Sons of Anarchy's Gemma (Katey Sagal) strips it all down this week for us, and speaks the truth: We enter this mortal coil wailing and leave in some sort of storage for our lifeless remains. Enjoy life while you have it.
Gemma is very philosophical these days for good reason: Mama's in heavy 'like' mode with our Nero (Jimmy Smits), a character so earthy, sexual and juicy, I will hate to see this one mowed down by SOA's writers in a forthcoming scene. Smits has never been better on TV.
Jax (Charlie Hunnam) has the screws into his mama, sleep with Clay and get Intel or no dice on being part of her family ever again. Rough stuff, as Gemma has softened post-accident, is rendered melancholic and remorseful, introspective and yet still quietly scheming.
She will approach Clay and try to make that connection, but she is not being square with Nero, as her chance to come clean and tell Nero the truth is subverted by his thoughtful gift of birds. Gemma really digs him, and this will be a tricky maneuver - even for her.
Clay of course is still under the impression no one is aware of his orchestrating the Nomad break-in mess, and thanks to Italian mobsters, Frankie Diamonds' (Chuck Zito) brief arc ends in a hail of bullets. He joins Wanda de Jesus and Kurt Yaeger as guest actors I will miss terribly on this series. All three brought a powerful punch to the story.
Outstanding moment happens between Gemma and Nero, who are falling in love as they break in to a mausoleum and store Carla's (Wanda de Jesus) ashes, and talk about weighty things like their relationship. Smits is a man, he's powerfully confident and you can see how Gemma warms to him. She softens, and she wants him, but this Clay business and Jax's ultimatum are keeping her from being truthful once again. It will, of course, backfire.
"Come in cryin’, go out in Tupperware."
Gemma makes light of the moment they lay Carla (de Jesus) to rest. Great banter between them, and it felt romantic, effortless. That's what defines a great writer, and hats off to Liz Sagal and Kurt Sutter (showrunner and Otto) for this introspective script that was far less eye candy and shock value than the last two. Dialogue that is 100% real and believable, allowing us to think about what is to come.
Speaking of Otto, Sutter's ability to act and freeze us in fear as he asks for Tara's (Maggie Siff) hand to smell Luann's perfume was fraught with tension. Otto is and has been such a pressure cooker of rage, but their examination room scene shows that Tara, as I have noted before, is oddly drawn to him and even sexually aroused by his being. Interesting moments. Tara is also shining this season as a complex and resolute character whose able to straddle straight life and biker-dom. She knows she's an old lady, and is okay with it.
Gemma and Jax have a great moment too as he asks his mum if she was good after Tara says she can be part of their family again if she obeys Jax's wishes about Clay. Gemma says, 'no son, I'm not,' in such a subtle sad way. This is another tribute to Sagal's acting as this small scene spoke volumes and reveals the essence of her character's malaise this season. It was beautiful.
Another character that shined for me in this episode was Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) whose intelligence and heart are on full display, handling Jax and Clay deftly, and always the voice of reason and utmost discretion. Glad to see this new VP getting more dialogue. Boone is one of the best actors in this group and underutilized, in my opinion.
So we end with the longing that Gemma has for both Nero and her family, she's torn, beaten down and remorseful, but not broken yet. Clay is perked up thinking his old lady is coming back to him, and that he got away with the Nomad mess, and Juice is deduced by Jax as the rat at the table, and a portentous ending scene shows Jax on his tail ostensibly to corner him and deal with it, either by death or unraveling the truth.
An oddly romantic episode. Well done.