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Sons of Anarchy "Stolen Huffy" Review: Girls, Girls, Girls

Sons of Anarchy S05E04: "Stolen Huffy"

For all the machismo that oozes from the fat folds of hairy guys on Sons of Anarchy, one thing that's easy to forget is how well the show writes its female characters. Gemma and Tara are obviously not just pieces arm candy for their other halves, but go further down the line and you'll notice that even the women who let their asses hang out of their skirts/cloth-napkins-posing-as-skirts have considerable substance. This point isn't lost on the media, and just a few weeks ago, well-known TV writer Alyssa Rosenberg penned a piece for Slate titled, "Sons of Anarchy Is a Show About Biker Dudes. And Feminism."

Well, I'd love to hear what she thought of tonight's episode. The ladies of SoA were still strong in "Stolen Huffy," but they were also pretty quick to get their claws out and full of standard soap-opera scorn. Everything started with Gemma, who's been indefensible in her awful behavior so far this season. It's a continuation of what's been happening since Season 4 and a direct result of being treated like absolute dirt (and a punching bag) by Clay, but now she's overrun with bitterness to the point where it's all about Gemma all the time. Selfish medicating through alcohol, drugs, and random sex is just sad.

It's gotten so bad that ex-methhead Wendy now looks like the sane one, and her decision to spring Gemma from jail after the brawl she incited and the raid on Nero's brothel that followed was a tad confusing. Is she really that tight with Gemma now, or is it a scheme to put Gemma in Wendy's back pocket to use later? Will Gemma owe Wendy for bailing her out? There's some convenience at play here, but it's designed to sell the main event, which is Gemma versus Tara. The look Tara gave Gemma when Wendy came by the Teller-Morrow shop killed like three viewers. True story! (*not a true story)

The mercurial Gemma was also ready to kill Emma Jean (Ashley Tisdale), mostly because she couldn't kill Clay. And she wouldn't have minded putting a railroad spike through the eye of Carla, who just plain don't care for Gemma and was responsible for the guns drawn when Jax tried to save Emma Jean. But what we're seeing from Gemma in these situations is much different than what we'd have seen from the Gemma who was one of television's best female characters back in Seasons 2 and 3. The old Gemma would have been more frightening, with a very personalized death threat to these chicks; the new Gemma throws the gloves down immediately and gets into scraps. Here behavior ultimately started a remake of G.L.O.W., and soon Gemma, Carla, and Tara were all tusslin' in the shop. I don't know about you, but the controlled Gemma of old who chose her words carefully and cut people up on the inside verbally was a scarier Gemma than the one we saw tonight, running around trying to strangle people. That's not a knock on the writing, as it seems more realistic given the amount of times Clay promised to kill her as he was "bouncing her off the floor" (you'd be a little confused, too). But dang Gemma, you used to be cool.

Elsewhere, the tension between Wendy and Tara is reaching a wash-lather-repeat state, and it's making me feel like someone needs to push it along by slapping the back of one of their heads when the other isn't looking. Sons of Anarchy is usually great at keeping things moving, so I'm expecting something to bubble over next week. I'll leave the touchy subject of whether or not Wendy should be allowed to be part of Abel's life up to you, but I'm wondering why Tara softened her stance on the subject as much as she did, and so quickly.

The only woman who wasn't out for blood tonight was Opie's girl Lyla, a shining example of how Sons of Anarchy can craft female characters in questionable careers (she's a porn star) and write them as though they're real human beings. Her grief felt real when she told Jax she's got three kids to deal with now, and Jax let her know that it was going to be Olive Garden rules going forward—when she's there, she's family! No breadsticks, though.

But even Lyla wasn't as broken up about Opie as I would've been. I'm not gonna lie, after the emotionally devastating events of last week, at this point in the episode I was thinking that Opie's importance got cheated. Juice showed a bit of emotion and Gemma had her freak-out, but for a minute there I felt like I was the only one who was really upset. I later realized that was premature, as we got to say our solemn goodbyes to Opie during a great send-off as the club got their time with him and then carried him away. A very tasteful and proper farewell to Opie, and as it turns out, well-placed at the end of the episode.

