“You should go, Jax” – Otto

As season two speeds along, I wonder more and more who is the true evil in Sons of Anarchy. The obvious answer is Zobelle. He’s conniving, threatening, manipulative and ruthless. Unfortunately the same can be said for Clay. Beginning with Donna’s hit at the end of season one and continuing with his threats towards Jax and his rash leadership of the club, Clay’s darker side is popping up more and more. Where, at the beginning of the season, he focused his attention on Jax’s impulsiveness, Clay has exhibited a string of bad instincts since. He stormed into the Aryan meeting guns blazing. He is pushing gun running at the expense of the club’s legitimate business. And he even goes so far as to bring down guilt on Jax for the death of a club member’s old lady.

Admittedly, Clay gets a bit of the short end of the stick tonight as the blame for Caracara burning to the ground falsely lands at his doorstep. But he hasn’t done a whole lot to give the club much faith in his actions. Where Jax tends to calculate and reflect, Clay wants quick and dirty blood. His shoot-first-aim-sometime-much-later philosophy has landed SAMCRO right where they are now. His “plan” for the club has left even his staunchest supporters (namely Tig) questioning his path. Clay’s choices have deeply and painfully affected almost all those who operate in his shadow.

Let’s start with Gemma. Bottom line: If Katey Sagal isn’t nominated for an Emmy this year, then whoever votes for these things needs their patches removed. Each week Gemma has showed us, with brutal honesty, what it means to suffer quietly and to walk alone. When she finds herself, of all places, in a church revival crying at the end of the episode, I couldn’t help but think of it as an awakening. It was a moving scene, so unlike anything else the club stands for, that I literally can’t picture her with Clay anymore. It seems an impossibility that this woman could now go back to the life of “old lady” to a criminal.

Meanwhile, Opie and Tig are characters moving in different directions. Opie, for much of the season, has suffered because of Donna’s death. It has been one of those elephant in the room kind of things (slowly coming to the surface as Bobbie most definitely suspects something now) that Opie has struggled to move past. When SAMCRO shakes down a judge, Opie literally loses it, almost killing the judge’s son, before finally walking away. Much like Gemma’s revival, this was his wake-up call, eventually leading him back to his family and his responsibilities. On the other hand, Tig’s guilt over Donna’s death is having its own affect. Did you ever think you’d see Tig freaking out over a shakedown or find him questioning Clay’s judgment? Both happened tonight and signify some major cracks in his usually hardened façade. How long can he hold on to his faith in Clay or in himself? The writers have been setting us up, waiting for Jax to spill the goods on what really happened to Donna. I don’t think that will be the case. I think ultimately it is Tig who can no longer live with what he has done. When he cracks, the whole thing will come crumbling down.

Finally we have Jax. Guilty over the death of Luann. Faced with the closing of Caracara by Clay. Forced to go to the judge’s house on an extortion run for a gun-running business he no longer backs. This season he’s reminded me of a hamster on wheel. He can definitely see the outside of the cage. He knows something better exists, but just can’t figure out how to get there. At the end of “Fa Guan,” he finally begins the separation. When he suspects Clay of burning down the porn studio, he cries, “Nomad,” and walks away. I like this scenario because it will force the members of SAMCRO to make a choice: Jax or Clay. The choice seems obvious, doesn’t it?

Some other thoughts, questions and highlights:

- Did Chuckie make it out of Caracara? Poor guy gets his fingers cut off because of chronic masturbation. Then, improbably, he lands a job working in a porn studio only to have said studio burn to the ground. It’s called running real, real bad.

- Bobbie is one of the most interesting, and under-appreciated characters in the whole show. He is an Elvis-impersonating, banana bread making, pornstar banging, motorcycle riding enigma. I can’t figure him out at all, but I know I love him. I am interested to see where he comes out on Donna’s death. He is getting close to the truth. When he puts it all together he may walk away as well.

- It was a fantastic scene when Jax confronts Clay in the clubhouse over closing Caracara. Charlie Hunman pulls off the perfect “I know you can’t do shit about it so here, take my gun, call my bluff” smirk. Great acting.

- Tara has officially crossed the “too many favors for the bad guys to ever be a legitimate part of society” line. When she helps Chibbs stay in the hospital (another dig at the health care debate) it signified her full (begrudging) allegiance to SAMCRO.

- For as great as Sons of Anarchy is, I thought the scene in the judge’s house was a little over the top. Not bad, just a little much.

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