Sons of Anarchy "Salvage" Review: Welcome Back, Bobby

By Kaitlin Thomas and Tim Surette

Oct 16, 2013

Sons of Anarchy S06E06: "Salvage"

Ed. note: We're trying something a little different this season with our Sons of Anarchyreviews. Instead of having one person compose his or her thoughts for you each week, we've decided it might be more fun to tag-team SOA in a conversation-style review. That way, you'll get two different perspectives on TV's most violent drama.

KAITLIN: This week marks the sixth episode of what was promised to be a transitional season for Sons of Anarchy, which means we're essentially at the midway point. And "Salvage" acted the way any self-respecting middle-of-the-season episode should: It wiped the slate clean and set the stage for Act II. Think of the complete and utter destruction of the clubhouse in last week's "The Mad King" as this season's big character death. This year's Opie. So this week there was nowhere for the club to go but up. Now's the perfect time to officially give the Irish the finger, and for Jax to step up and be a real leader. He's finally talking to his brothers—and not just Chibs and Happy, but every member of the club in the Northwest United States—and he's finally making moves that could actually benefit everyone, not just himself. He's stopped blaming Clay for all of his problems, admitting that blaming Clay doesn't actually solve anything, and he's acting like a Boss. I don't know about you, Tim, but I'm suddenly very excited for the rest of Season 6.

TIM: Uh-oh! Looks like you and I are going to have our first fight of the season. Sorry, but I thought "Salvage" was a snoozer, an hour-plus (what's with all these long episodes?) of dragging out what could have been accomplished in 15 minutes and should have been accomplished several episodes ago. I don't think Sons of Anarchy needed to devote an episode to quiet reflection and mourning. It needed a bunch of tire marks all over Galen's head! This felt like a breather episode, which, like you said, clears the table. But I considered last week to be the act break, designating the Irish as the new goal. Season 6 has been all about craziness, but "Salvage" was full of conference calls and meetings. I've moved past expecting slow, dramatic moments from Sons of Anarchy. I demand entertainment via blood and unnecessary violence!

KAITLIN: Uh, hello?! Remember that scene with the dirty cops in Eden? That was a fun bit of unnecessary violence! Juice went crazy on those shady dudes because they had the nerve to merely look at him with their dirty cop eyes! And the chase scene that followed ended with Juice jumping off a police motorcycle and into a moving van? And what about the police cruiser that flipped after the bike went under it? That wasn't enough action for ya? Okay, okay. I do agree that the show should've started moving down the path it's on awhile ago, and I'd love for the Irish to get what's coming to 'em—preferably in a bloodbath of sorts—but it's just going to take a bit more time. Kurt Sutter isn't just interested in unnecessary violence, Tim. He's a storyteller. This is serious business!

TIM: Yep, the very serious business of Persian torture-porn filmmakers and drowning them in pee. I did love that cop SUV flip, but I have to wonder whether the Dirty Cops of Eden story will go anywhere, or if it was just something to do while SAMCRO was road-trippin'. 

The bottom line is we're still just talking about getting out of the gun business, and I'm ready to move on to the next topic. And as much as I love the idea of SAMCRO visiting other chapters and having a powwow, I'm seeing a lot of repetition here. "We have to get out of guns! We're going legit! We've lost too many members!" Does Charlie Hunnam even need a script at this point? Is this what he left 50 Shades of Grey for? I'm not disagreeing with the process of what Jax is up to, I'm just bummed by Sons of Anarchy's uneconomical use of time here. I at least wanted to see Jax make some progress with passing the gun business to his associates, like August Marks. Now we'll spend next episode doing that.

KAITLIN: True, and you just know that we're going to be suffering through Clay being embedded with the Irish for awhile. The guy isn't even out of prison yet and I'm already kind of annoyed by the prospect of that storyline. Sons of Anarchy could definitely use a bit of adrenaline to move the story forward. Luckily we made some progress on the Toric/Patterson front this week. I was beginning to think we went through all that Toric shit for no reason, but nope, Gemma told D.A. Patterson about Toric's shady business practices and now we're moving. But tell me, why did no one think to check out Toric's motel room before now? That just seems like sloppy police work (not that Charming's resident law enforcement has ever been all that great at the policing side of things). However, even if nothing else ever comes from this storyline, watching C.C.H. Pounder whip off her off and say, "Time to go hood, sister" was totally worth it.