But as we saw last week, the real impact of Opie's passing sits on Jax. And the scary thing is that Jax didn't look sad. He looked pissed. Like someone had to pay. This is going to be the event that defines Jax for the rest of the season, and the path he chooses will determine the fate of SAMCRO. Was it worth it to lose Opie? No. But will it lead to one hell of a story? I think so.



NOTES

– I'm a little bummed that Ashley Tisdale's arc as Emma Jean is over (she was only signed on for two episodes), and I'm wondering if that's really it. She did such a great job wearing a bed sheet that for a second I forgot it was Tisdale and said to myself, "Hey, there's a girl wearing a bed sheet." That's acting. But seriously, I'm slightly concerned that this will lead to bigger roles for Tisdale.

– I'm a little concerned that the club is so damn scared of Pope. Their chat at the table was a bunch of guys whimpering about a dude; where were the motorcycle badasses we're used to? Jax: "It's not trust. It's fear. Right now he controls it. We have to buy time to change that." And what Bobby said about a phone call being his bullet?

– Jax's deal with Nero: How many of you thought, "Oh god. This is a stuuuuuuuuupid idea" when they agreed to share the profits of a fantasy porn-star sex ranch? And the order that Nero has to stay away from Gemma? At least he had an out when Gemma and Tara beat the crap out of Carla.

– How much do you think a severed thumb and tit go for nowadays? Do you charge by the pound?

– In the opening scene with the kids on the BMX bikes looking at Jax, I was thinking, "Hey Jax, don't let those kids go, shoot them or they'll expose all the methalymine you just stole from that train," but then at the end after I saw that picture of baby Opie and baby Jax on BMX bikes I was like, "A little heavy-handed but I still might cry now."

– I was totally cool with no Irish, Golindo, or CIA talk in this episode. Totally cool.


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

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Tim, that very last bit where you talk about those kids "they'll expose all the methalymine you just stole from that train," had me cracking up! Excellent reference:)
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borgsblueyes, I agree with you that Gemma has always had control of (or has heavy influence on) SAMCRO through her husbands. She is definitely not used to being brushed aside the way Jax is currently doing to her. And the more Tara rubs it in Gemma's face that (by being Jax's wife) she now holds that position, the more Gemma acts out.



Opie's wake was so poignant and a tearjerker. How Jax looked at Tara and then the club before he shut that door... I think it was symbolic of how he sees Opie's death as a painful wake up call to strongly shut the door on "the sh*t that kills them", aside from just a promise of vengeance. Not sure if he will succeed at that, or how long it will take.
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While Opies' death last week was such a shocker, there were some huge little moments in this episode, especially with Jax and Jemma. Jax had always been Jemmas pocket, and she used to be able to manipulate him. But when he said 'go home mother' in the brothel, Gemma obeyed. Then he called her out in Samcro's yard. We have never heard Jax speak to his mother like this before. When Jemma tried her little trick with of setting Wendy on Tara, Tara's threat to Jemma was not that Tara would kill Jemma but 'my husband might'. Sons isn't about Jax and Clay, its about Jax and Jemma. Jemma ruled the Sons roost, first with John and when John tried to leave the club, she manipulated Clay into killing John, and put Clay in Johns place. Unfortunately for Jemma, by achieving her ambition of getting Jax, on the throne so to speak, she now has lost control of him. I think in the end Jax will kill Jemma.

Tara and Jemma can't kick the crap out of each other (yet) and they know this, so the fight with Carla was the only way they could let out that frustration.

Ah Nero, I like Nero, but I also think there has to be way more to this guy. I'm not sure about him kiling Emma Jean though, as what purpose would it serve, unless he is plain evil of course. Also Clay must have been the one to call the cops on the brothel, unless Nero did it himself...

