The Season 5 finale of "Sons of Anarchy," titled "J'ai Obtenu Cette" (I've Got This) ended a visually explosive run that had many good things to think about, especially for possibilities in season 6.However the handling of some character's personal arcs drives home the fact that this is the Jax-Gemma-Clay show, with a healthy side of Tara. Everyone else is a just tasty spice to their power struggle stew.
The fact that Clay Morrow's (Ron Perlman) sins do not sign his death warrant allow the possibility for Jax (Charlie Hunnam) to be upended by Clay's enemies, as his arrest will not hold water, the evidence is all circumstantial, as it is for Tara's (Maggie Siff) arrest.
Both characters are now are united by their hatred for Gemma (Katey Sagal), who is the traitor (in Tara's case perhaps not) and liar that put them in the Law's microscope. Even Roosevelt (Rockmund Dunbar) looks dubious about all of these arrests in the last episode. It's too neat, and he's adroit about reading the Charming/SAMCRO tea leaves.
Damon Pope's death ended a too short arc for the supremely talented Harold Perrineau. It was not satisfying for Tig fans, as Pope's immolation opener with Tig's daughter started what was one horrific moment after another on this show. Letting Tiggy end the season with some dog therapy took something away from the brilliant psychological shift that Coates gave this character, whose eyes were made wide open about his "brothers" and questions about loyalty, post daughter Dawn's demise.
The scene where Jax bangs an eight-ball into Wendy (Drea de Matteo), his son's mother's arm, was another over the line moment of cruelty.
Jax engineered SAMCRO out of the middleman position between Irish and Mexican warlords. But Clay's arrest may keep the story mired in this quicksand, as SOA Belfast is still out there and in play to some extent.
I don't expect rainbows and lollipops from this group, but a more clever and satisfying way to take out a character as important as Damon Pope? Yes.
There were many interesting character moments for this season, of note Michael Marisi Ornstein, who plays Chucky, a role so small it could have gone by the way of Opie's mother Mary. But Ornstein's intelligence and natural charisma created a character who helps add the absurdist humor this show needs desperately. His awkward quirk and ability to deliver it without seeming out of place earns him a huge amount of notice.
The Otto (Kurt Sutter) and Tara scenes, as I have noted before, were extremely interesting. She was draw to him in a hypnotic-like trance. Her judgement and brainpower was put on hold as she delivers what looks like a weapon (large metallic ornate cross) to her damaged patient, playing her for a fool. Otto's both a Christ figure and the serpent. His self inflicted tongue amputation underlined his hatred for everyone involved in his past, present and future. He wants out and doesn't care who comes with him at this point.
Women don't fare so well on "Sons of Anarchy", where the Madonna-Whore complex favors the skanks and sets the righteous up for a good fall (Donna, Tara, reformed Wendy). Disturbing too how the fan chatter is so hard on Wendy, who overcomes her addiction demons and is trying while Clay busts out a few tears and people are willing to forgive the human cancer who caused so much pain and death.
Now what I am excited about: Donal Logue cast as Lee Toric. he is looking for meaning, a raison d'etre for his vocation, and will pull hard (I hope) at the strings of SAMCRO.
Toric might well be the one who delivered some evidence to Roosevelt for the murder of his sister, to have Tara arrested. Unlike Agent June Stahl, who's ego and demons put her in harms way, Logue's character's energy appears more shark-like, under the surface and driven by a more personal need. He's the one, if written as such, that can really cause problems for the club.
Logue was short-shrifted by FX for his terrific drama "Terriers," a series M&C loved, but was yanked too soon. His Irish-Mexican-Canadian lineage gives Logue the perfect ammo to navigate these worlds that intersect on a regular basis. Sutter was wise to cast him.
The other Alpha male that I was unsure of the beginning of the season is Jimmy Smits, (his role on "Dexter" did him no favors) who has lit the screen on fire as Nero, a character made for him. There's real chemistry too with Katey's Gemma. Sagal and Smits together are a joy to watch.
Kim Coates' Tig got a moment to show the cultural differences between white, brown and black when it comes to animals. No judgement calls here, as I get that there are segments of lower class black, brown and rural white that enjoy seeing dogs rip each other apart for sport.
The scene where the losing dog was put in a metal bath to be killed is all too real.
Earlier in the season, we saw Coates react to a side of his sexuality he may have been unaware with the brilliant transgendered Venus (Walt Goggins) scene, and now his humanity and tender side are woken up with this dog saving moment.
Speaking of Venus Van Damme, "Justified" star Walton Goggins was one of the crackling moments of season five. Again, another consummate actor who is given a small role and steals the show. Hopefully he/she will be back.
The death that left a mark was the popular character Opie (Ryan Hurst) whose prison murder was so very hard to witness. He played this character with a regal sadness, lional and loving, complex and completely bottled up. His wife's execution, his father's murder. Lyla's (Winter Ave Zoli) abortion. So much heaped on one character. Ope's death turned childhood friend Jax into a much harder man. His death, like so many, is barely mentioned once the casket enters the dirt.
Perlman gave some real depth to Clay's arc, as this one will not go gently to that goodnight. He is the alpha and omega of all that went wrong and now will trust absolutely no one in his future. He either gets out on the sketchy evidence and then beats it to Ireland, or he is killed off in season 6.
Things that annoy me most surround Tara, an educated accomplished surgeon for chrissakes! She is continuously written to do stupid things, like telling Gemma her plans to leave and bringing a certified locked-up psycho a potential weapon. At this point, I do not believe her love for Jax is at their fevered Romeo and Juliet heights from season 2 & 3.
I am also hopefull for more meat for our underserved talented perennial characters of Bobby (Mark Boone Junior), Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) and even Unser (Dayton Callie) who is another one that delivers some humor at the right moments.
Another interesting thing that happened this season was how the series and the producers became a favored child of Entertainment Weekly, a consumer oriented industry news magazine that pretty much side-stepped the gritty series until the cult following and the actual ratings were so white hot, they couldn't. Showrunner Kurt Sutter even paid homage to EW's Lynette Rice in his script. The whole season I was waiting to hear one of the Cartel or Irish gangsters be called Alan Sepinwall or James Poniewozik for shits and grins.
Strange times. The show only has a few more years. I am ever hopeful that Adam Arkin (Zobelle) or Mitch Pileggi (Darby) may be granted access back to Charming for more fun.