The body count is high in the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy but who is saying goodbye and who is making it out alive….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Before this season of Sons of Anarchy ever began, I had the pleasure of attending the San Diego Comic Con panel and press event with the cast and crew, and during one of my conversations with Charlie Hunnam, who plays Jax Teller, I brought up the subject of Donal Logue and his character Lee Toric. I make no bones about it, I am a Donal Logue fan. I think the guy is one of the most underrated actors in all of Hollywood and the fact that there aren’t scripts and showrunners just falling down at his feet asking to work with him amazes me. That said, I was excited to see what kind of a role he would have in this season playing the psychotic ex U.S. Marshall hell bent on tearing SAMCRO apart.
To my dismay, Hunnam relayed a sad bit of news. He said that Logue wasn’t able to put in a full season commitment, and they lost him sooner than expected. That meant his interactions with him were limited, and as I began to ask the rest of the cast and crew similar questions it seemed they were all telling me the same thing. So during Tuesday night’s episode when Toric’s world of lies started to unravel, I had a certain ominous feeling he was about to meet his end, and I have to say it was one of the lower points in the history of Sons of Anarchy.
Fact is Logue had a series commitment to the A&E show Vikings, and had no choice but to cut his time on Sons of Anarchy short, so creator Kurt Sutter had to do something to write him off earlier than expected. His end came at the end of a shiv courtesy of Otto — a man he brutalized, tortured and had raped repeatedly — so there was something fitting about that moment, but all in all it felt rushed. Maybe that was the point because Toric had to go, and there wouldn’t be much closure. The walls were closing in on him. He wasn’t able to get Clay to turn rat on his club, and even when he brought the former president to the infirmary to visit his fallen friend, the pain he witnessed in Otto’s eyes didn’t scare him straight. If anything it just let Clay see the kind of anguish and misery that Otto has been living in prison, and how all of that was caused by his association with the club.
Clay gave his brother one last embrace, and handed him the knife that he was given last week for protection. Whether it was meant for Otto to take his own life or he knew that it would ultimately end up buried in Toric’s belly isn’t clear. What we do know for sure is that Clay wanted to relieve Otto’s suffering. With Toric desperate and not seeing clearly, he freed up Otto’s hand to allow him to write a confession to implicate Clay in some kind of crime, just enough to keep his special investigator’s badge good for another week, but instead he was handed a note from the inmate saying ‘Your sister’s blood tasted as good as her pussy’. He turned to attack and that’s when he met his final end. Otto took the sister and now he took the brother, and with the guards bearing down on him Toric spoke the honest truth for the first time in a long while.
“Wow, I didn’t see that coming”
And with that we say goodbye to Lee Toric and Donal Logue.
We also say goodbye to Otto, who ended up being gunned down by the guards. After going through so much pain — losing his eyes, hearing about his wife being beaten to death, biting off his own tongue, multiple rapes — it was befitting that he finally got to die and it was quick and without torture. Otto suffered more than any one person should, and a fast death was at least one thing he deserved.
Toric was a man who worked in shadows and mastered in deception. Maybe that’s why he was able to get at SAMCRO so easily because he understood the mind of an outlaw because deep down underneath his badge, he was an outlaw himself. Deception also led to last week’s finale when Tig turned around and saw Damon Pope’s No. 2, August Marks, and a group of his men staring him down at a warehouse where he was all alone. It looked like Tig was about to meet his end as well, but a knock on the door at the beginning of this week changed the entire narrative.
Jax peaked out front door and there stood his good friend Tig, alive and well. As it turns out, Tig thought he was done for as well, but August just said that he was at the warehouse looking for Jax and that he needed him to call as soon as possible. Lies can go both ways and while Jax is feeling like the master manipulator lately, he’s also had the wool pulled over his eyes a bit as well. August was just testing Jax’s loyalties, and he passed the test because he found out that he was willing to give up his brother. August decides that if Jax can get together the right dealings, including getting Marks Industries (now that he’s taken over Pope Industries) the gun running operation, then he will consider Tig’s debt paid. Last season, Jax said something quite prophetic when dealing with Pope’s second-in-charge.
When learning that August had been beside Damon Pope since they were kids, Jax said he either had to be very loyal or very patient. August asking Jax to hand over Tig to pay for the murder of Pope’s daughter was loyalty. Letting Tig go with the condition of a lucrative new business falling into his lap was proof that August was pretty patient, and now he’s in control in ways that maybe even Pope couldn’t have handled.