While I HATE that Opie died, considering the world Samcro lives in, the most unrealistic thing for this show, would be for all of them to make it to the end. I respect writers much more for killing characters and letting them go when their time is up or it is instrumental to the show, rather than say a show like Heroes where the cast got dictated buy executives who thought the actors were bigger than the show. After 4 seasons, I have faith in Sutter that Opies' death will not be in vain.
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The Tara-Catfight was pure "Dynasty". I couldn't stop thinking about Alexis and Krystle.

Ep3 was epic, Ep 4 had no chance compared to that masterpiece. The only highlight was the wake. When Jax put the picture in the casket i had tears in my eyes.

i like Pope, he is a true criminal mastermind with some kind of codex. old school. a black godfather.



Cheers from germany



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CLAY AND TIG KILLED DONNA A.K.A OP'S BABY MOMMA SEASON 1, TRYING TO TAKE OUT OPPIE.. CLAY KILLED PINY OPPIES DAD.. SAD AND PISSED ME OFF... BUT TIG'S AND CLAY'S ACTIONS ARE WHAT CAUSED OUR BROTHER'S OPPIE'S DEATH... R.I.P OPPIE...
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I would've liked to see Ashley more in this role.

Lyla seemed more concerned about not being about to afford all of the kids. RIP Opie!
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Aside from the wake at the end, I really didn't find myself entertained much by this episode. Maybe it's because I felt Emma Jean was kind of pointless -- seemingly a wasted "guest star" by Ashley Tisdale (although, I'm guessing she just took this role to help rid of that Disney stench she still has on her) -- or because I'm getting rather bored of the Tara vs. Wendy dispute. Also, I didn't really notice it in previous episodes, but I'm also seemingly getting bored of Gemma and Clay.
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Am I supposed to know what an Ashley Tisdale is? Her main role appears to be as a voice actor on a cartoon, then before that she was on a Disney kids show. Nothing about either of those things says fame to me. By that logic, Christy Romano would be famous, and I don't recall that being the case ever either.
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I know you post on here a lot (not often on shows I watch), but if this was, say, an anonymous poster it would be considered trolling. You know who Ashley Tisdale is - you even did research on who she is.
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I'm not sure about her voice roles, but I believe Tisdale's biggest role was in High School Musical, which was seemingly HUGE among teens and pre-teens for a few years. And I think it was HSM that kind of paved the way for Glee, as well. Ugh.

I remember Christy Romano from Even Stevens and Kim Possible, and while fairly successful, neither of those shows were as "big" as HSM was. Either way, I don't think either of them have done much otherwise.
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Forgot to mention...how many of these things are just repeats from prior season? It seems the entire interactions between Gemma/Wendy/Tara are just rehashing of old plot lines. GET OVER THEM.
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The Gemma/Tara/Wendy/ thing is really starting to just be a distraction. It has day time soap written all over it and I wish it would just end.
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Loved this last episode. Ashley rocked as Emma... Too bad it was for only two episodes. Still, this proves that she's one heck of an actress (in fact, some of the Disney Divas really do know how to act, and she's one of them). Can't wait to see what happens next.
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Day four of Clay still being alive.



I thought it was a decent episode. The whole story arc of Ashley Tisdale was kind of pointless. The Bangers coming after her was even more stupid and seemed as if it was there just for the line of the tit and thumb. And that is it.



The rest was good. I think Jax and Nero's deal was pretty good. Jax realizes Gemma is toxic and tends to ruin anything she touches and or comes near. And he needs to put her in her place. So does Tara, as much as she likes to claim her intelligence she sure gets manipulated rather easy. If I was her I would have let Carla choke Gemma to death. But hey that is just me.



As for Pope and Jax. Pope is a supremely competent man. He has connections that the other people that they have been up against didn't have and more to the point. He is smarter than they are. The enemies that SAMCRO have had thus far have been rather stupid. And SAMCRO have basically outsmarted them. Pope is smarter, well maybe as smart as Jax he just has the resources to do what he wants when he wants. And Jax has the morons that are currently surrounding him and the left over of Clay's idiocy to deal with.



