This review contains spoilers.
3.12 June Wedding
It’s official. SAMCRO are out of Belfast and back in Charming. I knew it to be true when the theme tune kicked in and it was back to the country-fried rock from before, rather than the “Oirish” one that they’ve been using for the past few weeks.
This episode was set up perfectly from last week’s: the main strand is for the Sons to get Tara back from Salazar, which takes up the majority of the episode.
The first half of the episode is fairly slow, with a lot of time divided between the Sons, the Mayans, and the ATF searching for Tara, but this serves to build tension, rather than to serve up boredom like a few of the misfires earlier in the season. It also gives us a few excellent moments with Gemma. Long term fans will have enjoyed the friendship between Gemma and the police chief Wayne Unser.
Due to pressures from outside Charming PD, this has been under all sorts of strain, but they had a very sweet ‘welcome back’ this week, and it feels like Wayne is back to being a friend of the club again. With the new threat of Charming PD being dissolved, Wayne is in danger of losing his job shortly, but as he has been such a strong character from the beginning, it would be madness to write him out.
There was also some closure on the beef between Tig and Kozik, and the closure was pretty unexpected. All season the two have been putting down and beating on each other at every available opportunity. Tig, again vetoed the vote for Kozik to become an official SAMCRO member rather than a nomad. Shortly after this they are discussing the woman, that was mentioned a few episodes again, and it is made clear that she has since died. As Kozik walks away he says “I loved her too”. We are then left with Tig removing a photo from his wallet, only to discover that this great love was a German Shepherd.
It really says a lot about the type of character Tig is – we’ve seen him do all sorts of horrible things through the last three seasons, and he can’t forgive Kozik over a dog. It showed quite a tender side to the character, but I can’t imagine that anyone would have assumed Tig was hurt that way that he was over a dog.
The episode title, June’s Wedding, implies that this episode would really be all about Stahl (her first name is June, you see?), and for the first half, it isn’t really. She’s milling around in the background for the first twenty minutes, aside from briefly being kidnapped by Gemma, and having the odd confrontation with Jax regarding their deal (speaking of which, Jimmy O is hardly in this episode, save for a few minutes where we see him with the Russians and waiting for his associate to get him enough money to ensure safe passage to Brazil – I’d imagine they’ll come back to it next week).
The second half of the episode, for a large part, plays out like Kurt Sutter’s previous creation, The Shield, except if you thought Vic Mackey was dirty, he has nothing on June Stahl.
Salazar’s hostage situation comes to a head at Jacob Hale’s office, where he takes both Hale and Tara hostage and starts making his demands. One of his demands is to trade Tara for Jax. He proudly states to Tara that he is going to kill her and make Jax watch before killing him.
How Salazar made it to adulthood is incredible, because he is the most inept criminal on television. Within two minutes of Jax entering the building, Hale has jammed a pen into his side, Salazar has lost both of his weapons and is on the run. Jax takes this opportunity chase him down, and stab him using Salazar’s own knife. Before the SWAT team arrives, Jax cuts himself using the axe that Salazar armed himself with and claims self defence.
During this altercation, Stahl and Tyler have moved to the rear exit, whilst the rest of the police force are still at the front. When Stahl is informed of Salazar’s death, she shoots Tyler in the neck, throws some of the guns around and radios in that three Mexicans shot Tyler. This is Stahl at her absolute coldest. It’s absolutely horrifying to watch her tell the woman that she apparently loves to “just go”.
And it gets worse. The episode ends with Stahl recounting her version of the events in an interview, before tearily confessing to her relationship with Tyler and then fabricating a story about how Tyler, with her dying breath, told Stahl that she had framed Gemma for the murder of Edmond Haynes.
The scene is incredibly well done, very unshowy, relying purely on the actor’s expressions, and with a conclusion that will leave you desperate for next week’s finale. Stahl had concreted herself as the kind of character that you love to hate some time ago, but even then the conclusion here was absolutely appalling. I was amazed to see that even Stahl would sink so low as to murder her own girlfriend to save her own skin.
So, that’s three great episodes in a row. Kurt Sutter did the right thing in finishing off the Ireland plot before the end of the season, and certainly seems to be keen on treating us to the old Sons Of Anarchy style plots before the season is out. The finale is next week. Colour me excited.