TIM: The squeeze by Patterson on Tara was probably my favorite non-violent part of the episode. She picked up right where Toric left off and she's already put an ultimatum on Tara. I assume moving up Tara's trial by three weeks hurt Tara's chances of finishing all the guardianship paperwork (because it's taking forever), and now that I've decided to just accept that Tara is trying to ditch Jax and the club, I like that she's in a tough spot. It's either go to jail and risk the kids hanging out around exploding biker bars, or flip on the club, OR take FULL immunity and give Patterson what she needs to take down the club for their Guns for Tots program. Could Sutter actually have the balls to get Tara to flip on Jax? How awesome would that be? And with next season probably the show's last, why not? Or maybe Sutter will find a way to pin it all on the Irish and everyone has a Budweiser to celebrate.

KAITLIN: I think having Tara flip on the club would be the most exciting thing Sons of Anarchy has done in awhile. Because at the end of the day, Tara loves Jax, not the club. She doesn't have a strong allegiance to the guys or their brotherhood like, say, Clay. But would Tara do it if it meant that Jax would be behind bars? When Patterson brought up Jax, Tara showed the first real emotion we've seen from her in weeks, talking about how she loves her husband. Tara's very conflicted at this point, and character-wise, she could absolutely go either way. But from Sutter's point of view? The man who hasn't yet killed Clay and who always seems to find ridiculous ways to write himself out of the corners he's painted himself into? I just don't see it. I have a sickening feeling you're right on the money when you say he'll blame it all on the Irish. 

But you know what? We've done a whole lot of chatting already and we haven't *once* mentioned tonight's surprise guest-star. Walton Goggins returned as Venus Van Dam! I don't know why her character is back, and I don't even know if I care why her character is back, because more Goggins on my TV is always a good thing.

TIM: And what a contrast it was from the first time we met her! Goggins is one of television's best actors no matter what gender he's playing, and he was incredible this time as sad Venus. But I'm not going to get too happy just yet. If there's one thing I've learned from this show, it's that people who come out of the woodwork with sob stories can't be trusted, and the timing of her unexpected return—while Nero was gone—was very suspicious. It wouldn't be the first time this season that Gemma fell for a woman with a bruise on her face. And in fact, the return I was more excited for was Bobby's. Seeing the boys jump on him and shower him with hugs warmed my stone-cold heart. And he wasn't going Nomad at all! He was busy recruiting some stand-up gents to help fill the holes in SAMCRO and add some like-minded individuals who will ease the transition into the kinder, gentler M.C. I don't understand why it was such a secretive operation, though. "Surprise!" I guess.

KAITLIN: Shhh, you're harshing my Goggins buzz. But I'll admit that Bobby's reappearance also brought tingles to my heart. It's great to have him back in with the rest of his the club, and it was awesome to see Jax and the boys have some fun for once. This series often gets so weighed down by its need to be a Serious Drama About Serious Things that it's easy to forget there was once a time when every episode wasn't full of doom and gloom and blown-to-smithereens HQs. When the show wasn't just one horribly bad thing after another blowing back on the club. Seeing Jax smile at the shady cops and crack jokes reminded me of simpler times, when Sons of Anarchy could handle the harsh realities of club life and still have fun. What I wouldn't give for a well-placed Juice-in-a-diaper scene now. But alas, those days seem to be behind us. And now all I can say is this that I'm excited to see if this slate-clearing, trajectory-changing episode follows through on its promises.


– The real victim in last week's Teller-Morrow bombing? The SAMCRO table! Nooooooo! 

– It looked like Galen's Irish buddies weren't too happy with him at all. When Jax told them Connor was still alive, they all looked at Galen like he'd told them otherwise, which could have been the impetus for the bombing. Galen is going DOWN.

– As far as Jax is concerned, Juice has paid his debt. But he's not sure Chibs will see it that way. Can we please just cut this storyline loose? Let Juice be moderately happy with himself for a while?

– What do we have to do to get Walton Goggins and C.C.H. Pounder in a scene together?

– Tig: "I've seen Smokey and the Bandit a thousand times, love that movie!"

– Unser: "Got me a Nazi owie."

