Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All's Well That Ends Well?

I haven't been keeping up with my Sons of Anarchy recaps as the season has worn on.  I've been short on time but I wanted to share some thoughts before tonight's finale. All season, I've been on board the Kurt Sutter train with complete trust that all of the frustration, anxiety, delays, and dalliances would lead somewhere towards something. If the point was to take the Sons out of their comfort zone and make the audience feel the same the off-kilter uneasiness that the club has, then mission fricking accomplished. I feel like I've been put through same emotional meat grinder as Jax this season. Like a bazilion times over. I get that this season has been all about Jax's character under the most serious, dark circumstances a person can experience. I get that it's permanently changing him. I'm a smart girl.

I fully expect tonight's finale to be satisfying and compelling and all of those frustrations, anxiety, dalliances, and delays will be paid off towards the somewhere/something that we've been headed to all season. Frankly, I need it because at times during Season 3, I've felt like the show has made me feel as crazy as Gemma holding a gun to a baby's head.

Near the middle of the season, I was ready to have the conversation with Sons of Anarchy. You know. It’s the uncomfortable but necessary conversation you have with your BFF when you have to tell her that maybe jeggings aren’t the go-to look she thought they were. You tell your bestie in the kindest way possible that those jeggings look awful because you love her and you want her to look her best and don't want anyone to see her in an unflattering way.

I felt that in some ways Sons of Anarchy has been trotting around town in a really unflattering pair of jeggings. Yes, really. The jeggings for SoA have been the clunky plot devices that defy even extraordinary levels of suspending disbelief. What the hell do I mean? Well, here goes:

  • Salazar was a weak villain. Clay didn't recognize his bullshit MC and there was no reason for him to live for a stunning 12 episodes. The Sons of Season 1 and 2 would have never let that guy walk out of the bathroom in the park. Never, ever, ever. Compared to incredibly interesting, complex villains like Stahl and Zobelle, Salazar was a punk. He only lived to kidnap Tara. 
  • The logistical difficulties of getting to Belfast were maddening and defied logic. Yes, I get it they are outlaws. They live off the grid. But they also had passports and they were out on bail. If push came to shove and they seriously wanted to get to Belfast, it shouldn't have been that difficult. I'm sure that at a minimum someone's old lady had a credit card and could have at least bought Jax a ticket.
  • The legal/procedural aspects of Gemma's case for killing Polly and the gun charges on SoA for their raid on Zobelle's dinner of the faithful defy reason and standards for good legal representation. First off, Gemma obviously killed Polly in self defense. Unser even indicated early in the season that the evidence was pointing in the direction.  So why not just make sure that the lawyer is doing her damn job and push things along? The forensic evidence never would have supported Stahl's version of events, so why not work the justice system? If you're paying someone $1500 an hour to represent you, then maybe it's a good idea to make sure they are doing their job and working to get you off of the charges. And with the raid on the dinner of the faithful, the last remaining witness was on the verge of bugging out from testifying against SoA, leveling all the charges down to possession. Why the need for a big ATF deal? Get your lawyer on it, plead it down, and move on. 
Maybe I have unrealistic expectations for SAMCRO but during seasons 1 and 2 I learned to expect them to be much smarter, much savvier, and much more viscous than they've been this season. The Sons of Anarchy I knew at the end of season 2 would have killed Salazar, gotten to Belfast and not bought the line that Ashby as feeding them, and fought the bullshit legal charges. All without skipping a beat.

These are relatively minor criticisms of a really interesting, complex, compelling season. I expect tonight's finale to be very satisfying but how we get to the end matters too. I hope that those little plot devices that haven't lived up to the smartness of the show don't get in the way of a fantastic ending.  

I'm very excited to see what happens tonight. I want to see what Jax does with the deal he made with Stahl, how he sorts out the Jimmy issue and what all of it means for his future, his relationship with Tara and the MC. Will Jax burn out or fade away? We'll find out tonight.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In Between Firinne and Bainne

In last week's installment of Sons of Anarchy, Firinne, things got medieval and Season 3 Jax was reintroduced to Season 1 Jax. That closing scene in Firinne fantastic. It was as if Jax stepped out of this cloud of self loathing and anguish, remembered who he was and decided it was time to engage in life again.

How Jax will engage is a completely different matter. Is a man so filled with violence and anger just going to allow his son to be adopted out to A Good Catholic Family? Or perhaps Jax will come to the realization that the path that SAMCRO is on now doesn't have to be the same path for his son? The MC can be something different, right? That was kind of the point of the tension between Jax and Clay all along.   Before I digress too far into the realm of unanswerable questions, here are some thoughts on Bainne and the other two closing episodes of this season of Sons of Anarchy:

