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'Sons of Anarchy' Season 4, Episode 11 Recap (VIDEO)

by Maureen Ryan, posted Nov 15th 2011 11:30PM
['Sons of Anarchy' - 'Call of Duty']

Last week's 'Sons of Anarchy' was an intense and often gripping hour, and there's no way this week's episode could have matched it. Given that many final showdowns are no doubt being saved for the last couple of episodes of the season, the number of confrontations was certainly way down this week.

This episode offered a variety of amplifications and diversions, some of them superfluous. 'Call of Duty' wasn't better than last week's hour, I imagine we can all agree on that.

But it sure was longer.

Why did this episode need to be 90 minutes long? No reason, really, except that the people who make 'Sons of Anarchy' wanted to blow some stuff up and the network that is grateful to have a hit show on its hands was probably happy to give them the money to do it.

That's my guess, anyway. I don't mind the odd explosion or five, but everything about the Lobo "confrontation" felt a little pointless to me. Yes, the other cartel has been giving Romeo, the club and their associates a hard time, so it's just about believable that there could be a big battle between the factions. But the main reason behind the battle was to give Jax the illusion that the hit on Tara was being avenged. We know Lobo wasn't behind that hit, so the staged mission was all a big, empty show.

An empty show that proved that Kozik blows up real good. RIP Kozik.

Speaking of the episode as a whole, I understand that things need to be moved into place for the season's endgame, and generally I was OK with the fact that this was a set-up episode (it was the equivalent of a 'Let's tramp through the jungle' episode on 'Lost,' with less Hurley and more Harleys). But so many non-essential diversions began to pile up in 'Call of Duty' that I half-expected Tig's daughter to come in the door and ask Daddy for money. There were already so many stories in play, what's one more?

That didn't happen, but Wendy, Jax's O.G. baby mama, turned up at exactly the wrong time, unsurprisingly. It's not often that I see eye to eye with Gemma, but she was actually doing Wendy a favor by telling her that she should keep her distance for the moment. Wendy didn't take the hint, so who knows, she may join the season's ever-growing list of dead bodies.

Georgie also made the list, though not soon enough for Big Otto, who ended up making a deal with Potter. And given that Juice is still on the government's speed dial, the case against SAMCRO (or at least, the case that documents their involvement with the Galindo cartel and the Irish mobsters) is very much alive. (And don't forget that a federal agent was murdered in the season premiere. I have to think that'll come back to bite the club in its collective behind fairly soon.)

Getting back to Wendy, her arrival wasn't the part of the episode that bothered me. It's what Tara did to her hand. I'm sorry, I just don't buy that a woman that we've known to be rational and thoughtful for four seasons would just flip out and possibly destroy her own future like that, no matter what pressures she was under. You may say, "But she was worried about Wendy taking her son away, in addition to everything else that's going on," etc. The problem is, the show needed to convince me she was capable of that kind of self-harm under stress. Based on the Tara I've seen the past few years, I'm not really convinced.

For one thing, have we ever seen Tara with Abel for more than 10 seconds at a time? I've no doubt that she is a good mom and loves those boys, but it's not like I have a ton of proof of her attachment to her kids. And I know her hand injury put her in a bad place and she thinks that her future is ruined, but the show hasn't given me enough reason to believe that she would re-injure her hand on purpose. It's the duty of 'SOA' to make me buy that action, but it's been inconsistent when it comes to her state of mind. Tara was in a very dark place in last week's episode, but she seemed perfectly reasonable with Jax early in this episode. All in all, that hand moment didn't feel earned; it felt as though the show needed its Ophelia to go mad, whether or not that madness felt fully credible.

Also not credible: What hospital would offer a job to Tara without having interviewed her and knowing that she may not be able to perform surgery? Who would do that in these cost-cutting, recessionary times? That all sounds a little too good to be true, and it was also strange that Margaret Murphy would discuss personnel matters so openly with Gemma. I know Murphy wants Tara to get out, but the hospital administrator knows Gemma is a schemer. Why tell her anything, given that Gemma may use that information for selfish or nefarious ends?

I'm getting a little tired of the show's attitude toward believability, which appears to be, "Whatever we say is credible is credible, because we say so." No, it doesn't work like that. Moments and developments have to be earned, but the way 'SOA' plays fast and loose with plotting and character journeys has been a problem this season (and other seasons too, but far less so in season 2, which is to date 'SOA's finest hour because both the character arcs and the stories made sense and dovetailed well).



