Sons of Anarchy recap: 'Faith and Despondency'
There has never been an episode of Sons of Anarchy that has covered this much ground or this many emotions. At this point in the final season, the story is rich and relentless for every character. Just when you catch your breath, another bomb goes off. By the end of this episode—when Abel asks Jax if Gemma killed Tara so “first mommy” Wendy would be with him—we understand what Peter Weller meant when he said the next episode, 711, would be the climax: “Number 11 is always the end of the second act where everything falls apart, where things are revealed, where people die again,” he said, speaking to Sons history. “So 711 just about destroyed me.” With that to look forward to, let’s dig in. (Update: Read our postmortems with Walton Goggins, Mo McRae, and the show’s head of makeup, Tracey Anderson.)
The sex montage: We open with what has been affectionately dubbed “the f–ktage” at FX—everyone essentially trying to f— away the pain of Bobby’s death. Charlie Hunnam promised EW we’d see his ass again in season 7, and the man delivers. (Inbar Lavi, who plays Winsome, was also correct when she assured us it’d be “glorious and delicious.”) Jax and Winsome seem to enjoy themselves more than Gemma and Nero, who just go through the motions. Venus and Tig get their first love scene, while Jarry and Chibs are hotter in bed than they were in the parking garage. Rat screws someone who isn’t Brooke (a sad right of passage, if you think back to Jax doing Ima), and Happy takes a blonde on the hood of a car. You feel sad for Wendy, who’s all alone in flannel sheets, until you hear the buzz of a vibrator—so she’ll be just fine, thanks. Then there’s the shock of seeing Juice under Tully in his cell. How much more can Juicey be put through as a character?
Jax rolls off of Winsome in tears. She’s afraid she did something wrong, and you can hear in her voice that she’s worried about what he might do. But there’s also a tear falling from her eye when she tells him the other girls told her what happened to his wife. She assumes he wants her to leave, but he asks her to say. “Please,” he whispers. “Is this okay?” she asks while cuddling in next to him. He smiles as he wraps his arm around her and strokes her face: “It’s nice.” Some fans will be pissed that Jax took comfort in Winsome roughly a month after Tara’s death, but lying close to him with her long black hair, she looks like Tara. She’s a very different woman, but she’s still someone who wants to trust him.
The men make their exits: Still at Diosa, Nero finally tells Jax he’d like to sell his half of the business to Alvarez, who will let Oso and his crew run the house in Stockton. Jax isn’t thrilled, but he knows Nero has a right to use his exit strategy. Winsome interrupts to say she’ll head over to Red Woody so Lyla can help her with the computer. She’s smart, Jax tells Nero, even if she doesn’t know what “data” is—and she’s unstable, but in a good way apparently. In the end, Jax says he’s cool with Alvarez—he’s just not ready to lose Nero as a partner. Nero seizes the moment to tell Jax he’d like Gemma and the boys to spend time on the farm. Jax seems fine with that, too—though Nero makes it sound more like a vacation than a permanent residence.
Rat emerges and tries to explain to Jax that he was just blowing off some steam, but Jax doesn’t need to hear it. Jax shares his weed—they’re smoking a lot more this season, right?—and we learn it’s been three days since Marks was arrested and he’s still in county awaiting a hearing. The DA wants to make him sweat. Something is set to go down today with Rat and TO, and Jax expects it to get messy. Rat goes on his way when Winsome reappears with those records she’s taking to Lyla. She says she and some of the girls are going to get a place together, “you know, before we all get gunned down by Chinese gangsters.” It’s good to know she’s aware of what she’s gotten herself into. Jax thanks her for “hanging out” with him, and the way she lingers when he pulls away from a kiss makes you worried she’s getting a little too attached to a damaged man. She calls him back to tell him she can see he’s in pain, that she knows how hard it is to look past the things they do—she’s hurt people and disappointed them, too. He’s been decent and kind to her and kept his word—she hopes he can see that he’s a decent guy. He doesn’t speak; he just walks out.
