Sons of Anarchy Season 6 “You Are My Sunshine” Review – The Butterfly Effect

IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE

Last night’s episode of Sons of Anarchy felt like an odd, ominous trip down memory lane. We saw flashes of season’s past with the reintroduction of the Marcus Alvarez-led Mayans, as well as what appears to be a looming war between Team Sons/One-Niners and Team Mayans/Lin. Although I was elated to see Emilio Rivera back on the show sharing scenes with Jimmy Smits, I’m much less enthused about the circumstances that has fans revisiting gangs that we really haven’t seen in any significant measure since season 4.

There’s an old adage that you have to spend money in order to make money. The Sons have adapted that saying for their own purposes, because evidently you have to spill a LOT of blood in order to finally make it out of a bloody lifestyle. The thing about spending money to make money is that you risk the chance that you will not see a proper return on your investment. As I watch the SAMCRO-related body count stack up episode after episode, I can’t help but wonder if the club has really considered what happens if they do not get a proper return on their investment. At a minimum, it will mean more blood. I fear that by the conclusion of next week’s season 6 finale, we’ll see that it also may mean more loss of life.

Surely there are more gangsters where Lin’s fallen crew came from, are the Sons ready for that? Will they be able to just accept that any consequences of last night’s slaughter “couldn’t be helped?” Like Bohai Lin, I too am wondering if the Sons truly understand how vengeance works. Indeed, they know how to dish it out, but their actions suggest that they’ve gotten a bit of amnesia when it comes to understanding what happens when you’re on the receiving end.

Although I understand that Jax is doing his best to turn things around with the club, I think he is forgetting very key points from his father’s manuscript. From the Season 1 episode, Hell Followed:

“I never made a conscious decision to have the club become one thing or another. It just happened before my eyes. Each savage event was a catalyst for the next. And by the time the violence reached epic proportion, I couldn’t see it. Blood was every color.”

Another apt quote from John Teller’s manuscript featured in the Season 2 episode, Smite:

“I realized that in my downward spiral of hopelessness I was actually falling into a huge hole created by my absence of basic human graces. The most obvious was forgiveness. If I was wronged by anyone, in or out of the club, I had to be compensated by money or blood. There was no turning the other cheek. When relationships become a ledger of profit and loss, you have no friends, no loved ones, just pluses and minuses. You are absolutely alone.”

I guess if Jax wasn’t so tied up committing crimes and sanctioning murders to get the club in a peaceful direction, he might have time to reflect on the wisdom of his father’s words. In addition to not seeing the consequences of their recent actions, Alvarez made an excellent point as to how SAMCRO stepping away from guns and handing over the business to Mr. Marks changes the entire gangster eco-system.

DO YOU GET TO COME BACK?

As I watched this week’s episode of Sons of Anarchy I was reminded of a recurring theme in the current season of The Walking Dead, which just aired its explosive mid-season finale on Sunday. Don’t worry, I won’t give away any spoilers here, but there has been a recurring theme this season about whether or not people get to come back from the dark, desperate things they do to survive. As I watched the events of the penultimate episode unfold, I repeatedly wondered whether or not some of the characters we love or love to hate will have a chance to “come back.” Let’s reflect . . .

Nero

When the dust settles and this season comes to an end, I’ve got to think that the Companionator will reflect upon his decision to do business with SAMCRO as easily one of the worst decisions he’s ever made. Despite being a hazardous position, I don’t think my favorite OG in a cardigan will ever regret his love for Gemma. To be fair, Nero’s troubles have nothing to do with whom he’s bedding and everything to do with his admirable loyalty to Jax’s dream of taking the club in a legitimate direction.

