Before watching Sons of Anarchy last night, I got into a short conversation online about the more soap opera-ish aspects of the series, and how much wishy washy drama these big badass men and women go through on a daily basis. So it was partly with that mindset that I went into “The Mad King,” and I was repeatedly reminded of how many acts this show gives us that have very little resemblance to anything you’d see on daytime television. This is a show with edgy violence running through its veins, and just when you thought the school shooting that opened the season would be the most despicable act we’d see this year, I found that last night’s episode topped it, and that’s what I’ll be talking about first.

The Ugly

Clay sets up a conjugal visit with Gemma to pass on the information sent to him by the Irish. The Kings are pissed about Jax’s offer to pass on gun distribution to August and his men, and they want to set Clay free during his transport to court; Clay tells Gemma to ask Jax what he should do. It’s a pretty good scene that makes you wonder what Clay’s game is, since he’s always got an angle on every word that comes out of his mouth. But to me at least, there wasn’t anything he talked about that he couldn’t have told Gemma during a normal visit by using a few carefully chosen code words. (Or a lot of them, really.) It didn’t seem absolutely necessary to make this scene occur as a conjugal visit.

Not necessary, that is, except to make audiences feel incredibly skeevy and disgusted. Two cops come in and make Clay and Gemma have a “real” conjugal in front of them while they masturbate. Making matters worse is Doug Jones, Hellboy’s Abe Sapien himself, is one of the cops. One of the most under-utilized actors working today, and I have to watch him talk about Gemma taking her tits out while he’s palming his junk. What the fuck does this scene do for anyone? It isn’t played as either incredibly tense or over-the-top goofy, but instead just beats it (off) into our heads that there are some really pervy officers working in Stockton.

So was there anything to this besides gratuitousness? Did we really need to see the Clay-hating Gemma add an asterisk on her “Rape” column that says, “Well it was actually consensual and with my husband, but it only happened because two cops forced us to do it.” I kept thinking she or Clay would turn the tables on the cops somehow, or that we’d find out that this act had deeper meaning, but we didn’t. It just seemed to be the ante-upper that needed to balance the lack of limb severing earlier in the episode.

Then I thought it would just be a really, really, really cheap way to give Nero an out in their relationship when she eventually confessed it to him. But he didn’t freak out and break up with her. Then I’m thinking maybe Clay was extremely horny and somehow paid those two cops off to set the scene so that he could get some. But that’s probably unlikely and wasn’t hinted at too heavily. So instead, we got to watch the writers take Gemma down yet another sexual notch with a faux molestation. There isn’t anything this show will do that will make me stop watching it, but this was one of the few times where I hated what I was watching.

The Bad

Of all the bad things that happen to people in this show, this episode tried to give us the worst one of all by blowing up TM and the club. Yes, this is terrible, but it would have worked so much more effectively if the “lockdown” had actually kept anyone at all on the property. Everyone was indeed there when it did go off, making for one of the more harrowing moments of the show as Jax runs back to get his son, but the whole “bomb in a keg” idea felt a little half baked. I’ll have to see how it all pans out. My guess is it pans out with a lot of Irish corpses dotting the streets. Irish streets or American streets, I’m not sure. I’d say that it’s agreed to let Clay go to Belfast, where he kills everyone himself, but we all know how terrible I am at prophecies.

The Good

Yeah right, like anything good happens to SAMCRO. But for viewers, some of the better moments in the episode involved Peter Weller’s dirty ex-cop Barosky temporarily putting Jax in his place, which was awesome. And then Chibs also halfway stepped up to Jax for not trusting him, even if that didn’t really come to a head. I just want everyone to give Jax an intervention to tell him that he should just do the opposite of whatever his misguided instinct tells him is right. There were of course other great moments in the show, too, but nothing that wiped the dirty cop taste out of my mouth. Well that didn’t sound right.

Stuff That Fell Off the Back of the Bike

Seriously, Abe Sapien? Seriously?

That was a great song by Alt-J that opened the episode. Everyone go peep them out.

What kind of an education did Jax get growing up that helped him to know exactly when and where to crash through a warehouse wall in order to knock down a man with pallet of booze? Granted, “Another fine Irishman brought down by the bottle,” was a good line, but that was fucking ridiculous.

Possible S.O.A. spinoff: Wayne, Abel and Thomas playing on playground equipment in different cities around the country.

No funeral service for Otto or Toric? For shame.

Just how is Roosevelt (or “Sheriff Remus” or the “thick black sheriff” as he is so lovingly called) going to handle the Nero/Erin/Toric business? That’s one aspect of this plot that I can’t even guess at just yet.

I have to wonder just how on the nose a reference using The Mad King to pass Clay his message was. Will he be impersonating a loyal gunrunner, just so he can avenge SAMCRO?

While it sucks that Filthy Phil is gone, I have to say that Rat has totally stepped up as the most respectable member of the crew to me.

When Jax ignores the idea that Bobby should be called to give them extra men to try and take down Connor, it’s obviously meant to come off as a “Jax is still avoiding this Bobby situation,” but I’m wondering why in the hell they think Bobby would want to help them anyway, considering one of the reasons he got out of the club is to avoid hectic mishaps like that.

New Whore Partner.

I know I should probably be more invested in the Tara/Wendy/Gemma story, but I just don’t care. I’m actually on Tara’s side, which never happens, and it’s making me want the whole ordeal to just go away.

Someone let the masturbating cops' families know that they're going to die soon.
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