Tara’s plot starts to unravel as Jax starts to wonder if they can ever rebuilt what they once had while Nero gives up the gun runner in the school shooting…..
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
When Sons of Anarchy season six kicked off this year, creator Kurt Sutter promised that there would be an event that would rock the club to its very core and serve as the foundation as he started to build towards the conclusion of his outlaw biker opus. The event as it turns out was at the end of the debut episode when a young boy walked into his school with a semi-automatic weapon and unloaded round after round on classmates and teachers in the most desperate and sad cry for attention that no child should ever go through. The gun the boy used was one of the illegal weapons the Sons sold on the street and eventually ended up young Matthew Jennings’ hands, and that one moment sent Jax Teller and the rest of his club spiraling out of control, desperately searching for a way to break ties from a violent past that has only produced more and more bloodshed that lands at their front door.
If you’ve ever heard of the concept of the Butterfly Effect — that one small, miniscule occurrence can set off a chain reaction that can eventually lead to catastrophic results — and the Sons are very much in the midst of this for their own wicked past. The ripples from the decision made so many years ago to put the Sons of Anarchy into the gun trade are still reverberating on the newest generation of club members and the school shooting at the beginning of this season brought back some mighty big ghosts to haunt the club in the latest episode titled ‘Los Fantasmas’.
If there has been one constant throughout the course of Sons of Anarchy it’s the fact that the law enforcement officials on this show have a moral compass that doesn’t always point to true north. Now the truth of the matter is if you examined many of the police forces and the judicial system across the United States you’d probably find a lot of this kind of cavalier attitude and corruptible demeanor isn’t just made up for television. So don’t be shocked when District Attorney Patterson uses less than scrupulous methods to try and catch her bad guy.
Lee Toric — while he certainly went way off the reservation by the end of his run — was a perfect example of the kind of lawman it takes to capture the truly evil force plaguing our streets. The beat the criminals you have to think like a criminal and to think like a criminal you have to get dirty, and grimy and nasty. There’s no way around it because if not the real bad guys, the ones ruling the streets, will eat them up and spit them back out again. Patterson knows how this game works so to get the Sons on the radar of every police officer and citizen in and around Charming, she leaks a story to the press that the Sons along with Nero’s gang are possibly connected to the gun that led to the school shooting a few weeks back.
This immediately begins to tear and rip at the club because Charming has already suffered enough of their misdeeds that the Sons were on the cusp of being ousted from the town before this story leaked. Now that it’s out there the ramifications hit from the people walking down the street to the cop looking to make a name for himself by bringing down the bikers who helped murder innocent children. To help play damage control, Jax has to visit Nero’s crew and make sure that they are all aware of what’s going on and that laying low is the best defense against a great offense. The entire time this meeting is happening there’s a car sitting a hundred or so yards away clocking each member of the Sons and from the Hispanic crew they’re dealing with on the street. Once the meeting ends, the car takes off in a blaze tearing towards the crew looking to run them down.
The first person standing in the way is Juice and he’s not moving out of the way. His daredevil walk with death continued as he stood there, resolute to either force this car to swerve and miss him or take him down. The car swerves and takes out one of the gang members, as his blood splatters all over the car, before being dragged underneath for several feet until his broken and crimson soaked body is left dangling to the pavement. The gangsters want revenge, but Jax is smart enough to tell them to chill out as they look into who this hit and run artist was exactly.
I have to mention again this cold, steely stare from Juice that we saw again this week. It’s almost like the 1000 yard stare the soldiers in Vietnam used to talk about. That far off, distant stare that war torn men got after being in the field too long. Something tells me that Juice has already met his breaking point and now he’s walking into the unknown, wandering the line between sanity and delirium. This moment happens just after Juice tells Jax that he let the Irish gun runner, Conner, go without a scratch. He’s staying stateside to help set up the gun running between the IRA and Clay, but again the ice-like gaze is all that’s left as Juice tells this story. Did he actually let Conner go? That’s something that we will have to find out in later episodes.
