Review: Sons of Anarchy - Culling
by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 25th 2009 11:16PM
(S02E12) "Either you or me goes home in a bag." - Jax to A.J.
The showdown we've been waiting all season to see finally happened tonight and even though it didn't end the way the antagonists deserved (i.e. heads removed where the shoulder meets the neck, placed on a stick and paraded around town on a substandard Japanese import), it still had my head spinning.
The show opens with SAMCRO preparing for their big, inevitable smackdown with the League by keeping all of their loved ones under lock and key at the clubhouse. But instead of just jumping into the fray head first with baseball bats twisted in barb-wire and all, they do what they should have done from the beginning: they plotted and planned. They turned the tables on the League and by doing so, turned the League on each other.
The easiest screw to loosen in this IKEA coffee table of evil is AJ, Zobelle's big dumb guard dog, which is a compliment at this stage. SAMCRO could have tossed the dumb racist lug a big, marbled piece of meat and he would have turned on Zobelle like a Sit 'n' Spin. Henry Rollins has done a great job as AJ on this season and brought a bold fierceness to the character that no one else could, but the character is very one-dimensional and single-minded in purpose. Simply hinting at Zobelle's working with a non-Caucasian affiliation would send the man to Defcon 1.
But on the polar opposite of the character changing scale lies Tara, a doctor who went from a gentle healer to a bigger face kicking badass than Gemma. Tara put that nosy administrator in her place by finally introducing her fist to her face and using the air of the club to get her off of her back. Something tells me it may not be once and for all.
Then after some scheming with the Niners and the Asians, Special Agent Stahl returns to exact the revenge she vowed to way back in season one, only to end up with more egg on her face than the opening band of an Air Supply reunion show. This not only gave the club a chance to get that pesky agent off of their collective back, but also the Irish gun runner who's been scheming with the League all this time.
It seems all the club's anti-dominoes are falling nicely until the very end and what an ending. It fulfilled both my inner need for wanton face beating and controlled justice for AJ without resorting to total annihilation. The two sides break out in a big Altamont style fist fight with AJ getting hauled away for arson by Hale after he's fingered by J.O. Hey, don't want me to do a stupid pun? Then don't dangle it in front of me.
But just as things seem to be going the club's way and they literally have Zobelle in their gun sights, Hale has to ruin the whole mess by remembering he's a cop and busting the club for taking justice into their own hands. Zobelle's save was also genius and sets up the final episode of the season for an even greater final showdown. If you aren't drooling over the big final 90 minute episode, check your neck for a pulse.
Some other observations:
- I was glad to see that Gemma's religious conversation hasn't completely overtaken her. That's not to say it won't happen but it's serving as an interesting and introspective guide to her personality and her character.
- The tension for this whole episode was just amazing. It had the right amount of slow, steady climax that you expect from a show and it peaked when Tig went face first into that League member and ripped his ear off with his bare teeth.
- Was anybody else as psyched as I was to spot the Kenny Johnson cameo as Tig's in-club rival? This is a pipe dream, but a cameo reunion of the entire Strike Team would be an awesome Christmas present or if you want, you can save it for my birthday (May 9th).