Sons of Anarchy "Ablation" Review: Work the Corner, Mom

By Tim Surette

Oct 31, 2012

Sons of Anarchy S05E08 "Ablation"

It's weird that an episode with a pistol-whipping, a stripper getting shot in the leg, and a hired gunman getting shot in the gut and pushed off a building (with his head clanking off a dumpster on the way down for good measure) could be considered a relatively mellow episode, but in this over-the-top fifth season of As The Motorcycle Wheels Turn, "mellow" is an apt descriptor for last night's Sons of Anarchy, "Ablation." We've seen some crazy shit this season, and so have the show's characters. But this week it was time for two of them to weigh what's happened and act on it.

In many ways, "Ablation" was a continuation of what's been happening all season long for our Big Three. Clay's plans to take back the club hit more snags, Gemma slid further into her disaster zone, and Jax got a whole lot meaner. If the old adage "Things get worse before they better" is true, then things for SAMCRO are going to get a whole lot better real soon because they couldn't be more stinky for the club at the moment.

We all thought Gemma's low point happened when she drove Jax's kids off the road while riding the Ganja train, endangering everyone's lives. But I'd argue the low point came when she tried to pass off Clay's lie about the mystery van that shot up Jax also coming after her. Yes, nearly taking two dependents off of Jax's tax returns was bad, but that was just stupidity. Lying to Jax about the circumstances was intentional deception, and there was no more sickening moment than Jax and Tara taking responsibility for what happened and apologizing to Gemma. They apologized to Gemma! Ugh. Gemma, you're the worst.

Regardless of what the outcome is of Jax's master Mom Whore Plan (more on that in a second), I'm having a harder time seeing redemption for Gemma than I am even for the worst of the worst Clay. At least Clay has motivation and we know that he's suffering from an irreversible case of assholism. Gemma, on the other hand (which is probably on some random guys' privates while Jax's kids watch), is just in an inexplicable, selfish, self-destructive phase with no common sense.

That's why I'm totally on board with Jax's decision to get at Clay through Gemma, specifically by throwing Gemma back into the pit of venomous snakes that is a relationship with Clay. Jax holds all the cards here, and though the way he ended up with that 52-card hand was a bit extreme (see: driving his kids off a cliff), it's the kind of story setup that makes Jax asking Gemma to literally suck the secrets out of Clay palatable. About 10 months ago, if I heard that part of this season would include Jax telling Gemma to go back into the clutches of that monster–the same monster that turned Gemma's face into purple cauliflower–I'd probably write a very strongly worded letter to Kurt Sutter. Now? I'm all, "Throw that bitch back at Clay, fine with me." It's an incredible sacrifice for Sutter to ask of his wife Katey Sagal, and a gutsy call for both. She was, at one time, one of the show's most beloved characters after all. Now she's essentially a plot device, our compassion for her stripped (or ablated, some would say!) after a string if inexcusable actions. Sutter has asked a lot of Sagal in her career as Gemma Teller. She's been gangraped, beaten, and railed by strange men, but a character turn for the worse like this might be the most he's ever asked of her. At home, Sutter must be giving foot massages to Sagal like he's trying to squeeze gold of her feet.

And Jax asking Gemma to do the unspeakable falls in line with where he is, too. Ever since Opie was murdered and Pope, the devil on Jax's shoulder, put crazy totalitarian ideas into his head, Jax has been on a warpath. He doesn't have problems bashing in a guy's head with a snow globe, he doesn't mind swinging the axe to cut off some dead guy's hands, and he was totally okay with shooting a guy in the gut and letting him fall backwards three stories onto the ground. Violence is no stranger to the job of club president, but the cruelty of Jax's methods even stand out to his friends. Did you see the look on the faces of Chibs and Happy when Jax let Frankie's contract killer fall off the building even after he sang and gave Jax more than enough information? When men who have bashed people's brains in with bats are saying, "Not cool, bro" then you might be a wee bit over the edge.

At least one person is willing to call him out on it. Thank god for Nero, who might be the only normal person in this sea of insanity. Nero's been the most positive influence on Jax this season, and it's scary to think where our prince would be without him. Early in the season I had my doubts about trusting him, but apparently Nero is the real deal and here to balance Pope's influence, which Dark Jax is a lot more susceptible to. Nero's talk with Jax about "accelerating the endgame" is something Jax needed to hear, but at this point, it's all in one ear and out the other as the rage and fury inside him is making the decisions.

"Ablation" put the skids on a lot of threads as a new chapter of the season was opened. There were a lot of secrets released, which normally wouldn't be fun to watch, but the amount of shit that hit the fans as a result of those secrets coming out rivaled that inside the Port-a-potties at a Texas chili cook-off. Now let's all get ready to squirm as we watch Jax pimp his mother out.


