Paul Risker reviews the tenth episode of Sons of Anarchy season 5….
When alliances and loyalty are just a matter of convenience…
Ten down, three to go. For Sons of Anarchy fans this is a moment of mixed emotion as the inevitable anticipation of what the end of season five will have in store for us looms. Soon we will be left to once again tangle with the inevitable withdrawal symptoms that the between season break affords, but so too should we be filled with excitement. One could make the argument that Sons of Anarchy in each of its four seasons has featured the most compelling conclusions of any television show currently airing.
Imagine a game of poker where we thought Jax was the aggressor, securing a hand to top any Clay could show if called. In the course of “Crucifixed” we see the “Master Tactician” Clay Morrow somewhat unintentionally add to his hand the card that could potentially give him the “Royal Flush.”
To start proceedings, Chibs and Bobby concur with Jax that to keep Juice in play poses no risk at all. Hence, Jax makes Juice an offer that he can’t refuse. “Do you want to earn your way back in? A pardon? It means you do everything I tell you to do and I make sure your betrayal never hits the table; that it stays between us.” First Tig and then Gemma, and now Juice, Jax manipulates their past indiscretions to turn them into pawns in his war against Clay.
One thing leads to another and as Jax shares the truth about Clay’s actions, Juice inevitably tells Jax of Frankie’s confession. Jax reminds him, “It’s a simple choice, you help me bring Clay down or you lose your patch. And I think you know what killing another member gets you.” With little choice Juice agrees, continuing to play a pivotal role as the tangle web is wound tighter and tighter.
With Gemma already recruited to make Clay feel like the King he once was, Jax now uses Juice as his primary weapon to go after Clay, instructing Juice to find the personal documents Clay recovered from the stolen safe. With these documents to hand, Jax will finally have proof of Clay’s involvement in the home invasions. At the table his accusations will no longer appear as vindictive, but a Son bringing the crimes of another Son to the table for communal justice.
It appears Jax’s net around Clay is growing tighter; the end in sight for the former President, but Clay intentionally or not reminds us that he can never be counted out.
Learning of the RICHO case, which explains Jax’s willingness to run guns, after a little minor detective work Clay quickly surmises the Cartel’s role in events. When his offer to split from SAMCRO when the time is right and continue to source the guns for the Cartel from the Irish Kings is rejected, an agreement – or rather a plan – is laid out that changes the future balance of power.
As far as Romeo and Luis are concerned, the MC is good for the Cartel, and as far into the future that they see, Galindo and SAMCRO will remain in business together. But with Jax sending Tara behind bars to speak with Otto, the end game to kill the RICOH case, the MC’s connection to the Cartel could be severed if Jax should be successful. Clay reminds Romeo and Luis, “If that happens, I go away, and the guns go away and you go away.”
In exchange for protection from the Cartel, Clay proposes to act as the go-between with Galen, but in that moment a new future is mapped out that surprises Clay: “Out with the new, in with the old.”
If Sons of Anarchy had our interest, then it almost certainly has our attention now, as Sutter rather brilliantly compels us to anticipate the upcoming moves, only for him to keep us guessing, uncertainty a constant.
In this week’s episode dangerous webs are woven. Finally, SAMCRO catches up with Hightower, the inmate who killed Opie. As always with Sons of Anarchy things never run smoothly, including the plan of a revenge killing. The cousin of the Lodi President, a club who for twenty years has always had the back of SAMCRO, Jax and Chibs against Bobby’s advice gun him down, despite assurances that they just wanted to talk to him, and should he give up the names of his cohorts, besides a beat down, the beef would be put to rest.
In a time when Jax may need all the allies he can muster, one must wonder just how foolish was Jax and Chib’s choice of revenge over the future?
An alliance of true brotherly loyalty between Jax and Chibs is cemented in this episode. One thing is certain, if Jax will not survive this season, then in all probability neither will Chibs.
In one of the episode’s key moments Jax confides in him, “Things are going to get bloody, brother. I’m not sure if Bobby’s going to be able to roll with it. I need to know that I have you in my corner.” Chibs partly hurt by Jax’s feeling that he needs to ask the question tells him, “I love you, kid. Understand?”
In a particularly interesting moment in the opening of the episode Chib’s reflects mournfully that everything is crashing down around them. Jax’s assures him that he sees an end in sight. He may be right in that he sees an end, though it is a bloody red light in which everyone’s lives are up for grabs.
The balance of power as shifted, though Pope who was expected to be a decidedly stronger presence remains in the background. Could he be the card that will strengthen Jax’s hand to counter the Cartel’s plan to replace him with Clay?
Jax’s ploy with Otto paid off but at the expense of Tara’s liberty, an accessory to murder now thanks to Otto’s scheming. He has laid the road to her future incarceration, and this end Jax sees may not be with his wife at his side, but rather behind bars.
Jax’s success at derailing the RICOH case could possibly lose him his President’s seat, and with Pope wanting Tig’s expiry date to arive sooner rather than later, one Son’s life lingers without his knowledge close to the edge. Meanwhile as far as Jax is concerned, he tells Bobby and Chibs, “Let him hang himself.”
It is becoming difficult to see just how Jax can outplay his antagonists. Between Clay and the Cartel, the challenge seems insurmountable, and if season five has thus far been a bloodbath, a new adjective may be required to adequately describe the season when all said and done.
Paul Risker is co-editor in chief of Wages of Film, freelance writer and contributor to Flickering Myth and Scream The Horror Magazine.