Unwarranted hatchet job on the most recent SOA episode

[“Editor’s” note, I wrote this a week ago but forgot to hit publish]

People like to complain about people complaining.  This is especially true when it comes to people bitching about Sons of Anarchy on message boards and comment sections.  I frequent uproxx.com which has covered the Sons for almost the entire run of the show.  I say almost cause I don’t know which came first, the website or the TV series, and once again i’m too lazy and I’d have to click all the way over there to do a google search and find out.

I think I know why people like me love to bitch and moan about Sons of Anarchy, and that is because almost all of us in that category really liked the show at one point.  Many were probably transplants from The Shield, and saw it as a natural extension of our regular viewing habits. For the first couple of seasons I really think that was the case.  The story kind of mirrored the show itself.  To the outside world you had a bunch of bad ass bikers no different than what they appear to be, but there at the center was an outlier who was frankly better than his compatriots in terms of not only intelligence but also heart.

As the series went on (dragged on at some points) it stopped being Shakespeare on motorcycles, and turned into a soap opera for guys who like action movies.  I’m’ not against the latter, but I much prefer the former and it is that which I was emotionally invested. Now that it is almost just a constant string of “That was awesome Bro” moments, it brings me almost as much joy to complain and pick apart an episode as it does to watch it.  In fact, it might be difficult for me to think of an episode or a scene this or last season that I truly enjoy just for what it is.

I think Tuesday night’s episode might have been one of the more maddening episodes for me since it seemed to touch on so many story lines and character motivations that cause me to have an almost apoplectic response. With the hotel pretty quite tonight, I wanted to take an hour of my time to howl at the moon while re-watching the episode. Not only will there be spoilers below, but there will also be a lot of overly unfair criticisms wrapped in snark and unearned condescension.

So let’s begin:

Episode starts out with a recap which should probably do more for me than it does. That’s my fault though.  I’m not sure if I am in the minority but the business arrangements between the different factions is kind of beyond me.  It’s not that it’s too complicated to follow, I think I just stopped caring a while ago and maybe realized that keeping track of who is betraying who and which crews have beef with other crews doesn’t necessarily increase my enjoyment of an episode.  It could also have something to do with me as a viewer getting desensitized to the constant shifting of alliances.

The one big thing from last week was the episode ends with Jax and the Sons walking Juice to what might be his execution. This episode starts with Jax giving juice his cut back and then Juice riding off on his bike. Juice then stops to fire some warning shots at some cops, which turns into a police chase and then a stand off where I thought maybe Juice was going to go the “death by cop” route. Instead he surrenders and it looks like juice’s penance is going to jail to kill Henry Lynn.

Jemma is worried because she found out the sons have Jax and thinks he is going to tell them that she killed Tara.  She confides in Wendy but makes it seem she is worried about Jax spilling the beans on them helping him escape.

Uncer and Jax have a moment where Uncer says that the cop that was shot up while watching the Sons is ok and not going to talk, and then there is some other back and forth where Uncer realizes that the sons already know about juice getting caught, like they were behind it.

The sons have a very soft spoken round table meeting to layout the plot of the episode and catch up the viewers.  Chucky then has a heart to heart with Gemma that was really nice, and showed some self awareness by one of the ancillary characters.  This all so far has been pretty good stuff and reminds me of the stuff I like about SOA.

This next part; bleh.  Gemma and Jimmy Smitts talk and Smitts wants him to run away with her kind of.  I really hate the Gemma stuff at this point unless it involves her maybe getting killed. She has become such an unlikeable character, not just from being a terrible person, but you just don’t even want to see what she is up to since it amazes me that no one has caught on to her shit yet.  Unser is maybe a little bit on to her, but not enough after all these years.  And I have no idea what Nero (who’s name I just remembered) sees in her.

Next we see Jax and company harassing the church widow and her sons in the guise of being their only hope. This is one of my problems with the show.  We have, as far as I can remember, perfectly innocent people who are probably going to have their lives ruined because they are a pawn in Jax’s game.  This wouldn’t be bad if we were sold on the idea that Jax is a bad person (which he clearly is) but everyone around him is blind to how shitty he is and how shitty he makes them when they help him out.

