Thursday, 8 September 2011

Sons of Anarchy 3.8 ‘Lochan Mor’

“Just another vacation…” – Bobby

I’ve missed a good few weeks of Sons of Anarchy reviews now due to time constraints etc. but due to the slow-burn nature of this season there hasn’t been so many major developments that I can’t pick up where we left off.

Abel is still missing, but SAMCRO are now closer to finding him as they have crossed the Atlantic in one of Oswald’s cargo jets and landed in Belfast; and that’s pretty much all you need to know really in terms of major plot developments since I was last with you.

SAMCRO’s first experience of Ireland is a showdown with some dirty cops on Jimmy’s payroll, which quickly degenerates in to violence when Chibs takes it upon himself to call one a “dirty, loyalist bastard” and spits in his face.

It was quite enjoyable, if unbelievable, to see it all kick off between the Sons and the Irish police but would the MC have really risked getting locked up so soon after landing in Ireland by getting in to a brawl with some cops?

The whole showdown never had the feeling of true jeopardy for me, mainly because it was pre-credits and obviously nothing bad was going to happen that early in the episode, but also just how it all played out. There was no tease that there was a doubt about the cops’ motives, it was made blatantly obvious straight away that they were dodgy.

The Irish action for the most part was a bit uneventful though really, the revelation that we all know but has yet to be spoken (Jax & Trinity’s blood relationship) was further explored and went all Back To The Future incestuous and creepy as the young Irish girl seems to have an infatuation with her American half brother.

I’m pretty sure Gemma could see what was developing there so my question is just how long she’ll let things simmer before she actually is forced to tell Jax the truth? Sons has gone to some pretty dark and disturbing places previously but surely an incestuous relationship isn’t about to be on the cards.

There were some nice moments for Tommy Flanagan to showcase a bit of his actual acting talent as well in this episode, rather than just being a peripheral figure, as Chibs was reunited with his estranged wife and daughter.

The main development in Ireland came at the end of the extended running time however, as Jax finally got a sit down with Father Ashby who revealed he knew where Abel was and that he’d be returned to Jax once it was ‘safe’.

By ‘safe’ Ashby meant once Jimmy was out of the picture and suggested to Jax that were Jax to kill Jimmy that Abel would be returned to him. Ashby’s machinations have made the whole Abel saga a lot more palatable for me as it now feels like this poor baby has just been a pawn in a long-running game of chess within the IRA. Ludicrous, yes but at least the length of time it’s taking to get Abel back now seems legitimate rather than just a tactic to spread this one event out over the whole season unnecessarily.

Ashby can’t have Jimmy killed because the political ramifications would be too explosive, for want of a better word, but if an external element – Jax – were to bump off Jimmy, then Ashby would achieve his goal without having to deal with the aftermath.

Although I am a little confused as to why Ashby would give Abel up for adoption if this was his plan all along. Surely if Jax does in fact kill Jimmy as per the deal, then once he realises his child has been given to some nice Irish family, as we saw in that climatic scene, there’s going to be hell to pay for the priest.

Back in Charming SAMCRO’s troubles weren’t quite as visceral but there were still a veritable smorgasbord of issues that will no doubt have long term repercussions for the club.

Jax and Opie’s respective old ladies Tara and Lyla bonded over an unwanted baby, unbeknownst to poor Lyla was the fact that Tara was also with child and whilst not as steadfastly sure on whether she would keep the baby or not as Lyla was, events seemed to be conspiring to convince Tara that maybe it wasn’t the right time to bring a baby in to this world.

Elsewhere back on US soil, SAMCRO’s problems came in the form of long-running season enemies Salazar, the ousted former President of the Calaveras MC and the late David Hale’s corrupt politician brother Jacob.

Hale, who for reasons as yet unclear but certainly smelling property-based, needs old man Lumpy to agree to sell his long-running gym so offered the supposedly now reformed Darby another pay-day, following his intel on Jax and Tara moving the illegal scripts last time out, to intimidate Lumpy in to selling up.

When the stubborn Lumpy refuses to be intimidated Darby seemingly realises he’s on a hiding to nothing and literally throws Hale’s cash back in his face. I liked how Darby, a character I’ve always quite liked in spite of his disgusting world views, had a change of heart and refused to help Hale, although why he did that wasn’t that apparent, maybe we’ll get some sort of inclination down the line.

So when Darby refused to do his dirty work, Hale turned to another person who he thought he could manipulate in to doing his bidding on the promise of cash and sticking it to SAMCRO: Salazar.

Hale had spotted Salazar whilst at the Charming PD station chatting to Unser after the ousted President with a vendetta against the club, and Jax in particular, was arrested for trying to get the body of his former club brother released from the hospital after Tig and Kozik bumped him off.

