Sons of Anarchy "Crucifixed" Review: Crossing and Double-crossing

By Tim Surette

Nov 14, 2012

Sons of Anarchy S05E10: "Crucifixed"

Last night's Sons of Anarchy, "Crucifixed," was 90 minutes' worth (including lengthy, amnesia-inducing commercial breaks) of dense posturing and positioning as Kurt Sutter delicately placed his finest crystal, china, silverware, and centerpieces on the table in preparation to yank off the tablecloth with all the finesse of a six-year-old amateur magician. This episode was a game of high-seas boat-rocking, extreme Jenga down to just the middle pieces. It went for the House of Cards world record in a store that only sells electric fans. And it was really fun to watch.

The dissemination of information has been the core of Season 5, and that was in full play in "Crucifixed." Secrets! Lies! Half-truths! Lying by virtue of not telling the entire truth! Sons of Anarchy should be praised for treating its ensemble right; everyone gets something to do (except you, Dirty Phil, you're just there to vote the way everyone else votes and clean the toilets). But where Sons of Anarchy creaks and moans is in the way information is spread among all its characters. I'm saying this on a purely personal level—your experience may differ from mine, and I take the blame for not being able to understand every nook and cranny of the labyrinth of plots that's been created. It's hard enough for me to follow everything that's happening in a general sense, but Season 5 is about more than just knowing what's going on. It's become just as important to keep track of which characters know what AND which characters know which other characters know what, and further and further down the hall of mirrors. The whiteboard in the Sons of Anarchy writers room must be the length of a football field with all the different perspectives. Jax knows almost everything that's going on, but Jax isn't certain what Clay knows. Clay knows more than Jax thinks he knows, but Clay doesn't know everything that Jax knows. Bobby knows about Juice because Jax told him after he found out about Juice from Roosevelt. Chibs knows about Juice, too, but Chibs knows different things about Juice. Everyone knows about Clay, but no one can really prove what they know. And Tig knows that Venus Van Dam has a penis and Tig does not care. Thank goodness for Tig, he's a character I understand.

"Crucifixed" offered revelation after revelation, and the speed at which secrets and information were dumped onto the table for different characters to absorb was dizzying. But instead of being a head-scratching mess of "Wait, what now?" the episode bound everyone together in a deadly game. The noose is around every character's neck, and a false move by any one of them could result in everyone's feet kicking.

We'll start, obviously, with Jax, who's continues to remind us of dear old stepdad Clay. Jax added Juice to his army of blackmailed soldiers and drew a line in the asphalt that said "With Me" on one side and "Dead" on the other. The old Jax would've played multiple sides for the benefit of the club, but now he's clearly positioning things in a single direction.

Well, except with regard to his partnership with Pope, which I'm still having a hard time accepting. Jax was willing to hunt down the hired killer (who had little choice in the matter, really) who took out Opie, even though in the process he was going to destroy an alliance with the Grim Basterds. He was also totally fine with murdering the guard (and his wife) for their part in Opie's murder. But then he shakes hands and has a laugh with Pope, the man who ordered the whole thing? It's one thing to accept that getting into a war with Pope would be bad news, but it's another to pal around with him and offer him great financial investment opportunities. If this is sincere, it's the most Clayish thing Jax has done. And the idea that Jax is totally willing to give Tig up to Pope is definitely not cool. We're on shaky ground with Jax right now as makes his transition to full-blown asshole. But is he really playing by the wisdom of keep your enemies closer? I'm hoping this is a prolonged version of what happened at the end of Season 3, when we believed Jax was doing all the wrong things because he was hiding the fact that he had a bigger plan.

After learning that Jax was making moves to get Otto to recant his damning testimony against the club—which would cut Clay's safety line—Clay's next move was to talk to two-timing cartel member and CIA confidant Romeo. The two came up with the only option that made sense: Get rid of Jax and reinstate Clay to keep the businesses of guns and drugs going. Once again, Clay must duck behind the protection of the Feds, only this time he knows it. Clay also has to know that Gemma and Juice aren't just doing his dishes and giving him Cortisone shots because they miss him, but it isn't always clear what's going on in Clay's mind. Ron Perlman is doing fantastic work of late keeping it ambiguous, y'all.