– Yeah, for a second I feared the worst for Chibs when Frankie (jerk!) had him at gunpoint. Losing Chibs and Opie in the same season would have been too much. I don't think we'll see another major death—and by "major" I mean core member of the show—this season, unless Unser gets it.

– Abel is going to be okay! Well that worked out well then. I guess. At least they didn't drag out his fate long.

– "Hey, next time... a few fingerprints on a glass will suffice." —Unser.

– As enrapturing as the conversation between Clay and Juice was, I'm still not sure what it means for either of them. Juice spilled all his guts to Clay, and Clay oddly reciprocated with some secrets of his own. Was that just to gain Juice's trust for a plan he has down the road? I don't think Juice would side with Clay over the club even if it meant outing himself. These secrets he's been holding have been weighing on him, and he's dying to let them go.

– Tara! Are you stupid? Everyone knows that when punching someone in the mouth while you're injured, you use your non-injured hand! Come on, girl.

– When Roosevelt told Jax that he would give up the rat, was he talking about Juice? How will that play out?

– The more I think about it, the more I think Clay's plan of staging break-ins with the Nomads was stupid. Did he actually think he could get away with it?

  • Comments (28)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • Misao_83 Jun 27, 2013

    So happy Chibs is ok, I love that character

  • RoryJamesSaywer Nov 04, 2012

    I totally agree on the point that Gemma lying, even though it was Clays idea, was absolutely sickening. Even though the truth did come out eventually, Gemma initially lying about it just made what she did that much worse.

    I loved the Jax and Tara scenes this episode. They were amazing as always. I love the strength they have together though everything.

    Jaxs' plan is a really interesting idea that Im totally down for. After Gemmas actions last week and her lying this week, I also started to think and feel like there is absolutely no redemption for her at this point, but this plan may give her the only chance shes got to make things right.

    As for Jax, I sort of disagree with the review about his actions. I dont think Jax is necessarily going dark or that its as clear cut as that. Opies death was the hugest tragedy obviously. And like everyone I thought that would push Jax over the edge, into darkness and rage. I would have 100% understood if he did, if it did in some way break him. However since Opie died things have not been what I expected. Jax still, as he always has, thinks with his head not his anger. Has done some things out of anger and revenge? Yes but in my mind Jax is doing an excellent job thinking strategicly as he always has and doing what he feels is necessary to get the club though all the shit they have going on. There is new anger, toughness, and maybe even brutality in Jax but I dont believe he gone over the edge. This season for him is a lot about him in his new role as president and I think what hes been though, combined with the the club is going though and his presidency has just made him realize that being president isn't easy and that in some ways you have to have some of those qualities to be a good leader. Hes doing his best to find a good leadership medium between the tyrant Clay was and between his father JT. At his core he will always be a good man.

    I think Tara slapped not punched Gemma but I could be wrong. Also Im extremely glad Chibs was not killed. I agree that Opie and Chibs dying would be way too much to handle. I hope Chibs is ok because a few days after this ep aired it occured to me that because of Chibs' former head injury that he may be worse off than he otherwise would be. Frankie is such a douche. I can't believe he shot Lyla of all people hasn't she been through enough lately. But then again hasn't everyone.

    As for Clay and Juice I'm not really sure where thats headed either. But I know that I dont like that Clay now knows about Juice being a rat. I'm also sure Roosevelt was referring to Juice. I know Juice was a rat but I still love Juice. He did what he thought he had to at the time and I don't want anything to happen to him, but I'm now sure that something is gonna happen because someone will probably find out about Juice.

    Even though I think Jaxs' plan is great and even though I'm pissed as hell at all that Gemma has done, I cant help but be at least a little worried about Gemma safety with Clay if he ever finds out long down the road. My only other small problem with it is Nero. Nero has been a good influence in Jax and Gemmas lives but what happens to him once this plan goes into action. Though the cub is more important, and Jax did warn him about getting involved with Gemma in the first place. It doesn't change the fact that I think its a good plan I just feel bad for Nero in all of it and I sincerely hope theres no awful repercussions due to this plan.

    Looking forward to next ep and as always just hoping noone dies next week.

  • WSeagul Nov 04, 2012

    I think it's unfair that Clay can only be killed once!! the motherfucker should die and comeback to be killed again at least 100 times!!! Hate his guts! Gemma is a mess. Jax is pissing me off with his new all-murderous attitude. I'm worried about Juice though... If there was ever a time to grow a neuron should be now. com'on Juicy!!

  • Mate Nov 01, 2012

    Day number eight of Clay still being alive.

    Another not even mediocre episode in my opinion. Nothing happened that you couldn't see coming from a mile away. And Sutter solidified his new, if you are a bad person and do a bad thing (like Gemma did) nothing is going to happen to you, especially if you are a character he deems is above the creed he set forth in the beginning of this series. Gemma did a bad thing, and nothing happened to her. She has to go back to Clay? ooooo. Lame. Clay shouldn't be alive and all of this needless inclusion of him, with stupid plots, I agree that there is no way he would have thought the home invasions would have worked. It all seems forced.

