Sons of Anarchy: Good Guys Gone Bad

Sons of Anarchy Season 4 has gotten off to a better start than any prior season, with its brewing showdown between Clay and Jax, the very battle we were promised in the series pilot. But I thought "Brick" was Season 4's most interesting (not "good," not "bad," just interesting) episode yet.

If there were themes to "Brick," they were 1) that good people can make horrible choices, whether they're forced to or not, and 2) that even when things seem really bad, they can always get worse. SoA's fourth season has focused on creating divides within SAMCRO, and "Brick" put the series on the verge of entering dangerous overdramatic-for-the-sake-of-being-overdramatic territory. If only one external force (the sheriff, the ATF, a rival gang) was exquisitely masterminding SAMCRO's implosions by getting the members to turn on each other, it'd be absolutely brilliant. But instead we've got several independent issues conveniently resurfacing at the same time.

Okay, fine—it's not real life, it's television. And at least it's still compelling television. The tension has to come from within, because SAMCRO is its own worst enemy, so I'm choosing to ignore the manufactured, "perfect storm of shit" development in favor of settling in with my SAMCRO boys and gasping every time one of them is coaxed into stealing cocaine from the cartel (Juice), lying to a friend whose wife he slept with (Bobby), getting laid outside his marriage (Opie), or admitting to murdering a SAMCRO co-founder (Clay). Sons of Anarchy is like Axe Body Wash in that it's a soap for "manly" men—but that's just another way of saying the show has created an atmosphere of tension and drama. And isn't that all we want from our stories?

At the center of the tension is Clay, who we can finally confirm played a major role in John Teller's death murder. Juicy! I give Sons of Anarchy a lot of props for revealing that detail early in the season instead of holding it close to the chest like an autographed 8x10 of Zac Efron.

Also involved in JT's death: Wayne, who presumably forged the police reports, and Gemma, who I think only knows part of the truth of what happened. SoA creator Kurt Sutter is playing a tricky game of "who knows who knows what," and it's getting a bit difficult to follow as everyone goes behind everyone else's backs. As far as I can tell, Clay knows the most, and that's bad news for everyone else. Gemma, meanwhile, is the most screwed, because she thinks Clay believed her lies when he was in fact using her ignorance to his advantage. Ahhh, blissful marriage! As for Wayne, well, Wayne seems more of a pawn stuck between a King and a Queen, unsure of what he wants to cover up and what he wants to expose. I'll place my bet on Wayne having a major moral conundrum that results in him totally screwing either Clay or Gemma.

In the direct path of a giant cannonball splash is Tara, who wisely (or unwisely, if becoming a murder target is considered a bad thing) hid copies of John's letters. Now that we know Clay killed John, I have to think that offing Tara to silence her isn't out of the question, and let's face it, as far as murderable main characters go, she's fairly high on the list. Ditto for Piney, who may find himself buried if Clay can negate his "contingency plans."

And patiently waiting in the wings is Jax, who has taken a backseat as of late. He's been greatly underused in the past couple episodes while the storylines that will ultimately force him to explode play out. Jax will get his turn eventually, but in the meantime, he's playing support to Clay, Gemma, Juice, Wayne, Bobby, Piney, and Tara. Thankfully, Sons carries such a strong ensemble that our hero can be sidelined without damage.

For me, the most effecting story of "Brick" was Juice's. I love the guy and his penchant for squirting colon-cleaning water up his butt, so it was incredibly painful to see him forced into stealing some of the cartel's blow because Sheriff Roosevelt exploited a long tradition of racism in motorcycle clubs and tied Juice's arm behind his back. (Side note: It's okay that Juice is Puerto Rican but being half black is grounds for getting his ass kicked? Someone needs to explain this selective racism thing to me.) We had to suspend a bit of belief when he took a nap with a kilo in his trousers after his attempt to take just a sample was thwarted, but the payoff was indelible: Juice standing in the room while SAMCRO (and the Mayans) found out that a kilo was missing. I would not want to be him right now.

Boldly lying to his friends was Bobby, who dropped by Otto's pad (i.e. prison) to tell Otto that Bobby was sleeping with Luann before she died and that SAMCRO had taken care of the man who killed her (they didn't). It was a total screwjob for Otto, who's been nothing but 100 percent loyal to the club while he rots away in a zero-star iron hotel. I'm disappointed in Bobby, but I don't blame him. If you're going to lie to someone to smooth things over, pick the guy who has to get through maximum security to exact revenge.

And Opie! Oh my God, Opie! The most disappointing move of all! The gentle giant found birth control pills and morning-after pills in Lyla's porn "dresser," convincing him that she's been sabotaging his plans to have a kid. So Opie slept with some cheap whore to get payback. This was very sad, because Opie is the closest thing Sons of Anarchy has to a legitimately good guy. Did anyone else guess that Lyla had those pills because she's gone back to doing guy-girl porn, or was that just my hormones getting the best of me?

It's interesting that the first episode of the season was all about love and family and the club, and now we are where we are. All that goodwill was just a set-up for an ugly downfall, as SAMCRO is ripping its own guts apart from the inside. "Brick" was difficult to watch because it set up some of my favorite characters to be assholes. But you know what? I like being challenged and uncomfortable. Carry on, Sons of Anarchy.

Notes:
– This is the first time (I believe) that Kurt Sutter (who plays Otto) has shared a scene with his real-life wife (Katey Sagal, who plays Gemma). They're such a cute couple.

– Should Tara have put the copies of John's letters or the real things in her desk? By leaving copies in there, she's letting others know that the originals are elsewhere. If she had put the originals in her desk, any future snoops might believe the danger is gone, giving her the upper hand. Or is my logic flawed?

