Sons of Anarchy season 6 rolled in on Tuesday night and left us all with a chilling reminder that all debts must eventually be paid…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Follow on Twitter @DamonMartin
On Wednesday morning when all of the recaps and reviews for the season six debut of Sons of Anarchy are landing on web pages across the internet, the central theme for most of those articles will be about the shocking ending of the episode where a young boy with scars on his arms, dressed in a Catholic school uniform puts down his notebook full of drawings penned in rage, anger and sadness and proceeds to pull out a semi-automatic hand gun and walks into his school. A few seconds later a scream is heard before the sickening sound of gunfire rings out over top of the church bells, and the innocent voices of children are silenced and replaced with shrieks of terror. While that scene in itself will end up being the most talked about point about the debut episode, I believe the heart of that moment plays into a much bigger theme that will play out as season six unfolds — all debts must be paid.
If there is a moral lesson to be learned in Sons of Anarchy it’s that no one is innocent, and no one is left untouched in this world of blood and bullets. At one time not long ago, Clay Morrow was one of the most powerful men in Charming. Now he sits in jail afraid for his life because there’s a price on his head for a crime he didn’t commit (this time around anyways), and the only place he has left to turn is to align himself with a revenge motivated ex-U.S. Marshall who will do anything to bring SAMCRO to its knees. At first, Clay’s instincts kicked in like almost every criminal will do when presented with the premise of ratting on anyone — don’t do it no matter what. When faced with the reality of jail where it’s a lot more like Oz than it ever looks like a hard night in Mayberry, Clay can’t even bring himself to take one more step in that direction. Instead, after tasting betrayal from his wife and stepson, Clay decides it’s better to do what needs to be done to stay alive than doing what’s right and ending up dead.
At the same time Clay is rolling over on his former love and ex-brothers, Dr. Tara Knowles is finding out what it’s like to do hard time. Tara is away from her sons sitting in a jail cell wondering if it was her mother-in-law that turned her in, while trying to face the truth that she could be there for several years to come. When she visits with her lawyer, Tara is clear in the resolve to beat the charges levied down on her for conspiracy to commit murder, but she’s also adamant that she wants her husband nowhere near these proceedings. Tara soon finds out her answer the question of who put her in those handcuffs just a few nights earlier when her son was in the other room crying for his mother. She comes face to face with Lee Toric for a second time and his steely resolve hasn’t changed one bit. He offers to save her life and the lives of her sons in exchange for testifying against her husband and his club. All Tara has wanted for the past two seasons is to get out of this life, but even with the chance to relocate somewhere new with a different name and government protection, she can’t give her husband up knowing he’ll go back to prison. As Toric exits, Tara finally breaks and lets the tears flow down her face, but only for a moment before she has to put her tough girl face back on and beat down a fellow inmate who steals her blanket. Tara wasn’t made for prison — but she’s quickly adapting.
Back to Toric for a moment — in just a few scenes last season Donald Logue brought to life one of the most chilling villains in Sons of Anarchy history. I make no mystery about my love of all things Logue. To me he’s one of the most criminally underused actors in all of Hollywood and his series Terriers was one of the best single seasons I can remember in recent history (shame on you FX for cancelling that show!). Even when he’s dishing out some Midnight Justice, Logue can still deliver on all cylinders. He’s truly found his home in this role, however, as the creepy former federal agent with track marks on his arms fueled by vengeance, and he might just be the most formidable enemy SAMCRO has ever dealt with. Despite his need for revenge, Toric can set up a daily prison rape to remind Otto how he’s responsible for his baby sister’s death, but do so with a cold, calculating demeanor that’s just this side of Anton Chigur tossing up a quarter to decide a man’s fate. Toric threw a lot of bait in the water this episode, and when Clay turned away from general population and Damon Pope’s personal hit squad, he got a bite.
Back in Charming, Jax is adjusting to life without Tara. He’s got a motorcycle club full of babysitters to help out with his boys while he conducts business. Before he can get much of anything going though, he has to relive his recent past when Ima appears out of nowhere with a beaten, bloodied, and burned Lyla in her arms. It turns out the two porn stars were signing on for some extra work when things got very nasty — it seems this group of amateur adult filmmakers were doing what’s called torture porn where cutting, beating and burning the talent just goes along with the contract. Jax along with Nero and his crew decide to pay a visit to these “Persians” who are running the outfit. SAMCRO’s job to shut down these torture porn goons is going well enough until a shootout ensues, and the Sons along with Nero’s boys are caught in a gun battle in the middle of a porn studio. A few seconds later as the doors bust open wide, the police arrive ready to arrest the entire crew.
