TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the “Sons of Anarchy” episode titled “Faith and Despondency .” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.
Last night’s “Sons of Anarchy” makes one recall the dramatic rule commonly referred to as Chekhov’s Gun: If you put a rifle onstage in the first act, the thing absolutely must go off at some point before the final curtain drops.
You’ve got to hand it to series creator Kurt Sutter, though. The man presented viewers with the weapon in the first season and methodically prepped it to fire over the ensuing six. Actually, one might say Sutter dumped an arsenal on the stage, topped by one gigantic doomsday weapon in the form of Gemma Teller (Katey Sagal) and her mountain of secrets and lies. Smaller explosions have been going off throughout this series, but now it’s here, that terrible, explosive bang to which “Sons of Anarchy” has been building: In spite of her elaborate, deadly attempts at obfuscating the truth, Gemma’s most evil act came tumbling out of the closet when one of her greatest loves asked an innocent question. Read our recap to find out who let the birds out the cage.
The seventh season has been fraught with soul-rending agony on top of the usual over-the-top violence — and last night’s episode had heaping helpings of the latter — but ample tenderness in the quiet moments, too. Sex and death are tightly entwined on this series, but amidst the opening montage of the guys getting lucky, we saw more of Venus Van Dam (the always wonderful Walton Goggins) and were granted a soulful look into the relationship between her and Tig (Kim Coates). In an emotionally raw conversation, their bond achieved a new level of openness and trust. That vulnerability that was rewarding to see as SAMCRO’s journey draws closer to an end.
“As the series hurtles towards its conclusion, tonight’s episode features all the series’ hallmarks: murder(s), sex (sex, sex and more sex) and secrets. A utensil again plays a pivotal role in the exposition as Gemma’s chickens finally start to come home to roost and we make a return visit to Moses’ torture chamber, where we learn the perfect implement for removing an eyeball (hint: a utensil), although it’s later revealed there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat.
We begin with an everybody-getting-lucky montage. Jax works through his grief by taking Winsome the hooker to bed. Gemma is distant in bed with Nero. Tig works his magic on Venus the transgender escort. Jarry and Chibs make love — in a bed this time, for a change of pace. Rat relaxes as a woman who is not Brooke rides atop him. Happy works out his issues with a nameless blond on the hood of a car. Wendy and her motorized buddy have some quiet time in bed. In prison, Juice doesn’t resist as Tully exacts his price in the prison currency of man flesh.
Back with Winsome, Jax fights off tears. Winsome offers her condolences for his wife. She gets up and starts putting her clothes on, but he asks her to stay.
The next morning at Diosa, Jax admits to Nero that he’s not sure what SAMCRO looks like without Bobby. His death has really rocked Gemma. Nero hesitates then mentions his plans to get out, selling to Alvarez. “It’s time Jax, we both know that,” Nero says.
Nero does the math when Winsome comes out of a bedroom. Jax describes her as a smart girl, who’s just a little unstable. “That’s the way we like ‘em,” Nero says.
Jax is OK with Nero selling his Diosa share to Alvarez, he’s just not ready to lose his partner. Nero tells him about his hopes that Gemma and his boys will join him sometimes.
They both note Rat seeing the blonde escort out.
August Marks has been in county for three days, but they think “today” still makes sense. It involves Rat meeting with TO and Jax reminding Rat to be careful.
When Winsome returns, she checks in with Jax. She’s enjoying her new indoor job. “I like the girls. I think some of us are going to get a place together — you know, before we all get gunned down by Chinese gangsters,” she deadpans.
Jax laughs. She considers him for a second then thanks him for being so decent to her, just the latest in a series of people to tell the murderer of many that he’s a good person.
At Venus’ place, Tig is a mess, starting his day with a bottle in his hand and mixed messages for Venus.
At Gemma’s house, Abel comes to the breakfast table with a deep scratch on his face, which he says the baby did.