Otto is still crazy as fuck and this week he made one of his most insane maneuvers yet, and that's saying a lot for a guy who stabs people's eyes and likes to cry during his jerk-off sessions to women's perfume. Every scene with Tara and Otto has been ultra-creepy and almost too easy, but it's when he's at his calmest that you know something is up. Shame on Tara for smuggling in the crucifix at his request, because we all knew that the long end of it was going hard and fast into someone. Otto's nurse found Jesus in her jugular in one of the series' most gruesome deaths, and the primal rage Otto displayed was chilling. But it was his motivation for murder—one last middle finger to the club—that was particularly dark. Instead of taking back his statement outright, the murder makes his testimony inadmissible (by way of insanity, I guess?) AND pins potential accessory-to-murder charges on Tara. "Sons live, Redwood bleeds," Otto growled as he was hauled off to be lobotomized or chained to a stake in a prison basement. That line can be taken a few ways, but I think he meant he'll always have respect for the club as a whole, while the current assholes in the Redwood Original chapter can suck a big one. It's going to be hard to top that as exit dialogue.

With just three episodes of Sons of Anarchy left in the season, what else would you expect other than more gasps and nail-biting? The show does this every year. But this season may be one of the more intriguing ones, because what we're really afraid of isn't an external bad guy or a job going wrong, it's Jax. How far is he willing to go? Will he take Pope's advice and find opportunity in the pain he's suffered, will he follow in the monster-sized footprints of Clay, or will he step back into the neo-hippie teachings of his father? There's plenty of time to put Jax back on the path of JT (we're looking at a seven-season show here), so expect that there will be darker days ahead.



NOTES

– Jax reassured Tara that the club would handle her situation like it handles all of its situations, to which she replied, "That's exactly what I'm afraid of." Well, it got you this far, Tara! Don't stop now!

– More Tara: I loved the way she stomped on the toy piano to get her baby to wake up so she could coddle it. This girl, like most everyone else, is one loud, sudden noise away from going completely ape shit.

– I didn't think that the big dude who actually killed Opie needed to die... until I saw him sideswipe the Sons' row of bikes and then knock them down like dominoes. Then I almost jumped through the screen and strangled him myself.

– For all the crazy stuff Jax is doing, he's still finding time to take care of Lyla by getting her a free place in Mayor Jacob Hale's swanky new apartment complex as part of their deal. I love that about Jax. He's always looking out for his porn-star friends.

– Thank goodness the "club members aren't allowed to be black" thing was addressed and Jax said they need to change the bylaws. They are (edit: were) besties with a black motorcycle gang for cryin' out loud, and Jax is doing business with Pope and his gangs. This anti-black stance for SAMCRO was always a problem. Obviously no one cares if Juice is half black or is he's half ogre. Let him be.

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  • insanekitten Nov 20, 2012

    This was the best episode so far IMO. However, Tig needs more screentime. I mean, come on, he's by far the most interesting character. If he gets killed off, which he apparently will, the show loses another piece of its soul, like it did with Opie. Also, there hasn't been any humor this season, except for the transvestite episode, which is what I miss the most. The whole season has been unbelievably gloomy and emotional. And I get it, it has to be that way, it's just a bit exhausting... A few more humorous moments would be nice.

    "I love that about Jax. He's always looking out for his porn-star friends." So you've already forgotten how hard Jax took the death of his best friend? She's not just a porn star friend, she was Opie's love. Notice how Jax doesn't take care of any other of his porn star friends? Yeah.

  • cecejk Nov 17, 2012

    TO grim bastard needs to remember season 3 when he found his best friend with a knife in the back of his scull!

  • cecejk Nov 17, 2012

    So if the cartel killed jax (which we know wont happen) wouldnt bobby as vp be president. How would clay ever be president again?

  • efonsecajr Nov 15, 2012

    Loved the episode. But.
    What's the deal with the gun Juice found in Clay's house in a lockbox? Is that the gun the nomads used to kill the sheriff's wife?