In an episode with a lot of anxiety-inducing moments, I wasn’t so on the edge that I couldn’t appreciate how great Jimmy Smits was. His first standout scene was after hearing Juice’s confession about murdering Darvany. You could see how badly he wanted to take his rage out on Juice and how he tempered that rage with compassion and empathy as he looked upon Juice curled up on the floor, crushed under the weight of Clay, Darvany, Miles and the other misdeeds he’s committed in the name of the reaper. More on Juice’s second botched suicide later. The second standout scene for Smits was at the close of the episode as he comforted Jax, who was distraught from what he thinks is his wife’s betrayal. More on that later too. Nero may have felt bad for Jax in that moment, but I don’t think for a second that act of kindness will let him overlook the sense of betrayal he feels about what Jax did.

I can’t think of a single terrible thing that has happened to Nero since he joined this show that wasn’t directly tied to his partnership with the Sons. It looks like the brothel is doing well financially, but I suspect Nero will decide if its worth the larger cost.

Juice

After trying and failing to commit suicide again, I don’t think Juice could come back if he wanted to. I appreciate Juice’s circumstances. It can’t be easy to feel so much guilt and to have your brothers constantly asking you if you’re okay and expressing their doubts about your mental fortitude. Granted, Juice more than earned these doubts and his demeanor certainly doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Gemma may have saved his life this week, but I suspect she’s going to advise Jax that it might be time to put Juice out of his misery. He can’t seem to get the job done on his own, so the club might schedule an appointment with him and Mr. Mayhem.

I love Theo Rossi and would hate to see him leave, but I don’t know how Juice comes back from this. Bobby is usually grounded and wise, so I’m going to chalk up the crappy advice he gave to Juice about oxy and ass to him being on the mend from the gunshot wound. Here’s what I don’t get – the guys know that most of Juice’s guilt centers on his relationship with and betrayal of Clay. Why hasn’t it dawned on a single person to share some of Clay’s dark truths with Juice? Juice doesn’t know the real reason Clay killed Piney. He suspects that something happened with Tara, but he doesn’t know that Clay ordered the hit that injured her hand. He has no idea that Clay killed John Teller. He knows nothing about the misdeeds that lead Bobby to change his vote from no to yes. By the way, kudos to the writers for tying that in because I really wanted to know more after the previous episode. Sure, sharing this information wouldn’t completely fix Juice, but I think it would go a long way to helping him see Clay in the appropriate context.

The Teller Family Troubles

Okay, Sons of Anarchy fans, I’m warning you in advance that I’m about to share what might be a few unpopular opinions about Jackson Nathaniel Teller. I should state at the outset that I still love Jax, but I’m not exactly happy with how he’s handled the troubles with his family. I should also add that Tara has done nothing to help this situation either. And now the rant begins . . .

There was a time during this series when Jax seemed to understand the very necessary distinction between his SAMCRO family and his actual family. Somewhere along the way, between losing Opie and learning the truth about Clay, Jax became a believer in his mother’s rhetoric about the club and family being the same thing. They are not. No one could ever deny that Jax has busted his butt this season to get the club on the right track. Those efforts, however, have done NOTHING to help the family he’s built with Tara. I would even argue that the club’s needs came above Tara’s when he decided to kill Clay and Galen, thus blowing the deal that was agreed upon with Patterson.

And while Jax has been pretty busy trying to legitimize the club, he managed to find time to screw the brothel whore. He should have spent that time with Tara, no matter how much she tried to shut him out. You don’t screw a whore and make your fellow club members play babysitter to your wife. It’s your family, deal with the issues yourself! It took this couple way too long to address the coldness in their marriage and that’s on both of them. Tara shouldn’t have shut Jax out. She knows him well enough to know that he would rather her blame him for everything that’s wrong in her life than have her not speak to him at all. It’s really one of Jax’s more endearing qualities and I’m frustrated with Tara’s decision not to talk to him about her concerns regarding the kids and her very legitimate resentment for the club’s role in her arrest.

I’m also frustrated with Jax’s delegation of family duties to Gemma. Gemma is not a partner to his marriage and while she loves her grandkids, she has no business meddling in the conflicting visions Jax and Tara have about parenting and the future of their family. Tara did not do herself any favors by partnering with weak-willed Wendy and Gemma lapdog Unser in trying to come up with an ill-conceived, heinous plot to frame Gemma for the murder of an unborn child. I actually thought there was hope that the trio could bounce back from fake baby-gate after last week, but Tara went back to another desperate plan to get away that left Jax and Gemma once again feeling betrayed.

