There's good television, and then there's entertaining television; the former involves carefully crafted storytelling that's engaging and thoughtful, and the latter is, for lack of a better phrase, full of crazy shit that we don't get to see in real life. Surprisingly, despite being about a motorcycle gang (I'm not in a motorcycle gang, so this is foreign stuff to me, but maybe you are, in which case ignore this), Sons of Anarchy spends most of its time on the good side of things with its focus on family life, loyalty, and friendship, hidden within a cloud of leather and beer bubbles in beards. But sometimes, just to remind our hybrid-car-driving soccer-mom asses that we will never be as exciting or balls-out as any grimy member of SAMCRO, Sons of Anarchy turns up the entertainment factor, probably just because it can.
"Orca Shrugged" was a very entertaining episode of Sons of Anarchy, but it was also mostly good at the same time. Yeah, I know I sound like an illiterate fourth grader by barfing up that simple babble, but "Orca Shrugged" featured all the ridiculous fun of drag queens, gatling guns, and bare-knuckle fighting, then really hit a touching theme of healing among club members while others dealt with new wounds.
Sons of Anarchy has been dragging a few stories for a while now, so when Jax said the gun deal with the Irish was going to go down, all I could do was scream, "FINALLY!" The show has a tendency to treat its plots like a buffet, loading up its plate with hanging threads before it even comes close to finishing what it picked up during its last trip. Do you really need French fries when you haven't finished your mashed potatoes? To SoA's credit, it's been able to stay more focused this season and has juggled stories with more clarity, but any time a plot moves closer to its end, it feels like an accomplishment—especially when new ideas are constantly being piled on.
And one of those new stories took up a large chunk of tonight's episode as Jax pursued SAMCRO's new source of income, a joint prostitution venture with Nero. But to get the right property for the Poonanny Palace, an Elks Lodge a few miles outside of town, Jax had to go to Mayor Jacob Hale. The requisite scratching of backs presented itself, as Hale needed one extra vote to keep his dream of upscale real estate project Charming Heights alive, setting up one of the funniest and over-the-top sequences in the history of a show that has had many over-the-top moments.
It went like this: The boys figured that they'd blackmail one of Hale's voters, an obese insurance man named Alan, into voting pro-Charming Heights by snapping incriminating photos of him in some serious sexual bondage circumstances. The only problem was that Alan, as far as we could tell, wasn't into that kind of stuff. Nothing a few sedatives and an eager tranny for hire couldn’t solve.
Listen, I respect the heck out of Walton Goggins. His work on Justified and The Shield is some of the best acting television has to offer, and he's a brilliant man who spends his spare time working on non-profit humanitarian and environmental efforts. Plus he's an artist with a camera, and he won an Academy Award in 2001 for directing and starring in the short film The Accountant. But I can honestly say without a doubt that the greatest thing he has ever done is dress up in drag with some huge prosthetic titties and say, "Didn't your daddy tell you to never judge a book by his penis?" The surprise cameo by Goggins as Venus Van Dam, a horny, sassy tranny in a thong and assless chaps who rode a whale of an unconscious man wearing nipple clamps, is the kind of entertainment television I was talking about at the top of this article. And things got even better when Marshall Allman (True Blood's Tommy) interrupted the photo session and was convinced to get some oral pleasure from Venus because hey, all the SAMCRO guys had a little dick every once in while. Chibs' "Two dicks" comment with a double-wanking motion and Tig's obsession with Venus's breasts were almost too much. Yes, I would watch a spin-off starring Venus Van Dam as a detective. Of course it would be called Private Dick.
Though I could spend years talking about Goggins' Double-Gs and man-ass, we must move on. The whole point of that fun was to get Jax in bed with legitimate politicians, and it was a smart play to get in good with Mayor Hale. They've had their issues before, but gangs know that allegiances change like the seasons. When one alliance is broken, it's in your best intrest to go out and start a new one. When the episode started and Jax went on and on about hate, I wondered if that would lead to careless decisions on his part. But siding with suits is a good move, especially since the club's relations with other gangs are so tenuous.
With Opie's death two weeks removed and new ventures in the works, the club is moving on and showing signs of healing. For some it's quite literal, with Tara's hand looking healthy enough to keep her dream of performing surgery again alive. And then there's Tig's ass, recovering from the bite he got from Alan. For others, it's a healing of relationships, and that's most apparent with Tara and Gemma. The final sequence of "Orca Shrugged" was, after so much strife between the ladies in previous episodes, a beautiful thing to witness. Tara offered Gemma a chance to spend some time with her grandson, and Jax came home to find the two most important women in his life at ease during a rare moment of calm. But the serenity was slightly stirred when Jax opened his special delivery: a cooler containing the black-market severed boob and thumb that will be used to appease the Latino gangsters who wanted Nero's whore Emma Jean (Ashley Tisdale) dead. The juxtaposition of the flesh on ice and Jax's relaxed demeanor in the kitchen was a reminder that the nefarious activities of the club are never completely out of the picture. SAMCRO gets to heal a bit for now, but for others (like Sheriff Roosevelt—more on that below), the wounds have just been opened.
– So sad to see Sheriff Roosevelt's wife and her unborn child get killed in the botched break-in. Where does Roosevelt turn his attention to now? I was looking for another prosthetic leg during that scene as evidence that it was indeed the SAMCRO Nomads, but didn't see one. But it has to be, right?
– I do not like Galen one bit. Did he really need to show that the giant gun worked by blowing up two of SAMCRO's bikes? And why was Chibs the only one who took exception to this? You do NOT mess with the ride of an MC member.
– What's up with the giant butt sculpture in Nero's brothel? It's hideous! And I want one in my house.