I have to admit that this did seem a very tenuous way to keep Salazar as a thorn in SAMCRO’s side, it had seemed like he was going to target Tara previously as a means of getting back at Jax for disrespecting him, which while predictable would have been a logical way to keep him involved in proceedings as the villain of the piece. Helping Hale though just seemed a contrivance too far.

Is Hale oblivious to his own hypocrisy though? He’s supposedly out on this crusade to rid Charming of the outlaw element of SAMCRO yet he’s out there advocating a former biker gang member using violence to intimidate a senior citizen just trying to make a living. I hope some serious comeuppance is on the cards for the elder Hale brother after the smarmy way he’s operated thus far this season.

I can’t help but also wonder what would have happened in Charming had Tig not had to lead the cops on a wild goose chase to get Gemma over to Ireland, because without him it would have just been Kozik and the prospects left in the US, although Piney is kicking around somewhere but was absent from this episode’s proceedings.

Either way it was a smart move to leave Tig & Kozik behind as we finally got the tease of a revelation as to the origins of their beef and as Chucky astutely observed there was “at least one vagina involved”. I’d like to see Kozik patched in eventually as I really like Kenny Johnson, so hopefully getting to spend some quality time with Tig will help heal the wounds and we may soon get to see him as a fully fledged SAMCRO member.

A mutual respect and bond could end up developing a lot quicker than they could ever have imagined though if they continue losing prospects the way they did in this episode, as the prospect played by Leo Fitzpatrick whose name escapes me seemingly quit.

He’s actually lucky that’s as bad as it got for him because I was convinced he was going to end up dead, but in the end thanks to his cowardess he escaped harm free and left his kutte and his gun outside Teller-Morrow and scarpered leaving only two prospects remaining.

It’s a good six years plus now since The Wire ended and it’s amazing to me that Fitzpatrick actually managed to look younger, twitchier and more cowardly here than he did as Johnny on The Wire all those years back.

What will happen on the Charming front now with depleted ranks remains to be seen, but at least the club is only battling one lone antagonist. The fact that someone on their own was bold enough to do what Salazar did speaks volumes of just how stretched the club is right now fighting wars on so many fronts and how that fact isn’t lost on certain onlookers.

A Hail of Bullets:

- I recognise some of the SAMBEL members from TV appearances over the years and if my memory serves me correctly none of them are Irish!

The frizzy-haired guy who appeared to be third in command from his position round the table was the cop who helped Kim Bauer out of jail, before being killed, towards the end of season one of 24, and I’m sure the driver of the jeep at the start of the episode with the heinous cockney accent played a demon on the brilliant Good Vs. Evil back in the day.

- If there was ever any doubt that the Irish scenes weren’t actually filmed in Ireland though then that was pretty much confirmed here. It was pretty clear from the way the episode was shot that the actors never went to Ireland but the photographers did, as all the shots of the bikes on Irish roads were from a distance.

The actual sets and locations where the action has taken place in ‘Ireland’ are also so devoid of descriptive Irish imagery that they could have been filmed anywhere.

I’m not trying to pass judgement on this decision, it’s obviously born out of budget requirements and I don’t think there’s ever been suggestion from Kurt Sutter or anyone associated with the show that they actually went to Ireland. It’s just that as a fan of the show it would have been so great to actually see them on UK soil in locations I might’ve recognised and to possibly even get to see some of the great British actors we have perhaps given a role.

- Jax and Liam’s bare-knuckle boxing match was certain foreshadowing for the inevitable showdown to come when Liam is rumbled for being in bed with Jimmy.

That definitely looked like one hell of a party as well, I just can’t believe there were kids running round in the middle of all the sex, drinking and fighting!

- The scene after the party with the club playing poker was really nice and as Gemma remarked it was nice to see Clay smiling and relaxing. He’s so often the grumpy old man of the group it was great seeing Ron Perlman get to be a bit more light-hearted.

I loved Gemma’s little talk with Bobby as well, the bond between Gemma and all the club members, not just Clay and Jax, is something I particularly adore about the whole club way of life. I really hope we one day get to see Tara as bonded to some of the other guys, if not the way of life.

- I gave Salazar heavy focus above but just had to point out that the guy has the worst beard I’ve ever seen… and I look in the mirror every day!

- One final note not related to this episode in the slightest really but one that follows up on my last post about Sons of Anarchy: show-runner Kurt Sutter is now back on twitter! His hiatus may have only been for three and a half weeks but he’s still an opinionated voice that has been sorely missed in the world of twitter and it’s great to have him back.

Sons of Anarchy Season 3 continues in the UK Wednesday @ 10pm on FIVE USA


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