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'Sons of Anarchy' Season 4, Episode 9 Recap

by Maureen Ryan, posted Nov 1st 2011 11:00PM
['Sons of Anarchy' - 'Kiss']

Oh, Jax. You stepped up and showed some very savvy leadership in this episode. Much of what was good about 'Kiss' stemmed from Charlie Hunnam's terrific performance and from the ways in which the episode showed that Clay isn't just reckless these days, he's also not a good leader for the club. Jax is clearly the right man for these troubled times.

But does Jax really think a sitdown with the Irish, the cartel and the club is just one of "a few details" he has to take care of, a simple errand to be disposed of quickly? Has he learned nothing from being involved in the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club since he was knee-high to a Harley?

Jax is a smart man, but he was far too optimistic in how he sold his quick exit from SAMCRO to Tara. Maybe he was just trying to give his old lady a bit of good news, and maybe he's fully aware that his exit won't be nearly as trouble-free as he makes it sound. But it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the club's dealings with the Irish and the cartel will go south in some way, or rather, lots of ways. No doubt the club's various business dealings will get even more Byzantine and dangerous as the end of the season approaches.

At this stage, though, Jax may simply need to believe he can get away clean. A lot of this episode and the season as a whole have shown people trying to talk themselves into difficult ideas, and I can understand why season 4's resolute Jax might believe he can pull off an exit from the club. But I'm not always sure the show has convinced me that other actions, particularly Clay's, were inevitable.

Now that Piney's dead and Tara's unlikely to raise the issues discussed in the letters, why is Clay still taking out a hit on her? Certainly we were led to believe that's what Clay was doing in that final phone call to Romeo's hitman. Maybe the hit will be rescinded, just as the show backed away from killing Juice. But I'm betting the plan to kill Tara goes forward, but somehow Jax is able to prevent her death.

Here's the thing about Clay and those endlessly discussed letters: They're functioning a little like Abel did in season 3, in that all the plot points that revolve around them don't seem quite real. Abel wasn't a person I truly knew or I cared about, so it was hard to be drawn deeply to the idea saving him. Similarly, this season, the letters are a theoretical problem, and I find it hard to believe that the ingenious Clay wouldn't find a way to suppress them or rebut their contents.

So the letters feel remote and less than concrete, but Tara is a living, breathing person I see on my screen every week. She's very real, and her life and what she means to Jax carries much more weight than a few scraps of paper. For those reasons, I need to be extra-convinced of the need to to take her out. Is killing her an inevitable thing that Clay simply must do? So far, I don't see it.

And obviously, the risk that Clay runs by putting out a hit on Jax's old lady is huge. Even if Tara doesn't die, if Jax finds out about what Clay planned and doesn't kill him, then the show loses credibility. And regardless, given that the audience knows who Clay really is and what he wanted to do, where does the show take him from here? How can he remain someone whose goals we can get behind, even partly? I worry that the show is burning through the character's usefulness for a cause that doesn't fully make sense to me. I understand that the show thrives on Jax-Clay conflict, but this one seems more than a little manufactured.

As I've said before, though, we'll have to see how the endgame plays out to know the answers to all these questions (though Clay's long-term viability as a character is already very much an open question). One thing I keep wondering is whether Jax and Clay will be forced into an alliance by something that happened at the start of the season but hasn't been referred to much since: The murder of the undercover agent in the season premiere. The killing of a federal agent means serious time, if not a potential death sentence, and that's before you add in all the club's other crimes. I can't say exactly how, but I have a feeling that the death of that agent will somehow play into what goes down between Clay and Jax when season 4 comes to a close. I wonder if they'll be forced into an alliance of some kind, one that may not hold for long.

Juice, unfortunately, got a sense of what the club is up against, at least in terms of law enforcement. Theo Rossi was terrific in the scene in which Potter showed him the RICO room. Every time he thinks his life can't get worse, poor Juice is finds out things can get more horrendous. And Ray McKinnon was equally excellent in the scene in which Potter tried his own clammy form of seduction on the Juice man. I don't see how Juice can turn down Potter's offer (it's either that or find a stronger tree to hang himself from), but he'd be unwise to believe anything Potter says, given that the fed is clearly willing to sell out anyone and everyone to achieve his goals.