That’s where we meet former police officer Alex Murphy….I mean Charles Barosky played by the wonderfully wicked Peter Weller. It turns out Barosky runs the ports around Stockton, and any action that goes on in his neighborhood has to get his okay first. Barosky looks like a thorn in the side of SAMCRO until they realize this ex-cop is all about one thing — business. What’s the point of business? To make money. Barosky sees our leather clad heroes and realizes there’s plenty of dollar signs behind those eyes, so he decides to partner up with them on a new venture. Barosky introduces Jax and Nero to the lovely Madame Collette Jane—she runs an escort service out of Stockton but doesn’t have the clientele or the connections to make the business go like it once did and she’s looking for a partner. Actress Kim Dickens brings Collette to life in smoldering sophistication and immediately locks eyes with Jax. It’s different with Collette staring down Jax like he’s a piece of prime rib than say when Ima did so like a rabid dog a couple of seasons back. When Collette begins looking Jax over it’s because she sees a wounded pup and wants to nurse him back to health. She lends him an ear because as she puts it “I listen almost as well as I suck dick”, and Jax has been looking for that (a person to hear his problems, not necessarily the oral sex). He fights off her advances early but in one of the best scenes of the episode, Madame Collette relaxes our weary hero by removing his shoes and a few minutes later there’s a lot more on the floor. Maybe this is just the way that Collette wants to close her partnership with Jax, or maybe it’s in her arms and in her bed how he can become new again after being worn down to a nub over the last few days. Whatever the case may be, Jax has just complicated his life a little bit more because everyone knows you never shit where you eat — and you definitely don’t cheat on the wife who sits in jail because your plan helped put her there.
Speaking of wounded hounds, Tig is still finding a way to recover after the loss of his daughter Dawn last year when Damon Pope burned her alive to avenge his own daughter’s death. Tig has always been a man that shot first and asked questions later, but his reactions were always measured because he had to answer to someone. He’s still being watched carefully by his new club president, but when a member of the porn squad decides to mouth off by taunting him that they will soon be filming his daughter being raped and the room will be filled with her voice begging for daddy, there is no leash tight enough that could hold him back for what would happen next. Drowning the porn lord in a tub full of urine is a pretty good start, and Tig follows that up with a little extra fluid of his own before dumping the low life into the ocean. As Tig sat with his legs dangling out over the pier, singing “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” this might have been the moment when he finally said goodbye to his daughter for the first time. Letting go of the pain was a beautiful moment for Tig, but he’s not out of harm’s way yet because Pope’s No. 2 in charge August Marks is still gunning for him as a final payoff for his dead friend.
Meanwhile back in Charming, Juice rolls into town after leaving for a few days following Clay’s arrest and his entry back into Jax’s good graces. Chibs isn’t nearly as happy about Juice’s return because this is the man who turned traitor to save his own ass while killing a brother to protect his lies. The way Chibs sees it, Juice couldn’t face what he did so instead of admitting his guilt to the club, he tried to take the coward’s path out by trying to commit suicide. As twisted as it may seem in this world of gun running and prostitute pimping, honor still means something and Chibs doesn’t think Juice has any left. So to alleviate his own misgivings about Juice sitting at the reaper’s table, he hands him a vicious beat down for his transgressions against the club. As each punch thudded against Juice’s face, Chibs was releasing the anger felt for the loss of Miles, for the betrayal of talking to the police, and for the weak way he wanted to leave this world because he just couldn’t face what he had done.
Throughout this entire episode there was one common thread pulling it all together. A little boy no older than maybe 12 years old kisses is mother goodbye one morning, grabs his backpack and runs into one of Nero’s crew entering his house as he leaves for school. The boy pops up again and again running into different members of the Sons of Anarchy all over town, quietly walking towards school or sketching in his notebook almost as anonymous as the homeless lady that constantly pops up around town. The one person that does notice the boy is Jax, who catches eyes with the youngster as he’s headed out to Madame Collette’s. A few minutes later, the same boy calmly takes off his suit jacket and rolls up his sleeves. His left arm is scarred with the reminders of a boy forgotten who can only feel pain and not joy. Misery and not levity. Sadness instead of happiness. He reaches down into his backpack and pulls out a weapon with an extra clip full of bullets as an accessory. The cold wind that blows through the church bells is haunting, and when the boy reaches his classroom and pulls the trigger, the sound is palpable and makes you want to just close your eyes and wish it would go away.
Some will say Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter put a school shooting in his show for shock factor. Despite no actual footage being shown of the boy opening fire on his classmates, many will believes this kind of scene is too graphic for television. What Sutter did, however, was one of the bravest acts of filmmaking that’s ever been done on television. He brought a real life situation directly to our front doors dressed up as a biker drama. Call it life imitating art imitating life, but Sutter was on point with the difficult choices to include this in the episodes. The horrific incident slapped us all in the face and acted as a wake up call, and will serve as a catalyst for demolition when the bricks of SAMCRO start falling apart when hearing about this news. While I will always avoid future spoilers for upcoming episodes, the preview revealed that next week Jax learns that the gun used by the little boy was one sold illegally by the Sons of Anarchy.
Jax has wanted out of the illegal gun trade for years, but now there’s blood on his hands that won’t wash out with the best soap in the world, and the stain isn’t ever coming clean. You always have to reap what you sow, and Jax just learned in horrific detail that all debts must be paid.
One other note, the chilling song that played over the final scenes of Tuesday’s debut episode of Sons of Anarchy titled ‘Straw’ was a song by Leonard Cohen called “Come Healing”, which you can hear in the video below.
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(Leave your comments about the shocking season debut of Sons of Anarchy and come back next week when we return for the recap about episode 2)