|Tig with Clay|
Friday, April 26, 2013
The title of this episode- "Better Half"- is fitting considering that the episode revolves around most of the "old ladys" associated with SAMCRO. There has always been the saying that the woman is the "better half" of a relationship, especially in terms of providing support and stability. The question heading into this episode was whether or not that phrase would hold true? We have seen in previous episodes that members of SAMCRO have been willing to go great lengths to protect the club and its members, sometimes sacrificing themselves (Otto) or relationships with their family (Opie) for the benefit of the club's mission and goals. This episode would help prove if in fact behind every good man is an even stronger lady.
|Luann and Gemma|
The first "old lady" who is tested this episode is Luann, Otto's wife. Luann runs the CaraCara porn studio, which was busted by government officials and she was taken out in handcuffs. For the purpose of this blog, I want to compare/contrast Luann's actions this episode with Cherry's, who recently became HalfSack's "old lady." Luann has been an "old lady" for many years and has dealt with Otto being in prison for a long period of time due to his arrests from actions with SAMCRO. Rather then seek retribution of hold anger against the club, Luann has dutifully continued to work with SAMCRO and support them whenever possible. While Luann remained in holding at the police station or her most recent arrest at CaraCara, she refused to give up any information related to SAMCRO even when pushed for details. Cherry on the other hand was also arrested, but her arrest was not related to SAMCRO. Cherry had apparently been married in Nevada and left her husband because he was abusive and burned down his house, which left her wanted for arrest. Cherry was much younger than Luann and the audience had the feeling throughout the episode that Cherry was not adequately prepared for the life of SAMCRO and the life that being an "old lady" entailed, even if she did pretend to have a hard exterior. This became even more clear when Jax and Opie were able to break into the police station at night and rescue Luann. Jax and Opie said at the time that they would "come back" for Cherry but Cherry responded that she "knows she would rat and she would make a deal."
|Cherry telling Gemma about her past|
Luann's loyalty to the club is even more apparent later in the episode. Government officials decide to use Otto as a way to try and get intel on SAMCRO, and so they offer to drop all charges against Luann- past and present- if Otto cooperates. Otto decides to agree, but he wants to see Luann before he signs off on the proposal. SAMCRO decides to allow Luann to visit Otto, where she takes the opportunity to inform him that the
government is trying to bring down
the entire club through the "RICO Act." Once again, Luann has risked
herself for the benefit of the club. Had she not said this to Otto, he likely
would have turned on the club and provided valuable information to the
government. Instead, knowing that all of Luanns charges have been dropped as
per their agreement, Otto hands Agent Stahl a piece of paper with information
from 1999. As she asks him to sign a contract to validate that information,
Otto grabs Stahl's head and smashes it into the table repeatedly. Stahl
escapes- barely and bloody- but without a signed testimony from Otto.
|Luann tells Otto about RICO Act|
|Gemma and Agent Stahl|
At the conclusion of the episode, viewers got a look at Agent Stahl as a broken woman-- even if it was momentary. The interesting aspect is that her character would seemingly be a perfect compliment to a member of SAMCRO. In essence, she would be a great "old lady." She is smart and cut-throat much like Gemma and has loyalty (in this case to her career) in the same way that Luann has loyalty for Otto and the club. It is certainly a stretch, but I think that one interesting aspect of this SAMCRO vs Stahl rivalry is the fact they would work well together since it's almost like looking into a mirror.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The success of many television shows typically stems from the connection that the audience has with the characters. Even though the characters may be fictional, they can still illicit emotional responses from us as viewers. We can feel their pain, sorrow, grief, and happiness just as if they were real people living next door. With just a few episodes left to review in Season One, I thought it would be fun to put together a blog showing some of the actors in Sons of Anarchy and the roles they played before capturing our attention as members of SAMCRO. Some actors/actresses-such as Katey Segal- are more famous and you may be more familiar with their prior credits (especially since they have already been addressed in this blog). Others will hopefully bring back some memories that may have been stored away from some time...
Jax (Charlie Hunnam)
Before "joining" SAMCRO in 2008, Hunnam played the role of Pete Dunham in Green Street Hooligans, a cult favorite that tells the story of a recently expelled Harvard student who moves to London and becomes engulfed in the underworld of football (soccer for those in the USA) fanhood. The one thing that both roles have in common: a lot of fighting
Clay (Ron Perlman)
Before becoming a leader and defender for SAMCRO as their President, Perlman stared in 2004's Hellboy about a demon who was rescued from the Nazis and becomes a defender against creatures and forces trying to overtake the world. While it's not as strenuous as possibly defending the world, Charming is still a difficult place to keep in order.
