“I got an end game here, mano.”
It must be an even-numbered episode of Sons of Anarchy, because no one fell victim to bullets, fire, or a lead pipe this week, though the level of cast-to-face pummeling was at a series high. “Stolen Huffy” focuses more on the wounds of the heart and mind, rather than the body. Except for Carla’s cast-pummeled face, of course. Also, shame on me for not mentioning High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale in last week’s episode. I must have been too busy wondering what an Ashley Tisdale was.
Opie’s death looms large over SAMCRO and its extended family, as the news travels through all channels. Jax is, of course, the most affected, pausing every now and then for masculine pouting. In the first scene, the jail-free Sons are driving back to the clubhouse, and they pass two boys on bicycles. Jax shares a look with one, and a mutual respect is formed. It felt corny at first, until later in the episode when Jax pulls out a photograph of him and Opie on similar bikes. This is the photo that Jax places beneath the casketed Opie’s hands. This is the death of innocence. (Though even a young Jax and Opie probably had less innocence than a bus full of lawyers.)
To counter this loss, Jax sets his mind on gaining things: money and a business partner in a not-as-illegal-as-guns-and-coke business venture. After seeing the havoc that Gemma wreaked all over the newly evicted Diosa, Jax presents Nero with an opportunity. Pair Nero’s respectable earners with the girls of Caracara, whose porn film status allows extreme upcharges. Jax will even pay to set up an abandoned Elk’s Lodge for Nero to use as a headquarters. The end game is money, and both want it for their families. Funny, I don’t see either of them reaching any goals.
Both men have stipulations as well. Nero doesn’t want any of the club’s dirtier business to mix with this new deal, to which Jax agrees. In an effort to keep cooler heads prevailing, Jax asks Nero to cut ties with Gemma, since their fling has led to nothing but destruction. Nero agrees.
Swaying Nero’s decision is Gemma’s continuous rage, this time funneled through Tara and her Cast of Pain. Emma Jean, who saw the brunt of Gemma’s anger last week, is still being blamed for the brothel raid, though she denies doing it to anyone listening. (And I believe her.)
Needing to save face, Nero sends two henchmen to find and kill her, then immediately tasks Jax with finding her first to protect her. Carla overhears Emma Jean’s location and alerts Nero’s boys. There is a near shootout in the middle of an urban neighborhood, but no bullets are shot. The Sons profess they have more of a personal right to kill Emma Jean, and are allowed to take her away. Except first, one of the hoods makes it clear that they need proof of Emma Jean’s death. The proof? A titty and a thumb. This was one of my favorite moments in the show’s history, as it mixed every kind of narrative tone together in three minutes, from deadly serious to grotesquely surreal. It’s determined that Skeeter the funeral director will supply these body parts. I’d prefer not to think of the family whose recently deceased member will now play the part of “titty and a thumb.”
Since the clubhouse has temporarily become the Diosa refuge, Carla is there, always walking around and smoking. She and Gemma share one too many distant glares before Gemma hatches a plan. Since Wendy is still in their lives, bailing Gemma out of jail for example, Gemma knows that Tara’s fuse is short. She is blatant in telling Tara that it was Carla’s fault Jax got roughed up that day. While the three of them are alone in a room together, Gemma takes a cheap shot at Carla’s face before allowing Carla to overpower her, which draws Tara into the fight. Gemma then quickly extricates herself, proud of her manipulation. Not even The Wire had a more powerful cast than the one slamming down on Carla’s face. As Nero later takes Carla away, Gemma finally realizes that her actions aren’t limited to just hurting those she targets. That, or she realizes she messed up her free Chicano bootycalls. Either way, she knows she’s losing it, and I doubt she knows how to gain her ground and dignity back.
The Wendy storyline almost pretends to appear as if it is going somewhere, but never does. Gemma tells her that she needs to convince Jax to be allowed back into Abel’s life, not Tara. So of course she pleads to Tara’s sympathies, of which there are few. But still, Wendy argues that Tara won’t be able to stop Abel from looking for his biological mother later in life, and that finding out now would be less painful in the long run. Tara mulls it over and goes to Jax with it. Jax shoots it down. Tara says okay. We’re back at square one.