  • SAMCRO's visit to Belfast seems to indicate that all may not be well in the broader universe of Sons of Anarchy charters. This could signal future problems and enemies within in upcoming  seasons.
  • What kind of Charming will SAMCRO return home to? I want more substance on the Charming side of the story because selfishly I want David Hale's death  (yeah, remember that) to mean something more than what it has so far. 
  • So far SAMCRO seems to have gotten off relatively easy in terms of casualties this season. Donna was killed in season 1 and Half-Sack was killed in season 2. Sons of Anarchy is a show about consequences and I'd be shocked of all of the members of the MC made it home to Charming upright. Yes I'm looking at you Chibs.  
  • Maybe I'm in a good mood but I'm getting the feeling that Sweet Baby Abel will make it home and Pinky will endure to the next trimester.
  • I know there's a spoiler out on the internets about this and don't  you dare spoil me but.... I'll bet that Gemma tells Jax about Tara and Pinky in Bainne. Just to light a fire under his ass. 
  • Is the season going to end with Gemma and the boys being arraigned? Orange isn't our girl's color. 
  • There's the whole Stahl thing to deal with. However, bullets are cheaper than owning up to your brothers that you made a deal with the devil.
  • I'm interested to see if Jax can get Jimmy O back to Charming without having to explain a lot to his brothers.
  • Speaking of Jimmy O, he was the one who wanted to return Abel straightaway. I wonder if that might help to save his neck.
  • Perhaps I'm paranoid, but I get the feeling that there are larger interests in play with the Jacob Hale story line. My paranoia is pointing straight to LOAN and Zobelle.
  • I hope Tara and Margaret can rescue themselves because Tig, Kozick, and Piney will be lucky if they don't kill each other in the rescue.  
  • Pinky may or may not endure but will Tara stick around for Jax when he gets back?
  • Remember waaaaaay back when Kurt Sutter tweeted about putting a body in the trunk of a Prius? I wonder if he had Salazar in mind at the time.
As always, a very special thanks to @amonmich for the screen caps. Go check out her blog

What are your thoughts, questions, and expectations for Bainne and the concluding episodes of Sons of Anarchy? The comments section awaits.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Signs You Are a Sons of Anarch Fan: Season 3 Edition

Image Source: FX

Last year I wrote a blog post called Signs You Might Be a Sons of Anarchy Fan. A few people liked it. While I'm working on the recap for Firinne, I thought it might be a good time to revisit that blog post and come up with an version for Season 3. Enjoy!
  1. You start reading Yeates, you know, for fun. And just to make sure you have all the literary references covered, you're planning on reading Macbeth too.
  2. You will never be able to look at a bottle of baby oil the same way again. Ever. 
  3. You started having an anxiety attack when you realize that there are only three episodes left in this season. ZOMG HOW DID THIS HAPPEN ALREADY? You then started to have a subsequent anxiety attack when you realized that after this season, there are only 4 seasons left. Ever. 
  4. You casually drop Sons of Anarchy references into conversations with coworkers, distant family members and marginal friends to sneakily test if they watch the show. (For example, "Man, if there was a skateboard within reach this TPS report situation would have ended differently.")
  5. You are planning on going to Belfast for your summer vacation. 
  6. Now that Opie is wearing his shogun bun, you're not real sure what to do with that black knit hat you bought last year.
  7. Being on Team Tara is sooooo Season 2. Now you're on Team Lyla.
  8. You can watch the Belfast scenes and understand 80% of what the characters are saying. Closed captioning is for posers. 
  9. When you read the crazy shit that some people tweet to/at Kurt Sutter about the show, you just want to reach through your broadband connection and give them a good smack.
  10. You got a Sons of Anarchy tattoo.
If you have experienced 0-1 of these things, you really need to recommit yourself to the show. 
If you have experienced 2-5 of these things, you have a healthy relationship with the show.
If you have experienced 5 or more of these things, you're beyond hope -- but in a good way.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Things I Like Right Now

Photo Source: NPR/Deborah Feingold
I've been a bit of a grouch lately. Okay, a bit more of a grouch than usual. I'm stressed, I'm tired, and I just need it to be December already. Anyways, I wanted to end this week on a less critical note by blogging about the things that make me happy. Inspired by posts that blaurgra writes about the things she likes, I thought I would do the same. So here goes:
  1. The interview with Keith Richards on NPR's Fresh Air. I don't know if I actually believe that Keith Richards came up with Satisfaction in a dream but he sure has a charming way of convincing you that he did. 
  2.  Zappos.com, or specifically their customer service. They gave me free overnight shipping on a pair of boots I ordered. Better yet? Free return shipping for the exchange when I had to return the boots because I ordered the wrong size. 
  3. Cee Lo Green's song F*ck You. He's such a great soul singer and I can't wait for his album to drop.  
  4. Slate's running conversation analyzing how the female candidates performed during the elections and what it might mean for the future female political candidates. 
  5. Giant Lemonheads. They're the only Halloween candy left in the house that I didn't pawn off of my students. They're like a Fireball but, you know, a Lemonhead. Yum.
  6. Not washing my curly hair anymore. I've joined the No Poo revolution. Before you get grossed out, I am cleaning my hair. I'm just not using shampoo any more and my curls look lovely, soft and springy with no frizz. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sons of Anarchy, Season 3, Episode 9 Turas, Recap

