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The Airing of Grievances: Sons of Anarchy Week 13

Presidential

J’ai Obtenu Cette – I don’t have a clue what that means and the season is over so I’m not doing a lick of research.

Grievance #1 – Good god that was boring. Maybe I’m just a grump, but I really didn’t care about anything that happened here. The end of the Damon Pope storyline was underwhelming at best, and numerous other developments in this 90 minute episode (4th in a row!) were mainly just set up for next season (Clay’s arrest, Tara’s arrest). This wasn’t a particularly bad episode of SOA (just bloated), but it didn’t do much for me as a season finale.

Grievance #2 – Poor music choices. The episode opens with a Katey Sagal cover of To Sir With Love (thanks, Google) which is just all kinds of wrong for this show. Bad time to break away from the steady stream of butt rock. The clash with Latino gangsters is set to Latino rap music, which is something this show loves to do. And then at the end they roll out a cover of Sympathy for the Devil. Are you freaking kidding me? Can we put a moratorium on Sympathy for the Devil in TV, movies and video games unless it's being used to parody on-the-nose music cues? Ugh, awful. At least there was no Strange Fruit, I guess.

Grievance #3 – “Comic” relief. This season, fingerless bookkeeper Chuck Marstein went from being a painful reminder of Kurt Sutter’s sophomoric sense of humor to something even more unfortunate - unfunny comic relief revolving around dialogue quirks, like speaking in rhymes or in French. There’s simply no good reason for him to still be part of the cast.

Grievance #4 – How fortuitous! When Tara's welcome flowers from the Providence hospital somehow end up in Gemma’s hands, it’s the second time this season that Gemma learns a secret about Tara just by hanging around the auto shop and having a delivery fall into her lap. I could explain it as some thematic motif, but it’s clearly just a crutch for the writers.

Grievance #5 – Hey, it’s the homeless woman! The mysterious, possibly supernatural homeless woman made an appearance last night right before the dog fight shootout. I’m thinking that the writers had completely forgotten about this stupid, pointless device and figured they had better get her in at least once before the season ended. So stupid.

Grievance #6 – Shut up, Tara! I’m really sick of all her talk about leaving Charming. It makes up at least 50% of her persona. In case you’re wondering, of the remaining 50%: 40%= telling Jax she loves him, 10%=fucking Jax on top of dead bodies (RIP Dutch!). This thing where the universe stops her from leaving (this time in the form of a “conspiracy to commit murder” charge) might have been cute in the first couple of seasons, but now it’s just turned her into a weak, indecisive person who has chosen to raise children with a murderous psychopath. The only way Tara’s leaving Charming is in a body bag.

Grievance #7 – That’s all it takes to get rid of Oaktown’s most dangerous gangster? Sometimes, SOA schemes are too complicated, like at the end of Season 3 when Jax rats out the whole club, they all get taken away in a prison van, someone honks a horn and then Chibs slices up Titus Welliver. But Jax hiding a gun in his bike and then gunning down Pope's entire security detail is way too simple to take down someone who's been built up as Pope has. Especially when it requires Pope to do so many dumb things. First, he disobeys Rule #1 (always get there first). Then, he lets Jax dictate where Pope goes to commit the murder. Then he leaves Jax outside, attended to by only one guy even though Pope is wary enough of Jax to have taken his gun. Pope started the season as a ruthless super-villain and ended it like a chump.

Grievance #8 – Nobody wants to lead this club. Bobby, disappointed in Jax’s decisions, rips off his VP patch, echoing Tig’s actions last season with Clay and Opie’s words this season when he repeatedly told his “best friend” Jax how shitty he was. The way the club corrupts everything it touches is becoming the central theme of SOA (as opposed to the club's salvation which looked like the central theme in the early seasons, I personally hope they never go back to that), and it’s a powerful one. But we’re getting to the point where the characters are as aware of it as the audience. It’s harder and harder to understand why they don’t end all the violent criminal activity as a club, or just walk away as individuals.

Grievance #9 – Where’s my Donal Logue? One scene? Sure, it’s obvious his story is going to continue into next season (another example of this season’s final episodes being used solely to set up next season), but couldn’t you give me a badass speech. Or some follow up on him laying a bunch of guns on his bed? Last week, a character on Boardwalk Empire laid a bunch of guns out on his bed, too. Guess what? I didn’t have to wait until the next season to find out what he planned to do with them.

The Final Grievance – I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about this season of SOA. Overall, it wasn't terrible, but there’s also very little I can point to that I really liked (aside from Jimmy Smits who was superb). Jax and Clay had good arcs. Bobby got in some good screen time as VP and Juice got to do something worthwhile even if he mostly just played a support role in Clay’s story. Everything else was pretty much worthless: the Nomads, Wayne Unser P.I., the cartel (largely moved to the background after playing a huge role in last season’s finale), all of the women. The plot seems headed in the right direction, but we’re not much closer to the finish line than we were at the end of last season. I’m not sure I have the stamina for this marathon anymore.

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