed for. I remain unbelievably impressed by Jimmy Smits’s portrayal of Nero, a character who constantly proves to be an intriguing ally for SAMCRO and fits perfectly into the role of club martyr. It is also worth giving Sons of Anarchy credit for allowing minority actors to actually develop emotionally complex and compelling characters which is certainly not the norm on mainstream American television. (In fact the quality of the acting on this show comes close to rivaling the absurdly outstanding acting on HBO’s The Wire, which remains the only drama in the history of American television to have a multitude of minority actors break every preconception about the scope of their roles.)
Jimmy Smits, CCH Pounder, and Rockmond Dunbar have been wonderful additions to the show and their story arcs have progressed in fascinating ways. CCH Pounder is the newcomer to this group but she has brought a previously unforeseen inner strength and determination to her role that none of SAMCRO’s other adversaries have quite been able to match thus far.
Ever since Eli was introduced during season four as the new head of the Sheriff’s department, we have seen him undergo a painful transition from moral tough guy, to a man completely on the edge of madness, and now to a world weary traveller who, despite the tragic circumstances that he has found himself in, still holds on to the absolute purest sense of morality. (He also had the funniest line of the night when he confronts Gemma at the police station and his words are “Black. Lots of sugar. The coffee”). He now finds himself at odds with cooperating with the district attorney’s perverse sense of justice or with siding with SAMCRO. In this regard the amount of screen time that our beloved Wayne Unser had this week was poignant for several reasons. One it helps to cement the fact that Roosevelt is heading down a similar path that Unser did when it came to getting into bed with SAMCRO. Wayne’s screen time also worked this week in that in an almost sage like way or fulfilling the role of an oracle from greek mythology he delvers the painful truth to both Gemma and Tara. He also offers both of them a way out of their predicaments. Of course, both women decide to shun his advice, which seems to be the story of Wayne’s tragic life. Unser also had an important line about how SAMCRO is forever linked to the prosperity and well being of Charming. That connection to the town is not something that should be easily glossed over or tossed aside. As is always the case with Sons of Anarchy the devil is in the details.
Gemma had a slight chance in this episode if she had taken Wayne’s advice of actually heading down an enlightened path toward redemption. Naturally, she decides that instead of redeeming herself she should do what she does best and that is manipulate every one around her into bending to her vengeful will. In particular, she will prey on the absolute weakest person that she can use. Poor, poor Adrianna (Sopranos reference). Wendy is at least smart enough to realize that she is completely doomed and when Gemma assures her that if she helps her destroy Tara that she will make sure Jax doesn’t kill her we can never again think that there is any hope for Gemma’s soul. In regards to Wendy, whether she has an overdose or not near the end of the episode is not the point. Symbolically she is already dead and has been ever since she crossed Gemma in the pilot episode of the show when Gemma gave her “a fix” to kill herself. Never underestimate Gemma Teller is the moral of this week’s episode. In regards to Tara, we see that her conscience is still there but as Wayne basically told her it is about to completely dissolve into the ether. Tara staring into the mirror and forcing herself to stop crying and toughen up was a powerful moment from this week’s episode because we get to see how much emotional pain Tara is truly in. Visually speaking, the iconography called to mind the wicked stepmother looking into the mirror in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs but in a twist could Tara be becoming the very thing that she hates?
Clearly, the endgame is underway for SAMCRO and I would argue that this may be one of the last quiet episodes of the seasons. Yes only in the world of Sons of Anarchy can an episode in which a man gets run over by a car and then the man driving this car commits suicide by stabbing himself in the throat be considered quiet. In the opening moments of this week’s episode, Jax is shown shutting off a tea kettle. If that is not enough of a visual metaphor for all hell being about to break loose then I do not know what to tell you. This is the calm before the storm and one of the fascinating things about Sons of Anarchy is that it never goes exactly in the direction that you expect it to go. Nero was going to become a Judas then he was completely let off the hook and then he is immediately pulled back into the fact that he may have to turn on SAMCRO. There is still a possibility that he can become Judas number two. This week focused a lot on the relationships between the female characters on the show as well as on the lives of Nero, Wayne, Patterson Wendy, and Eli. The antics of the club pretty much took a back seat this week and this will serve the overall narrative of the show better for the rest of its run this season because the third act of this season is set up with enough intrigue to support most shows for an entire season.
Lastly, Jax who has been trying to come to terms with being the king as Bobby so nicely put it, is still oblivious to the fact that Tara has played him for a fool for the entire season and he thinks that by asking her to let him back in that everything will be alight. Jax is in for a rude awakening indeed. The end and the presence of death is always leering after these characters and As Tyne Patterson said,”We meet the end we deserve.”
Read Matthew’s review of the previous episode, Sweet and Vaded, here.
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