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'Sons of Anarchy' Season 4, Episode 4 Recap

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 27th 2011 11:00PM
['Sons of Anarchy' - 'Una Venta']

We hear the word "patch" a lot on 'Sons of Anarchy,' and it's interesting to think about how its various meanings are applicable to the current state of the club.

Of course, to wear the SAMCRO patch means that you're a fully vested member of the club. But there are deep divisions within the club, as well as differences of opinion and temporary alliances with various non-member too.

'Una Venta' did a good job of showing us how those problems have been patched over, but underneath that temporary fix, things are really starting to fester.

We got to meet another chapter, this time the club's Arizona outpost, and forgive me if I hope it's not SAMCRO's only trip to the Southwest. Given all the talk of meth cooking and all those wide open spaces, 'Una Vente' made me long for an 'Sons of Anarchy' - 'Breaking Bad' crossover. Who wouldn't like to see Gus Fring meet Clay Morrow? Or, better yet, Gemma? That would be some epic TV.

But what we got this week was certainly nothing to sneeze at. Through SAMTAZ, the fissures in SAMCRO were intriguingly echoed and amplified, and though things didn't quite boil over among the Men of Mayhem, we have to know that some big confrontations are coming. Piney is so willing to question his status quo that he's fine with risking his life to do so (even a veiled threat from Gemma didn't make him back off his effort to undermine Clay).

And Bobby is now the conscience of the club, the only one with the standing and the longevity to truly challenge Clay. That makes me wonder -- could Bobby's life be in danger at some point down the road? After all, the SAMTAZ club member who opposed those who wanted to use that club for "their own ends" ended up dead. Isn't that a pretty perfect description of what Clay and Jax are doing -- using SAMCRO to their own ends and rigging a vote in order to do it? People who live in glass houses...

Bobby hasn't fully rebelled yet, but the episode convincingly built to that powerful final scene, in which the entire club had to confront their new reality -- they are now coke mules. They're operating at a much more dangerous, difficult level, and even their supposed allies are willing to view their arrangement as temporary.

The club from Charming saw for themselves how a taste for drug money ripped apart the SAMTAZ chapter. Big money means higher stakes -- and sometimes, a new place in the pecking order. For a man who's used to being obeyed, this season is all about big lessons in hierarchy for Clay.

He and Jax efficiently uncovered the SAMTAZ chapter's dirty laundry -- but he needed Jax's help to do it (as he needs his stepson's and his wife's help to even ride, given his hand problems). But the meth selling is going to continue, even after the Arizona club members came clean about their plotting regarding that drug vote. Clay isn't his own boss any more, not really; he certainly can't rule SAMTAZ with an iron fist. But that's only one of the ways in which he's losing his grip.

The club works for the cartel now, and, as we saw this week, that is a big, scary machine in which they are really just tiny cogs. Clay's alliance with Romeo and his crew is a thing of convenience that could be discarded at Romeo's whim, just as the alliance with Jax something that is purely practical and not based on truly shared goals. Everything is precarious and could blow up at any time (not unlike Piney's ticker).

Piney's putting his cards on the table now, with both Gemma and Tara, but, like Bobby, Gemma is keeping a lid on her feelings about what the club is doing, more or less. Still, I liked the way 'Una Venta' showed that she, in her own way, let Clay know she wasn't happy about their altercation before the vote. They both decided to let it go this time, but what about the next time, and the time after that? Gemma's trying to support Clay all she can, but she can't do it all on her own -- and if he pushes her around, literally or metaphorically, he could be even more isolated.

Trouble is, every time either Clay or Gemma try to deal with one issue, another problem crops up. There are a lot a parallels to 'Breaking Bad' this season, in that we've got two guys trying to "make bank" and get out alive, with their families intact. Given the intelligence and tenacity of the club's enemies this season -- and the power and brutality of their temporary allies -- the likelihood of them being able to achieve that goal seems to shrink, just as it has for Walter White.

Like Gus Fring, prosecutor Lincoln Potter is a very scary and resourceful character. Whether it's buddying up to Gemma, getting intel on the cartel's players or approaching Big Otto in prison, he's relentless in coming up with ways to get at the club. What a great character Potter is turning out to be. I love his weird, obsessive glances, his odd presence and the way he danced on the conference table (or whatever that little shimmy was). Ray McKinnon is an excellent addition to the cast, there's no doubt of that. (As I said on Twitter, he's replaced 'Boardwalk Empire's' Agent Van Alden as my favorite weird Fed on TV.) They've got a lot on their plate already, but the fact is, SAMCRO doesn't even know what they're up against. Just as the cartel does, Potter has a big machine behind him, one that could crush SAMCRO without a second thought.

Speaking of those encounters at the flower shop, what's Gemma's angle with the sheriff's wife? Is she trying to influence the woman so her husband will go easier on the club? Mrs. Roosevelt made it clear that she's her own woman and not about to be intimidated by Gemma, but Gemma kept going back to the shop.

Maybe she really does want to save the local gardens. I suppose Gemma could be operating from an altruistic place for once. But somehow I doubt it. In any case, there's no doubt that everyone else has an angle.

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It is amazing how thoughtfully Sutter and Co. craft their stories. Personally, I am very intrigued by this odd alliance between Gemma and the Sheriff's wife (cannot remember her name; was it a flower?) and indirectly involving Tara. They both seem like two strong-minded women and I wonder how this new connection will play out, because there's definitely more to it than preserving the gardens.

Also, the fact that Lincoln Potter is a biker himself adds another dimension to the conflict - there must be a reason for that and I do hope it'll be revealed later in the season. I did miss Opie in this episode - where the heck was he? - and how would he react to the trouble at SAMTAZ? Will his thinking align with Piney's? I really would like to see him play more of a role in the new club dynamic.

