Here in the latter half of Sons of Anarchy’s sixth season, these 90-minute episodes are really starting to take a toll on my experience with the series. Last week was essentially just one big confession-filled lead-up to this week’s “Huang Wu,” which was itself one big emotional lead-up to next week’s explosive prison transport. I cannot wait for that episode, sure, but with the 15-18 minutes of extra content we’re getting every week, it feels like we should have gotten to it already, and that I should actually be in the middle of watching the finale right now, marveling at how Tig just managed to shove a man’s head inside a peanut butter jar.

I honestly expected to witness some of the most enjoyably melodramatic acting this side of All My Children once Jax finally got to confront Tara about the stockpile of shitty maneuvers she acted out against him and Gemma. Instead, Jax chooses to be quiet because one of the kids is sleeping. And then we get a montage. Fuck. That. There is no payoff in that. I wanted to hear Jax scream in her face how stupid she was for coming up with that asinine plan that had “leaving my kids with a junkie” as one sought-after outcome.

On the flip side, I thought Gemma and Tara’s little curt-tongued showdown was one of their best scenes together in the entire series, at least for ones that didn’t end in Tara faking the murder of her unborn child. There was just enough seething on Gemma’s part so that she seemed more menacing than bitchy. “Mommy moved away…or Mommy passed away?” Hard to threaten someone more overtly than asking them what to tell her kids in her sudden absence.

And in all this, I still don’t know what to think about Tara, as Maggie Siff doesn’t ever quite come off as hopeless, doomed, worried, strong, confident or in touch with reality as she needs to be for her ongoing character arc to hit home with me. (I’ve made it quite clear in the past.) This still isn’t a knock on Siff, who I like in other roles, but a damning cry against Tara as a character. I just want the kids to win and for her to lose, no matter how that has to happen. That said, backing up over Juice’s bike was an outstanding move on her part.

I could almost say the same thing about Charlie Hunnam, who is as familiar with nuance as I am with military grips on AKs. Something more hyperbolically escalated should have happened when Tara walked in on Jax and Collette – after just randomly peeking into a room in a brothel, no less – but the most memorable part of that scene was watching Tig try and handle himself in his lovely little boxers. Granted, that bit would have made me laugh in the middle of any big moment, but it shouldn’t have been what I was paying attention to. (For more reasons that one.)

There was some real power in Tara asking, “What happened to me?” I guess the point is now getting audiences to wonder what it’s going to take to get her to use that gun. Whereas Clay was the obvious target in seasons past, I have to wonder what lies over the edge for her, and how she’ll be able to climb off of it, now that she’s already tried her hand with Patterson. Of course, if she was actually interested in keeping her boys safe, she would have taken the D.A.’s help. No, nobody is going to keep Jax away from his kids, but police protection is better than nothing.

Many more things happening in this episode, yes, but I assume next week’s “All Eyes On Us” escape plot will lord over most of the baby mama drama, so it feels right to air this plotline out this week. If anything, “Hwang Wu” should have made the PTC happy, since there weren’t any dead children or bombings this week. There was of course the Chinese guys getting shot and the heroin use, but it was virtually an after-school special for this series. Next week, tires and heads will roll, and I’ll be there smiling like a loon.

Stuff That Fell Off the Back of the Bike

So, what if we found out Tara really was pregnant all that time? At least then she could say the hormone imbalance made her do it.

“Kaboom! Our prices are da bomb!” Seriously, who at TM is the guy making funny signs? Is it Rat? I bet it’s Rat.

Seeing the guys all crowded around a modern coffee table for their mini-meeting was awesome. I kind of want to see them just talk around different kinds of tables for the duration of the series. Ping pong table comes next week, fingers crossed.

“Pleasure.” “That’s what I hear.”

“Try the scope. It can split a Protestant hair from three blocks away.”

Unser, the star of past spinoff series I’ve envisioned for S.O.A., has another hit on his hands in a buddy comedy with Nero called “My Inner Cholo” or something. Those two actors have such an offbeat chemistry. “Your cancer, it don’t mean shit to me.”

“This shit is a complication!”

“That’s why you’re all alone.”

If Clay remained in a straightjacket for every episode, that would be cool, too. It doesn’t look good for him in the ambush/escape next week. Should we start saying our goodbyes now?

I. Can’t. Wait. To. Watch. Gaalan. Die.

Is it just me, or did Happy kill it in this one?

Nice job at the end of the episode when they the montage gives way to Tara’s visit with Patterson. I thought surely the episode would end with me saying, “Jax better go to sleep instead of working on that bike with the huge job the next day, especially now that he’ll have the boys more.” Instead, it ended with me saying, “Goddammit, Tara.”

If you guys want to hear Katey Sagal singing a pretty song instead of calling someone a gash as she bashes their head into a table, then check out her album Covered on Amazon.

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