The District Attorney’s plan is unfolding with perfect fluidity thus far. The newspaper story already has the Sons and the Byz-Lats rattled, and now it’s reaching inside county jail walls. That’s where Nero sits after his arrest recently for the murder of a girl from his club, Diosa. Nero has maintained his innocence from day one, but the DA is gunning for leverage and keeping him in shackles is accomplishing that goal. The DA dangles freedom and the best of homes for his boy Lucius if he gives up the Sons as the gun runners who put the weapon in Matthew Jennings’ hand. Finally with the pressure ratcheted up and time running out to make a deal, Nero finally confesses and gives the DA what she wants.
He gives her a criminal, served up on a silver platter ready for conviction. Nero gives himself up as the man who supplied the gun to Darvany Jennings, which then found its way into the hands of her son. He wraps it up with a bow and hands it right over to the DA ready to spend the next few decades of his life in prison. DA Patterson isn’t happy because she knows Nero isn’t her man and he’s just taking the blame as a scapegoat to prevent turning rat. At the same time this is happening the lab results come back from Toric’s hotel room — the blood at the scene belonged to the young prostitute that died thus proving that Nero didn’t kill her and was set up by the crazed ex-U.S. Marshall. Patterson storms back into the holding cell and slams down a folder in front of Nero — it’s not the deal he was ready to sign, but instead it’s a folder filled with the images of the dead children from the school shooting. These are the images that are meant to haunt him every day he walks free. These are the ghosts that should remain in his life until the day he dies. With that, Patterson reveals that they received sufficient evidence to prove he wasn’t connected with the murder of the prostitute and Nero’s sent packing.
Nero is now free of prison, but he’s locked up with the memories of those dead children and with his mind already wrapped around an exit plan one has to wonder if this moment won’t speed that process along quickly.
Meanwhile the DA has another oar in the water to try and catch up to the Sons for this gun running charge. She was told about an early morning hit and run and witnesses saw a group of bikers and a group of suspicious gang members converging just before the car ran over one of them and dragged him bleeding into the street. Patterson calls on Charlie Barasky for information — he either finds out who this person was that ran down the Byz-Lat crew member or he can watch his precious Stockton pier get rezoned and recommissioned under the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s department, which effectively eliminates his hold over the area and the police he supplies with cash for favors and protection. Barasky is savvy enough to know that this is a threat and not something that’s already in motion or the DA wouldn’t even tell him about it.
Barasky quickly calls on Jax to help make this right, confessing all of the details from what Patterson just told him including the fact that he figured out that she was the one who leaked the details of the alleged gun runners to the press. They need to turn over the hit and run driver or else he’s in danger of losing his territory.
Jax and the crew have tracked the man down and they are waiting outside his house along with a crew of Byz-Lats just waiting to storm in and have their revenge. Jax has to break the news to his boys that they need this guy alive as payback to Barasky, so they try as best they can to delay the gangsters from kicking in the doors and opening fire. The only problem? Patience is not on the strong suit of the Byz-Lats and a few seconds later, doors are being kicked in and guns are out ready to fire on the man who killed one of their members.
The man comes flying out of the kitchen with a knife, stabbing one member before Jax finally takes him down. As the man lies bleeding and hurt on the ground, Jax looks at the pictures on the bookshelves in the living room. The man that ran down one of the Byz-Lats was the father of one of the school shooting victims. He read about the club and the gang being sought in connection with the school shooting and in his moment of anger and grief, he exacted his revenge in the only way he knew how. Jax reveals this information to the gangsters, and everyone agrees to just let this guy walk away because the pain he’s feeling inside can’t even begin to be matched by any bullet, stab wound or torture.
When the cops arrive a few minutes later, they storm in and find the man clasping a picture of his kid in one hand and the butcher knife he tried to use on the Sons in the other. He rises to his feet with the police ordering him to drop the weapon, but instead he sinks the knife directly into his throat. As he falls to the ground and blood goes shooting up like a geyser, the sad memories and ghosts of his dead son fade away as he walks towards the dark side of death.