Next we have Jax and Chibbs meet up with Nero for this weeks quest which resolves around a pimp named “Greensleaves”.  I’m saying right now I liked the whole greensleaves thing, except for the end of the episode which I will probably bitch about A LOT!!!.  Ok just a few minutes after I say that I change my mind. Here’s the thing. I understand why they have these side missions in almost every episode… but…. do they really need them? Honestly. They have enough shit going on that they don’t need to write in all this side bullshit.  I’d rather they move the overall plot forward some other way, which I would think would have to be possible.

I think my problem with the side missions is that… well they really feel like side missions when you look back at a season as a whole.  In most other shows in the same vein the side missions if it something like Justified or the Shield were mostly there for the other characters to work on (usually a case) and didn’t seem to detract from what the strike team was doing with their overall arc unless it was used to put an obstacle in place to slow them down.  … I’m doing a shitty job of explaining my beef with this, but I guess it comes down to my perception that with these side missions the Sons can do just about anything, anywhere, in front of anyone, at anytime, and there is barely any carry over.

I’m going to be hyperbolic to make my point; I could see a side mission where Alvarez wants to help the sons do …. whatever, but before he can do that he needs to free up some of his crew that has been trying to case a casino to get money or something.  So on the side mission the sons go and rob the casino, shoot 30 mob people – just in case the writers actually feel like having the sons only kill people who are probably bad – then they steal a tank and drive through two government buildings in order to get away. When they get back to Alvarez and are like, well your men are free now to help on whatever we are doing… that’s it.  No one in the rest of the SOA universe is impacted by the fact that a casino was robbed, 30 gangsters were gunned down, and two government buildings were destroyed by a stolen tank.

Hell, even some of the main story lines have this same problem where the impacts are only felt for an episode or two.  Last year or the year before there was a tragic school shooting that was partially the clubs fault since it was the guns they were trafficking that were used.  The sons were kind of depressed about it for a week or two, but nothing actually changed. None of the Sons stepped back and said, Holy Fuck, this is our fault, we can’t make this right, I’m done.  This year an entire whore house was shot up, and now in this scene Jax has convinced one of Greensleaves girls to work at his and Nero’s brothel.

The woman is a prostitute. how does she not know about the 20 dead hookers that worked at the club Jax is trying to recruit her to work at? It’s insane. I also hate how easily strangers just believe in whatever plan Jax is selling. This is especially true with someone like August Marks who turned on his mentor Pope even though, from what it seemed, there was no friction and he had a really really good thing going.

So, …. i’m about to loose it here. So when I said I liked the greensleaves thing, all I guess I really meant was that I like the name for a jewish pimp. It didn’t seem stupid or hackey or random. It worked. Everything else about this sucked though. So Jax gets the side mission thing he needed from the greensleaves after shooting him. Greensleaves is hurt but still alive and starts talking shit. So Jax decides to fake the dudes death by trying to throw him out a window.  I understand it was maybe kind of tongue in cheek, or at least was suppose to be played that way but the delivery was soooooooo fucking off.

Let’s walk through what happens in the scene step by step.

1. greensleaves is shot in the shoulder/chest area where it appears to not be a critical hit.

2. Jax gets the dudes cell phone that he needed.

3. Greensleaves is talking shit so Jax grabs him asks him about if suicide is against his religion and the shoves him towards the window. The implication being that he is forcibly staging greensleaves suicide.

4. Greensleaves doesn’t go all the way through the closed window and ends up being mortally impaled on the glass and wood.

5. Chibbs says something about how shitty a job of a suicide it looks like, and JAx is like, well it still works and maybe the cops or whoever will just think he did a shitty job of jumping.

So here are my issues. Jax and Chibbs have to be smart enough to know that no one would believe the suicide angle even if he cleared the window for many reasons, number one being the fresh bullet wound. This means that they either got real stupid, or they are just joking around to each other and instead honestly don’t care about any police investigation into the pimps murder.  This is insane because it’s broad day light, there is a witness in the room, they drive around on loud motorcycles and are known violent felons who were earlier spotted fighting with the pimp and his hoes who could probably easily identify Jax and Chibbs, and they seem in no hurry to leave the scene of the crime even though it looks to be in an apartment building where other people could/should have heard the yelling and fighting and probably called the cops.  Even if the other tenants in that building decided to ignore the screams, then wouldn’t someone who is walking by the building possibly notice a bleeding body hanging out the window and call the police and possibly take note of two completely out of place bikers exiting the building?