Even when the larger sweep of the narrative hangs together, the devil is in the details, and sometimes those details on 'SOA' feel rushed, sloppy or contrived. If I'm to care about the characters -- who are the main reason I tune in week after week -- I need to see that the show cares about them enough to be rigorous and disciplined in telling their stories.

I don't mean to imply that this particular episode was a misfire; it just felt rushed in some areas and a bit bloated in others, and all things considered, it was a letdown compared to last week's hour (but then, almost anything would be). Still, there were some powerful moments, including Jax's barely restrained confrontation with Clay and couple of very charged moments at the end of the episode. Tig, whom I thought would deliver a much-needed beatdown to Clay, instead quietly handed over his Sergeant at Arms patch; like so many other people in Charming, Tig is done with this new, brutal version of Clay. Even more powerful was Opie's discovery of his father's body. Ryan Hurst was tremendous in that scene, and Unser is lucky a grief-stricken, raging Opie didn't blow his head off.

I really loved the fact that Unser has finally put it all on the line and has once and for all defied both Gemma and Clay. Rather than get involved with whatever plots they're trying to perpetrate, Unser finally stepped out from their shadows and acted as his own man, telling Opie exactly what Clay did to Piney. In a way, though, Unser might be obeying Gemma's command from the previous episode, in which she said that Clay would have to die at the hand of "the son."

She didn't say which son.

A few other points:

* Be sure to check out this week's Talking TV with Ryan and Ryan podcast, in which Ryan McGee and I will talk more about this week's installment (hopefully with a very special guest). That podcast should post on iTunes and on the Talking TV site Wednesday. Previous podcasts on 'SOA' can be found here, here and here.

* The king and queen of SAMCRO surveying each other from opposite sides of their broken kingdom was a compelling visual, but Clay's tear didn't do a lot for me, given that the single man-tear is a much-derided running joke in the 'Supernatural' fandom and my mind instantly went to that place. Also, you know what, Clay has just been such an ass that I tend to not care about the fact that he has regrets.

* Kim Coates did great work as Tig in this episode, but for a season that was supposed to be back-to-basics for the show, there's been too little screen time given to other club members, in my humble opinion. Obviously Juice has gotten a fair amount of attention, but I'm always left wanting more from Bobby, Tig, Chibs, Happy and Opie.

* Bobby did take out Georgie, though he obviously lied to Otto about when everything went down. There are a few possibilities in this situation: Otto might be told that Georgie really is dead and refuse to believe it; he may not regret selling out the club's secrets, given all the lies he was told; or he may come to think that the club ended up doing what they said they would do regarding Luanne's death and the inmate may come to regret working with Potter. But whatever goes down regarding Otto's deal, I'm fairly certain we'll see him die this season, don't you think?

* Juice finally talked to Chibs about his racial heritage, only to find out something he could have found out weeks ago: That nobody would care about who his father was. This is the kind of mechanical stuff I get impatient with -- why couldn't Juice have had that conversation with Chibs when the sheriff first confronted him? Even though he's a reasonably intelligent guy, the plot required him not to have that conversation, so that's why that didn't happen.

* Did everyone enjoy the show's detour into videogame territory in the Lobo showdown scene? I'm not a 'Call of Duty' or 'Halo' gamer (the Lego 'Star Wars' and 'Harry Potter' games are more my speed), but if you dig shoot-'em-ups or just big action scenes in general, here's hoping you got your fill in tonight's explosion festival.


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

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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PAPatriot

Ms Ryan...if I may offer my assessment of your analysis...while everyone is entitled to have an opinion, it is generally best, if offering said opinion, that it at least be an educated one. I agree that the shoot'em / blow'em up sequence was a bit over the top and essentially a device to tie up several story lines, such as "where is Kosik?" - Not's have to worry about that anymore. As a side note, how ironic is it that KS kills Kenny Johnson off to allow him to pursue another project, only to have that project get cancelled the day following his death on Sons. I'm trying to figure out how KS will bring him back...but I digress. To answer your question regarding why Tara would "do that to her hand" despite always being a rational, level headed person. Did it ever, even for an instant occur to you or anyone else that the woman is literally winding tighter and tighter inside with every passing thought. You want to talk about conflicted??? Put yourself in her place...everything you've worked for your ENTIRE ADULT LIFE has come a very sudden, crushing end. You're trying to desperately come to terms with that...no easy task I assure you...and the one person who can and will give that knife that is sticking in your heart just one more good twist walks in the door...lying to you like a soap opera super villain. Now, tell me there isn't the slightest chance that you or anyone else wouldn't snap out and do something completely irrational. Finally, why do YOU need to see how Tara is with the kids when all indications are that her function as a mother is beyond reproach. Hell even Gemma has her on a pedestal in that capacity. As I said, everyone is entitled to their opinion...however, just because you can offer it doesn't mean you should. See opinions are like rectums, everybody has one, and for the most part, they all are best kept to themselves. Just because you CAN offer it to everyone doesn't mean you should.

