Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Season One: Episode 9- "Hell Followed"

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. 

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