In 2000, Ryan Hurst played the role of Gary Bertier in Disney's Remember the Titans, which told the true story of racially integrating the football team at T.C. Williams High School in Virgina during the 1970s. Hurt clearly has a knack for playing roles as member of a teams- first as an All-American linebacker and now as a valued asset for SAMCRO.
Bobby (Mark Boone Junior)
Mark Boone Junior had had roles in Memento and other films, but he also played a corrupt cop attempting to "protect and serve" Gotham City in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. Boone Junior certainly didn't have to stay far from that role to play Bobby, another character that doesn't mind bending the law. It also looks like the only appearance change he had to make for Sons of Anarchy was growing his beard just a little bit longer.
Chibs (Tommy Flanagan)
Tommy Flanagan played the role of Cicero in Gladiator, which starred Russell Crowe. As Sons of Anarchy viewers, we are used to the scars that are so prevalent on Flanagan's face as he portrays Chibs. It is clear looking back at his previous roles that those scars are not simply the work of a makeup artist, as much as they do help develop his character in a pseudo "bad ass" - whether that be in Ancient Rome or in Charming.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Following the most dramatic episode of the entire first season, "Hell Followed" focuses on the theme of loyalty both inside SAMCRO and outside of SAMCRO. The episode specifically focuses on the loyalty of three individuals: Tara, Gemma and Clay.
The questioning of the dedication and loyalty of the first individual mentioned is obvious. Tara, by all accounts, is a respected medical professional with no history of violence despite her prior relationship with Jax when they were younger. Towards the start of this episode, the audience sees Tara stare at herself in the mirror and then break down crying. It is clear that the weight of Kohn's murder is weighing heavily on her, even though she was not the actual person that pulled the trigger. The fact that this break down happened in isolation lends me to believe that Tara is still trying to "fit in" with SAMCRO and show that she is a tough woman that can handle some of the "messiness" that may come with the territory of being associated with the Sons. While she may not have much of an alternative considering her role in Kohn's death, it does appear as though she is attempting to continue her loyalty to Jax and SAMCRO. This is backed up by the fact that Tara still agrees to visit the Sons of Anarchy clubhouse and continue treatment on Cameron Hayes, who was shot last episode in the assassination attempt on Clay. It could have been easy for Tara- especially after the traumatic experience of watching a man be murdered- to run away from SAMCRO immediately after Kohn's murder. This could have been especially easy considering that Jax- while likely heartbroken if she left- would never have let SAMCRO or anyone else hurt Tara for not uniting herself with the club anymore. However, that is not the action that she took. Instead, she almost transformed into a mini version of Gemma, who comes off as one of the strongest women out there despite the various tragedies and difficult times she has lived through (losing her first husband, John Teller, as an example). It will be interesting to see how Kohn's murder continues to shape Tara moving forward. Will she run away from SAMCRO or will she accept her role and become more like Gemma? My bet is on the latter, especially considering how well developed and involved her character has already become with Jax and the rest of the club.
|Bobby shoots the Port Commissioner|
The second individual whose loyalty was featured in "Hell Followed" was Opie. Through prior episodes, we know that Opie spent time in prison for actions sanctioned by SAMCRO, and throughout that time he failed to provide law enforcement with any information incriminating the club. Nevertheless, SAMCRO has had some internal questions about Opie's ability to "handle" some of the more violent and cut-throat aspects of the business. Opie himself has gone back-and-forth trying to balance SAMCRO with his family's wishes, who would prefer that he choose to be an "honest" man instead of associating with the club. Despite these hesitations, Opie seems to have made up his mind in "Hell Followed" and wants to prove to the club that he is a committed member of SAMCRO. After Cameron Hayes regains consciousness from his wounds, he asks SAMCRO to murder a Port Commissioner that is a threat to "blow the whistle" on the IRA and their gun shipments. Opie seizes this instance as an opportunity to gain the club's trust and volunteers- along with Bobby and Jax- to take care of the Port Commissioner. After SAMCRO gains the necessary intelligence, they find the Port Commissioner at a motel where Opie confronts him with a gun. However, Opie pauses and is unable to pull the trigger, forcing Bobby to shoot the victim multiple times in the stomach before the three flee the scene of the crime. The hesitation by Opie shows the lack of confidence that he currently has. It could be due to the fact he's been away from SAMCRO and their "ways" for so long, or it could be the guilt that he is choosing this life even though his wife does not approve. Either way, Opie's face and words are that of a man loyal to SAMCRO, but his actions are not telling the same story. Of course, this is reminiscent of the dilemmas that Jax has found himself in over the last few episodes as well. The question is how will Opie handle these issues moving forward? As loyal as Opie may have been while in prison, SAMCRO is not exactly an organization that thrives on patience, especially with regards to their business ventures and business decisions.