That’s why I refer to this type of shit as a side mission. I’m surprised they haven’t been going on side missions and collecting “cuts” and after they get 50 of them they get a free weapons upgrade.

ughhhh, any ways, next up nero and jax have a heart to heart and nero tells jax he wants him to buy him out. Good scene cause Nero kind of calls out jax on his “I promise” bull shit that he is never able to follow up on.

We see bobby Tig and that dude who is huge break into a pope construction site, casually, in broad day light, with no attempt to disguise themselves as they proceed to dig a hole and put a dead body there and take a picture to let pope know they have leverage.  Once again, i’m so numb to caring about the trickery, deception, plans and everything else the clubs are doing to each other that I have no idea if this is even a good plan assuming it goes off without a hitch.

Can I point something out right now? This might be one of the only shows I can think of where every scene features the “good guys”.  I can’t remember the last time we saw a scene where one of the Sons, or Friends of Sons like Unser, etc… weren’t in it.  Is that how the previous seasons went down? Like we never had a scene with just the skinheads planning something by them selves? It just strikes me as weird all of a sudden.

So now we go to TM where Gemma thinks she is being taken to the cabin by Ratboy and Happy to be put down. They set this up in a previous scene by having jax tell happy and Rat not to give his mom any details about why she is being taken to the cabin. Here’s the thing, if this whole thing actually had a payoff, then it wouldn’t be that bad.  Since you will see later on that she doesn’t end up shooting anyone or running away or doing anything interesting or dramatic with what she thinks is he life in the balance, well… it makes it all very stupid.  They built this up like it was going to be one of those miscommunication things that leads to a bunch of drama, kind of like what caused Gemma to kill Tera at the end of last season.  Nothing happens. Nothing.  Maybe they are trying to throw off the fans who are waiting for her to die. Trick them into thinking she is safe and then killing her out of no where for the shock value. who knows.  On a second viewing this whole thing is just so random and odd.

Next scene we have Jax talking to that black dude who i guess kind of works for Pope or in another non rival gang and as mentioned before is one of those dudes who just randomly trusts Jax because he gave him an offer he could probably refuse fairly easily.

Next scene features Able and is fucking terrible.  Look i’m sure he’s a nice kid, but he is a terrible actor. Yes he looks just like what I think a young jax would look like but jesus he really distracts from the scenes he is in. The only thing worse than his acting is the whole Gemma confessing to the younger kid that she is the one that killed Terra.  OF course Able is standing in the hallways listening so I guess he will tell someone and hopefully that means they kill Gemma.

Next up, Nero sits down with Alvarez in the whore house that just got shot up a few weeks back and is still being repaired… because..??? Seriously, there were so many dead hookers in there. Let’s pretend for a moment anyone would ever work there again, who would ever go there to get some knowing that a ton of hookers and johns were all killed there.  That place would be shut down FOREVER TIMES INFINITY.  Guess what Nero and Alvarez are talking about. That’s right, Alvarez agrees to pay Nero 300k for his share of the escort business.

Are the Sons and Mayans and everyone else flush with cash?  It wasn’t long ago that everyone was struggling for money, or at least the Sons were. Now they never seem to discuss money.

Unser comes in the flatbed to pick up Jax’s messed up motorcycle and they make arrangements for Bobby to drive the one car and do something blah blah blah. It seemed kind of obvious this was setting up something bad for Bobby.  Normally you don’t spend that much time and emphasis on travel arrangements. A minute or two later Bobby is driving alone, singing Elvis, and despite the fact that he is caught up in the middle of a gang war, fails to notice some menacing black vehicles (black in color) driving up fast behind him on a deserted stretch of highway.

We come back to the Sons and the Myans in the park waiting for August Marks and that is when the funniest shit of the episode takes place. So…. god where to begin. The musical montages sometimes at the beginning, sometimes at the end of an episode use to be kind of cool especially when they took a classic song and had a cover of it that was kind of melancholy. Like many things, it is getting a little repetitive.  The montage in this episode feature Katy Segal singing a song that when I was listening to the lyrics when it first began, sounded kind of apropos to the episode. Then I realized what song she was singing and I actually laughed out loud, shook my head and said “Greensleaves? Really?”. So yeah, a Christmas song is being sung as we find out August Marks kidnapped Bobby and cut his one eye out.

