Sons of Anarchy Review by John Keegan

Sons of Anarchy 7.01: Black Widower

Sons of Anarchy 7.01: Black Widower

Written By:
Kurt Sutter
Directed By:
Paris Barclay

Over the past six seasons of this show, there has been something of a pattern established for the plot arc. The lead (either Clay or Jax) would hope that they can maintain the "peaceful" status quo at the beginning. Then, it slowly goes completely awry as the season progresses. Lather, rinse, repeat. There have been some really shocking events in the middle of all this chaos, but that's really the spine of many of the seasons of Sons of Anarchy. Tara had begun her slow descent into uselessness last season by turning on Jax in order to protect their kids from his "legacy."

So naturally, the only course left was that Tara had to go. Only, she was murdered on a whim by Gemma, as the two ladies happened to share the same space at the wrong time. Either Tara was going to leave Charming forever, stay in Charming to raise the boys, or die. Show creator Kurt Sutter's usual tactic is to go with the most shocking course of action in lieu of the more logical one so Tara dies at the hands of Gemma and her two-pronged fork.

A show would then proceed to the fallout from such a shocking course of events (though it felt more subdued than other events that have happened on the series), but the narrative shortcuts always seem to rear its ugly head. Example one: Jax spends all of maybe ten days in county prison. He gets out with very little explanation. The one big thing that he does while in prison is to ensure that the white supremacist gang led by Marilyn Manson (the character's name doesn't matter because it's Marilyn Manson without the stage makeup) and that was left behind as the episode progressed.

It's going to come back down the line, just because you don't hire a guest star like Marilyn Manson and use him in one scene at the beginning of the season. The prosecutor's office led by Patterson can't prove that Jax killed Tara and the whole deal for Jax to give himself up to protect Tara is just gone. It doesn't make a lot of sense because the show has acknowledged Jax's long list of crimes before that would justify the possibility of spending a substantial amount of time behind bars. Only the show has proven before that it doesn't work when its leads are in prison so the writers have to put Jax in the open.

It mutes everything that happens once he's free. We're supposed to focus on Jax because he's the hero and everything revolves around him as the President of SAMCRO. By the way, Bobby takes it really well when he is handed the crown by Jax then has to give it up a measly ten days later. Jax gives up the whole notion of brokering a peace between gangs once he's put back at the head of the table. It makes some sense, given that Tara is now dead, and any possibility of their leaving the gang life behind went with that. Sure, there are the kids but Abel and Thomas aren't active characters that have an effect on the larger plot at hand. 

They are more like pawns to be manipulated as the plot sees fit, along with representations of the purity Jax once had. It's not much of a surprise to see the wheels turning in Jax's head as he declares that he will do anything to "protect the club." It's all that he has left so it pretty much comes down to draconian measures. When you mix that mentality with the current head space that Gemma has, it's a recipe for disaster.

We see all of this start to play out when Gemma lies to T.O. and SAMCRO about the Chinese gangbanger she befriends at the party. The viewer knows that he didn't kill Tara (or the poor, forgotten Sheriff Roosevelt) and the characters don't so the shock value of Jax's ritualistic torture and murder of the man doesn't really register. The patterns and mindsets of the characters are so established by now that I wasn't surprised that Jax never let the guy explain his side of the story before killing him. It would have been unlikely for Jax to believe him anyway. A lot of death of coming, and with Jax leaving behind his "good" nature, he's going to be at the front of a lot of that. I don't know if Gemma really understands that. Her secret is going to come out eventually, along with Juice's complicity in the Sheriff's murder and cover-up of Tara's murder, so I wouldn't bet on both of them surviving to the end of the series. Of course, after Tara's murder, it's fair to question what Gemma's state of mind is exactly.

For much of the series, it's been a slow and steady decline to instability. Now it seems like she's truly cracked. She's talking to an invisible Tara, which is not a good sign, and her control over Jax is tenuous, as always. She gets off on that whole Lady MacBeth complex and that's what drives her so the season is going to be a long-term waiting game to see when those two personalities will be at odds. She hasn't seemed to learn from her own past history. The weight of her secrets led to both John Teller and Clay to be killed. It might cost her Jax as well.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • At least it's consistent season to season
The Bad:
  • Too many narrative shortcuts
  • Convenient vs. logical choices are made in the script

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Sons of Anarchy by - 9/12/2014 10:50 AM173 views

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