Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Season One: Episode Four- "Patch Over"

        Many of the episodes of Sons of Anarchy that I have reviewed so far have revolved around the theme of power. SAMCRO has shown the power that they exert against law enforcement in Charming, the power in numbers that they have a close knit group, and the power in loyalty that they have when uniting against their enemies. However, this episode is more about dominance than simply power. As the episode kicks off,  SAMCRO receives word that a federal agent has come to Charming to investigate the gang for their potential involvement in interstate gun smuggling (the side plot is that this agent also used to be romantically involved with Tara, who is currently the nurse looking after Jax's newborn son and also Jax's former lover). With the federal government on their turf, SAMCRO contemplates methods to hide their gun arsenal until any investigation is complete. Jax recommends that SAMCRO reach out to the Devil's Tribe, a biker gang in Nevada whose leader- Jury - was an old friend of Jax's father. 
        As Jax and Bobby ride north to meet with Jury about their assistance with storing the guns, Jax receives a call from Clay about a "Patch Over." The audience knows nothing about what a "Patch Over" would entail, and the show keeps us in the dark about its meaning for a period of time. It took a great deal of patience on my part not to Google the meaning of the term, keeping faith that the producers of the show would provide us further insight. The only hint that the audience received was from the emotion of the characters, with Jax clearly upset by this "Patch Over"  and Clay remaining stern in his stance that a "Patch Over" was necessary. 

       As Jax meets with Jury on his home turf in Nevada, the revelation as to what a "Patch Over" is starts coming to light. Jax mentions the phrase to Jury whose facial and body expressions immediately change. In essence, the Devil's Tribe is no longer a sustainable presence due to their rivalry with the Mayans and other outside threats. Instead of offering to assist the Devil's Tribe with their troubles and unite as allies, the Sons of Anarchy are enveloping the Devil's Tribe and turning them into a Sons of Anarchy chapter. In essence, the Devil's Tribe ceases to exist and their complete alliance lies with the Sons of Anarchy brotherhood  as showcased when Jury took off his biker vest and put on the Sons of Anarchy vest. This action showed that sense of dominance that SAMCRO has in the community and neighboring districts. A move of power might have been to show all of the resources that SAMCRO has at their disposal and use those resources to strengthen their bond with the Devil's Tribe. However, instead of exerting an action of loyalty and respect, SAMCRO made the Devil's Tribe members feel as though their situation was weak and hopeless, and that the only course of action was to surrender the name and brand that they had spent years building. This is a similar situation that you might see in corporate takeovers, but was unusual to see with biker gangs. In the same way that Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia in the banking industry,  SAMCRO engulfed the Devil's Tribe and its members.  

Jax "patching over" Jury with a SAMCRO vest
        The other aspect of dominance portrayed in this episode revolves around the treatment of women. When Jax and the other members of SAMCRO meet with Jury and the (formerly) Devil's Tribe at their local hangout, the women are shown to be either hookers or groupies. One of the local women, Cherry, has been affiliated with the Devil's Tribe for years and she hopes that she will one day become one of their "old ladies." When a women becomes an "old lady," she is no longer on the market for other men within the gang or outside the gang. Cherry strikes up a conversation with Half-Sack, a low ranking member of SAMCRO and genuinely seems to like him. However, she is summoned by Clay who obviously outranks Half-Sack and proceeds to sleep with him. Additionally, Jax meets a blonde women at a gas station and takes her to the local hangout where he proceeds to sleep with her as well. In this episode, women are seen as merely objects. Both Cherry and the blonde woman that Jax sleeps with seem to have genuine feelings for their respective men, but their actions are dictated by the leaders of the biker gangs. Rather than stand up for themselves of their feelings, they answer to the gangs with the hope of eventually becoming an "old lady." In the meantime, they are nothing more than waitresses and sex slaves for the members of the club. Once again, SAMCRO and other biker gangs in the region exert their dominance over women, who have no other alternative but to associate themselves with the groups. This is only further evidenced towards the conclusion of the episode when one of the bikers as Jax- "I thought that girl was with you"- when the blonde girl was near the bar. Jax simply replied- "Na, she is just some girl" which shows the blatant disrespect that many of the members have for women. 
Half Sack and Cherry

        While dominance continued to be the theme of this episode, there is one underlying plot line that came to the forefront that challenged that plot line. When Bobby and Jax were together heading to meet Jury, Bobby mentioned that Jax "has often second guessed Clay and that other members of the club were catching on to it." As I've mentioned in multiple posts, Jax has been consistently reading his father's memoirs and noticing that SAMCRO is not how his father envisioned it. While Jax has made decisions that audience members know might have went against Clay's initial wishes, this is the first time that another member of SAMCRO has brought it to the forefront. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Jax was not initially pleased with the decision to "Patch Over" Jury and his gang. Jax was concerned about how Jury and his crew would be able to handle the Mayans if they were to instigate the Devil's Tribe. While Clay brushed off this notion, Jax went out of his way to instigate the Mayans on his own and lead them back to the Devil's Tribe hangout where SAMCRO and the "new" SAMCRO were at. After a firefight ensued, Clay had no choice but to leave support for Jury and his men since they were now part of the SAMCRO family. Jax's blatant actions to force Clay's hand was unknown to the other members, but it further shows how heavily Jax's conscience continues to weight on him.  Will this difference in conscience between Jax and Clay become an issue as the season progresses? Will there be any tension or division among the ranks? We'll have to see, but what do you all think? 

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