Sons of Anarchy Review by Henry Tran

Sons of Anarchy 7.03: Playing With Monsters

Sons of Anarchy 7.03: Playing With Monsters

Written By:
Peter Elkoff and Kurt Sutter
Directed By:
Craig Yahata

This episode seemed interchangeable with "Toil and Till." The main plot is really only a continuation of Jax's "plan" to slowly take down the Chinese gang. He's getting the pieces into place in a methodical manner that belies his motorcycle gangster visage. The plan has a complexity designed for maximum use of misdirection. The Sons are using a rebellion within the Niners to sow a brewing battle between them and the Chinese. He's making absolutely sure that all the attention is drawn away from the Sons while simultaneously pulling the strings for the club's benefit. It's all rather ingenious.

There are a couple of issues I have with this, however. It's already been covered that the truth about Tara's murder will eventually come out. When it does, Jax will have realized the big mistake he's making in pinning her death on Lin and the Chinese. It's just a matter of how long we're left waiting until that realization comes to pass. My second concern is that the Sons are doing this virtually unchecked, which is a good natural progression of the plot but also sucks the dramatic tension out of everything they do. Nothing and no one opposes Jax or the club as they willfully manipulate all the parties they encounter to their benefit.

I think the writers are intentionally building slowly to something with Jax. What's left for him is to find out what really happened with Tara, and this episode doesn't provide much tangible progress on that front. Gemma is directly responsible for that murder, however she isn't in danger of having that truth come out and be used against her here. The cumulative result of her arc in this episode is her continued control and influence over some of Jax's actions. She stupidly gets in the middle of a family dispute between Sandy and her father, has a shiner for her troubles (which also gets Nero in trouble with the law), and then sics Jax on the father as her twisted form of vengeance.

There's very little to gain from all of this. Gemma benefits because all of this is once again delaying or obscuring the truth from the most interested parties. The club even sends Chibs to pay off Sheriff Jarry. There is a little something between Jarry and Chibs, although it looks like forced chemistry. Jarry may be using this interaction with the club to feel her way to the information she needs the most, namely the location of Juice.

It's increasingly unlikely that Jarry will get a chance to interrogate Juice on what he knows, though. He wants desperately to get back into the club's good graces and yet, everyone that he loved has turned their back on him. Chibs wants to kill him immediately (on Jax's orders) upon seeing him unexpectedly in the diner. These characters are notorious for not thinking things through, and that applies to what they want to do with Juice. It feels like only a few months ago that Juice was watching out for Tara (although we know how that turned out) and was one of the solid members of the club. Now he's been ostracized because he participated in an investigation that was declared inactive long ago and most likely wouldn't hurt the club in any way now. The way Juice has been pushed out of the narrative seems dubious, at best.

The show's handling of Juice highlights the increasingly apparent look that there won't be any sort of antagonist or even a sympathetic figure that can stop what Jax is doing. He stokes the fires by involving the Niners, lying to Barofsky, which then gets the Mayans involved in the war with the Chinese. Jax and the club have free rein over everything that's happening. The club doesn't even take the democratic action of voting on their actions anymore. Unser or Wendy won't stand up to Jax. Nero is struggling with his affiliations with the Mayans. Gemma has him under her thumb. Opie and Clay are long gone. Jax may then become the bad guy that he has spent the life of the series trying to avoid. That is what happens when his support system gets slowly stripped away. I'm just not sure that this is the right direction for the show to be going as it winds down. There's still time to see what happens.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Jax's plan is full of nice misdirection
The Bad:
  • Interchangeable with the previous episode
  • Juice shouldn't be getting pushed out of the story like this

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Sons of Anarchy by - 9/29/2014 6:23 AM168 views

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