It was interesting to hear Potter reveal that he's only interested in the Irish (if that's actually true). The thing is, I can see Potter's side in all this, and if he's a ruthless man, he has good reasons for his cold, pragmatic actions. If he's trying to stop the cartels from getting WMDs, that's a goal I can get behind; we saw some serious firepower on display in the confrontation with Lobo Sonora, and that is very far from the world that the Sons are used to. Clay isn't just playing with fire, he's playing with rocket launchers, for God's sake.* If they knew what Potter was up to, no doubt the good people of Charming would be fully behind his actions.

[* I don't know if that was a rocket launcher; if you know what kind of hardware blew that giant hole in the warehouse wall, do tell in comments.]

Potter's attempts to turn Juice and Otto were both excellent moments, but my favorite scenes by far showed Jax handling the Niners and the club's restive Galindo "allies." Clay's willingness to bend to whatever the cartel wants is actually a terrible strategy; he thinks he's that by unquestioningly doing Galindo's bidding, he's can ensure the club's safety and (more importantly) their paydays, but Jax is right: Galindo may rule its territory south of the border, but they can't realistically intimidate and scare away all the potential allies and distributors in SAMCRO's world. Jax sees the bigger picture much more clearly than Clay does, which is why Bobby was right when he called him the best possible leader for the club. Too bad Jax has come into his own as SAMCRO's leader just when he's trying hardest to get out.

But, like the man said, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." I won't be surprised if that's Jax's fate. He told Bobby he thinks he can change, but will the club -- will Clay -- let him? It doesn't seem likely.

A few final notes:

* I wrote last week that Chibs, after he found a distraught Juice, had probably guessed that there was something hincky about the theft of the coke and death of Miles. Apparently not -- none of that came up in this week's episode. I find it a little hard to believe that Chibs hasn't voiced any suspicions about any of those things, to Juice or anyone else. Anyone else struck by Chibs buying Juice's story at face value -- that the suicide attempt came about because he was upset about Miles' death, etc?

* Perhaps it's time to update the death pool. Is Tara or Chibs in yours? Can you picture Juice killing Chibs if Chibs figured out any of Juice's secrets?

* There's foreshadowing, then there's telegraphing things so strongly that it's not hard to predict where a certain story line will go, and there's been quite a bit of the latter this season. Last week, Piney's location was broadcast to one and all, and this week, we heard a few times about Tara's trip to Oregon. And once Clay promised Gemma that he'd leave Tara alone, I was sure he'd pick up the phone to call the hitman. Now Clay has lied to absolutely everyone. And, should anyone find out about what he's done, he should fear Gemma more than Jax, especially if one of her grandsons is hurt.

* The show has so many characters that it sometimes can't lavish a lot of attention on some of my favorite actors, but Dayton Callie was amazing in his scene with Gemma. Unser knew Gemma's kiss was a purely manipulative act, but he couldn't help being thrown by it, given his deep and complicated feelings about her. He went along with Gemma's plan to cover up the true identity of Piney's murderer not just because of the kiss, but because he threw in his lot with Gemma and Clay a long time ago, and he can't undo that course of action now. Callie did a pitch-perfect job of conveying Unser's feelings of resignation and the sad clarity he had even in that bewildering moment.

* It felt a little weird for only a few characters to know that Piney's dead. I'm expecting even more hell to break loose when the club finds out and Lobo Sonora gets the blame.

* What are the odds of Potter turning Big Otto? Given that Kurt Sutter plays the character, my guess is that Otto tells Potter to go [expletive] himself.

* "Our hands are just as bloody as Clay's." Keep telling yourself that, Gemma. But Unser or Gemma would have never pulled the trigger on the old man.

* I can't overpraise Charlie Hunnam's great work this season as a commanding Jax. It's not easy to make Clay flinch, but Jax did so in his final confrontation with the club president in the boardroom.

* The Jax-Tara photo you see here must have come from a scene that was cut, but I had to include it here for the fans of the couple.

* Ray McKinnon and Rockmond Dunbar are so good that I'd love it if we saw more of them, and I'm betting that as the end of the season approaches, the lawmen will get more to do. There appears to be quite a bit of lawbreaking in the Sons' future.

