This review contains spoilers.
7.8 A Separation Of Crows
Last week I wondered if perhaps the removal of Bobby Munsen’s eye was really just a shock value moment masquerading as something happening. That might seem like a pessimistic attitude to take toward a series in the final episodes of its final season, because obviously they can’t stall any more, right? Obviously things are about to take off, and the kidnapping of Bobby signified the final push into the anarchic chaos that will fill the final hours of this series.
Well I have to hand it to Kurt Sutter; you succeeded in throwing me an ending I never could have expected. Because, ladies and gentlemen, this week something happened that Sons Of Anarchy can never come back from. This week this show really, truly cemented the kind of series it is in its twilight hours. Because never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that they would end this episode in exactly the same way they ended the previous episode with the situation remaining completely unchanged.
‘But what about Jury?’ people will ask. Jax finally confronted him! And sure that was an exciting scene, full of tension, but what did it actually mean in the grand scheme of things? Jury denied being the rat, and at that point, with every justification afforded him, why would he lie? Or, to get all technical about it, from a storytelling perspective, if Jury really was the rat, why would Sutter allow there to be any conjecture about it at this late stage? The identity of the rat is obviously going to be some huge curveball thrown at us in the last minute and, like everything that has happened in this damp splat of a final season, Jury’s entire plot was nothing more than filler promising to actually lead somewhere.
Seriously, let’s evaluate the state of affairs at the end of this episode. Bobby is in the hands of August Marks and slowly being deprived of body parts. Jax and the gang are unsure of what to do. Gemma is tense. Juice is in prison preparing to kill Lin. There is a rat out there that could prove a last minute threat. Tyler is conflicted. Nothing has changed. Even the promise of an internal war with other charters of the Sons of Anarchy is nothing new; that has been on the cards from the moment Jury lost his son.
Let me make something clear; Sons Of Anarchy, by and large, is fantastic television. At its best it is riveting, exciting, jaw-dropping entertainment that serves as the televisual equivalent of a particularly violent roller coaster. But this final season is garbage. I have tried so hard to be optimistic. Believe me, I am aware that these reviews can seem overly critical, but seriously, can anybody find the positives in this boring tripe? If I was hard pressed to find something, I’d point out the great character moments that dutifully turn up in every episode. But you know what Kurt Sutter? Great character moments are not enough. Not now. Not at this late stage. We as the audience, we as the fans who have followed this series and loved it, need something to happen, and fast.
For example, taken out of context, the Jax/Jury showdown was a great moment. It wove in the weight of the past and the internal mythology that was always such a great part of this show. It brutally removed a character that has been on the periphery since the start. It also finally made it clear, once and for all, that Jax is a bad guy without any hope of restoring his father’s legacy. He has become Clay. The problem? We’ve known that for a long time now, and finally having it said out loud is not progression. Is it mildly satisfying? Sure. Does it mean anything? Not at all.
I honestly did not think the writers could have successfully managed another episode of pure filler, but I have to hand it to them, they pulled it off with aplomb here. And to those who think I’m being harsh, stop and think about what had happened by this point in every other respective season of this show. By season six episode eight, Otto had sacrificed himself to take out Lee Toric, the club had been responsible for a school shooting and Tara had faked a miscarriage to drive away Gemma. In season five Tig had lost his daughter, Opie had been killed, Gemma had gone off the rails and so on. Before now, nobody could accuse Sons Of Anarchy of being slow. Which is why such a sudden loss of pace is so mind-boggling.
None of this is to say that a major death needs to happen every episode to keep things interesting, but there does need to be some sense of forward momentum. The status quo has to shift. When all is said and done, the most shocking thing about any of this is that writers who were once so good at keeping the audience on their toes seem to have lost that skill entirely.
Read Gabriel’s review of the previous episode, Greensleeves, here.
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