The gun running operation being handed partially over to August solves a problem for Jax, but he still needed the San Bernardino chapter to sign off on picking up their slack of the Irish operation. It true club fashion it turns out that the SAMDINO chapter voted against the gun running, and they would not take over SAMCRO’s business. It’s a blow to Jax’s grand plan to get his club out of guns. The reality was that Jax wasn’t trying to get the Sons out of guns, only his charter, but the moves he’s been making for the past few months have all been as a lone wolf. He’s abandoned his pack, and stopped asking for advice much less bringing issues to the table for a vote. It’s one of the reasons Bobby threw down his vice president’s patch and left town. It turns out the new VP Chibs is starting to understand that playing second man to Jax isn’t an easy role. Watching the new club president acting alone time and time again forces him to hit Jax with a very hard truth.
Jax is making decisions for ‘the good of the club’ without consulting his brothers or asking them to weigh in on anything. He has a dream for how he envisions the future of SAMCRO, and maybe it’s shared by the rest of the members of his club but he’s not bother to ask their input to find out. The last guy that did that used to sit in the same chair and now Jax is making the same bad calls time and time again. Jax insists that he’s not turning into Clay, but as noted before this season ever began — power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The power is seeping into Jax’s veins, and he’s no longer seeking out guidance. He just knows what’s best for his club, so they will follow his lead. Clay’s shadow is certainly looming large these days…
Back to Comic Con for a second — one of the other revelations that Hunnam unloaded on me during our conversation about Logue’s character being the big bad this season was the fact that the other villain that will be playing a major part this season was Timothy Murphy’s Galen O’Shay. Galen was the IRA contact that took over the gun running operation in America after Jimmy O crumbled, and the Kings of Ireland needed a new point man in the United States. Hunnam said that he would have a showdown with Galen this season, and it turns out he was absolutely correct.
Galen has been dealing guns to the Sons of Anarchy for decades now and the relationship has always been dangerous, but profitable. The purpose for Galen was touting ‘the cause’, which is the IRA’s battle to return Ireland to its roots and bring all Irish men and women together under one country united. Jax knows that it’s a noble idea at least in theory because deep down this is about money. His reaction to Galen’s demands about gun running are just as stubborn. He says they are done running Galen’s guns for now and he will stop stepping down on his club’s throat. Those days are done.
In the midst of dealing with the Irish blowback, Jax and his crew are now also contending with a new threat from the Aryan gang that Clay endeared himself to last week by stabbing one of their leaders to death while earning some protection inside prison. The Nazis show up at Teller-Morrow and carve a swastika into Unser’s belly as retribution. As unorganized as the attack seems, Unser is fed up with the unmitigated violence. What if he was watching the kids when these Nazi scumbags showed up? No one has a good answer and Unser is left unsettled.
One of the best parts about Sons of Anarchy is that for as serious as the show moves from week to week, there are still some pretty brilliant turns of levity. Tig interacting with transsexual hooker Venus Van Dam last season was one of the funniest parts that Sutter has ever written into the show, and they went after the laugh meter at least a little bit again this week. First up was a great exchange between Tig and Juice when Jax suggests that Tig and Rat head up to the Nazi compound looking to join their ranks by playing father and son. Now this goes back to a little inside knowledge of the show but Theo Rossi (Juice) and Kim Coates (Tig) are very good friends. Chances are if there’s a charity event or an interview happening about the show, they are connected to each other the entire time. I even had the pleasure of doing a dual interview with them last year after the season finale. So hearing these two go back and forth while tossing out insults about shoe polish hair and 9th grade faux hawks was just brilliant. I’m dying to know if that was written or completely ad-libbed. Neither would surprise me.
The ruse by Tig and Rat fails miserably despite the help from their old friend Darby (remember meth dealing Darby from the first few seasons? Well he’s back, living legit under the banner of Jesus and married to a young Hispanic lady). So now on top of dealing with the Irish, the club now has to contend with some pissed off white supremacists as well. Luckily they will get dealt with shortly…
Back at the gun warehouse where Filthy Phil and V-Lin are standing guard, the Irish decide to pay them a visit to drop off the latest load of weapons. Of course this is after Jax already told them no more guns, but upon hearing that they have arrived at the storage facility he instructs Phil to have Galen stand put and they will be there shortly. It will be too late.