Patterson shows up and finds out that the gang banger she was looking for was nothing more than a grieving father, who got the idea to take justice into his own hands after reading a newspaper story that she helped leak. The moment overwhelms Patterson, and it appears on the surface as if she’s ready to go back to her law abiding ways to go after the Sons instead of skirting the edge of the law as she’s down so recklessly these past few weeks.
She does find out one last piece of information before it’s all over, however, that may help turn the tide — Sheriff Roosevelt shows up to let her know about the evidence against Toric while also revealing the arrest against Gemma Teller for assault on Tara Knowles, resulting in the loss of her baby. Seems like Patterson is going to tuck away that bit of knowledge’s for future use when Tara’s trial comes up in just a few short days.
Also another bit of information to tuck away — after Jax and Barasky settle things, he apologizes for what happened with Alice (the child porn producer and mother to Venus Van Damme) last week. Barasky promises not to hold it against him unless he needs to. Keep that one in mind for down the road…
And now to the fallout from last week…
Tara has fallen into a very dark place these days. Just like the concept of the cop who needs to be an outlaw to catch an outlaw, Tara has resorted to outlaw, criminal tactics to try and help her escape this outlaw and criminal life she’s been sucked into these last few years. It’s also clear that Tara is disconnected from everyone and everybody short of her children, and even that relationship may be frayed and destroyed short of her natural maternal instincts to protect them by any means necessary.
Her plan to get Gemma away from the children works to perfection with Jax, who runs into his mother at the hospital late into the episode after she’s released from jail. Jax is done with his mother — this time for good — and he lets her know that in a devastating manner that has to rock Gemma to her very soul.
“You’re a liar and you’re a sick, twisted bitch,” Jax said. “Let this eat into your head, mother: You’re never gonna see my wife, and you will never see those kids again. Grandma is dead.”
Tara’s plan, as well conceived as she hoped it would be, started to unravel before it even began. Unser shows up at her house and immediately knows that she pulled this entire thing to get Gemma away from her kids. The former police chief is shocked to see what has happened to Tara lately, how she’s lost herself and become the thing that she hates the most.
“It breaks my heart that you had to become something so wrong to do what you thought was right,” Unser says to Tara.
Unser promises to keep Tara’s secret, but makes her call the cops to advise them that she won’t be pressing charges against her mother-in-law to keep the damage from spreading any further. Unser visits the jail and has a conversation with Roosevelt about Gemma’s pending charges. It’s clear Roosevelt (who earlier had a similar conversation with Gemma) knows that Tara was faking the pregnancy and this is all part of a scheme to get rid of Gemma while protecting her kids. Unser also reminds Eli that his continued journey to tear apart the Sons of Anarchy might go one step further than he intends — the Sons are woven into the very heart of Charming and tearing them out like the cancer he believes them to be, may just sink the entire town as well.
Unser picks up Gemma and gives her a ride home, and has a heart to heart with his old friend. She’s well aware the Tara was never pregnant and this was all a plot to eliminate her from Abel and Thomas’ lives. Immediately, Gemma starts hatching ideas to get back at Tara and expose the truth, but Unser hits her with a hard fact that she has to realize — she has two roads she can travel on right now. Gemma can walk a hard road, winding and treacherous but one that ultimately leads back to her grandchildren and a life where Tara accepts her or she can be cut out of their lives forever. Gemma is a passionate woman, full of love and devotion to her family, but as Unser reminds her, that love is twisted up, torn and shredded by secrets and hate. If Gemma can’t let go of that, there may be no tomorrow with her grandchildren.
Later in the episode while meeting with her attorney Lowen, Tara’s disconnect seeps even further. This is the person she’s been trusting during this entire ordeal, letting her in on all of the grand plans to escape Charming with her children in tow while leaving Jax in the dust. But after what she did to Gemma while trying to squeeze through the emergency exit door of her life, there’s nothing left inside. Tara’s gone and she’s just left with the ghosts and memories of a life she could have had. Lowen pushes for details, but Tara just withdraws and tells the attorney to see herself out after cutting her a check for her services.