Venus comes out of the shower in her robe, and Tig is already drinking straight from the bottle. He’s headed to Stockton and says he’s not sure if he’ll see her again later. She touches his chin like she did before their first kiss, and he tries not to be uncomfortable. When he leaves, Venus runs her fingers across her face and you can hear the hint of stubble. She knows Tig might balk at her without all the makeup and hairspray.
Abel Watch: Adding to the growing sense of discomfort, Abel comes to breakfast with cuts around his left eye and claims Thomas scratched him. Ever in denial, Gemma is satisfied when Brooke says she’ll trim Thomas’ nails. Gemma drops Abel off at school, and Ms. Harrison immediately asks Abel if an adult scratched him and explains that the person could get in trouble with the police and the school. Is Abel going to frame Gemma?! He’s just 5, I told myself. But then I remembered how my 5-year-old niece lied and told her mother that I promised to get her a real cell phone for Christmas…
NEXT: RIP, Leland
Poor Juice: Jax visits Tully, who insists it’ll be a day or two until he can get the right guards on shift so Juice can make a move on Lin. In the meantime, Jax is going to meet with Otis, Tully’s No. 2 in Tempe, who just got out of prison and is going to be taking over leadership from Leland. You think there’s no way Tully will tell Jax what he’s been doing with Juice, but he hints at it: He says he’ll keep Juice close and make sure no one breaks his heart. Jax’s response, “Well, he could do with a little lovin’.”
Tyler turning rat?: Tyler goes to see Moses, who has a job to do before August posts bail two days from now: He needs to talk to the pastor’s family and convince them to change their statement. Moses knows Jax is protecting the mom and son, and since August is questioning Tyler’s loyalty, he wants Tyler to help find the family to prove it lies with him. Tyler suggests TO might know where Jax is keeping the family, and Moses says they’ll track him down together. I assumed this had all been set in motion by Jax, that Rat and TO would get caught together (as seen in the promo), and somehow SAMCRO would get there in time to take out Moses. I was half right.
Abel reaches peak creep: At school, Abel goes into the bathroom, disposes of his apple juice in the trash can, stares at himself in the mirror, and then goes into the handicapped stall. He takes off his long-sleeved shirt and sits on the toilet with his lunchbox. He picks up the large fork first. Nothing in his lunch seems to require it. Is he going to use it on himself, or to shiv some unsuspecting classmate?
Redneck meet: Jax, Chibs, Tig, and Happy ride to a remote house and meet Otis, who looks way more formidable than Leland. One of Leland’s crew calls Tig a “tranny humper” and says everyone knows he’s with Venus (though he doesn’t say it that nicely). Tig just hazily smiles—speechless that his secret is out? Knowing that he’s going to take this guy down? Chibs tells him it’s not the time, but actually, Otis is okay with it. SAMCRO has been sent there to weed out those who don’t approve of the new management. Tig asks for an apology, and the guy says, “Are you kidding me? If you were in this crew, you’d get your dick shot off, you ass-rapin’ freak.” So, naturally, Tig shoots him in the dick. Otis calls for guns to be lowered, and when an AB member raises his weapon again, Jax shoots him in the head. Dick dude stupidly volunteers that Leland is on his way to kill Eglee because Leland thinks Tully is using Jax to take him out by blaming the cop shooting on him. Tig gets to kill the guy and off SAMCRO goes to the hospital.
Chibs calls Rat, who’s at a bar drinking with TO. He asks him to go to St. Thomas to help Eglee, so whatever plan they had in the works needed to be postponed—only Moses and his crew grab both Rat and TO outside the bar. The question is, who was Jax calling? Let’s hope Unser.
We were right: Leland, who cleaned up nicely, ultimately sneaks his way into the ICU and into Eglee’s room with a gun with no silencer. What was his plan to not get caught, exactly? She’s not in her bed, so he assumes she’s in the open bathroom. Unser waits behind the door, and they struggle. Unser ultimately fires three shots and puts Leland down. (Yet another episode actor Brad Carter’s mother will not be watching.) If Unser dies, it can’t be by the hand of a character we only met twice. It also can’t be by a heart attack. (Anyone else worry when Unser grabbed his right arm afterward?)
