Sons of Anarchy Season 7 Review “Black Widower”

Sons of Anarchy Season 7 Episode 1 Black Widower (4)
Motorcycles revving, musical montages and disturbing images we’d like to forget in the “previously on” part of the episode can only mean one thing – Sons of Anarchy is back!!! The crow flies straight! Of course, the return of the series is bittersweet as this, fellow Sons of Anarchy fans, is the final ride. As sad as it will be to watch the show end, I’m excited to see what Kurt Sutter has planned for the Charming residents.

Admittedly, I went into the season premiere still carrying a lot of baggage from last season. Season 6 was the first season of Sons of Anarchy that I made no effort to re-watch because I was so frustrated with the actions of several characters – looking at you Gemma, Wayne, Wendy and Juice. I was not the only one carrying baggage from last season. Unsurprisingly, we found a lot of characters still burdened by the weight of Tara’s death. Let’s recap/review:

JAX/SAMCRO

As we saw at the end of the episode, Jax is still feeling the weight of losing Tara in such a horrific, violent manner. This, however, is not the Jax of season 3 who Opie had to carry into the shower because he was grief stricken over Abel’s kidnapping by the Irish. In the season premiere, we found Jax steadfastly focused on two goals: (1) healing the club’s broken relationships in an effort to stop the bloodshed and ensure SAMCRO’s longevity and (2) ensuring the person he believed was responsible for Tara’s death was rewarded with excruciating pain and a horrible death.

Watching Jax rally the troops, make amends with the club’s enemies and double down on club life left me with one question – is the club part of the future Jax envisions for his kids? This is a question with a very complicated answer and I hope it’s one that we have a clearer answer to by the time the series ends. Based on his final conversation with Tara, I still think of Jax as a father who wants his sons to pursue whatever life they’d like. I don’t know how realistic that is, however, because the death of their mother has essentially engrained them deeper in the club life and cut them off from one of the few individuals who advocated for a future in which the boys might not find themselves sitting at the table some day.

The situation is further complicated by the fact Jax appears to be distancing himself from his boys right now. His dismissal of the suggestion that he go spend time with his family reminded me a lot of Opie after he lost Donna. Watching Jax play with Tommy and Abel is always adorable, so I hope we get some of those moments this season. As someone who still sees Jax as the protagonist of Sons of Anarchy, I’d like to see him discover happiness with his boys – even if being with them is a painful reminder of Tara’s murder.

And then there’s Jax’s visions for his other Sons. His direction for the club was far less ambiguous than whatever direction he may envision for Tommy and Abel. Whereas Jax is totally passive and deferential to Gemma when it comes to raising Tommy and Abel, he is completely different when it comes to dealing with the club. Jax is focused and being proactive. Rather than trying to figure out what his enemies have planned for him, we saw Jax accepting Nero’s offer to bring the warring factions to the table and talk through their issues. I was absolutely surprised to see Jax’s impromptu welcome home/make peace with our enemies party go off without a hitch. Well, it was mostly a successful event . . .

Thanks to the “truth” that Juice helped Gemma construct regarding Tara’s murder, a poor, unsuspecting member of Henry Lin’s gang found himself on the receiving end of a long, brutal torture session followed by a barbaric death. Jax literally poured salt in the poor guy’s wounds. Like any Sons of Anarchy fan, I enjoy a good dose of comeuppance to a deserving SAMCRO foe. The season 5 snow globe moment was epic. However, I found the scene with Jax last night to be disturbingly gruesome and difficult to watch – not because of the blood and gore, but because we at home all knew that Jax was putting in all that effort on an innocent person. This will not bode well for SAMCRO’s efforts to mend fences with Henry Lin. One thing is clear, a lot of innocent people will become collateral damage to Gemma’s “truth.”

The gruesome revenge scene only made me more anxious to see how Jax will respond when the truth about Gemma’s “truth” is revealed. Will Jax approach his mother with the cold, methodical harshness we saw in last night’s premier, or will this be the betrayal that not only breaks their relationship, but the betrayal that breaks Jax as a man? We shall see.