The end.

Seriously, why has no one ever called for a vote to replace Jax.  I guess it is because he always seems to have the right answer and the right plan for the club in the moment.  If you look at each situation on a micro level then yeah he usually has the right plan based on the information they are given. Still, someone has to take a look at the club on a macro level and think that maybe the outlaw biker thing isn’t going so well.

Lets review what has happened over the 7 years, which maybe be only like 3 or 4 years in the show’s timeline.

The Sons’s whore house was shot up and a bunch of their escorts were all killed. Opie was murdered in jail. His first wife was killed by accident because they thought he was a rat. Btw, where are those kids now? I never see them or Opie’s grandma. Clay was killed by the club for like a thousand reasons, one of which was that he killed Piney (opie’s dad).

Jax’s wife was killed, as was the sherrif of charming. That would be the 2nd sheriff of charming to be killed because he was caught in the cross fire of what the club has going on. Speaking of cops getting killed, that lady cop is recovering in the hospital after getting shot watching the Sons sell drugs. Her partner didn’t make it however.

At least three of the Sons Buildings have been blown up or destroyed at some point, ice cream shop, teller motor, and the first warehouse.  Was the porn studio fucked up at some point?

What else? Oh just about every other day the Sons shoot their guns in broad day light somewhere near the city. They blew up Lem at one point. The fat prospect was also killed. Juice was forced to turn on the club and tried to kill himself because, yeah that’s right, he also killed another club member. There was also another club member killed this season as he watched over the guns protected by Robocop. I don’t remember that Son’s member’s name. You know what I do remember?  Tig’s daughter being burned alive because he accidentally killed some other gang leader’s daughter… it might have been pope now that I think of it.

Oh and Unser is still somehow still alive, he and Carol on the walking dead are inspirations to anyone living with cancer.

There is probably so much more that I am forgetting, but it still begs the question, why aren’t people in charming constantly picketing the club.

Best movie cars

I spent way too much time on youtube last night and much of that wasted time was spent watching car chase movie scenes. I have no idea what the criteria will be but lets have a tournament to see what is the best famous movie car.

Bandit transam
General lee
Blues mobile
Black beauty
Supernatural imperial
Magnum ferari
Sex drive judge
Batmobile multiple

Those are the cars i thought of off the top of my head.Ok now lets come up with the regions for seeding.

1. Sci fi cars
2. Tv cars
3. Batmobiles
4. I wanna go fast division

This might be tough to fill out all of the divisions but lets start

Sci fi/fantasy:
Supernatural imperial
Ecto one.

Nolan batmobile
Batmobile 66
Batman burton
Black beauty

Go fast:
Bandits trans am

General lee
Magnum pi ferrari
Blues mobile

Hmmmm…. i think i need to research some cars. I know im missing some classics.

The only one i found in my extensive research that should probably be added in is starsk and hutchs torino. There were some other notable cars but i couldnt really use them since they had too many variations (bonds aston martin) wasnt a key part of the show/movie (miami vice lambo) or werent an actual car (a team van). 

There is also the case to be made for camerons dads porsche but i think it is still stuck in those trees and i like my list where it is once i replace the munsters dragonare with the judge from sex drive and slip the torino into the go fast category. …. man maybe the judge should be replaced by the dragonare but i just love that movie and the car is basically its own character well beyond what the  munsters did with their sweet ride.

Ok first round matchups:

In the sci fi division the delorian easily takes down the supernatural guys ride while kitt has a surprisingly tough victory over ecto 1.

The black beauty is able to take out the 1966 bat mobile in as shocking upset in the comics division while burtons batmobile has a much easier than expected win against nolans bat tank.

In the go fast division elanor wins the battle of mustangs while the bandit smokes the torino.

In a surprise to no one the general lee takes out the judge while the blues mobile makes quick work of dominating magnus ride.

In the regional finals we have the delorian edging out kitt, mostly because haselhoff was holding kitt back from his chance to shine.  Black beauty might be a sweeter ride but the burton batmobile was so iconic that it gets an assist in its win from btas batmobile as well.