Unser had moved Eglee to a new room and didn’t have time to call it in to Jarry beforehand. He tells Jarry he got an anonymous tip, and she knows he means SAMCRO, who is in the waiting room. (They’re not even trying to hide it.) She tells Unser he can’t keep protecting them, which makes you wonder where she stands with Chibs. Unser, we learn, has never killed a man on the job before. He’s fired his weapon maybe 12 times and wounded two perps. Bad shot?
Unser tells the club Eglee blamed the cop shooting on white guys with Nazi ink but didn’t ID anyone. Tig says “they” didn’t know that, which tips Unser off that it was the AB. (Insert Jax throwing shade at Tig.) Jax assures Unser no one else is coming after Eglee and that he owes him. Chibs gets a call from Wendy saying Child Services was called to the school and Jax needs to get there. Happy goes with Jax, and Chibs and Tig say they’ll handle Black.
NEXT: Payback time
Abel IS framing Gemma: So there’s the brutality you expect from Sons, like Tyler watching Moses’ men beat Rat and TO, who they’ve got bound to chairs in a stall like the one where they kept Bobby. And there’s the twisted, dark humor, like Juice receiving a package from Tully via a guard containing a book of Emily Bronte love poems, petroleum jelly, and,
chapstick drugs. (“Holy s—,” Juice says.) But then there’s the brutal, twisted seriousness that is Abel rolling up his sleeve at school and showing the deep, bloody fork marks to Gemma and Jax. Ms. Harrison tells him he’s in a safe room. He can say who did it. “Grandma.” WHAT? Yes, he’s definitely his lying grandmother’s son, but let’s not forget Tara framed Gemma for that miscarriage. Everyone deserves some credit here.
At home, Wendy confirms that she dressed Abel that morning and there were no bruises other than above his eye. Jax asks why Abel would try to get Gemma in trouble. Nero theorizes it’s because he might think Gemma is trying to replace his mother, so if he gets Gemma out-of-the-way, Tara would somehow come back. Wendy suggests Abel speak to someone, which Gemma is obviously against. But Jax, finally, gets that there is a real problem if Abel is doing this to himself: He says they have to follow protocol so Child Services doesn’t take the boys, which means Gemma can’t be alone with them. Jax decides to take the boys to his house and asks Wendy to come with and sleep in the nursery. You know this is just the beginning of Gemma’s suffering.
An eye for an eye: Moses walks in casually with a grapefruit spoon and threatens to take out an eye if someone doesn’t talk. TO gets a nod from Tyler, the signal that now is a believable time for him to sing. TO tells him SAMCRO is keeping the mother and son at the cabin, where the full club will surely be. I was worried Moses was going to take an eye anyway, disappointed that TO caved so easily. But he didn’t. Once Moses leaves, Tyler kills a guy taking water in for TO and Rat, so yes, he’s still on Team Jax. Then there’s the great reveal that TO has actually sent Moses and his men to the house where we met Otis. The suspense is almost like in a horror film as we watch Moses’ team slowly clear the house and the shed. They hear a phone ring in the RV, and you immediately suspect bomb. One poor guy opens the door and kaboom. Dudes get thrown. While most guys survive, their ears ring and they’re disoriented enough to be shocked when Otis, SAMCRO, and the Grim Bastards come running out with automatic weapons ablaze. Jax, Tig, and Chibs pop up from a storm cellar, with Jax sporting sunglasses along with his large gun—a shot no doubt inspired by an awesome ’80s action movie (or The Expendables). Jax shoots Moses in the leg and he falls, but miraculously, even though everyone else in Moses’ elite ex-special ops team is gunned down, he survives. When it’s silent again, Jan pulls out his eye with his bare hand. The eye dangling out of Moses’ socket could be, perhaps, the grossest thing we’ve ever seen on the show. It’s the only time I remember getting legit nauseated. Chibs gets the honor of cutting off four of Moses’ fingers, and we see them lying in the dirt. And still the eye dangles. Part of you wants Jax to slit Moses’ throat, but the guys never heard Bobby make that prediction. Jax puts a bullet in Moses’ head, just like Marks did Bobby’s, and it’s done. Well, he fires two more shots just because.