It’s too bad square one can’t resurrect Opie. Gemma visits Clay to harangue him for showing up at Diosa and demand he give her distance, which he agrees to. He then tells her what happened to Opie, and she instinctively embraces him before running away in revulsion to sob in another room alone. It was a scene that got all the details right. I love Gemma and Clay at odds with one another, but I wish Clay would leap snarling out of his pussy-whipped gorge.
Opie’s body arrives at the clubhouse in a classy black casket. Jax gives a tearful Lyla all the time she needs with it, assuring her that the club is her family, and they're willing to do anything to help her and the kids. (Except maybe raise them, which is what she really, really wants.) The final scenes include the usual music-centered montage, this time with everyone paying their respects to Opie, usually by shoving a bottle of alcohol or something similar into the coffin. It was touching, and thankfully unmarred by controversy. Like last week, the episode ends on Jax’s face, but this time it’s shaded by mourning and remembrance, rather than straight ferocity.
In strictly SAMCRO news, Jax gets the club to vote on his “no retaliation against Pope” motion, arguing they aren’t ready for an enemy with Pope’s social stature and connections. As Bobby says, “We’re just white smoke to this dude.” It’s Jax’s intentions to get into good politics with Pope and use him to their advantage, striking later when it’s not expected. How can they trust a guy like Pope, though? “It ain’t trust, man. It’s fear.” Far be it for me to enjoy a non-violent plotline, but it’s really quite interesting to see Jax admit that he’s in a situation he can’t shit talk or punch his way out of. The only thing this club lacks more than humility is sidecars. It should be interesting to watch if they don’t completely renege on it next week.
So my pulse never did get to racing in this episode, despite some hectic scenes. The car/motorcycle chase was particularly uninspired, and ended when Jax crashed his bike after Emma Jean burned her leg on the exhaust pipe. Right before a commercial break. And then nobody got shot. Looking back, this whole continuation of Emma Jean’s story feels like filler. It’s all so Nero can look good in front of his crew, which doesn’t exactly make him more manly. I’m anxious to get to Nero’s backstory, and just how far back he and Carla go. I’d also love to know if Wanda de Jesus asks Jimmy Smits to call her Gemma when they do it. For more irrelevant thoughts and questions, find me next week for “Orca Shrugged.”
Episode “gash” count: 1.
That an actor whose most famous role was a character named “Half Sack” would (allegedly) bludgeon an 81-year-old woman to death makes as much sense as anything else. No need to rest in peace, Johnny Lewis. Sayeth Kurt Sutter, “The sad irony of it happening two days after Opie's death is not lost on me." That’s not irony, Kurt. Also, it’s a real dead woman, not a fake dead biker character.
Nero’s henchmen are named Lupe and Fiasco. Say, Lupe Fiasco just had an album that came out last week. Guess Kurt Sutter likes his Food & Liquor.
“Yeah, maybe they just realized that I wasn’t a whore,” Gemma tells Carla as she’s bailed out of jail, by Wendy. I wonder who all these non-whores are that Gemma thinks are surrounding her in life. Looks like a bunch of whores to me.
. Is it just me, or was the standoff scene cartoonishly misogynistic? I fully expected someone to take a shit on a picture of Susan B. Anthony.
Clay: “You want distance? You got it. I don’t even know who you are anymore.”
Gemma: “Why don’t you bounce my face off the floor? Maybe then you’ll recognize me.”
This moment should have been accompanied by the finale of a fireworks display, or Hulk Hogan ripping his shirt off or something. The single-person fist pumping going on in my living room was serviceable, but less than necessary.
My new least favorite insult: Dora the Whore-a. Not even the right amount of syllables. Next week’s Angelina Ballerina insult better be on point.
Carla’s face looks like it got put into a blender set on “Harsh.
I have never looked for any hearts hanging from motel room doors, but I’m so about to start. So that I can report the prostitution taking place, not so I can hold a glass up to the wall and listen in on other people having sex. Definitely not that listening in thing.