At the cabin, Loutreesha has talked to the DA and hired and lawyer and is ready to go home. But Quinn and Montez don’t think it’s safe yet.
Gemma drops Abel off at school. His teacher Mrs. Harrison (Courtney Love) notices the scratch and tells him if an adult hurt him, that person would get in trouble.
Jax meets with Tully, but they don’t know why Juice is in solitary. Tully says it might take him a day or two to arrange for Juice to get near Lin, but it’ll happen. Juice is meeting with Tully’s new No. 2, a guy named Otis who’s replacing Leland. Jax is unfazed when Tully essentially lets him know what he’s doing to Juice. “He could use a little lovin’,” Jax says.
Moses summons Tyler. He questions Tyler’s loyalties to Marks given his business ties to SAMCRO and tells him he needs to find out where the Sons are keeping the pastor’s family. Tyler considers his tenuous position and suggests TO with the Grim Bastards might know. Moses insists they track him down together.
At school, Abel locks himself in the bathroom and takes the metal fork out of his lunch box, seemingly intent on hurting himself, in a subtle callback to the carving fork Gemma used to finish Tara.
Out in the country, Jax, Tig, Chibs and Happy meet Otis and his crew at house. Otis has about a dozen guys and says more are on the way.
Leland hasn’t shown up yet but a few of his guys are not happy about the shift in management to Otis. One of them addresses Tig and calls him a “tranny humper.” He uses colorful language to elaborate and Chibs tries to keep Tig cool. Otis doesn’t have a problem with it, so Tig goes to the man and asks for an apology. When one is not forthcoming, Tig shoots the man in the balls. Everyone’s guns come out. Otis orders his guys to stand down. Jax sees another of Leland’s old crew eying him and shoots him in the head. Otis makes it clear that it’s over. The ball-less man writhing on the ground says Leland is on his way to kill Eglee.
Jax races off, but not before he orders someone to finish the man. Chibs calls Rat. He’s at a bar with TO and a few of the Bastards. When they step outside, Moses and his guys grab them and Tyler tries to act surprised that TO is with a member of SAMCRO.
Meanwhile, Leland walks into the hospital where Eglee is recuperating and waits for his moment.
The Sons tear down the road, racing there.
At the hospital, Leland sneaks past security and into a room. No one is in the bed, but he hears the shower running. Unser steps out with a gun on him. He gives Leland a chance to drop his gun, but Leland fights him instead. When Leland aims, Unser has no choice but to fire.
Later, Unser tells Jarry that he got a “heads up” from his favorite source, Anonymous. Jarry is annoyed. “I think your Anonymous friends are waiting for you in the lobby,” she tells him.
Unser talks to Jax. He’s not happy about having to shoot Leland. He never killed anyone on the job. There are broader implications to be drawn from that fact as they relate to the current violent climate, but Jax chooses not to see them. Unser checks that no one else is coming for Eglee. Jax says he owes him and Leland was the end of it.
Wendy calls Chibs, who tells Jax that Child Services was called to Abel’s school.
Back in the room where Bobby spent his last few days, Rat and TO are tied to chairs. Bobby’s blood still stains the floor. When they don’t immediately talk, Moses’s guys wail on them as Tyler watches helplessly.
In prison, a guard brings Juice a package from Tully: a prison sex kit (including Emily Bronte’s love poem, to set the mood). Juice realizes he has a big problem.
Jax arrives at Abel’s school to very little information. Gemma is also there. Mrs. Harrison joins them with Abel. He has deep bloody gouges on his arm. At his teacher’s prompting, Abel says grandma did it.
Moses returns to TO and Rat with a grapefruit spoon, explaining it’s the perfect tool for taking out an eye. TO isn’t inclined to lose his eye and tells Moses about the cabin.
Back at Gemma’s, Wendy insists that she dressed Abel this morning and there were no gouges. Jax looks to his mom and Nero for answers. He doesn’t seem to believe that Gemma hurt Abel. Nero suggests it’s about Tara and wonders if Abel thinks Gemma is trying to replace her. Jax agrees they need to get Abel some help, realizing the implications if he hurt himself. In the meantime, Gemma can’t be alone with him and Jax is taking both boys to his house.
