TV
7.5

Sons of Anarchy Review: “Faith and Despondency”

(Episode 7.10)

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<i>Sons of Anarchy</i> Review: &#8220;Faith and Despondency&#8221;

This was easily the best episode of Sons of Anarchy we’ve seen yet this season. Not only did we actually move forward with a plot, but the writers managed to sneak in some really excellent scenes too. Of course, this being Sons of Anarchy ’s final season, there are some cringe-worthy scenes as well, so I thought it best to break up this week’s recap into two groups, The Highs and The Lows:

THE HIGHS
The closing scene: First, Jax tells Abel that Wendy is his “first mom” because “she came out of his tummy.” Then, Abel asks Jax, “Is that why Grandma killed my other mommy, so my first mommy could be here with me?” STOP IT. I cannot. Did he just say that? Did you see that look on Jax’s face? Did anyone else laugh? I was howling. I kept rewinding the scene just to watch Jax’s expression. We’ve been waiting a long time for Abel to share this nugget of information, and it felt good to get it out in the open.

So, does Jax believe Abel? I’m not sure. Remember, Abel just maimed himself with a fork to get Gemma in trouble and happily lied about that, so Jax knows he’s a good liar. Plus, the kid had a long, emotional day and is probably confused. On the other hand, Jax could think about Abel’s comment, take a moment to question Gemma’s story, and actually investigate Tara’s murder. I hope it’s the latter, because he should have done that 10 episodes ago, and saved the viewers a very frustrating season.

Venus and Tig: Venus Van Dam is a treasure whenever she’s on Sons, but this episode she absolutely sparkled. Tig is dodgy after a hot night together, and Venus thinks Tig only likes her so that he can prove he’s “out of the box.” But Venus has fallen in love with Tig, she is very much “in the box,” and therefore she must end it. What follows is a tearful, heartfelt conversation between two “criss-crossed” people who realize they are actually very much in love.

Though the writing has been pretty lazy this season, this scene was pure poetry. My favorite line was, “I am a man who knows she’s a woman. I know how beautiful I am.” I am consistently impressed with how a TV show about a thug biker gang could create such a sympathetic, well-rounded, and endearing transgendered character. Special kudos to Kim Coates (Tig) and Walton Goggins, who plays Venus so lyrically it’s a crime he hasn’t gotten an Emmy.

Unser saves the day: When Leland goes to the hospital to kill Officer Eglee (thus assuring she won’t testify against the Aryan Brotherhood), he’s thwarted and killed by Unser. Oh, this scene was a nailbiter; I jumped when Leland threw back the shower curtain and found Unser. It reminded me of the good ol’ SAMCRO days, when people were killed because they were bad, and not because of Jax’s twisted revenge fantasy.

Moses is dead: Jax, Tyler, OT (from the Bastards), and Otis (Aryan Brotherhood’s new leader) team up to take down Moses and the rest of Mark’s crew. Okay, forget about the fact that Moses’ Special Ops guys would probably have noticed 35 people hiding behind a trailer. Just relish in the awesomeness of the ambush, and the Sons’ revenge on Moses.

Yes, they treated Moses just like Moses treated Bobby—they took out Moses’ eye, then cut off his fingers, then shot him in the head. Honestly, I thought they’d slit Moses’ throat since that’s all Bobby babbled about in captivity, but still—it was a vengeful death, and I hope none of you were eating when Moses’ eye was dangling.

LOWS
The opening montage: We started with some Charlie Hunnam ass, and I was a-okay with that, but then we moved onto a sexual menagerie montage that included seven couples (eight, if you count Wendy and her vibrator) and lots of ass, and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to laugh or cry. I mean, what was the point? To be life-affirming? To be provocative? To be intimate? Three of those couples involved hookers, Gemma and Nero were bored, and Tully was raping Juice in jail. Sure, Jax cried after climaxing, but the only one who actually seemed intimate were Tigs and Venus.

And don’t even get me started on Jarry and Chibbs, and their angry floor sex. This is the same scene as last week just in a different venue, and the only nice thing I have to say is at least they moved out of a parking garage. I had such high hopes for Jarry when she approached the scene, and now she’s just a clingy girlfriend with daddy issues who screams at Chibbs, and lets Unser do the police work for her.

Abel: This kid, I’m just over him. The tired acting, the fork gouging, the sinister plotting… I’m not on Team Abel. Yes, he had the best line ever at the closing of the episode, but mostly that kid just makes me cringe. The adults around him aren’t much better. Abel shows up at the breakfast table with gashes on his forehead, and no one tries to clean or bandage it. Then, Abel excavates half his arm with a fork, and they allow him to finish up the school day and go home. Um, no trip to the hospital? No stitches? Not even a Band Aid? I’m willing to suspend a lot of common sense while watching this show, but this was a little ridiculous. I’m also a little peeved Jax thought this was the perfect time to tell Abel about Wendy being his “first mom.” He smiled benevolently at Wendy afterward, like he didn’t just righteously mess with Abel’s head the same day the kid framed his grandmother.

Too long: Yes, I know this is a common complaint, but I’ll say it again — even in an action-packed episode like this, the episode could have been cut from 90 to 60 minutes. I think we’re being treated to all these super-sized episodes because FX is earning top advertising fees with the show, and they stretched the time slot to make more money. But, I’ve heard that overseas distribution and syndication usually require 60 minute episodes, so the extra 30 minutes are just filler. And boy, do we feel it. All those extra shots of cigarette drags and longing stares really slow down the show.

We didn’t touch the rat or the Indian Hill crew this week, so I’m sure we’ll revisit it next week. At this point, we have to, right? I mean, what else is left of the gang war storyline? The Sons, AB, Niners, Bastards, Mayans… everyone is working together, and Marks’ crew is dead. When Marks posts bail next week, is there anyone left to fight for him?

Favorite quotes:
“There’s three left if you want one.”—Happy to Rat, regarding Moses’ fingers
“We got a pile of dead black guys in the backyard.” “What? Was the LAPD here?”—Tigs and OT having a laugh after the massacre of Mark’s men.
“A brotherhood of misery, their smiles as sad as sighs; Whose madness daily maddened me, Distorting into agony, The bliss before my eyes!”—Emily Bronte’s poem “My Comforter,” read by a postcoital Tully to Juice

Emily Worden is a Boston-based freelance writer and author of Make. Sell. Repeat. The Ultimate Business Guide for Artists, Crafters, and Makers. You can follow her on Twitter.

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