|Unser and Clay|
|Alvarez (with Clay) brokering a deal|
The final individual whose actions focus around loyalty is Clay. Now I know what you are thinking- how can you question the loyalty of the leader of SAMCRO? While Clay's actions may not be the most morally acceptable, and may even make audiences angry because of the way they affect certain members of SAMCRO (i.e. Jax), it is hard to argue that Clay has made any decisions that might hinder the club in its entirety. In "Hell
Followed", Clay asks Chief Unser to summon Alvarez to the police station, so the head of SAMCRO and the Mayans can have a discussion sans bloodbath. This is obviously an interesting tactic, considering Alvarez recently tried to have Clay assassinated, but it once again proves Clay's willingness and desire to limit the bloodshed in Charming. Once Alvarez is brought into the police station, he is obviously surprised to see his nemesis standing before him. However, the two discuss business and strike a deal that allows the Mayans to purchase weapons from SAMCRO in return for an end of all disputes among all charters of the Sons and Mayans. So, what does this have to do with Clay and loyalty? For one, this agreement with the Mayans breaks any bond that Clay may have established with the One-Niners, who SAMCRO used to sell exclusively too. Secondly, a decision of this magnitude is typically voted on by all members of SAMCRO. With Clay taking it upon himself to strike this agreement, there is likely to be some backlash and second-guessing from members who would have liked to have been privy to the negotiations. With a club that already has shown signs of fraction among its ranks, specifically with regards to Jax and Clay, it will be interesting to see how this "deal" plays a role (if any) in either repairing or further fracturing the relationship between the two leaders.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
With only four episodes left in season one, "The Pull" finally brought to fruition developments in all the story lines that have been dangling along the audience for the past seven episodes: SAMCRO vs the Mayans/Darby, Jax's deveotion to SAMCRO, the health of Jack's baby, and the love triangle of Jax/Tara/Agent Kohn.
|Mayan leader with Darby|
This blog has chronicled the battles that have gone out with SAMCRO and the Mayans, from warehouses being torched to weapon distribution, the hatred between the two groups is obvious. In this episode, Darby receives the FBI file from Agent Kohn, who is apparently on his way out of down after his "dustup" with Jax and the Charming sheriffs. The file details the connection between SAMCRO and the IRA, specifically the arrangements regarding transporting weapons to and from Ireland. Darby meets with the Mayans and agrees to hand over this sensitive information in return for one thing: the murder of Clay. Apparently, Darby wants to control Charming and believes that the group would fall apart without its leader. Personally, I don't see Darby's rationale at all. SAMCRO has been around for dozens of years and has motorcycle chapters in various cities and states. How would the murder of one individual- no matter how important that individual may be- affect the larger scale organization? Would the Catholic Church dissolve if anything happened to the Pope? Do companies immediately fold if their CEO changes hands? It seems as if Darby's goals are far-reaching, but then again he is a neo-Nazi who isn't the smartest of the bunch. Plus, can you imagine a guy who looks like this having a real impact- illegal or not- on a city called Charming?
Darby's perfect plan inevitably backfires on him, when the Mayans send out a hit team to murder Clay AND a hit team to murder Darby. If I could see that one coming- Darby probably should have to, right? Anyway, both murder attempts fail as Darby successfully survives a shooting at his house and Clay survives a shooting at a local bar. The only "casualty" is one of Clay's business partners, Cameron Hayes, who is a representative of the IRA and was present to ensure their business was proceeding as planned. Hayes did not die, although he was shot multiple times in the....ugh.....butt....rear.....backside (whatever you want to call it). These attempted assassinations will clearly be major parts of the plot lines moving forward. In the same way as The Sopranos often had "eye for an eye" moments, it will be impossible for Clay and SAMCRO to sit back after the Mayans (who they clearly knew were behind it) attempted to take out a member of their own.