November 17 2011 at 7:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eliza Terry

Ms. Ryan, all due respect to u being a "professional" and all but have u even watched SOA before last week? Yes, "Hands" was above and beyond the normal great tv episodes, I agree with u there. But if u are a true SOA fan then you would know a few things: First, Tara has flipped out over Wendy before. This woman is obviously an Achilles heel for her because she was Jax's wife and she is Abel's mother. In the first season when Tara kissed Jax in front of Wendy and he wanted to keep their relationship secretary she screamed and cried and ran out like a two year old. Please don't forget that she was also Abel's doctor and nearly got herself killed when Cammy Hayes abduction him. As for evidence of her propensity for self harm???? Is her relationship with Jax not enough evidence for u? Every single choice she has made since the show's inception has been outside the law from selling illegal scripts to stitching up gunshot victims to lying to the Feds to assaulting her boss(Margaret). And Jax is constantly pulling her close and pushing her away. It makes perfect sense that she would flip out and hurt herself; there was no one else around for her to attack like she usually does. Two: With all of the racial slurs that have been tossed around by SAMCRO and u don't think it makes sense for Juice to be afraid? Chibbs' reaction made sense because his ex wife and daughter are both black. We have yet to see a reaction from the rest of the club so Juice's fear may not be so far fetched. Third: Any SOA fan knows that Otto is loyal above all else. He nearly died by his own hand to avenge his VP. He has yet to give Potter a single detail of a single crime. He has something up his sleeve for Bobby, believe me, and it sure ain't a prison sentence. Four: Margaret showed her despatched last week in the chapel with Gemma. She's willing to try anything to get Tara away from the monster she thinks is Jax. She and Tara bonded during their hostage experience; Tara risked her life to save Margaret. She said Providence still wants Tara. She didn't say how she got them to still offer her the job. The only people who know the true extent of Gemma's scheming are Clay, Unser, and Wendy so Margaret was unawares when she blurted to Gemma. Five: Wendy showed up at the wrong time, yes, but that makes her appearance 1000 times more credible. In life, when things go wrong, they go really wrong. Last, but certainly not least, CLAY: Throughout out the entire 4 seasons we have seen Clay vulnerability only twice: when the Irish took Abel and when Gemma told him and Jax she had been gang raped. The only thing that can halfway penetrate his little hard heart is his family. He has nothing else. He's lost all of the people who loved him unconditionally. Bobby, Tig, and finally Gemma. If he had not dropped a tear over the woman who started him on the path to Evil with the murder of his best friend we would be left wondering WHY the hell he is such an evil bastard. Now we know.

November 17 2011 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Eliza Terry's comment
becky

Very well written Eliza!

November 17 2011 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sharon Lynn

I almost completely disagree with you, this episode was better than the last. With the exception of not being sure about Tara's reaction to Wendy's visit, but I trust that it will be tied in somehow. If not, well, I'm not that concerned. I think Jax's reaction to seeing his mother beat up (again) was incredible. You could read every emotion on his face without hearing a word. Anger, hatred, sorrow, guilt, nurturing concern, it was priceless. Opie's reaction to seeing his father dead was stellar. The acting in both scenes was incredible.
The episode was riveting and left you wanting more. Which is THE reason the episodes are longer, aside from more commercials, to be expected, because you have to go where the money is to put on a great show, there is more story, and as a die hard addict, I was thrilled to be entertained and hung out to dry for another 30 minutes. It's the end of the season and I'd take every second I can get. As far as Juice and his dilemma not making sense why he didn't come forward with it earlier, you need to understand that in the MC world, THAT is still forbidden, and reason to be eliminated, no questions asked. Rules and bylaws, they are bound to them, be they politically correct or not. I was pleased with Chibb's reaction, SO WHAT, I love Chibbs, he's fabulous.
All in all, it may very well have been the BEST episode yet.

November 17 2011 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
endicottbee

I thought that Unser was acting under Gemma's instructions when he followed Opie to the cabin - another example of her ability to manipulate the men around her. Why was he hanging around the clubhouse otherwise?