Speaking of Clay, I think he shares in just as much responsibility for the death of Opie as Pope does. Same with Tig. If you think about it. None of this would have occurred without Clay and Tig knocking over the first domino in the chain. Clay through Tig killed Opie's wife. Clay with his lies, with killing Piny and all of the crap from last year, then through Tig's idiocy killed Pope's daughter. And for that the both of them should suffer gruesome deaths. Because Opie was worth 20 of them. Tig is thankfully going to get his. Hopefully Clay will to. I would personally like to see him dragged behind one of their bikes.



And personally I like Pope as a big bad. I hope that Jax learns a lot from him.
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This episode dragged. The plot-lines were good, just bad directing/editing.
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i have a feeling gemma is going to go even more batshit this season. what do you think she'll do when she finds jax has warned off her new boyfriend?
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"Hey Jax, don't let those kids go, shoot them or they'll expose all the methalymine you just stole from that train," Glad I wasnt the only one who thought this.

-Also... there is noooo doubt that chick Emma Jean is dead. This guy is gonna turn out the be the villain of all villains.
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Oh, my one thing about Lyla. Didn't Opie give her close to 10 or 20 grand in those bundles? How much does she need to raise kids?
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I don't remember the amount Ope actually gave her, but 20 grand doesn't last THAT long in raising a kid, especially three. Well, not if you want to raise them relatively well.
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20 grand doesn't last very long when you have to get a kid to 18...
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I think it was more about handling 3 kids and working at the same time. Paying babysitters, food, rent, utilities and clothes can get expensive. The cost of just one child where she lives is $157,410, so 3 kids would be $472, 230 until they are 18. (I used a cost calculator on a parenting website: I might be a nerd :)
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I got Bobby's comment. I'm sure Pope has a very long reach, he has shown, so it would be easyfor him to kill one of them, any of them. My awe in Sutter's storytelling grew when I realized he probably could have killed his choice of Son (Opie for example) on his own, but made Jax "choose". He knew that would devastate the club more, and show his power. Brilliant.



I knew Jax had to be thinking of him and Ope as kids when he saw those boys. It was sad from that moment forward.



You are so right, Gemma's path, though understandable, is so scary. She's a loose cannon. I think I like Jax and company getting involved with Nero. I'm sure there is another shoe to drop, but hey, it will make them both money, and yay, take Gemma down a notch. It seemed like Nero was relieved to have an out with Gemma.



Maybe Tara softened because she is the mother, but no matter what, Wendy is his birth mom. She knows Wendy is right, that eventually, Abel will want to know her, and try to find her. A step parent that raises a child, hardest position in the world.



A severed thumb and a tit? Hmmm. It's probably cheaper per pound than bacon.
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First off all Tim, I love all your reviews. They are actual reviews and thought out and considerate. I wish I could shake your hand brother.

About the fight in the garage though. That was pure SOA. That was retaliation, pure and simple. It is what they do. Nobody would have batted an if the guys had done a similar thing. Also, those weren't claws, those were fists. That was still Gemma pulling Tara towards her and Tara letting her. Everybody in that club has been on a path towards violence AND each other. Gemma has changed considerably in the last season and we are finally seeing what that is doing to her. But there is no surprise there. Same with Tara. What happened to them last season would change anybody. It will most definitely get worse. I will pine for their former selves, but this is who they are now.

I still feel this show is extremely feminist, for the simple reason that it treats its women the exact same way that it does its men. With brutal honesty. And at its core that is what feminism is, equality.
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i didn't think tara had changed so much that she'd let herself get involved in a brawl inspired by gemma, who has betrayed her several times. i think she was contemplating just that...her own stupidity...at the end, when she was smoking the cigarette.
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well I was holding my breath when Tara jumped and "took over" fighting:D

was thinking that she will f-up her right hand even more



Bobby said that Pope can just call some hitman or someone to kill any of them...that Pope has that kind of power and connections



anyone else thinks that Nero killed Emma Jean?
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That was my first thought and fear. This guy still seems to be too good to be true. Although maybe SOA has just made me too cynical and I hope that I am wrong about him.
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Thought the same: exactly who are those gang guys he deals with? He IS too good to be true, something is off with him for sure.
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"I'll see you later, brother"

I smell the tragedy in those words, Mr. Teller.