UNSER

At the close of last season, I was extremely frustrated with Unser for suddenly forgetting who and what Gemma is and thinking that it was okay to tell her that Tara cooperated based on speculation alone. When Gemma retreated to Unser’s after killing Tara, I assumed that he would once again be a keeper of her twisted lies. On the surface, it doesn’t look like Unser knows what really happened. If he did, there would not have been a need to keep Juice’s whereabouts a secret from him. I’m sure that we’ll get a better indication of what Unser knows and what he doesn’t know eventually – provided that Juice doesn’t kill yet another person in his half-assed, ill-conceived efforts to cover his seemingly endless trail of screw ups.

WENDY/JUICE

I don’t know who frustrates me more between Wendy and Juice. I may take issue with Gemma’s actions, but what I love about the character is that her motivations are always very clear – for better or worse. Wendy and Juice, on the other hand, are two characters who have repeatedly proven that they don’t have the strength to discover who they are outside the club and to use that challenge as an opportunity to walk away.

I love and adore Theo Rossi as an actor and respect his numerous community/humanitarian efforts outside the show. However, you will not find me in the “Save Juice” club because I am just at capacity with this character. Over several seasons of Sons of Anarchy, we’ve repeatedly seen characters going out of their way to console Juice, understand Juice or in other words, “save Juice.” He has rewarded their efforts with nothing but treachery. Chibs helped Juice work through his Black daddy issues in season 4 and protected the secret about Juice’s attempted suicide, which in effect, kept Juice from meeting Mr. Mayhem. How did Juice reward that compassion? By feeding information to the feds. Awesome. Jax was also by Juice’s side during that difficult time in season 4 and how did Juice repay his support? By sidling up next to Clay. Granted, Juice didn’t know the source of the Clay/Jax rift at that time, but the tension should have been enough to give him pause. Speaking of those season 4 troubles, Eli Roosevelt was very protective of Juice because like most of us, he felt bad that Lincoln Potter used Juice’s Black daddy to manipulate him. Granted, Eli offered to tell Jax that Juice was the informant, but I’m giving him a pass because SAMCRO’s internal shenanigans cost him his wife and unborn child. Despite that loss, Eli still never directly told Jax that it was Juice and he even tried to protect Juice after discovering that the club knew Juice was the informant. How did Juice repay Eli’s kindness and support? By killing him and essentially killing off the last trace of the Roosevelt family in Charming – all of whom were killed because of something SAMCRO-related. Simply put, I have no interest in Juice’s salvation and my respect for Theo Rossi does not make me overlook the fact that as a character, Juice is well past his expiration date. Pun intended.

And then there’s Wendy. Again, I like and respect Drea de Matteo as an actress, but I haven’t liked Wendy since season 1. The closest I’ve ever gotten to liking the character was in season 5, when Wendy was a lone voice of truth, appeared to have her life together and did not hesitate to rightfully question Tara and Jax’s judgment when it came to their kids. When Wendy returned (again) in season 6, I thought that we would get this same Wendy – especially after Jax put a huge vial of coke in her body. Much to my disappointed, this was not the Wendy who returned. Season 6 Wendy, for reasons I still don’t understand, still longed for the club life, despite being one of the few characters on this show who managed to get her shit together and get away from the club. A little pseudo-mothering from Gemma and Wendy’s crisis of conscience left Tara high and dry in her escape plan. I fully admit that Tara’s plan was not the right call and she needed to talk to Jax, but that does not help me reconcile any of my frustration with Wendy as a character. She’s weak and wishy washy. I can’t even state with certainty that Wendy finding out that Gemma killed Tara would finally make her see Gemma for who and what she really is. Lest we not forget, Gemma already tried to kill her, but I guess Wendy considers that water under the bridge because of the compromising position that her addiction, which is a disease, put Abel in. I’m not convinced that Gemma’s proposed punishment fit the crime there either. Wendy may ultimately be the best option in a sea of horrible options for the boys, but I will never forget that the character had a chance to do the right thing and put her feelings above the needs of two innocent children. Okay, Wendy rant over. Sorry, Wendy fans. I’m open to having my mind changed about her this season. Kinda. I at least believe in her sincerity when it comes to the kids.