As Moses and his guys reach the cabin, Tyler joins one of Moses’ guys bringing TO and Rat water. When the goon puts down his gun, Tyler picks it up and shoots him, then frees Rat and TO.
Meanwhile, TO’s directions take Moses and his guys straight to Otis’ country house, or cabin if you will. They’re suspicious when they don’t see any bikes outside, but a dozen guys with semi-automatic weapons get out to check. The house looks quiet. They check it and find it empty. Then they hear a phone ringing inside the camper out back. The dozen dudes converge on it with their guns drawn.
When they open the door, the camper blows and Aryan brothers pour out of the nearby woods. Jax, Tig, Happy and Chibs bust out of the storm cellar and join the massacre. Jax is careful to only shoot Moses in the knee. When everyone else is down, Jax grabs Moses and digs out his eye with his bare hands – no grapefruit spoon needed. Chibs performs the next act of torture in retribution for Bobby, sawing off Moses’ fingers.
With his eyeball hanging from a bloody cord halfway down his face, Moses manages to get up on his knees before Jax shoots him through the head, ending it.
Later that night, Jax thanks Otis for his help. Otis is happy to help dispose of the black bodies for the cause and appreciates that someone took out Leland.
Tyler drives up with Rat and TO. Rat wasn’t part of the plan, but was happy to go along. Jax is proud of him. Happy shows Rat one of Moses’s fingers. He’s keeping it as a trophy. They all celebrate their win.
Up at the actual cabin, Montez and Quinn break the news to Loutreesha and Grant that August’s hit squad has been dealt with. They get to go home, at least until August is released on bail.
In the hospital, Unser sits with Eglee.
In the prison, Juice snorts the drugs provided by Tully to prepare for their alone time. Tully reads him Bronte.
After the slaughter, Chibs returns to Jarry, who is full of angst and regrets after the foiled attack on Eglee. She looks to Chibs for convincing that she’s not crazy to be with him. He tells her he likes her, the sex is great and when she’s not all caught up in her head, she’s a lot of fun, but he won’t make up her mind for her. She stops him from leaving and shoves him. He shoves her back. She hits him, he hits her back. They tear each other’s clothes off.
Late at night, Tig comes home to Venus, who is sitting alone in the dark. She thinks that Tig is with her to prove that he’s a man who dances with the freaks. Through tears, she says she’s afraid she’s fallen in love with him.
Tig doesn’t know what to say. Venus explains she’s happy with herself as a man who knows she’s a woman. She wants to put some distance between them.
Tig tells her she’s right about him and gets the full unvarnished version of him and knows all his secrets, like no one has. To love him in spite of all that is something he’s never had. He wants to be as comfortable as Venus is and go places with her and not care what people think. They end up in each other’s arms.
Nero comes home to Gemma’s house to see Brooke patching up Rat. Gemma’s smoking furiously in her room. She asks Nero when he’s heading to his ranch and then offers to go with him. He’s thrilled. She’s near tears. “I don’t know why you’re still here, why you still love me,” she says. “I don’t know who I am anymore.”
At Jax’s place, Abel gets out of bed late and crawls into his dad’s lap across from Wendy. Jax takes the moment to try to talk to Abel seriously and gently tells him Wendy is his birth mother and they used to be married. He explains Wendy is there now to help take care of him now that he needs a mommy. “No matter what happens, you’re always going to have a daddy and a mommy that are going to do their best for you,” he says. Abel kisses them both good night.
Wendy is overwhelmed and hugs Jax and thanks him.
Jax goes to tuck Abel in. Abel has a question. “Is Wendy my first mommy because I came out of her tummy? Is that why Grandma killed my other mommy, so my first mommy could be here with me?” — DetectiveBriscoe