The Club's enemies are frightening this season, just totally bad-ass, & things can go wrong so badly in so many different ways for the Sons! There is a definite possibility that not all of them will survive this season (is there a poll yet?). The nail-biting drama is killing me!

September 29 2011 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave L

I just want to say that while I love the show, I wish they would do something with Gemma other then
1 - snoop through people's stuff, and
2 - walk in on people talking and look suspicious because they stop talking when she comes in

She does have a knack for knowing when to come in a room though.

September 29 2011 at 9:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The opening sequence with a Spanish version of Bob Dylan's "The Time They Are A Changin'" was a nice touch.

Clay is slipping fast on all fronts. Multiple shots of cortisone to keep his grip on the bike, multiple shots at Bobby and SAMTAZ to keep his grip on the club. Neither seem to really be helping a lot.

The parallels between SAMCRO and SAMTAZ seem a bit heavy handed -- both getting into drugs under based on lies, leaders sleeping with other members old ladies, both getting a taste for the money and perks that come from dealing -- and both looking to lose a lot of members as a result. Pretty clear this won't end well.

Anybody want to start a pool on who doesn't make it to the end of the season? If SAMCRO follows SAMTAZ's path and loses 1/3rd of its members, my guess for who goes would be Clay, Jax, Bobby and Piney. Clay gunned down, Bobby drummed out, Piney in a pine box, and Jax riding off into the sunrise.

Miss Juice, the upside down picture on the wall looked a lot like Federal Agent Potter, but it was actually the SAMTAZ guy who quit to become a pet store owner. I had to freeze-frame the TIVO and nearly stand on my head to be sure, but it's definitely not Potter. Too bad, because that could have been an interesting plotline.

September 28 2011 at 7:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Smartypants's comment
G Smith

My big ? was what Gemma was up to with the flowers and the garden stuff too. Will be interesting to see what her angle is.

September 28 2011 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to G Smith's comment
miss juice

Gemma does have one hell of a pot farm growing in her house, maybe if she enlists the help of Mrs Roosevelt it's more leverage to use to down the road, ie she had to know that Gemma was growing.
So if anything happens to SAMCRO or Gemma out comes the leverage, which why Tara is on the board but not Gemma

September 28 2011 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank God the crew is back in Charming. This season is already infinitely better than last season's (which, you could argue, may have been necessary for explaining some of the back story.) And you're right, Maureen, the tension within the club is the best part of the show. I find myself rooting for Piney and Bobby, but know that, in the end, a deadly fate likely awaits one or both of them. Clay definitely is "losing his grip." That was a nice metaphor. This episode showed his extreme hypocrisy and arrogance.

September 28 2011 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
miss juice

Anyone else notice that Lincoln Potter was on SAMTAZ's wall upside down? Or that the member of SAMTAZ that died was blown up with no witness's, and the scene of his dancing on the table was a direct giveaway, ie dance before the devil knows your dead.
If Potter was involved in getting SAMTAZ to deal drugs, it is going to be very difficult to get any kind of RICO charges to stick (entrapment). Also the parallel of what happened at SAMTAZ with Bobby Elvis sleeping with Big Otto's wife. There is no way Bobby Elvis killed her, but Potter is desperate to break the ranks. He'd better be careful too, as entrapment is a dirty word in law enforcement. He is on the take, you just wonder who's?

As far as Gemma and Mrs Roosevelt go, they have a common goal, albeit for different reasons. If Charming Heights gets built the SAMCRO will never regain control of Charming. Mrs Roosevelt, sees it as destroying nature for new homes. And Gemma is not stupid either, she knows if she can make friendly with Mrs Roosevelt it may help her down the road.

Piney has wanted to kill himself since the end of Season 1. I am beginning to wonder if this play is for "suicide by Clay" because Piney cannot pull the trigger. Then what will happen to Opie, he's already lost Donna what kind of crazy will rain down when the Clay kills his dad?
Piney is operating from a better place than most. He wants to help Jax and Tara. Piney wanted Jax to get out in Season 1, he gave Jax that diary to try and change his mind about the club and "the life". He knows the deal Clay and Jax have going, even if he doesn't admit it. He, like Chibs, Juice, Bobby and Happy knows that there is only one way this ends - BADLY.
Frankly I think Piney is trying to get Tara to tell him what she knows, because he knows that Clay wouldn't blink an eye to kill her, nor would Gemma, or Tig for that matter. Army ants are very protective and Piney has always been very protective when it comes to the ladies, even Gemma. And Piney is the one with the least to lose. I think he's rather out what happened to John Teller than having Tara do it and risk the blowback.

The patch = the only thing that protects you from the other club members. The ladies do not have a patch, but it doesn't mean that Piney won't try to protect them (as will Chibs)

Lastly, and sorry for such a long post, has anyone noticed how much Potter looks like John Teller????

September 28 2011 at 10:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to miss juice's comment
Jason Zerby

Any body know the title of the track at the end of the episode?

September 28 2011 at 3:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jason Zerby's comment
miss juice

Jason, FX hasn't updated the website, yet, but it should be there later in the week. I've been checking but I haven't been able to find the song for you, yet.
If I do find, I'll hit you back again with a link. Usually the SOA songs show up on youtube too.

September 28 2011 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Potter has become one of my favorite characters as well, Mo. The show definitely seems back on track after that (shudder) Season 3.

September 28 2011 at 2:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
O Nikos

WOW, first unbiased review of the year! Cool. :)

September 27 2011 at 11:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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