  • cecejk Nov 17, 2012

    I was hoping it belonged to john teller, maybe a gift from someone since it had the reaper on the grip, and it was part of the items in the safe that was stolen from Gemmas house

  • KrisHawkins Nov 16, 2012

    I think it's the gun that Clay/Gemma used to kill John Teller. Or maybe it's just the gun that Clay will use to kill Juice. I don't know, but it's obviously something important

  • efonsecajr Nov 16, 2012

    Yeah JT died in a motorcycle accident like @borgsblueyes mentioned. So that leaves the sheriff's wife. Which is the likely wild card in all the double/triple/quadruple crossing.

  • borgsblueyes Nov 16, 2012

    John Teller died in motorbike accident. The sheriff's wife seems more likely.

  • agarres Nov 15, 2012

    this series just keeps getting better and better. In year one I thought it kinda comical that Jax, the VP, Was the only one that didn't look anything like an outlaw biker. Now he is gaining the look and the atitute of a hard-core type - a real statue of wax in that Frisco museum called - "World-Class Asshole"

  • holcomb_rocker Nov 15, 2012

    I loved how the whole family concept was put in this episode. I know it is an obvious show about a family of bikers but I really enjoyed how everything was about the familial bonds and how strongly it was captured in the episode. We see Tara deliberately waking up Thomas to coddle him (wow, she really is turning into Gemma), We see see Juice becoming a second son to Clay and he (Clay) in turn asking for Juice's allegiance at the same time being forced to turn him in to the club. We see the Grim Bastards going up against the son to protect the cousin who killed Opie. Jax and Chibbs have a heartfelt moment together. Finally we see Clay clinging onto Gemma spilling his heart to her. I think that the glow of the relationships that have been forged and now tested is so strong and it will be really interesting to see how this season's end will form or fracture the bonds of this family.

  • cecejk Nov 15, 2012

    What I'm not understanding is if Jax wants to bring Clay down, why not just use his dad's letters from last season?

  • DEADDOGG187 Nov 16, 2012

    It could be that easy, but look at it this way, with the RICO Case now gone, he could us the letters. but if he uses them right now, what good would it do? Nothing, now, proving he was putting not only the club but using brothers, killing brothers, and going behind everyones back is more to get him killed than just killing his father 100 years ago.

  • cecejk Nov 18, 2012

    Must be something pretty finale in them, he killed Piney and tried to kill Tara to keep the club from reading them.

  • klotensen Nov 15, 2012

    Sutter = God

  • Eliseer Nov 15, 2012

    Damn Otto's such a beast...but a cunning beast, cut from the same cloth as Clay. Knew something was goin down with that crucifix scheme, but that was brutal. And made Tara an accessory to boot. Imagine those true Redwood Originals, when they were all young and living: non-hippie JT, fresh out of Nam w/Clay, young Piney, and a free Otto? Yikes.

    I assume Jax is running a long con on Pope- gotta tread carefully with that particular pos. But I think that, like he's shown by offing the guard's wife and trashing Samcro's relationship w/the Basterds, that all parties involved in the brutal murder of Opie (you're my boy, Blue!) are gonna get their due. I just hope Pope suffers when it's his time. And besides, since they got 3 more names from that big bitch before Chibs tapped him in the back of the head, they've still got some more guys to fix before it's Popes turn.

    As a side note, I love Elvis as the voice of reason, but if you were gonna have two other guys to have your back, could you do much better than Opie and Chibs? Talk about loyal, badass soldiers. Throw in Tig as a wildcard, and that's a pretty bad time for the opposition.

    Love SOA so much.

  • WSeagul Nov 15, 2012

    I agree with you Tim, things are getting way too complicated... I almost started to draw a diagram of who knows what... It's like a soap opera! BUT it feels right (ahahaha)! No one trusts anyone completely! So it's only natural that everyone is always suspicious... And Jax is scary as f*ck!! The way he justifies it and goes from one extreme to the other gives me the chills. If he gives Tiggy away I'm afraid there will be no going back for him :( ..... Btw, don't you have the feeling that ANYONE can die?!?! O.O (except Jax I guess... and maybe Tara bc that would kill Jax) But everyone else: Tiggy, Clay, Juicy, Bobby (Jax kinda alluded to chibs that Bobby might get in the way....not sure of what he meant) and Chibs (protecting Jax)... even Gemma... this show's awesome people!!! :D

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