    Jax is being knocked back and forth between being the smartest guy in the club. But stupid enough to not see what is right in front of his face in order for the below standard plot to keep going. Seriously, how many times did he need to be told that no one targeted his family, and that Clay was behind the nomads. I think it was at least 4 or 5. I mean it certainly wasn't Clay going from barely being able to lift his bike last season and being on O2 at the start of this season, to riding around. That wasn't a big enough freaking clue. Either Jax needs to be smart or he needs to be stupid. Not too mention that it doesn't matter what Gemma finds on Clay, the club still needs him for the connection to the Irish for some stupid reason. Last season Clay killed Piney, tried to have Tara killed. And that wasn't enough to have Jax kill him or bring it all to the club. And this lameass plot is what is going to do it? No.

    There is no way in hell that the Irish are going to bag out of all that money, simply because one guy doesn't like Jax. Also why wouldn't Jax just tell Roosevelt that it was Clay, Roosevelt kills Clay. Jax tells the Irish that Clay was doing side work, the Sheriff's wife was killed, Sheriff found out, kills Clay. Sorry guys but you are going to have to deal with Jax. Boom, done. Move on to another, better plot

    And for that matter, Pope. Pope is a connected guy, he knows a lot of things. Presumably he knows that it is Clay starting trouble for Jax; Pope sees a future with Jax. Pope seeing that it would benefit himself more if Jax was clear headed and fully in his corner would understandably kill Clay, without even a second thought about it. The sheer fact that you have a strictly business guy in Pope existing this season and Clay undermining Jax, which is essentially undermining him and his potential money is sloppy writing if Pope sits there on his hands and does nothing.

    There was no way in hell Abel was walking out of that car crash with a freaking bandaid. No way. I know head cuts bleed like crazy, I have had many. But there was no way that blood on the limb was from the kids head. I didn't want to see Abel killed. It would have been tragedy for tragedy's sake. But there was no way he got out of that with such a minuscule issue. Which also lends to the new creed that nothing happens to the bad people named Clay and Gemma. Nothing.

    The juice thing was dumb. Juice is a great character. This year with the killing of Opie his character could have stepped up and filled a major role. But no, he has to be basically a lackey, to Clay. Hopefully he is going to be the one to tell Roosevelt and that leads to Clay dead. This show will continue to lack while he lives.

    As for Frankie, next episode is SAMCRO tracking him down. So that makes three episodes dealing with an ancillary character, who isn't even a good character.

    WHY SOA? WHY! You used to be such a great show.

  • assenzaforzata Nov 03, 2012

    Mate, you'd better stop watching any shows, if you're clairvoyant that is.

    Fo**in hell, that goes for every other know-it-all, just watch Hohey Poo Poo and all will be better...hahahahahahaha!

  • mcepin3 Nov 01, 2012

    if Pope would go and kill Clay ( which to you it doesn't matter who it is,as long as someone kills him soon,no?), that would mean he is doing club's work. By doing that, I think club would have to go and get Pope killed, because he killed their brother. That would just cause him more trouble and no more dealing with SAMCRO.

    Same goes for Roosevelt.

    Every week you just bi-t-ch how Clay is still alive and how bad things only happen to good people and bad guys keep on walking and living. If they went and kill every bad guy now, what would be left? This show has one more season(maybe more,who knows) and members in SAMCRO aren't all good guys,you know? They also killed other people,beat them up,.....

  • Mate Nov 02, 2012

    Well for one, I think Pope has proven that he is big enough that he simply can't be touched. For two, after Clay is dead Jax is free to tell the club the truth about Clay. All of this hand wringing and plotting on his part especially with Gemma, is him trying to get enough evidence on Clay to take to the club so that they can kill him. Kill him first, and it is a lot easier to show the evidence as to why they aren't going to go after Pope. You can even bring in Gemma to verify the story, same with Unser and Tara. Also with Clay dead, it would go to a vote. And Jax would have the votes not to seek revenge on Pope. Pope is a smart character, he should know all of this. He can get away with it for the stated reasons.

    And Roosevelt, he is a man bent on revenge. He doesn't need to think rationally. He just wants vengeance for his wife and fetus. Actually even though it would be a lame death for Clay (Pope would probably give him a viking funeral, or drag him behind a bike or a car, drop him from a building, cut off his head) Roosevelt would probably just shoot him. But he can do so without any trouble for the club.

    And trouble notwithstanding, I think it is a moot point which is more trouble. Not just for the character but the writers. Characters, trouble with Clay's death or trouble brought on by Clay from trying to undermine Jax. For that it seems moot. For the writers, trouble coming up with another lame plot for Clay who shouldn't be there or trouble in coming up with a new big bad for the club to deal with. I am for the latter on that one. As I said, Clay's forced inclusion i dragging down quality of the show.