Tara’s tour around town takes her to the club as well where she runs into Bobby while looking for Jax. He lets her know that Jax is doing everything he can to get the club to a legitimate place, far away from gun running, cocaine trafficking or any other illegal activity but it’s not going to be easy to get there and he knows one thing for sure — Jax will never get there alone. He needs Tara. He depends on Tara, and without Tara, Jax will surely fall apart. It’s hard for Tara to hear this kind of revelation and it may serve as the harbinger for what’s coming in the next season.
Read your Hamlet kids and pay particular attention to Ophelia.
Gemma is on the hunt for an ally in her battle against Tara so she turns to the next logical choice — Wendy. Gemma knows that Wendy is in on the whole set up, using the rage from her own rape to play to her sympathy and get close before stabbing her in the back and twisting the knife. The sad part is for so much of this series, Gemma really has been a victim of this life she never wants to leave. From the horrific rape to the forced rape she endured again earlier this season, Gemma’s been through hell but she never plays weak or asks for help. She refuses to play the victim, except in the moments when she least deserves it like right now. Gemma is possessive to the point of seeming almost matricidal to keep Tara from taking her children away from Charming. She’s caused Tara so much hurt and anguish, and yet somehow she’s surprised that it all came down to this.
Gemma pushes Wendy for answers and promises that if she turns and joins her team she will be protected from Jax’s wrath when he finds out the truth. Wendy’s own turmoil over what she’s done just to get back into the life of a son she wants so desperately to know has now brought back some demons she hoped were long dead and buried. With a balloon full of heroin, Wendy shoots up and tries to mask the pain with just a few hours of numbness from it all. For fans of The Sopranos, it was kind of an amazing dichotomy to see the tables turned as Drea De Matteo’s character Wendy shoots up junk just like her character Adriana watched as a bystander for so long as her fiancée Christopher drifted into his own heroin addiction.
The final scene brought Jax and Tara back together as they put their boys down to sleep.
JAX: I’m lost here Tara. I’m trying to put it back together, but I don’t know if I can.
TARA: I know…
JAX: I just feel so far away from you now. I know that’s my fault. Please, just tell me how do
I get back?
TARA: I’m not sure.
JAX: Babe… Please let me back in.
While some would look at Sons of Anarchy, much like Hamlet, as a sad tragic tale interwoven with family betrayal and plots of revenge, the heart of this story still circles back to one central theme — the love between Jax and Tara. Ripped apart all those years ago and brought back together under less than perfect circumstances, Jax and Tara are the star crossed lovers who you root for to find that happy ending. Unfortunately some relationships built on love are destroyed by the toxic nature with which they are kept. That seems to be the case with these two. Tara is quietly plotting her exit from Charming and her marriage, but did her last act of vengeance finally push her over the edge?
Did Bobby’s words about Jax needing her so much just to survive plunge deep enough in her soul to cause a flicker of hope to spark new life? Or is it all just too late for these two to survive what they’ve already been through together?
For a show built around blood and bullets, it’s these quiet moments fed by pain and tears, sadness and sorrow that make Sons of Anarchy the best show on television, and Jax and Tara are the catalysts to everything that’s happened thus far and everything left to come. What a ride we have left to go folks…
Notes of Anarchy:
— The only song prominently featured in tonight’s episode was at the beginning of the episode. The track was called ‘Gospel’ by singer/songwriter John Moreland.
— The title of the episodes Los Fantasmas translated from Spanish literally means Ghosts (which as you probably could tell from the recap was the theme)
— The director for the episode was Peter Weller, who of course also plays ex-cop turned Sons of Anarchy partner Charlie Barasky
— The Byz-Lats, the gang headed up by Nero Padilla featured so prominently this season on Sons of Anarchy originated on The Shield, also written by Kurt Sutter. The One-Niners were also a gang featured on The Shield that made the transition over to Sons of Anarchy
Make sure to come back next week for our next recap of Sons of Anarchy season 6 episode 9 titled John 8:32 and for those that need the bible verse to go along with it here you go:
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”