Elanor may be the best looking car in the competition but the bandit never broke down in front of the cops or lost a mirror.

The toughest matchup so far is the regional finals between the general lee and the blues mobile. It is so close that it goes into extra innings but the blues mobile takes the victory since its on a mission from god and the general lee is sporting the much maligned stars and bars.

In the semi finals we have burtons bat mobile lose out to the delorian since the back to the future car can go where they dont have roads. The bandit is iconic and seemed nearly indestructible but did it ever do a back flips over a car full of Nazis?

Final matchup pits two iconic 80s movie cars against each other, both with a wide selection of incredible feats that all end with their destruction at the end of their run.  Its hard to argue against the power of god, but the delorian had both the flux capacitor and mr fusion.

The winner: the delorian.

Fall TV Season so far.

Recently there is a brand new show I have been paying a lot of attention to (gotham), a few I have been following for a little while (The League, Marvel agents of Shield, Hell on Wheels) as well as a couple of shows that have just started their final season (boardwalk empire, Sons of Anarchy).  Lets review them so far.

**** warning, spoilers below *****


The first two episodes were good, not amazing, but you get the feeling that it might actually have been slightly better with no connection to the batman universe.  The stuff with Bruce and Alfred just doesn’t strike me right for some reason.  First of all the connection between gordon and bruce seems forced. The show is named Gotham and is all about the batman universe but I kind of feel it would be better if they didn’t have weekly updates with Bruce wayne and Alfred.

I could be wrong though and maybe my opinion is based on wanting to see more grown up batman.  The idea of how his younger years transpired is an interesting idea, but maybe it would be better as it’s own series. I also don’t like how unloving and lost Alfred seems. Once again, I’m probably wrong about this and just reacting to what i’m use to seeing from Alfred.  If this was a story about young bruce wayne, way before the whole bat man begins tour the world and join the league of assassins thing, then having an Alfred who is out of his depth and more emotional is a great way to go.  I guess I wasn’t really ready to invest that much thought into their characters. I would either like them to go almost completely away or have the show feature them predominantly.

It’s like when there is a movie or TV show and there is an ancillary character where you go, hey they should make a movie about him. Granted, that rarely works when they go do it, but i still don’t know if I like these quick little glimpses into the bruce and alfred relationship/dynamic. They are too long to be considered a tease/nod/cameo but too short to really sink your teeth into what might be a great story.

The rest of the show is good, not great, but i think right now they are doing a lot of building of the city and the characters.  Not a lot of depth yet to the characters, which is to be expected, and i’m not sure if I can deal with a villian of the week approach with cameos by future gotham royalty like cat woman, poison ivy, the riddler, etc… that we have seen so far.  I think the ongoing mob storylines are good thgouh, especially watching how the Penguin becomes a crime lord. The guy who plays him is perfect.. way better than Danny Devito.

The League:

I didn’t even realize this show was back on till someone reminded me last week.  This show really is a crass football version of Seinfeld. That’s a good thing btw.  So far the season is strong, and I love all the cameos in the first episode. I also love Ruxins wife. Check out the begining of the movie… Flight? shit i don’t remember the name, but its the Denzel washington is an alcaholic airplane pilot movie. My point is that she gets crazy ass naked in the begining of that movie because denzel likes being in bedrooms with latina actresses making their film nudity deput.

Think about it. Training day – Eva Mendez naked in the bedroom with him near the end of the movie.

Flight – Nadia vasquez… i think that is her name, she is all the way naked in a hotel room bedroom.

2 Guns – Paula Patton (wait is she latino, ok, light skinned dark skinned girls then) is topless in a cheap motel room kind of near the begining of the movie.

I really wonder if Denzel puts that as a rider in his contracts. Has he ever done a movie with Jennifer Lopez, or Eva longoria?

Marvel Agents of Shield

Last season finished pretty strong especially compared how lack luster the middle portion was.  It kind of seemed like they were spinning their wheels until Captain America the winter soldier came out.  This year the villain of the week(s) is better with the absorbing man being kind of interesting and with decent special effects to boot.