Otis seems like a decent dude: Otis offers to clean up the bodies in exchange for keeping the cars. The ambush was a favor for a favor—he just needed someone to take out Leland that wasn’t him. TO and Rat get delivered, and everyone is surprised to see Rat in the mix. He wasn’t supposed to get caught with T—he was going to tail Moses to the location, but Tyler couldn’t sneak away to phone Rat and warn him Moses was on his way. Regardless, Rat wears his bruises like a badge of honor… that Jax playfully slaps in a big brother way. Tig informs Rat that all went well, if well is a pile of black bodies in the backyard. “What? Was the LAPD here?” TO cracks. More gallows humor: “There’s three left if you want one?” Happy says, stroking one of Moses’ severed fingers. Jax and Tyler hug it out, and according to a poll in last week’s recap, 49 percent of us should feel guilty for thinking Tyler had already turned on SAMCRO.
NEXT: The calm after the storm
The good news: Quinn and Montez inform the mom and son about Moses’ hit squad being discharged. They’ll take them home now and keep an eye on them while they wait for August to make bail and see what happens then. Can SAMCRO really get a win? As the crying mother and son hugged for a while, I found myself wondering if Quinn and/or Montez was going to shoot them because they’re the rat we’ve been searching for. Trust no one. But we’ve already done a bad transfer twist with Clay’s break-ins, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Eglee and Unser watch TV, and he kisses her hand as she gazes at him sweetly. (Any shippers?) In Juice’s cell, Tully lies on the bed with his head on shirtless Juice’s lap and reads him Bronte’s “My Comforter.” Dead in the eyes and doing drugs (will he eventually OD?), Juice listens to the foreboding excerpt:
A brotherhood of misery,
Their smiles as sad as sighs;
Whose madness daily maddened me,
Distorting into agony
The bliss before my eyes!
So stood I, in Heaven’s glorious sun,
And in the glare of Hell;
My spirit drank a mingled tone,
Of seraph’s song, and demon’s moan;
What my soul bore, my soul alone
Within itself may tell!
Chibs and Jarry get physical: Chibs returns to Jarry’s place, and she’s in bed wearing a T-shirt and smoking weed. She’s pissed that an Aryan psycho tried to kill one of her sheriffs and SAMCRO was involved with them (even as the whistle-blower in that case). She says she can’t do this anymore, that it’s not him it’s her—she always puts herself in these situations that can’t go anywhere. She admits she should never have let this happen—and then gets pissed again when he takes a drag from joint and puts on his cut to leave like a gentleman. She wants him to fight for her, and he won’t: Instead, he just lays out their situation for her calmly and realistically: She’s a cop, he’s a criminal. They’ll never share their business or take strolls down main street and buy furniture like normal couples. “I like you,” he says convincingly. “The sex is great. And when you’re not tearing apart every single moment that we’re together, you’re actually a lot of fun. I’m not gonna make up your mind for ya.” He goes to leave, and she turns him around. And then she shoves him. It’s reminiscent of Tara shoving Jax in the bathroom long ago when she thought Ima was “getting to him.” In both cases, the couples end up having sex, but proving they’re a different kind of duo, Chibs shoves Jarry back first. She slaps him, and… he slaps her. You never want to see a man strike a woman—and in the back of your mind, you have to wonder if this scene played out in Gemma and Clay’s house back in the day (before “Hands” took it to a whole other level). But really, this moment is about Chibs showing Jarry that he’s never going to back down. He’s being honest: He’ll always see her as a cop first, and a woman second. She lunges at him as if to tear off his cut, and he takes her to the ground kissing her and tearing off her T-shirt. It’s important that he keep the cut on because he’s SAMCRO first, a man second. Her lying there naked? She’s the one who’s compromised. I’ve never missed Tara more than in that moment: I understand Jarry as a character, and find her complex and interesting, but I don’t want to relate to her.
NEXT: Tig tears
Venus and Tig get honest: Venus is the most singular character on the show, and yet, in this moment, she is absolutely the most relatable. At least to me. She sits alone in the dark and doesn’t want Tig to turn on the light when he arrives. He sits on the edge of the bed and Venus—in Walton Goggins’ voice, not Venus’—tells him she knows what this is about: He’s with her to show the world he lives outside the box, but the problem, Venus says, is that her feelings for him are inside the box. “I’m afraid, Alexander, that I may have fallen in love with you.” Tig doesn’t know what to say, so Venus says it for him: “I’m a man. I am a man who knows she’s a woman. And that’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. It’s the criss-cross that I’ve come to love. I don’t want the surgery. I don’t want to undo what God has given me. I know how beautiful I am.”