While "The Pull" did not provide much information as to HOW Clay plans to exact revenge, the episode did- for the FIRST time- showcase dialogue among SAMCRO members openly questioning Jax's devotion to the club. After the assassination attempt, Jax wanted to ensure that the club was processing all options and being smart about retaliating. While Jax was
level-headed than the others, I suppose its hard to criticize
a motorcycle gang for wanting to get revenge quickly and painfully.
Along those lines, Tig openly asked Clay if Jax "had the balls to go out
for blood" and even Clay himself had to ask Jax if he was "with
him." Again, there have been many scenes where Clay, Gemma and even some
other members of SAMCRO have reacted quizzically to some of the comments and
actions of Jax. However, to actually have Tig share his concerns with Clay, and
to have Clay openly question Jax may open a Pandora's Box as we move
towards the season finale. The question is will that Pandora's Box also
cause dissension in the ranks and possibly create questions about the
|Jax and Clay|
A smaller story line that I want to touch on is the status of Jax's baby- Abel. Abel had been in the hospital since the beginning episode, but finally came out of the incubation chamber in
this episode. So, what importance does a baby have
on a show about a motorcycle gang? One can argue that Abel is the reason why
Jax is having a struggle with this conscience. Has being a father now been the
aspect of his life that is pushing him away from the violent nature of other
members of SAMCRO? I believe so. Therefore, will Abel now being out of the
incubation chamber and actually in his arms make Jax strive to further his
beliefs and opinions on the club?
|Abel out of the incubation chamber|
Finally, another aspect of Jax's "family" saw her situation take an immediate turn. There has been flirtations with Jax and Tara over the last couple episodes that I have detailed on this blog. Tara and Jax used to date before Tara "broke his heart" (according to Gemma), but it still appears as if that spark exists between the two of them. At the conclusion of this episode,
Tara returned home when she was confronted in her bedroom by Agent
Kohn (I just KNEW he couldn't have left that easily!) who attempts to seduce
her. Tara plays along with him because she has no other alternative, until she
sees and opening to grab his gun and shoots him in the stomach. Frightened, she
calls Jax who shows up at Tara's apartment and notices Kohn on the ground
bleeding. Jax explains that Kohn may go to jail for breaking into her
apartment, but that he will always follow her. At that point, Kohn looks at
Tara and says "Once a biker slut...always a..." before Jax turns and
shoots Kohn in the head. As Tara screams at what she witnessed,
she embraces Jax and stares into his eyes. The two begin having sex
on her bed, with the lifeless body of Agent Kohn laying in a pool of blood on
the floor next to them.
|Jax shoots Agent Kohn|
Two things from this final sequence. The first is that Jax showed his violent side that was often questioned by other members of SAMCRO. In the first episode of the season, Jax struggles to shoot one of the Mayans and only does so as a last resort. In this case, Jax showed confidence and desire to kill the man that was stalking Tara. Secondly, will the last words uttered by Kohn- "Once a biker slut..always a" ring true as the season progresses? Will Tara and Jax get together, especially after their passionate scene at the conclusion of the episode? It is clear that Jax has feelings for Tara, and with Abel out of the incubator chamber, will Jax attempt to complete a family (especially since his ex-wife and Abel's mother has not been seen in the last few episodes)?
I guess we have to wait and see....
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
I want to take a short hiatus from blogging about Season One to focus on other aspects of Sons of Anarchy that exist in popular culture. With a new season on the way, Sons of Anarchy has long been a presence in the clothing industry with various lines of Sons of Anarchy Apparel. However, one article that I read from late last year broaches the idea that Sons of Anarchy could infiltrate another popular market: video games. According to this article , Kurt Sutter is attempting to partner with Rockstar Games to create and produce the video games. To be frank, the tone of the article is not positive and it does not appear likely that a game will hit the market any time soon (if one does hit the market at all). However, the concept of a Sons of Anarchy video game is intriguing, especially considering that Rockstar is famous for edgy and crime-laden games such as Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. I believe that Rockstar's notoriety in the video game field and the Sons of Anarchy brand has an opportunity to be successful partnership. Imagine seeing Jax like this:
The concept of turning movies or television shows into video games certainly isn't unique. Check out this list of television shows that were adapted into video games. It is certainly a comprehensive list, and some were more successful than others with the transition. I know this is a Sons of Anarchy blog so there likely will be some bias, but what do you think about a possible Sons of Anarchy video game? What are some roadblocks or concerns that you could envision?