They are two the symbolic scenes to understand the beauty of the structure of this episode (besides very difficult to manage and to realize, seen the power of the previous one): the pursuit between the two latinos and Jax and Chibs and the other, obviously, is the long final sequence of the funeral of Ope. Two opposite scenes diametrically, for rhythm and narration, but that they both succeed in the same episode without screeching and revealing the pure nature of the series: the frantic action, the "urban" tale that you can remember in the classical action movies (dynamic and adrenalinic); a touching moment, that nearly creates an unique atmosphere. Few words and just a song.

The intensity has been created without rhetoric, I breathed the pure simplicity of a group of friends and brothers, that gave their goodbye to another brother. There were both the Sons as group, but there was, above all, Jax and his innocence of a child that used to race in bicycle next to Ope; there were the gifts left in the open coffin and there was the pain of Lyla, that detaches in this episode as the only "positive" female character. Gemma and Tara, in particular, are racing more and more by now between their antagonism and one dark similarity, as the beating testifies. I like the ambiguity in Tara.

The calm before the storm.



"And in that time I was alone, so many years without my home

I made brothers of a different kind instead."

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"Hey Jax, don't let those kids go, shoot them or they'll expose all the methalymine you just stole from that train," best line ever
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I'm starting to think that Opie's death is not so unnecessary. Show needs to do bold stuff like that. it was a logic way out of situation that they created in last two episodes. somebody gonna be sacrificed. that's it. if you took yourself to that point don't cop out and make a cowardly move like "everybody alive out of jail, Pope changed his mind, whatever". so somebody close should always die coz these people aren't in construction business. they should realize that they dying like flies. they are in deep shit and probably never gonna get out of it only by brutal death. and no retaliation would get you out of it.

and chicks with claws it's not a feminism. and I don't necessarily think that show has strong female characters (they all (Gemma and Tara) had to surrender eventually to men's decisions). Tara thrown her dream and her decision out of the window and gave up to club. and Gemma not necessarily smart woman she's just manipulative (but it's not a sign of tough intellectual game) and abusive (emotionally) at times with weaker than her females. When she went against Clay he shown her who's the boss. it's still extra macho world (coz it's about bikers and bikers belong to men). Other female characters are just notions. There is no depth in Layla (actress doing great job but there is no enough material for her). I would glad to see all chicks motorcycle club. and their clash with Samcro. it would be fun.
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Clay got his way sometimes, when he could get it past his wife and the boardroom. Gemma got her way for several seasons 90% of the time all by herself through sheer force of will. Gemma was the real ruler of the MC all those years, not Clay. "surrender eventually" is another way of saying Gemma got her way for 30 years and Clay got his way once and then lost his woman, so then no, he really didn't get his way at all.
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This was good and Jax's play at the hearse, the sadness to rage and that 'slam'.....good. But all this worth Opie's death? No, sorry sutter I'm not buying.....yet. But there's still time; I can't believe this is all our guy died for.....
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Also, I loved the ending there. Jax going up to the roof (I'm pretty sure only Jax and Opie have ever had their "serious pontification moment" up there, and seeing the picture of them as kids on their bikes, that was definitely tough to watch. I honestly didn't even recall the kids from the beginning until the replay started on FX and I saw it a second time, but that was fantastic, although I agree a bit heavy-handed. But the last scene, with Jax walking in front of the coffin, and you can see the sadness in his eyes slowly transform into rage. You see the wheels turning in his head, and then he slams that hearse door just a little bit too hard. Pope might be in trouble
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Clay is an irredeemable character. It seems like they're trying to make him look sad at Opie's death and Jax's loss while at the same time have him pulling strings to screw things up in the background. Who cares? He is played out. I don't even like to hate him anymore, he just annoys me.



Gemma is even worse. Can we pass the torch and just focus on Jax, Tara, and the crew..and let the old couple (and wendy) fade away?
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don't worry. i think that's what we'll see in upcoming seasons. charlie hunnan is more than capable of carrying this whole show on his very capable shoulders.
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R.I.P Opie
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