If you ignore a few "what the fuck were they thinking?" moments in tonight's Sons of Anarchy (and when it comes to this over-the-top bike opera, you should regularly do that at least three times per episode), you're left with one of the best episodes of the season. I loved "Darthy" so hard I'm chaffing, guys. The 90-minute affair could be divided into two parts, the first of which boiled things down to the show's core of daddy and stepson issues, and the second of which released some of the pressure of the first by, oddly enough, adding tension in other places. Plus, unlike last week's episode, "Darthy" felt like it actually needed to be 90 minutes long.
There was so little time wasted that the pre-credit sequence felt like the final moments of the episode, as Clay was hurriedly brought before the table for judgment. The table votes this season have been excellent, but this was by far the biggest decision. The "yays" had Clay out of the club, which was the right thing to do, but they fell one vote short of introducing Clay to Mr. Mayhem because of Bobby's "No thanks." Y'all may be blood-thirsty jackals who want to see Clay strung up and pulled behind a motorcycle, but as a pacifist, I understand Bobby's position and I certainly appreciated his level-headed approach to the matter even while steam was blowing out of everyone else's ears, especially Jax's. At some point, you have to look at the chaos around you and say enough's enough. Killing another member of the Original 9 would cast a pall over the SAMCRO and tamper with the club's current business ventures.
But Jax and the mountain of rage he was sitting on had some pretty damn strong points to make, and we all know what those are (Piney, Tara, etc.). Clay hasn't been fully redeemed for his heinous actions by any stretch of the imagination, and no one but Bobby was willing to lend him any more time. He deserves to die, but if you buy what Bobby was selling then you know killing Clay comes at a cost, and Bobby, like us, was worried that Jax was out of control. For all the talk Jax has yapped about being more like his biological father, he's also shown a lot of Clay tendencies. I really liked how the two sides clashed and stood their ground even after the democratic process saved Clay's life, and the acting in these early scenes was superb, with special high-fives for Charlie Hunnam and Mark Boone Jr. I won't argue with anyone who was disappointed that Bobby stepped in and exercised his power as vice president to save Clay's life, but if you ask me, the move seemed consistent with Bobby's past behavior. The guy just wants everyone to get along and he's been riding alongside Clay for a long time.
Besides, things might actually work out for the best this way. The club earns brownie points for voting Clay out but not killing him, and the door is still open for Clay to meet an untimely fatal accident off of SAMCRO's books. Maybe Clay doesn't meet Mr. Mayhem, but maybe Clay does meet Mr. Wood Chopper or maybe he falls down and accidentally swallows a two-liter bottle of Coke and a pack of Mentos. Bobby knows he can't stop Jax from killing Clay, but if he can delay it or push it out of the club, SAMCRO will remain stronger for it. And as far as street cred goes, others will know that when Clay does die, it will be the club's doing. It just won't be public. And let's be honest, if Sons of Anarchy is going seven seasons, Clay is going to be around for at least six of them.
But just as Jax thought he had a grip on things, everything blew up in his face thanks to stupid grudges and really terrible business partners. The Irish's hatred for the Mexicans and vice versa is totally bone-headed, but old habits and racist upbringings die hard. I don't really buy that the two gangs full of idiots would blow the deal for the guns, and I was right with Jax when he screamed, "We all want the same thing here!" It just doesn't make sense, no matter how much they distrust each other. Grudges should never get in the way of business, and even feuding macho men should know that. But this is Sons of Anarchy, and the story has to move forward and if everyone got along then we wouldn't really have any story, would we?
After the cartel stole the guns and bodies were dropped, the Irish had it out for SAMCRO, thrusting the episode into a whole new realm of OH MY GOD as the Irish promised to murder everyone unless/until they got their money and guns back. The ensuing panic was excellent; any time SAMCRO is scared silly, we know we're dealing with some real shit, and Jax's ex Wendy got the crap end of the deal when she was kidnapped by the Irish to show they meant business. Haha, joke's on you, Irish, all you had was a former heroin whore who no one really cares about! Nero stepped in to provide the money to free Wendy, continuing his role as the club's guardian angel. Seriously, the guy deserves an honorary Harley or something, because he keeps saving the club's ass even after they ruined his life. Turns out he reached his endgame a long time ago despite what he told Jax, which means he's OG to the core and doesn't really want to leave the life at all. That's kind of a disappointment, as I respected Nero for working hard by having his hoes work hard so he could get out of the life. Oh well. Kurt Sutter is no stranger to bending things around toward the end of seasons to make them fit his plan to tame this beast of a show he's created, and this is just another example of that.
Despite not handing over a new batch of guns to the Irish, Wendy was released (what about the guns?) and she was ticked off. Maybe it was the anger from being snatched by scary Irish dudes, but she came back to Jax saying stuff like, "I'm gonna report you and have your kids taken away!" Which was not smart. Not smart at all. Like, ultra-stupid. You do know what Jax does for a living, right Wendy? That stupidity set the stage for the episode's final moments, as Jax stopped by her pad, threw her against the wall, and shot her up with probably heroin to discredit any claims she may have been planning to make against the club. Hey at least Wendy can fill out her calendar now: "Monday, heroin. Tuesday, heroin. Wednesday, blow fat guys for money to get more heroin. Thursday, heroin..." That was an extremely cold move by Jax to put her in her place, but dammit, she's the one who made the stupid decision to threaten his family. Is it hypocritical for me to let Clay off the hook and relish seeing Wendy get hers? Probably, but dammit, I hate Wendy. "Don't ever threaten my family again," said Jax. And he sure meant it.
One of the interesting things about "Darthy" is that, for being the penultimate episode of the season, it didn't really set up any totally obvious stories for the finale. Instead, there were several things ready to explode—including the Tig and Pope situation, Wendy's beef, Tara's potential murder wrap, Clay's escape to Belfast, Nero's gang problem, and Lee Toric's revenge quest, most of which I'll cover in the notes section below—and they'll all need addressing in the finale. I don’t know how Sutter will squeeze all of that into one episode; maybe if he'll stretch some of those problems into Season 6. But there's certainly no shortage of story here.
What "Darthy" did do (and please pardon the terrible metaphor) was put the pedal to the metal for an hour and a half of exciting television punctuated by outstanding opening and closing segments (Clay's tattoo removal was awesome). There's been a bit of extra positioning and information dumping lately, but it's all ready to crash down in the finale. Let's hope next week's season-ender doesn't disappoint like last season's did.
– Whenever Bobby gets a closeup, I think he's about to run down to Mordor with an axe.
– So what do we know about Lee Toric (Donal Logue)? He's an ex-marshal, his sister was the nurse who Otto killed (fun fact: that actress was Logue's real-life sister), and he knows a lot more than he should know. I would not be surprised if his story doesn't end next week and we see more of him in Season 6.
– Please don't hand Tig over to Pope please don't hand Tig over to Pope please don't hand Tig over to Pope. In fact, just kill Pope. Thanks. I can't stand seeing Jax so cool with the man who ordered Opie's death. That's just not right.
– There was a scene where Jax sat Gemma down and said, "Sit down please," but we didn't see the conversation. Then we saw Gemma get extra chummy with Clay. Did he ask her to whore herself out again to learn more about what Clay is up to? He must have, because later she was hanging with Nero and going on about how much she loves him.
– I really have a hard time buying that Tara was ready to give Wendy custody of her children if something happened to her and Jax. That basically tells me that Tara has ZERO friends.
– Clay crying is SAD.
– What kind of war are these Mexican drug cartels waging that they need 10 gigantic missile launchers and 100 missiles?!!?!??! Can I watch that show, please?