    I have always said that the the "really" bad people, who do really bad things have always got theirs at the end of the episode. The ATF agent, The White Supremacists, The Irish Priest and guy who stole Abel etc. All of them, who did bad. (outside of the normal bad that the club does. Which benefitted the club .This is the key point) They all were rendered dead as per the creed of the show. Clay did worse than all of them, Killed Jax's dad, killed Opie's wife, Killed Opie's dad, tried to kill Tara, all to benefit himself. He was not killed. This is against the creed of the show. Clay should die and so should Gemma. Gemma for Conspiring to kill Jax's dad. And all the rest of her crap over the years. They still drawing breath violates the rules of the show, the forced and frankly stupid plots on Clay's part this season which then pervades the whole story is dragging the story down.

    They should have killed him off and brought in another big bad for the club to deal with. And gone from there. Sutter had his chance to go bold and kill a beloved yet controversial character in Clay. He blinked and the show is suffering for it. But I guess it is all based on your opinion of a great show mcepin3, I go for bold, consistent, well thought out stories, which is what SOA was. I expect better.

  • NickLopez2 Nov 01, 2012

    Kurt Sutter said on twitter that the reason people tune into SoA now is to see when Clay will die, and he says he will ride that train for a long time. I thought the reason people tune into SoA was to watch a great show, which it isn't at the moment. I knew none of the other secondary characters would step up and fill Opie's spot, because Opie's spot was already pretty limited before he died. The real spot should have been taken from Clay, and this season seems to be building toward his demise, but wasn't that the case last season? If Clay dies this year, it will be probably be the only good thing this show accomplishes this season, everything else is kind of meaningless.

    (I never thought Juice was a great character, and I thought his storyline last season wasn't that good. But to each their own).

  • Mate Nov 01, 2012

    Juice I would say had the potential to be a great character. The actor does a good job with what he has. The stuff last year was kind of lame. But I felt he did a good job. But he is an intermediary character. One step below the core and one step above people like Frankie. But this year, after Opie (not in the current plot line mind you) he could have had a bigger role and the character could have been better.

    As for Sutter. I seriously doubt Clay is going to die this season. Unless it is by the hand of Roosevelt. And if it is, as much as I want him dead, it will be a lame death. But if he didn't die last year than I just don't see it this year. Plus if Sutter said that, he is going to squeeze at least one more season out of him. If not take him to the series conclusion. But I agree with you, I initially turned in because it was a great show. And it is no longer that.

  • kakistoss Nov 01, 2012

    What's up the Juice's situation?:))) he is always Someone!s monkey. t's so sad, man.

    And the best episode so far in this season. This show is killing me. Loves from Trkiye:))

  • Sp4wN19 Nov 01, 2012

    " As enrapturing as the conversation between Clay and Juice was, I'm still not sure what it means for either of them. Was that just to gain Juice's trust for a plan he has down the road?

    When Roosevelt told Jax that he would give up the rat, was he talking about Juice? How will that play out?"

    I think those 2 paragraph should stick together.

    I think when Roosevelt will be close on telling Jax about Juice, Clay will tell Juice about it and Juice will help Clay with whatever plan he will have against Jax just to get off the hook. We've seen how Juice is, he is close to a breakdown and it wouldn't surprise me if he worked with Clay down the road. Or that's what the writers want us to think so that in the end Juice will do the right thing and stick with Jax and rat out or turn against Clay.

  • MarissaCulver Nov 01, 2012

    My hunch is that Roosevelt is going to figure out somehow that Clay masterminded the home invasions and give him up as the rat. That way even if he tries to out Juice no one will believe him. I call it a hunch but it's probably wishful thinking!

  • coutterhill Nov 01, 2012

    I like that idea

  • Sparky23 Nov 01, 2012

  • bkyle2429 Nov 01, 2012

    but another great episode!!!! by far one of the top five shows on Television on today!!!

  • bkyle2429 Nov 01, 2012

    Tim it will get much much much worse for the SONS!! the shit storm that Clay started!! has only begun!!!!

  • mcepin3 Nov 01, 2012

    great episode.

    I also am on edge of my seat everytime I see Tara getting into fight and using her right hook:D (WHEN SHE HAS F-UP RIGHT HAND! ).

    If we lose Unser I don't see much tradegy there( doesn't he have cancer and certain amount of life left anyway?)

    Was also shocked when Clay told Juice his side,but then I thought about it and he really didn't told him much. Juice drove Clay to Unser and he let him know,when those 2 were coming at the trailer,where Juice dropped him off few minutes ago.

    Gemma,Gemma,Gemma.... :D....she steps with left foot in one pile of shit and with right into next one.

  • See More Comments (4)