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  • judysullivan8 Oct 24, 2013

    Quite simply the best tv acting and writing in the Venus episode since the Soprano's Pine Barrens. Kudos to Goggins who deserves and Emmy for his Venus, and the writers of the episode. I was entranced, and two days later am still thinking about Venus. What an unexpected treat.

  • christopherdo13 Oct 22, 2013

    I know this was a slower episode but that was why I fell in love with the show it wasn't all about crazy shoot outs etc it was about character development, politics, family, fun and of course the action. This episode for me was a great step in the right direction again. I was starting to lose faith after the last few seasons it all just went hay wire all reactive and seemlingly without thought and jax wasn't showing any of the promise that was promised in the first 3 seasons. Great to see Walter Goggins back haha and great to see Bobby back. I just hope that the show now evolves to it's full & utmost potential. I expect crazy things to happen but I want it to be because of other people not them doing stupid things. I would like to see everything that the club is trying to do to have proper reasons behind them i'm sick of seeing them clammering around reacting to mad stuff and doing stupid things with no thought whatsoever. I want to see the club rebuild itself deal with the struggles that lie ahead together and the show to come to a close having delivered a truck load of it's early promises. Best episode of season 6 so far for me at least in terms of satisfaction after it. I'm sure this club harmony won't last though haha!

  • RoverGuy Oct 22, 2013

    I guess Jax and SAMCROW have literally turned a corner, as the last scene shows...They are out of guns, Bobby and others are back to fill the table. Things are looking bright for the MC. Wonder what Sutter has in mind to throw a wrench into the works.

  • ErlendJohanne Oct 21, 2013

    Whaaat? A feel-good episode of SOA?!? How unexpected and delightful! It was certainly nice to see the guys smile and have a bit of fun again, and not only worry about deaths, prison and irishmen. Bobby's back, Jax is smiling and Juice has finally mustered a bit of self confidence. Good times! Of course, next week will bring mayhem and troubles again, but I think we needed this little breather now...

  • ElisabethMuld Oct 19, 2013

    I loved this episode. Felt like a S1 episode but in S6, like it should (Gemma making a scene at the police station!). The boys went out and had some outlaw fun, caught up with brothers and still advanced the plot. Their galavanting left a bit of room for the other storylines and I think the episode was greatly balanced.
    You guys speculated a lot about stuff that's going to happen in the future that you won't like. Now I know you'll have watched the past 6 seasons, so you should know that Kurt Sutter never takes you where you think you're going to go. Please have some faith here.
    I'm glad Bobby is back and they made it believable. Bobby was mad, but he still loved the club and recruited members. The table won't feel so empty anymore. Not to mention them not taking revenge on the Irish?? First smart thing Jax has done this season! They BLEW UP their club house! That's about as serious as it's going to get for these guys. Going after them right away would have been so intensely, insanely stupid. No I like where this is going, not just because this episode allowed for some breathing, but also because I know the madness will be back.

  • RebeccaVeight Oct 17, 2013

    And seriously TIm the he left 50 shades of Grey for this comment is so off its past laughable. Thank God he won't be in it

  • withoutcanseco Oct 17, 2013

    This episode was the best episode of this season. Some much-needed levity was injected. reminded me of old SoA episodes.

  • hulseyclint Oct 17, 2013

    Explain to me how a building blows up in modern America and there is virtually no attention paid to it. All we get is a couple of cops who let a gang of bikers handle it. Ni homeland security no fbi no media coverage. Also wouldn't there be a nationwide search for the club. even id they werent suspects of a bombing?

  • AndyDwyer Oct 17, 2013

    Best episode for a long while... not that I think any have been bad, but there has been a tendency lately for things to happen inorganically. This episode felt so natural, which has always been the best part about the show.
    And wow, how awesome was the surprise to see Venus Van Dam again lol

  • Misao_83 Oct 17, 2013

    I like this episode sooooooooooooooooooo much! So bright, funny, sweet (Bobby is back!) Tara still loves Jax (and he is so hot with his hair and perfect beard this season)... Almost all of it made me smile... And I love blood, gunshoots, violence, but I needed some relax, a bit of fesh air... I know bad things are coming, but after all this sorrow ( the table, WHY???!!!) I´m happy with it.

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