Sons of Anarchy Watch: Season 5, Episode 7 - Toad's Wild Ride
“Let SAMCRO decide who lives and dies.”
I’m glad I didn’t take the last few weeks’ abundance of humorous moments for granted, because “Toad’s Wild Ride” sapped all the brightness out of everything, save for a few Joel McHale quips. For something named after a Disney ride…Well I guess Disney isn’t really the happiest place on Earth anyway. Why not the Hall of Motorcycle Club Presidents? Tig almost certainly has to be a demonic robot.
I’m kind of distraught by the ending on this one, which isn’t making the mental classification of events any easier. It was a normal ending for this show, where personal injuries are always happening before the credits, and it made the normal amount of character sense, in that someone does something extremely stupid after assuring someone else that they won’t. Yet it still felt like a cheap shot on my emotions. To backtrack…
Jax and Tara planned on going up to the cabin for some alone time, but Tara is unable to find suitable childcare. So Jax, reasonably, says that Gemma should do it, and Tara agrees. Gemma has been dangling at the end of quite a few people’s ropes recently, and given the episode’s early events, she seems like the exact opposite of the person they should want being responsible for the safety of their children. But thanks to Nero’s wise words, Jax has let his defenses waver. Wait, let’s back up some more.
Gemma wakes up in a hotel bed next to Warren, the Jeff Winger from the SAMCRO timeline. While she’s crying in the bathroom and feeling sorry for herself, Warren wakes up and snags her wallet and the keys to her Escalade. She freaks out and calls Nero, who is at the new Diosa with Jax and the boys. Everyone shows up to help her, which pisses her off, because it means Jax gets yet another reason to judge her awful decision-making. In any case, she gets her car back and has a heart to heart with Jax, admitting that Thomas’ death caused her to force Jax to make up for the love that Thomas could no longer give. Jax admits to knowing how wrong it was to be happy that he had Gemma all to himself after Thomas died. Shit happens, right?
It does indeed, and in a synchronistic, narrative-driven way. Gemma spends part of her day talking with Wayne after his day’s mess, and they proceed to get stoned. When Tara calls to ask if Gemma wanted to babysit, Gemma’s smile is human and gracious. And then they show the evil weed again. So if we’ve all been paying attention to the clues, there have been trust issues becoming resolved, dead brothers, and weed. Skip to the last scene of the episode, as Gemma drives Thomas and Abel away from the clubhouse. Her glazed over eyes and inability to stay in one lane, even when a big-ass truck is headed straight for her car, lead me to believe that she was either under some other kind of influence, or the writers of this show temporarily forgot what weed is. (I’m willing to concede that she was tired, but nothing was done to signify this.) In any case, Gemma is forced off of the road and into a thatch of trees, where she wrecks.
And we take that soundtrack-laden pan across the front of the vehicle, where Gemma lay unconscious against the steering wheel, and into the back, where Thomas lies screaming next to Abel, who is slumped forward, blood droplets splashing beneath him. I guess there’s a chance that he lived through the accident, but we certainly aren’t meant to think so. Do I think it’s ludicrous to kill off a character whose kidnapping drove an entire season’s storyline? Kind of, yes, especially considering viewers are only supposed to care about him because he’s Jax’s child. Jax already lost someone extremely close to him. This is just going to be devastating. Give me an angry Jax over a sad one any day.
There’s still the rest of the episode, isn’t there? Nero tracks down Gemma’s SUV to an Armenian chop shop which Warren hasn’t left yet. An amusing chase ensues after Warren blasts onto the street in a car missing most of its doors. Just when there seems to be no end game, Warren brings the car to a squealing stop and starts a gunfight with the Sons that almost ends in his public execution, had cooler heads not prevailed. For the moment, they were content to rob him of his personal items, including three grand in cash. Later, though, Nero and his boys stop Warren from conning his next mark, and beat him bloody and senseless in the parking lot.
My question here is, “Is that it?” Was Warren just one more bad mistake for Gemma to make? Was he just there to give Nero a reason to show viewers that he still obviously cares for Gemma, and if so, is it more about her getting robbed, or her sleeping with him? I’m pretty sure it’s both. I have a secondary question: why would you put an established comedian in such an unfunny role after getting such giant laughs a few weeks ago with a dramatic guy in drag? Any schmo could have played the part, and I wouldn’t have spent the whole time referring to the character as “Joel McHale.” I didn’t realize a guest star could take me completely out of the show like that.
Onto the really juicy, non-depressing stuff. (Well maybe it’s depressing if you thought Greg the Peg was awesome, which is a depressing concept itself.) Clay and the Nomads know that all eyes are on them for the home invasion shit. Clay tells them to all skip town in case the DNA found under Rita’s fingernails is indeed incriminating. First, though, Jax and Wayne separately use intimidation to spook the Nomads, which works. Clay and Greg agree that Wayne is the next one to die. Clay tells Greg to get Gogo and head over to Wayne’s with masks on and guns drawn.
Since nothing Clay ever says is to be believed one-hundred percent, his immediate arrival at Wayne’s trailer is suspect. Wayne is smart to consistently keep a shotgun pointed in Clay’s general direction. Clay’s small talk consists of Wayne getting back into office, should Oswald be elected Mayor over Hale. Despite this talk of the future, I still wanted to clench my eyes shut when Clay said, “You were a good friend, Wayne. Sorry I wrecked that, too.” But for once, Clay meant just what he said. And when Juice calls to alert Clay the Nomads arrived, it’s that thin line between shocking and completely predictable when Clay puts a bullet through the first one in the door. After Greg and Gogo are dead and unmasked, Clay once again returns to the role of the liar, telling Wayne he happened upon the information that the Nomads were the bad guys and were planning on doing all this. I’m pretty sure Wayne knows better.
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