Galen shoots Phil and V-Lin dead, chops up their bodies and leaves their hands on top of their SAMCRO cuts as a reminder of what happens when the biker boys mess with the real IRA. It’s yet another loss for SAMCRO. All Jax can do is burn and bury his members and plot a way to get revenge down the road. The IRA is too widespread for SAMCRO to attack directly, but the rage inside of Jax is boiling over and someone has to pay. Remember the Nazis? Well they aren’t nearly as organized or smart as the Irish, so Jax and the club pay a quick visit to their compound where they use the KG9’s to slaughter the whole crew before burning down their house. It’s an old fashioned reminder that SAMCRO is capable of serious payback and the Nazi crew found that out the hard way.
One of the parts of Sons of Anarchy I enjoy most are the secondary characters that we meet each season. Some stick around for a few episodes, some for an entire season, some never go away. A welcome addition two seasons ago was new Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (played by Rockmond Dunbar). He’s hot on the trail of whoever murdered the prostitute that worked at Diosa, found dead on the side of the road last week. His investigation leads him right to the front door of Nero Padilla — just as Toric had intended. Eli goes through the motions, bringing Nero in and sweeping his truck for evidence. And as we saw last week thanks to Toric’s handiwork, there was plenty of evidence to find. Turns out, Eli is a lot smarter than some of the past cops we’ve met on television, and he knows that this entire story is just too convenient. Nero isn’t carrying himself like a man who is guilty, but he’s about to be buried under a mountain of evidence that says otherwise. It’s then that Eli decides to let Nero go, and dig into U.S. Marshall Lee Toric instead. Now by the time we pick this up next week, Eli will surely learn that Toric is dead, but what led him to these actions that is still story left to tell.
The day spent at the police station, the dead prostitute and the prying eyes all have Nero a little spooked about what’s going on lately. He didn’t sound very enthusiastic about adding a second location when Madam Collette’s house was offered up as a new deal, and during his time with SAMCRO he’s lost his original location, given up hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom money, got sucked back into an old gang he left behind, killed his own cousin, and now may face a murder charge because an ex U.S. Marshall wants to hurt the club. Nero’s had just about enough of this, and tells Gemma that he might have to get some distance between himself and SAMCRO. Usually when characters realize this it’s already too late, but escape is possible.
Tara has an escape plan, and she might be the smartest one of all. Last week with fake bruises on her neck and a sad sob story of a stalker, Wendy had Gemma eating out of the palm of her hand and she had everyone convinced (myself included) that she was working towards a move back into Jax’s life. Instead, Tara has been using Wendy to set up Gemma for the big downfall while also getting huge lists of testimonies from Jax’s ex-wife about the cycle of violence she saw and endured when she carried the last name Teller. Remember, Tara is working to get out of jail, but she’s also plotting a course towards a divorce from Jax and a way to keep her boys away from their father long term. This is about the end game for Tara and she wants to win. The best way to do that is to have Wendy’s assistance and they are playing Gemma perfectly. Even Unser steps on board when he accidentally walks in on their secret meeting. Unser was the only person that asked earlier what would have happened if the Nazi commando crew showed up and found him with the children instead? Now he knows Tara is working on something big, and he’s going to let her continue her business unfettered until she’s ready to answer some questions from him.
Deception can be a tool of corruption and a tool of destruction if left in the wrong hands. Jax continues to pile up the lies and like an intricate puzzle of dominoes, when one falls the others start to tumble. He’s started to feel the weight of those lies from deceiving Nero and killing the mother of the little boy who shot up the school to keeping the truth about why Clay is alive in prison from his club. He’s playing both ends against the middle, and eventually someone will realize what’s going on and start looking for a potentially bloody solution. When Clay was in charge it was Jax who hunted down and sniffed out his lies. Maybe this is where Bobby will finally make a triumphant return to try and salvage what’s left of his club. By the time he makes it back, SAMCRO may not even have enough members to call it a charter and as of now Jax’s dream is dying, and he has no one to blame but himself for the dwindling numbers and graves that have to be dug.
Make sure to come back next week for the newest episode of Sons of Anarchy titled ‘The Mad King’. The Game of Thrones fan in me is already interested…
— One other note from tonight’s episode, the final track played during ‘Wolfsangel’ was a cover of the 1930’s blues track ‘Sitting On Top of the World’ played by house band The Forest Rangers and singer Chris Voss along with a special appearance by Weezer bass player Scott Shriner which you can pick up on iTunes