I've been critical of Sons of Anarchy this season. That's not necessarily a secret. Much of my dissatisfaction stems from the show's seeming unwillingness to provide focus on some its bigger stories, instead allowing many of the characters a plethora of time to run around this way and that, looking behind closed doors only to find empty places. Last week's "Bainne" exemplified this idea in the Jax storyline. It was a wonderful inner look at a character whose struggles with his life manifested in the search for his son. Unfortunately, it was moderately lost in the noise of a bunch of other crap happening to move certain story arcs over the hump.

An aspect of great television, especially in the drama vein, is that often times issues are implied rather than shoved down our throats. There aren't always problems in need of immediate solving. But in Sons this year, when things continue to spiral out of control, we are left with a story constantly one-upping itself. When that happens, we embark into aspects of daytime television, where there's always another twist.

This litany of problems is even harder to believe in the SAMCRO world. For decades, the club has run efficiently (if not necessarily stably) with a certain sense of order. That this order is crumbling right before our eyes is believable to some degree considering the relationship between Jax and Clay. That they'd continue to let their club flounder and remain so susceptible to attack is a little tough to swallow.

Part of what made last season so intriguing (and fantastic) was watching the Sons deal with the Aryan/ Zobelle problem while Jax and Clay (and Gemma) duked it out around the margins. It was a club struggling inside and out, amidst gut-wrenching issues. And it was great television. This season the writers have attempted to recreate that drama to diminishing returns. We had the Abel run around. The Tara kidnapping. The Stahl angle (really the only intriguing aspect). And even the mysterious (and stupid) Tig/ Kozik rivalry. (It's over a dog? Come on).

So, tonight the Sons returned from their trip across the big pond to find Charming as welcoming, and well charming, as what they found in Ireland. What we've been given is a season starting with a baby-napping and storming to a close with an old lady abduction. Tara getting taken was a way to get the characters moving around once they got back to Cali. If they didn't have Salazar to chase around, what would they have done once they got back? And that's the issue isn't it? I've become overly concerned the writers need to get the Sons in a constant state of motion, hamsters on a wheel, chasing someone somewhere. It becomes tiring to the point where as Salazar ushered Tara into Hale's office for a good-old hostage situation, I thought, "Why the hell would he do this, it makes no sense."

The glue holding everything together right now (and I mean the show) is the Jax/ Stahl angle. And while not edge-of-your-seat riveting, it at least provides a level of intrigue worth tuning back in for. Because I would like to know who is playing who. Jax's killing of Salazar was confusing in motive. Did he want to maintain the Mayan relationship or does he actually want a Hale-led Charming. And Stahl's offing of her gal pal came a bit out of nowhere, but detailed just how evil the ATF agent can be. Whose cards get played right in the end is probably worth it alone for the season finale. But after that, what are we really waiting to see?

Other thoughts

- One aspect I have enjoyed about this season, and they did it to some degree with the Stahl/Jax/Gemma line, is keeping us in the dark on some particulars. The writers did it with the Irish motivations (even if they turned out to be slightly less than intriguing), and even in small segments like with Salazar's aunt's Spanish session with Alvarez.

- Jax spent the entire season looking for Abel but was willing to dump him off as soon as the airplane wheels touched down. Of course, he's looking for Tara, but think about the statement the writers are making (and I'm sure it's intentional). Jax is simply not fit to be a father. He got Abel back, but I don't think Jax plans on being any better a father than his own, who never really raised him.

- How terrible are the ATF/ Local authorities that they didn't have one person staking out the shop waiting to see if Gemma or the rest of the guys returned?

- Sons of Anarchy played by the "if there's no body, the character isn't dead" rule tonight with Tara. Oooh, they tried of course with the covered body and some trickling blood. But was anyone really buying it?

- Titus Welliver is so great as Jimmy O. I think I could have watched another half hour of him sweating it out in the Russian stronghold.

- Who in the club is in charge of buying all the SAMCRO gear? Like the t-shirts, hoodies, vests, etc. They have so much branded stuff. It has to come from somewhere.

- How f#$%ing dumb is Salazar? Is he supposed to be dumb, or are the writers dumb? I had trouble deciding.

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