I like the stuff with fritz, but the handsome black dude sounds like he is sexing him up with his deep baritone voice every time he was talking to him in the 2nd episode. It seemed like the actor didn’t know the difference in how to add gravitas and a sense of urgency to your voice compared to adding a sense of “hey girl, i’m going to sex you right, boys II men walking on the beach talking portion of the song” inflection to his voice.

I digress. I’m not sure how I feel about the Ward being in love with sky thing since he is now coming across as super creepy and any thought of using him to create tension with Sky and hear feelings for him is just shot now in my opinion.  She can’t ever say anything like “I still feel for him” and they can’t have him turn good and have a redemption arc since it would be just crazy after he sounded like a crazed stalker in the prison cell. I really hope they decide to just build him as a true villian capable of taking on their whole team.

Hell on Wheels

I originally started watching this show thinking it was going to be a guilty pleasure… which is a stupid term and a stupid reason to watch something. The first season was kind of up and down, but for the most part I lied it and the subsequent seasons seemed to get better as they went. The show never got to a point where it was great, but it was much better than a lot of other shows on TV.  This season may be the best yet and kind of reminds me of the last season of Deadwood where a new big bad has come to town and it really shakes things up in a great way.

Plus, the whole thing with Eliam.. Elom?  Elam… whatever, Common the Cowboy, that was good cause his death was probably the biggest death of the show in terms of a prominent character and what he meant to every one.  I was surprised by it, but also thought they did a good job of tossing plenty of shades of grey all over that episode so you didn’t know who you really sided with at the end. All you know was that it was a sad event in the show.

The season is drawing to a close and I’m hoping that they don’t get rid of the big bad, unless they are going to bring the swede back for next year.  If they do keep the big bad of this season I just hope they don’t keep him around for next season but in a nuetuered way. That would be lame.

Boardwalk Empire

This is the show at the top of my “What I want to watch each week” list.  Previously it was mad men or game of thrones before they wrapped up their seasons. Before that obviously it was True Detectives and before that Breaking Bad.  There is usually one show that draws my interest more than any other each week, and even if this wasn’t the shows final season, it would still win this prize even over the entry that is next on this list.

Last year was fantastic, particularly the stuff with Richard Harrow, so it’s going to be tough to live up to that now that he is gone. There are still plenty of characters, and having Nucky’s wife come back to AC was fantastic.  The back and forth between them was fantastic, and reminded the viewer of how far each had fallen.  Neither might admit it, but they aren’t in better places. Speaking of better places, Al Capone seems to be doing all right and the coming war between him and Lucky Luciano is something that we knew was coming since the first few episodes of the series.

Chalk White is still out there as is Dr. Narcists and i’m hoping their conflict gets resolved before the end of the series. With so many moving pieces it’s hard to imagine everything will get wrapped up in one tidy bow, but kind of like “The Shield” it might not need to.  Many of the characters are going to keep moving through life after the show ends, so you don’t have to give them a definitive ending.

I still don’t understand why they can’t have this show go on another couple of seasons, but maybe I can hold out for a spin off where Chalky and Capone drive cross country where Al Capone goes around scaring the shit out of people with his mood swings and Chalky just quietly stares at people in an equally menacing way.

Sons of Anarchy

ughhhh. I don’t even know any more.  I really like the first few seasons when Jax was the intellectual trying to pull his club out from the gutter while being spoken to by his shakespearean like ghost dad via a journal.  Probably around season 4 they moved away from that and made it a dude soap opera where motivations aren’t nearly as important as cool or wtf scenes.  I understand it has become a huge ratings hit for FX once they started targeting the show to the type of people who would un ironically wear SOA merchandise out in public. Still the show has really suffered.

The scene with Vennus Van Damme and Tig might be a perfect example. It had the undertones of something uniquely emotionally and powerful, but in the execution and the surrounding context just came off as bizarre. It just feels like there is a disconnect between the person who comes up with the outline and the person who writes the actual scenes.  One person has an idea like “Holy shit wouldn’t it be awesome if Tig made out with Venus Van Damme” and then there are a bunch of Bro Cheers in support of the idea, and then some one else who is probably a phenomenal writer and knows how to build a moving story through subtlety of action and dialogue is assigned to write the scene.

Kind of like how Hell on Wheels is was better than most other shows on TV, SOA is better than a lot of stuff out there, just not that much better any more.