Episode Title: "Andare Pescare"
Writers: Liz Sagal & Kurt Sutter
Director: Billy Gierhart
Previously on "Sons of Anarchy"
As always, this review will contain spoilers for the latest episode of “Sons of Anarchy.” So don’t read on unless you’ve already seen "Andare Pescare."
We gather this week to mourn the loss of Frankie Diamonds (Chuck Zito), the last of the Nomads. Actually, no we don’t. Frankie was a very underdeveloped character who didn’t seem to exist as anything more than an extension of Clay’s will. On his own, Frankie was pretty uninteresting.
Now, if Frankie had pulled the trigger on Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) in the previous episode, there would have been a bigger emotional payoff to seeing SAMCRO get their revenge on him. But instead, Frankie’s demise comes out of the blue from a mobster and not from Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) or even Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman).
The shoot out at the cabin between Frankie, Clay and Juice (Theo Rossi) was an impressive sequence, but that ending really fizzled. Obviously the mobster would be angered after seeing that Frankie killed his friend and associate. But that writing choice just felt like another cheap way to avoid exposing Clay’s crimes to the rest of SAMCRO.
I would be enjoying the current storylines for Clay and Juice a lot more if I thought that Kurt Sutter and company were going to really see them through this time. Yes, killing off Opie earlier this season was a bold and compelling move. But we’ve been down this road with both Juice and Clay in the previous season; when the intensity level was even higher than it is now. I also had a lot more empathy for Juice back then.
In a way, it does seem like the writers are trying have Juice be smart enough to realize that Clay was connected to the Nomads but also dumb enough to believe that he wasn’t planning to kill Frankie to cover up his involvement with the home invasion robberies that cost Roosevelt his wife and unborn child. Juice also seems to be tragically unaware of how much danger that he’s in, as Roosevelt had promised to name the traitor in SAMCRO if Jax can hand over Frankie.
Although, for the second time this season, Jax has already worked out most of the details even before getting confirmation from an outside source. If Jax’s deductive skills are this good, why is he always being blindsided?
The closing moments suggest that Jax may kill Juice for his transgressions, but I’m not expecting a quick wrap-up here. It’s far more likely that Jax will recruit Juice as his spy against Clay, much like Jax is attempting to do with his mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal). That would actually reduce Juice’s life expectancy even more drastically. Think about it. Between Juice and Clay, who do you think the creative team wants to hang on to more?
I actually don’t want Juice to die, as Rossi almost always performs well when the writers give him something to work with. Likewise, Clay is a great character... but there has to be an end to this at some point. Is Jax really going to leave Clay alive to try to unseat him again? To come after his family again?
Maybe Jax just has a blind spot for putting his family in danger when he’s the one who’s actually doing it. This week continued the incredibly creepy angle of Tara (Maggie Siff) trying to get Big Otto Delaney (Sutter) to recant his RICO testimony about SAMCRO. And the last time that Tara tried to approach Otto, he threatened her pretty overtly. Otto also ordered Tara to give him a blow job; which was apparently the line she won’t cross.
But knowing what happened last time, Tara still seemed willing to possibly subject herself to Otto’s harsh treatment for the sake of her husband. To Jax’s credit, he probably wouldn’t have let Tara go back if he knew what had really happened in her first visit. At least I’m assuming, but he’s also trying to pimp out his mother to Clay for intel, so Jax doesn’t have a lot or moral high ground at the moment.
It was refreshing that the show bothered to explain how Tara got into see Otto in the first place, because Tara had kept her marriage to Jax off of any official forms at the hospital. But now that Tara’s marriage is on the books, her access to Otto could be blocked because of her association with the club. Even so, aren’t her attempts to see Otto enough to earn a charge of interfering with an investigation?
I guess we’ve jumped around this enough, so let’s deal with that elephant in the room. Otto recognizes that Tara is wearing the perfume favored by his late wife... and he insists that Tara stroke his head while he masturbates. There’s a very strange sexual component to “Sons of Anarchy” this season, from Otto’s behavior with Tara to Tig’s (Kim Coates) attraction to a very manly Transsexual woman (and apparently to dead people too, if Gemma’s joke has any basis in reality).
Even Tara isn’t immune to this. Something about Otto’s sexual desperation speaks to her. Hours later in her own home, Tara puts the perfume on again and begins masturbating as well. Because this isn’t a novel, it’s difficult to gauge why Tara reacted the way that she did. Maybe Tara saw something in the devotion that Otto had for his dead wife that reminded her of the bond she shares with Jax. Or perhaps there’s something that Tara isn’t getting out of her marriage and she needs her own release.
If Jax and Tara are this generation’s J.T. and Gemma, could Tara eventually take on another lover? There are no obvious suspects at the moment. But if there are unresolved problems n Jax and Tara’s marriage then those issues could pop up at some future time. The possibility of Tara getting a new job in Oregon also came up again. If Tara was ever looking for a final escape from Charming with or without Jax, that would be the most likely option for her to look outside of her marriage.
Gemma was surprisingly sympathetic this week as she tried to live up to Jax’s instructions and get closer to Clay again. But Gemma is drawn to Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits) because he may be the one person in her life who loves her unconditionally at this point. Nine episodes into the season, Nero is still pretty squeaky clean... relatively speaking. Nero doesn’t seem to have a hidden agenda and he hasn’t dumped Gemma despite all of the s*** that she and SAMCRO have dumped in his lap this year.
Everything that Nero is doing appears to signal his long term interest in Gemma. He ignores his promise to Jax to stay away from Gemma, then takes her to a graveyard to deal with his half-sister’s remains and introduces her to his young son. Some of Nero and Gemma’s scenes this week were actually touching and it’s clear that they love each other.
But Gemma loves her family more. For most of the episode, Gemma seemed to be trying to have it both ways. Nero on the side while she went after Clay. In the end, Gemma caved into Jax’s demands... only after getting assurances from Tara that she would be forgiven for nearly getting the kids killed.
Except Tara wasn’t very convincing, nor was Jax. They could simply be lying to Gemma about the promise of getting her family back with no intention of keeping their end of the bargain. It’s emotional blackmail at its worst. It also strikes me as something that Gemma and Clay would do to manipulate others.
Jax and Tara are very much alive for now. But we’ve watched their moral codes quickly erode this season. And it remains to be seen if they have been irrevocably changed by their experiences.