Sons of Anarchy Season 6 “Huang Wu” Review – In Defense of Tara Knowles-Teller

Disclaimer, Sons of Anarchy fans – this may be an episode review with a few unpopular opinions. One of the things Sons of Anarchy does so well is presenting complicated characters who, simply put, we love to hate. Case in point – Clay.

The scene in last night’s episode felt strangely ominous and I have very little confidence that this Irish-mandated prison break is going to end well. If we’re lucky, at least Galen will finally go to jail. The Irish Kings will press on, but at least the most unreasonable of them will be out of pocket. Although if the Irish are so bold to break Clay out of jail, I suppose that they might do the same for Galen.

I have struggled this season with watching Clay suffer brutal treatment for a club he’s not even a member of anymore. Indeed, Clay has planted a lifetime of rotten seeds and definitely deserves to sow a little pain, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I miss his interactions with the rest of SAMCRO. Then I remind myself he killed Piney, tried to have Tara killed and beat the crap out of Gemma. Oh yeah, he also killed John Teller and the poor mechanic, Lloyd, Sr., who helped Clay tamper with John’s bike. Okay. Clay is a son of a bitch.

And then there’s Gemma . . .

Will this woman ever pay for any of her misdeeds? It was horrible watching her get raped in season 2 and I felt terrible for her when she was forced to have sex with Clay in front of two crooked prison guards this season. She’s definitely taken a few hits, but she never seems to face sufficient consequences for the endless number of wrongs she’s committed during the course of this series. Despite wanting Gemma to experience a little pain, I still can’t bring myself to ever completely hate her because Katey Sagal is just so doggone good at the role. It’s also clear that Gemma has the capacity to love and be compassionate, but there is a selfishness about her that I find hard to reconcile.

For example, in her chilling confession to Nero about John Teller’s murder, Gemma made it very clear that her compliance with Clay’s decision was as much about the club as it was about her getting even with John because of his affair with Maureen and his absence during the death of their son. And then there’s the battle she’s currently in this season with Tara. Like Nero, I absolutely agree that Gemma’s love for her son and her grandsons is one of the purest, most sincere things about her. However, her unwillingness to allow her family to move on to greater things is just plain selfish. I really struggle with Gemma insisting that her grandchildren remain in Charming after one was kidnapped and taken to Ireland and after both of them were nearly killed in an explosion a few weeks ago. This is a world where innocent people die all the time. Gemma is smart enough to know that her good intentions will not be enough to save her grandkids from a stray bullet, angry club foe or another explosion. Like Jax, her inability to walk away from the club is crippling.

Also, I’m not buying into this save Wendy campaign either. I believe Gemma once loved Wendy, but this is simply her backing the lesser of two evils. I still haven’t forgotten that Gemma tried to
kill Wendy in season one and assured her that she would never be seen as Abel’s mother. Every time Gemma has reached out to Wendy it’s been related to manipulating or antagonizing Tara. Here’s another unpopular opinion – I wish Wendy would’ve kicked the bucket in season 1. I know that Kurt Sutter is a fan of Drea De Matteo, but Wendy is such an unnecessary complication to an already difficult situation. I’d like her to just go away for good.

And then there’s Tara . . .

I know that Tara has been a bit of a polarizing character among Sons of Anarchy fans. Up until her Gemma-fication this season, she’s been a little less grey than other popular characters fans can’t help but love – like Gemma and Tig. Don’t get me wrong, Tara is no victim here. She returned to Charming, reunited with Jax and knew that he was still active in the life. However, as Jax and Tara’s relationship and family grew, Jax repeatedly promised Tara that they would leave the life and get out of Charming. He even lamented the fact that his father didn’t take him and his brother and get out of Charming by any means necessary.

Like Gemma, Jax has a blind loyalty to SAMCRO that will keep him from ever making good on the long line of promises he made to Tara. To make matters worse, he broke another promise when he stopped sharing things with her about the club. Perhaps if Jax had been more open to Tara last season, she wouldn’t have been so gung ho about getting Otto to recant his RICO statements. I can’t imagine the level of betrayal Tara felt when she realized that she risked her life, career and freedom on a promise from her husband that he was not inclined to keep.

