This review contains spoilers.
When an episode of television ends with a major character losing his eye, it seems strange to still be lobbing accusations of nothing happening. But part of me is seriously wondering if this final season is actually one big joke Kurt Sutter is playing on the fans.
That’s not to say that it’s actively bad television. Greensleeves was filled with nice character moments and set up for future developments. There’s nothing wrong with having an episode designed only to set the table for things to come, but the big problem is that this entire season has been nothing but table setting. And really, Bobby losing an eye is a shock value moment disguised as a development. If Bobby is alive and gets away next week, then it will amount to nothing more than him having to wear an eye patch from now on. Huge turning point. Of course, given that this is the final season it is highly likely Bobby will die, but at this point, halfway through, I’m not convinced. Bobby’s eye at the end is like a metaphor for this entire season; stuff happening that seems big but ultimately amounts to very little.
The moment I realised Juice had not ratted Gemma out, I was angry, but that anger very quickly gave way to tired resignation. Sons Of Anarchy is at its best when it’s throwing out major twists, revelations and character deaths every episode. Season four is still, to me, one of the most gripping and propulsive seasons of television I’ve ever watched, and even the lesser seasons five and six had plenty of interesting stuff going on. But this year has just been bland and boring when it should be riveting. I really don’t understand how writers who have created so much great storytelling in the past can think that this kind of tedious wheel spinning is okay. It’s all starting to remind me of the final season of Dexter; a brilliant set-up giving way to lots of nothing.
Look at Gemma’s plot this episode. It was pretty clear due to the constant cutting away to other storylines that it was not the emphasis and therefore she would almost definitely get out of it, but it was so full of great character moments that I really, really wanted it to pay off in a dramatically satisfying way. I loved the idea that a simple request from Jax could so easily be interpreted as a death sentence (although I don’t understand why he would refuse to give her details of the task) and moments like Gemma apologising to Thomas and discussing her future with Nero were actually quite powerful. But what does it all mean? It wrapped up in such an anticlimactic way that will almost certainly lessen the impact of the eventual reveal. Likewise, after two episodes of extremely slow buildup, Juice going to prison to perform a hit on Lin is not a satisfying payoff. It’s not so much that I believe he would expose Gemma, it’s more that I feel cheated by the series suggesting that this was going to build to something big (and last week’s feeble cliffhanger, as I predicted, amounted to nothing).
I feel like a strange Zen calm has come over me now; I’m resigned to nothing happening and so I’m not longer angry, just mildly disappointed that things haven’t picked up. This series still has so much going for it. It’s got great characters, some wicked one-liners and fantastic little moments littered everywhere. I really loved Jax and Chibs dealing with the pimp, and it reminded me of the occasional acts of vigilante justice that made me like these guys in the first place. It also proves that Sons Of Anarchy can still have fun when it wants to, and that the savagery doesn’t have to be ugly; sometimes the reprehensible people they kill actually deserve it. Watching Jax and Chibs make quips about badly enacted suicides over the corpse of a horrible creep is far more enjoyable than everyone having a laugh after accidently killing innocent people.
There is still life in this show. I’d just really like it if the writers could work a little harder to bring it out.
Read Gabriel’s review of the previous episode, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em, here.
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