Another unpopular opinion, because Jax can’t seem to understand his wife’s very legitimate perspective about the safety of their kids, I want him to learn the lesson the hard way. I usually don’t do predictions, but as I watched Tara in bed with her boys, I couldn’t help but get the sick feeling that this is a mother trying to get a few quiet moments before she does something desperate. I always thought Opie was our Ophelia in this Hamlet-inspired drama, but I’m now wondering if Tara will join Opie in the Ophelia-like role and use that gun she’s been toting to take her own life. She’s got nowhere to go. I don’t think she’d ever hurt her kids and contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think she’ll take Patterson’s deal. I can’t, however, see Tara being able to live with herself in prison knowing her kids are still in the club life. If Tara were to take her own life, it would be somewhat satisfying to see Patterson reveal to Jax that Tara never took the deal. I don’t think he will ever learn this lesson without feeling real pain. I like Jax, but I want his actions this season to have consequences.

I’m skipping the question of the week because I’d love to hear your thoughts on the “Mayhem” promo that aired before Season 6 began. In the promo, Jax and the gang ride by an exploding brick wall with images of Gemma, Clay and Tara. Now that there’s only one episode left, is it fair to say one down (Clay), two more to go (Gemma/Tara)? I don’t think it necessarily portends death for Gemma and Tara, but I definitely don’t think it bodes well for the ladies next week. Take a look and let me know how you think this season ends for Gemma and Tara:

OTHER THOUGHTS

– In an episode that was both violent and somber, it was nice to see that Happy was happy.

– “I barely accept that.” – I officially want Chucky to be the last man standing when this bloodbath ends next season.

– “And if it helps, my mom’s maiden name was McDuffy.” Well played, Mr. Marks. By the way, can we have more Mr. Marks? And maybe more naked Juice, provided it isn’t part of another botched suicide attempt.

– I really hope that they get Wendy checked into rehab – offscreen – so that she has no part to play in the finale. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m sick of Wendy. I’m sick of looking at her. I’m sick of the complete 180 she’s done between seasons. The highlight of her time on the show this season was watching Tara hit her. Seriously. This situation with Gemma, Jax, Tara and the kids is already frustrating enough without poor, pitiful Wendy exacerbating the problem. If I’m being honest, any decisions relating to those kids shouldn’t even involve Gemma, but we know that’s not going to happen. As a consolation, I’d appreciate it if we could make this conflict Wendy-free. It also feels a bit repetitive to have both Juice and Wendy try to work through their guilt by turning to drugs. We’ve also got more than enough people on the show who need Gemma’s approval to feel good about themselves.

– I’m glad Tiggy is finally in the clear with Marks, but what was with his odd reaction after the bullet scraped his head? Do we need to start worrying about his mental well-being too?

SOCIAL SUPPORT

Check out Sons of Anarchy Addicts Anonymous! The group describes themselves as a place for fans who suffer from Post-Sons of Anarchy Traumatic Syndrome. The group credits Kevin Young with identifying the following signs of PSATS: eagerness, sleepless nights, confusion, hatred, revenge, and delight in the occasional use of violence. Symptoms may also include endless searching of the Internet for clues of next week’s episode, wondering about Kurt Sutter’s sanity, and your own sanity.

I think it’s pretty clear that I have PSATS. I highly recommend you check out SOA Addicts Anonymous for a little group therapy. You can find them on Facebook here and on Twitter, here. You can also request to join their Facebook group here. And check out their Pinterest page here.

UNTIL NEXT WEEK!

Sadly, Sons of Anarchy fans, we are reaching the end of the road for season 6. The reality that the finale is less than a week away is nothing short of bittersweet. Let me know what you thought of last night’s episode and share your finale predictions!