I think Gemma's line of reasoning is, If Opie kills Clay, that solves the Clay Problem without involving Jax.

November 17 2011 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joel Henderson

What a **** review. I was SO excited to come on here and read gushing about how Unser told Opie that Clay ordered the hit on Donna for the first time, and i get... this? This was an AMAZING episode and wish the reviewer shared the excitement I am feeling for where this season is going. Great, great episode.

November 17 2011 at 9:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
doubleG

I am also there with you on the need for certain situations to be realistic and believable...there are certain stretches where I am saying out loud - "aw, c'mon!" Case in point (in addition to those already pointed out) is the meth addict coming back saying that she may have given up parental rights, but not "the right to know my son". Well, yes you did, in that it is up to the parents of the child as to whom they meet ad associate with. Lawyer up all you want, it's just not a believable premise to think that there is much of a threat that she'll inject herself into the lives of Jax and Tara's family. Wendy really has no leg to stand on, and it seems as thought this is just a filler to make this episode 90 minutes. I kept found myself asking, ok, when is the episode going to be as big as a special extension usually requires? I found the entire episode pretty anti-climatic considering the build it got last week!

Oh - an Miss Juice - lighten up on the vitriol, will ya? A little strong on the criticism when everyone is entitled to their opinion, don't ya' think? One this to respectfully disagree, but another to complain that observations are asinine and completely stupid. Your opinions may come across with a little more credibility with a little less harshness.

November 16 2011 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to doubleG's comment
Xina143

Actually, it is completely believable for Wendy to come back. She didn't give up her son, she gave up custody, and when it comes to children there is a BIG difference. Not having custody doesn't mean you don't have visitation rights, and if she went to court in light of what she did you bet your butt she would be given visitation at the very LEAST.

November 16 2011 at 7:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bigbuff_guy

The episode wasn't as good as last week's (which was easily the best episode the show has done since the Season 2 finale), but there was some really good stuff in there. I thought the entire plot with Wendy was an unnecessary and pointless distraction from everything else that was going on, but I liked just about everything else. Otto turning on the club was great, as was Jax's reaction to what Clay did to his mother. Tig stepping down from his post was the first thing that character has done that I've liked in a long time, maybe since he was so overcome with guilt about Donna's death that he had to confess to Opie (something Clay wouldn't do in a million years, even though he was just as guilty). And speaking of characters that I had little use for in the past but who are acting admirably now, there's Unser. I never liked him at any point through the first three seasons, and I really despised him for his role in Agent Stahl's execution (to me, the worst moment of the entire series). But ever since he wrote the death threat and put it in Tara's car to alert her and Jax that a hit was out on her, I've really liked him. And this was his best moment yet. That final scene in the cabin was so spectacular that I had to re-watch it a couple more times. I have been down on Opie for awhile too, but I'm really happy that he's back in vengeance mode after he inexplicably seemed to forget about Clay and Tig murdering his wife. At any rate, the last few episodes have shown that Sons of Anarchy is back to its Season 2 greatness. I just hope that Sutter does the right thing and kills Clay off instead of contriving a way to keep him around.

November 16 2011 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bigbuff_guy's comment
Eliza Terry

Stahl was responsible for Donna's death and Abel's kidnapping, not to mention Half-Sack getting killed. She tried to get Jax killed. She was playing by her own set of rules so she had to be eliminated by the same rules. Live by the gun.......

November 17 2011 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tm3545

I dont know how the producers do it but the prospect Miles getting shot inthe face by Juice and Ozik (or Lem ) getting blown up by the mine looked so REALISTIC.

November 16 2011 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Oisin

I wasn't surprised about Tara's breakdown. Also gotta disagree about Juice. I actually thought this was pretty good writing. To show that he could have gone to Chibs to avoid this whole thing and now it's too late was heartbreaking (Especially when he calls to check in right after). Not only is Juice suffering from betraying the club and shooting the new guy, but Kozik exploded right in front of him with his arm landing next to him. Juice is losing it. He had to be pushed to that point before he could even remotely open up to Chibs. Sorry, Mo. I think sometimes you struggle to come up with complaints.

November 16 2011 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Deborah

Someone help me here. I must have missed when Opie found out Donna's death was caused by the SONs, namely Tig. Which season, episode was that revealed?

November 16 2011 at 2:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Deborah's comment
Tena Fleming

Tig confessed in Season 2, the best season of Sons!

November 17 2011 at 2:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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