Venus says she’ll need to put distance between them, and Tig says she’s right about everything: He’s at his criss-cross, too: He has no secrets when he’s with her, and she see’s everything—all the things that he hides and hates about himself—and she still loves him. He’s never had that. But when he tries to get close and feel normal, he can’t hook it up. “Let me finish, baby,” he says when she interjects. “But I want to. I want to. I want to feel,” he says crying now, “what it’s like…for you to be mine. I want to be able to go anywhere, any place with you being mine.” He kneels in front of her. “Come on, baby. Why don’t you just go get yourself cleaned up,” he says, a tear running down his cheek. “Put on a pretty dress. Put those flowers back in your hair. Because I want to hear your lilt when you say my name. ‘Cause you are my sweet, my beautiful Venus.” Venus works to get her voice back as she tells him she’ll do it for her precious Alexander. They end the scene hugging—her calling him her savior and angel and him calling her his baby. I hope we see Venus again. While that moment is full, it’ll be most satisfying if we see Tig proud to be with Venus in public.
Gemma makes a decision: Back at Gemma’s, Brooke takes care of Rat’s bruises and talks back to Nero when he presses Rat for information about what’s gone down that day. Rat is proud—she’s an old lady now. Gemma’s smoking again while sitting on her bedroom floor. Nero puts out her joint so they can talk. She asks when he’s going to Norco. He’s picking up his money from Alvarez the next day (so expect to see Marcus next week?) and going to spend a couple of days at the farm seeing what needs to be done. Gemma asks him if he needs help. She’s ready to run now. Oh Nero, he’s so happy at the thought of making it their place. “I don’t know why you’re still here. Why you still love me,” Gemma says breaking down. “I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know.” Nero holds her and tells her she’s his girl. What happens when he learns the truth?
The truths are out there: Over at Jax’s house, Wendy folds clothes and tells Jax that Abel wasn’t having any of her trying to talk to him. She’s got names of a couple good therapists, and he thanks her for helping get the boys settled. She goes to make tea, and Abel comes out asking for water. For some reason, without consulting a therapist or parenting book, Jax decides now is the perfect time to tell Abel that he came out of Wendy’s tummy (“That’s kinda crazy, right?”), which makes her his first mommy. What’s most shocking here is that Jax said he’s already told Abel that he and Tara got married when Abel was 3 and that he didn’t come out of Tara’s tummy like Thomas had. If Abel remembered that, why didn’t Abel remember Wendy yelling that she was his mother when Tara took the boys from Wendy and Unser in season 6? Drea de Matteo gives a touching, controlled performance, tears in her eyes, as Wendy hears Jax tell Abel the truth. He says they realized they were better off as friends, and that’s why she’s here now to help take care of him since he needs a mommy. Jax promises Abel that no matter what, he’s always going to have a daddy and a mommy that will do their best for him—how can he keep that promise in his business? At that moment, Abel has no questions, so he goes to bed after giving Jax and Wendy each a kiss on the cheek. It’s the least creepy thing he’s done in episodes!
“Jesus, Jax, a little head’s up would have been nice,” Wendy says. When Jax follows her into the kitchen, you’re worried he’s going to sleep with two women in one day, but he really does just see them as friends. Which is amazing considering he shot her up that time with heroin. They hug, and he says he’d like the kind of tea that goes well with a shot of Jameson. Then he heads into Abel’s room to tuck him in.
Abel smiles, and they exchange I love yous. Abel asks again if Wendy is his first mommy because he came out of her tummy. Yep. “So is that why grandma killed my other mommy, so my first mommy could be here with me?” Abel asks. Jax just looks stunned.
We live in a world where Jax knows the truth (sort of). Now it feels like the show is really ending.
Kurt Sutter’s original series, starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, and Katey Sagal.