– How does Linc think he's going to get out of his lie to Roosevelt? He told Roosevelt he would strike his involvement from the record, but now he's setting up Roosevelt's career (and his reputation among the African-American community) to be utterly ruined.

David Hasselhoff was GREAT as the rival porn producer. Hasselhoff and Tom Arnold on the screen at the same time? YES! I really hope the Hoff sticks around a big longer.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (16)
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Oct 09, 2011
i wish i could watch the show where can i do this?
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Oct 08, 2011
I don't understand the whole Roosevelt/Uncle Tom storyline - Happy's mother is black and lives in Vivica's neighborhood, so who cares if Juice's deadbeat DNA donor is black? And who was Juice's sponsor into the club, can he not go to Chibs or Bobby and 'fess up the Roosevelt thing? This storyline feels terribly contrived. And the lying Lincoln all about town, introducing himself as a different member of law enforcement to everyone he meets, this is another "ends justify the means" LE character for SOA in the same fashion as Agent Stahl. One can only hope Roosevelt will throw off his proverbially shackles and wrangle that man in before too much damage is done.



Opie hooking up with Ima is disappointing. Ima proved to be poisonous when Jax hooked up with her in S02, and Opie is married to Lyla who is also in the porn biz - this will have repercussions as Ima seems pathologically prone to flaunting such indiscretions in the faces of old ladies. Truly Opie has no one to blame but himself. Lyla has repeatedly attempted to communicate her wishes to continue her porn career while she still has her looks, and she has changed her subject matter in deference to Opie's wishes, but in this episode we hear the truth from him: he misses and truly wants Donna, or a woman like her, a good girl, waiting at home with the children and untouched by sort of business the club is in. Now he is punishing Lyla for being what she has always been, which is terribly unfair.



I agree the implosion has already begun within the club. Bobby and Tig have never trusted Jax as they have always been loyal to Clay, but Bobby cannot get behind the drug business and alienates himself with the Luann situation. It is good to see Piney standing up to Clay, but with his health issues Clay could easily hide his untimely demise if Piney continues the pressure, and really, what contingencies can the man have set up, Tara? Truly Clay underestimates Jax's relationship to Tara if he does not realize that killing her will incite Jax to madness, and he will not stop until SAMCRO is in ashes. Not to mention that Gemma has made clear Tara is off limits, and her murder will surely cost Clay everything.
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Oct 07, 2011
Loved it!! Quality season so far, setting up a lot of things, the fecal matter is definitely gonna hit the fan toward the end of the season. This show and Breaking Bad is miles and miles ahead of anything else on tv.
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Oct 07, 2011
Much better episode than the previous one. Clay and Tara have the drop on everyone. Jax needs to do something drastic, quick.
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Oct 06, 2011
Assuming that the Club finds out that Juice's dad is black (they know he's latino) would they really kill him? They might throw him out of the Club at worst but kill him? I find that hard to believe and I'm surprise that Juice believes that.

I also find it hard to believe that Juice doesn't have anyone in the Club whom he could confide to.

Now, a K is missing and he was seen earlier at the warehouse. That, and rat-ing to the sheriff, could get him killed...

This year, the action will definitely be *inside* the club. And yeah, that was cool seeing Kurt and his wife Katey doing a scene together.
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Oct 06, 2011
Tom and dave are great! These guys should have more stuff like this!!!!!
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Oct 06, 2011
I could see where you're coming from with the Tara logic, but Clay is unstable enough to kill her anyway just to shut her up. I don't trust the dude...... I didn't know being uncomfortable for an hour could be this fun.
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Oct 06, 2011
I also don't get the racism bit. I don't know that much about MCs though. Considering the work with a cartel, and mexican MC, and don't get along with the aryans you would think that it wouldn't matter.
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Oct 06, 2011
Best episode of the season for sure. Possibly the series....maybe not but definitely in a long while.
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Oct 06, 2011
If I find the originals and burn those, my only loose end is the person who read them and Tara dies. If I find copies, I know she has a contingency plan without her having to spell it out.
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Oct 06, 2011
Yeah, I don't understand this selective racism either. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't we already know Juice's background from the first season, or something? I think I remember at least one of the club's members being half-black. I think they are doing what many writers do;they needed another reason for one of the crew to turn so they relied on the weak memories of the audience to pull back on an already established story point. Kind of like Richie Cunningham's missing older brother, or the youngest daughter from Family Matters being secretly sold to the porn industry while the Winslow's say, "What daughter?" Just how DID you guys afford to redo the house after Urkel's last exploding rocket gaffe?!?
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Oct 06, 2011
I rolled my eyes a little bit when Juice sat behind a tree and fell asleep -- it felt a little forced -- but his storyline is fun to watch. Juice seems like such a nice guy, so it's kind of crummy to see him being forced in this tough position; lesson: nice guys never win.

After the first few episodes, I was kind of psyched about Linc and Roosevelt, and how they were going to try and take down the SAMCRO. But now, I'm more interested in all the storylines internal to the club. I'm anticipating an awesome sh*t-hits-the-fan episode late in the season.
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Oct 06, 2011
About the falling asleep bit, I reason that the waiting 'for the right time to put the brick back' led to hours, and then he passed out.



Guess he should have taken his sample, and a bit to keep him awake.
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Oct 06, 2011
"I really hope the Hoff sticks around a big longer." ... intentional pun?



(also, original documents are always best to keep safest as anyone contesting the copies could simply say they're fake.)
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Oct 06, 2011
^ This. Oh and Clay crazy as hell man. He'd probably try and kill her either way.
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Oct 06, 2011
Loved the episode as usual. This show and Breaking Bad are the best thing on TV right now IMO. Can't wait to see what will Juice do next week!
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