Was Tara’s plot against Gemma wrong? Absolutely, although one could see it as a bit of karmic retribution for her setting up Clay for a murder he didn’t commit. I defend Tara, however, because despite her mistakes and poor judgment, she is truly one of the few characters on the show that is doing something completely selfless – trying to create a safe future for her kids. It’s not unreasonable for her to think that a safe future would not involve her kids being raised by Gemma. It’s also completely understandable that she would not leave them with Jax, as he would just give the boys over to his mother.

I find it quite sad that in this moment of selflessness and desperation, Tara cannot find a single person willing to stay by her side and fight. She has no family. The family she’s created with SAMCRO is now gone, thanks to her setup and because Jax decided to tell the entire club what she did. I was hoping that he would’ve kept that private. Last season, Wendy seemed like a great ally. She called Tara and Jax out on their poor judgment and was set on assuring the safety of her son and his brother. I don’t know who season 6 Wendy is. She still seeks Gemma’s approval (despite the death threats and death attempts), she still feels nostalgic about her “good ol'” days as an old lady (when she was addicted to drugs) and is simply not capable of hurting others without crushing under the weight of the guilt (okay, that’s not a bad quality). To make matters worse, I’m sure Wendy’s stint in SAMCRO rehab will only tighten her bond with Gemma. Ugh.

Uncle Touchy Unser bailed because although he agrees with Tara’s motivation, he loves Gemma too much to betray her. Margaret was probably Tara’s greatest ally, but she has understandably pulled back after being threatened by Gemma. I don’t know what to make of Ally Lowen. Aside from all of the ethical implications of her actions, I still don’t understand why she couldn’t just tell Jax a lie. You’re an attorney! You’re supposed to be good at thinking on your feet!

You know the situation is bad when you can’t even cut a deal with the district attorney in exchange for witness protection. I’m still rooting for Tara. I’m glad that she keeps her loaded gun close. Despite being completely alone, she’s still got some fight in her. I can’t begin to describe the joy I felt when she put a beating on that old whore and slapped the taste out of Jax’s mouth. I love me some Jax, but I was not pleased at all with his plan to shack up at the brothel while he figured out what to do about his family. I also don’t know how having sex with a dried up whore gives you any clarity or time to think, but I digress. Go Tara!

The image of Jax back at home – with his travel bag – gives me hope. We know that Handsome Jack is most vulnerable when he feels guilty. I’m hoping that this will provide an opportunity for the couple to regroup. I think it’s pretty telling that he didn’t tell Patterson to forget about helping Tara. There is no denying that Jax and Tara love each other. I don’t know if they’ll make it through this, but my gut tells me that when Jax finally makes up his mind many people will be surprised and disappointed in his decision, namely Gemma.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

I’m frustrated with the companionator. I didn’t like him relishing in the fact that Jax told the entire club about Tara, yet we haven’t seen him push Gemma to share her truth about John Teller. Because of my frustration with Gemma, I’m getting tired of watching men go to great lengths to support her. At a minimum, I was hoping that Nero would need a little time to let the John Teller confession sink in. How do you quickly reunite with someone you know will double cross you if you ever hurt them or stand in the way of SAMCRO business? I’m sure that Nero has the best intentions when it comes to Gemma, but I’m sure that John and Clay did at some point too. You know what they say about good intentions and the road to hell. Normal people resolve relationship conflict by talking about it or getting divorced and moving on – they don’t frame you for murder, blame you for a child’s death or set you up to go to prison. As Tara said, it’s the wife not the life. I was hoping Nero would give that serious consideration.

That leads me to the . . .

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

If you were Nero, would you continue dating Gemma after learning about her role in the murder of John Teller and the framing of Clay?
Hell yeah! All hail the queen!
Oh, hell no! Are you crazy?

Poll Maker

SOCIAL SUPPORT

Check out my article earlier this week on the Sons for Sandy event, here.

UNTIL NEXT WEEK . . .

Free Happy!

More topless Tiggy, please!

Vote in the poll and sound off below in the comments. Am I being too sympathetic to Tara? Am I being too harsh on Gemma?