'Sons of Anarchy' airs 10PM ET Tuesdays on FX.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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Sal C

Hi Maureen. Love the blog had a thought on how the next few episodes turn out:

The preview for the next episode featured Danny Trejo's character telling Clay he'd "take care of it personally." If Jax is w/ Tara, then maybe Jax can work something out with Romeo where Tara's life is spared. Tara would remain in Oregon, and everyone in Charming is none the wiser. Which would give Jax (or Gemma, if she finds out) an opportunity to off Clay, leaving the President's seat to Jax.

November 05 2011 at 8:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob's Custom R.I.

iI have watched this show religiously every week since day one! now this week i missed it and i dont want to see next weeks episode till i have seen episode 9. this is the best show out their. the suspence keeps you on the edge of your seat till the next week every time! just when you think someone couldn't do something, they do it! Love the show so if anyone knows where i can watch the episode 9 i mised this week please e-mail me at robcustom@verizon.net thanks alot! cant wait till next weeks show!

November 03 2011 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vp8587

i hate when people write reviews and don't know what they're talking about - how could you not care about saving Jax's baby? that's absurd and cruel. when the irishmen (his name escapes me right now) almost slit abels throat i almost jumped out of my seat. Second, how could clay refute the letters? it's black and white, it says that unser's truck is the one that killed him, there are police reports, evidence that shows JT thought Clay made a FEW attempts on his life, that Gemma and Clay were together before JT died (which shows motive) - and clays just gunna convince the club its not true? thats a stretch. I know you gotta put something on paper, but at least make it believable

November 03 2011 at 9:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Weston

Anybody think there's a chance that Unser didn't actually behead Piney when he told Gemma he would? There's a part of me that believes Unser that saw past Gemma's manipulative act.

November 02 2011 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mate

Great episode. and after the preview of next week. I really can't wait to see what happens. It is good shows like this that make you want the week to speed by faster so that you can see what happens next. Bravo to Kurt Sutter for shows like this. The Shield compelled you to turn in next week and so does this. I have said it before I love this show but I really can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

As for Tara, I am not entirely sold that she is going to catch a bullet, well she might catch one. However, I am not sure it will be a death sentence. I think it will be more compelling for her to be injured and try to still be the voice of reason to Jax for not going after Clay so that he won't delve deeper into the Club. And as far as tragedy goes it would be more tragic if one of the kids get killed. Because then it could unleash the wrath of both Jax and Tara. And personally I want to see the most intelligent character on there, being Tara and to a lesser extent Jax. Raise their game up and utterly demolish Clay and Gemma. Because Gemma was the only one in the club that was told where they were going. And she is going to be catching some of the damage off of Clay.

As far as Potter I doubt he is JT. And with the IRA, they are a terrorist organization, they have existed for for a 100 years or so and are easier to prosecute than the Cartel. But then again Potter has done nothing but lie to everyone since he has been there. So who is to say he isn't lying now.

November 02 2011 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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November 02 2011 at 1:19 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Christina Draper

So glad you brought up that awkward scene with Unser and Gemma. I HATED that Gemma stooped to using Unser's feelings for her so that he would do what she wanted. Whatever Gemma has done, I thought she cared about Unser more than that. She could have talked him into it...but then it's that kind of shock and awe moment that makes me love the show.

Jax stuck it to Clay at the end there and I loved every second of it. Clay needs to be put in his place, and I like that Jax is going it. I'm waiting for Gemma to give him the smackdown though. Otto killing Clay...maybe, I could also see Tara doing it, or maybe Bobby.

Great episode.

And no, I don't think that Potter is JT. He and Gemma talked and she was face to face with him in front of the flower store. Even if he changed his face...(which would delve into soap opera crap) I think she would pick up on something.

November 02 2011 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
d00rkicker85

Anyone else thinking that Potter is really JT!!! What if JT never died? Why does he only want he Irish? Willing to let the Sons walk on charges said only a few will pay such as Gemma and Clay?????

November 02 2011 at 10:13 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
O Nikos

1. Will you please proof-read before you post? WOW, this is bad.
2. The fact that you didn't want the Abel story last year (starting by one of the best closing scenes for a season finale ever the year before) and the letters this year, shows me you don't get the show.

Maybe one of us needs to contact TV Squad (or whatever it's called this week) and find out what it takes to review the show.

November 02 2011 at 10:01 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Steven Cenotti

Otto kills Clay, blaming him for all the back stabbing because he's the Prez and only he could do it and also because he knows Clay so well. Also, the feds get a double cross when the club feeds them to the to the Irish.

November 02 2011 at 8:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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