It’s fitting that Wendy and Juice would cross paths. The characters have displayed very similar needs to fill a void left by a parent in their lives. I hope that nothing happens romantically between the two and frankly, my frustrations with Wendy aside – I want her to get far, far away from Juice’s cycle of calamity.

GEMMA

And then there’s Gemma. Again, to be clear, I ADORE Katey Sagal. In my humble opinion, the actress has been criminally overlooked during awards season. Her transformation from Peg Bundy to Gemma Teller-Morrow is like Bryan Cranston going from the dad on Malcolm in the Middle to Walter White on Breaking Bad. She’s brilliant.

That aside, I have an extreme love/hate relationship with Gemma. I love Gemma when she’s at her best and only using forks to eat. Her season 2 storyline, which ironically closely involved Tara, was probably the height of my Gemma love. Although her actions, her lies and disregard for collateral damage she’s caused makes me hate the character at times, I respect and appreciate that I fully understand her motivations and why she does things – even if they are things with which I completely disagree.

On the outside, Gemma is in hog heaven right now. She’s got total control over “her” boys and she’s closer to Jax than ever. On the outside, she looks like the fierce, protective matriarch. It even looks like she might patch things up with Nero. On the outside, Gemma is being matter of fact with Juice about the need to form her “truth” about Tara. However, that private conversation she had with “Tara” towards the end of the episode suggests that this might just be the secret that breaks Gemma. As much as I want the secret out on the table, I’m going to enjoy watching things unravel. Gemma’s need to not be alone is blinding her to the fact that getting back with Nero is a HORRIBLE idea. Nero is all about reflection and we’ve already seen that he has the unique ability to get Gemma to spill all of her dirty secrets, despite the fact he repeatedly tells other people those secretes against her wishes. I don’t think this is a secret Nero will be able to pry out of Gemma, but I do think that being around him is going to make her a little less clinical in her perspective about what happened to Tara. Nero is going to bring some of those raw emotions to the surface and I suspect it will manifest in lots of entertaining ways.

Admittedly, I’m only interested in Gemma reuniting with Nero because of what he brings out in her emotionally and because he is really good at pushing her to try to be a better person. Being around him will make her guilt about Tara all consuming and I am here for it. On the other hand, Nero is a damn fool for even entertaining a reunion with Gemma. As I mentioned on Twitter during the episode, this should have been Nero’s response to a reunion:

The men Gemma loves have a habit of turning up dead. I hope Nero bucks the trend.

OTHER THOUGHTS/OBSERVATIONS

– As usual, the Sons of Anarchy writers did a great job at giving us a few touches of levity and nostalgia, including:

> The sweet sound of Chibs saying “Jackie.”

> Someone having the audacity to point out that no one understands what Chibs says. This is true, but how dare you?!?

> Tig being creepy ol’ Tig. Never change, Tiggy.

– Great to see Malcolm Jamal Warner on the show. Please, Mr. Sutter, don’t kill Theo Huxtable! He’s a national treasure!

– Between Sons of Anarchy and The Shield Sutter has proven quite adept at writing for CCH Pounder. I think their collaborations are quite brilliant, yet underrated. I hope these two continue to work together in the future. I loved her scene with Charlie Hunnam at the beginning of the episode and I actually find Patterson stern, but quite sincere in her efforts to connect with Jax.

– I didn’t realize how much I missed Miguel Alvarez until I saw him last night.

UNTIL NEXT WEEK!

Great start to the season! What did you think of the premiere? Any predictions for the season? Sound off below!

Gif from the Busy Kween Tumblr.