Previously on As the Harley Rumbles, Jax got played by Kellan Ashby, Tara and Lyla bonded over their right to choose, and other shit happened. And on this episode of Sons of Anarchy? I'm not sure that much of anything happened either in terms of character development or forward movement of the plot. However, I feel less cranky than I initially did about Turas. But, to the recap/bitch machine and let's hash this out. 
First, let's look at things that happened in Belfast. Liam O'Neil, on instructions from Jimmy O, was ready to set the boom on SAMCRO and McGee in the barn of great gun concealing creativity. And this is where my complaints start to come in. I am very interested in and care about the Belfast story line, particularly the IRA/SAMBEL/Jimmy O/SAMCRO political machinations. But, I feel like there is too much subterfuge and too little substance to the story line. The Sons are in jeopardy and they are in over their heads, but but the hows and whys are unclear. Moreover, while I love Maureen and could watch Jimmy O be scary as shit all day long, I feel like other supporting characters that I have grown to know and love have been marginalized. Can I tell you how much I miss getting more screen time for Bobby Elvis and Juice? 

But in all of my bitching and moaning, Belfast scenes that put together characters that don't regularly interact--like the fabulous scene with all those firece women in Maureen's kitchen happen and it makes me very happy. When Jimmy O pays Gemma, Fiona, Maureen, Kerrianne, and Trinity a visit, it brings the scary ramifications of his dangerous character into focus. This I loved. How incredibly bad ass were all of these women, especially Fiona. Jimmy O was brilliant and menacing. I want to see them reunited in the future just to see the badassery that will go down. 

And -- brace yourselves for this one kids -- Gemma pissed me off during this episode. It was fantastic to see her confront Kellan Ashby with full sincerity and not an ounce of fear (another one of those scenes with characters we rarely see together). She got in the way of moving the story forward twice. TWICE. Gemma interrupted Fiona when she was about to elaborate on Kellan Ashby and then she stopped Ashby himself when he brought up John Teller. TWICE. AND WE ARE ON EPISODE 9 OF A 13. THERE IS NO TIME FOR THIS. WHY AM I IMITATING JACK BAUER?

So, let me turn the caps lock off and turn my attention to Charming. While more happened in Charming, it felt very superficial. Finally, finally Unser started doing "cop shit" for matters unrelated to SAMCRO.  Enter Oswald to look out for his own economic and political interests by questioning who is buying up all of these buildings. 

Oh and hai Jacob Hale you sweaty rat bastard in a cheap suit from JC Penney. Of course Salazar and his girlfran have an app for blackmail. Duuuuhhhh. The thing that bothers the shit out of me me is that there is no way that Salazar should reasonably still be alive to kidnap Tara. Other than to kidnap Tara. That man should have never walked out of the park restroom and the Sons are smart enough to know that. Tara's kidnapping bothers me too but I'm going to save that for another post. Last but certainly not least, there was Margaret's enormous back tattoo. It doesn't look MC related to me. Perhaps she was a groupie in the 1970s? Just a guess but now we know that the sister can relate. 

 Bits and Pieces

  • I love Tig, Kozick, and Piney. If noting else, those three need their on Terriers-esqu spin off. But why does Piney hate Tig so much? 
  • Will someone please, pretty please tell Jax and Trinity that they are half-sibilings? The closing scene squicked me out a lot less than the scenes in Lochan Mor but that worries me. Maybe I'm getting used to it but there's a level of familiarity there that could be interesting on a sibling level. I want to get past this incest fear and see what they are like as brother and sister. 
  • Happy asking where Liam was going while Happy just wondered. Awesome.
  • Thank you, Jax for exercising caution and trying to see all the pieces on the Irish chessboard before proceeding. 
  • I take it that Liam meant to off McGee too, right?
  • The ghost of John Teller appeared. Cool or dorky?
Finally, a smart commenter @volalupi raised this point in the initial post about Turas and I think it's worth repeating. She wrote:
My biggest annoyance is that not once has the group come out ahead and I just don't think they are that stupid or inept. Being out done some of the time I can bite off on, but getting creamed every time by every one..not so much.
I think that is one of the reasons that I've been so cranky with the show this season. I'm totally along for the ride in expanding the SAMCRO world by sending the characters to Belfast. I get it. I trust Kurt Sutter. I'm all in. It's just that certain elements of the plot have felt like they've been artificially extended or certain devices have been unclear or clunky. Furthermore, like volalupi said, I just find it more and more implausible that the Sons are outdone by their antagonists every single time.

Your thoughts? The comments section awaits.

As always, a very special thanks to @amonmich for the screen caps. Go check out her blog

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Some initial thoughts on Turas

I didn't love last night's Sons of Anarchy. Maybe I'm tired. Maybe I'm sick of having to wake up at 5:00 am on Wednesday mornings for work. Maybe I'm at this miserable time in the semester when I just need not be overwhelmed. Or maybe I've had enough of upping the ante with no character growth, no revelations, and no breaks of the dramatic tension.  Maybe I've had too much of seeing SAMCRO acting really off kilter and not being smart enough to out smart the bad guys.

There were several things that pushed my tolerance for suspending disbelief and going along for the ride last night: the ghost of John Teller, the continuing possible almost incest with Jax and Trinity that Gemma doesn't feel the need to stop, the looming asshole character of Father Ashby and the suggestion that he made a promise to John Teller to keep the family safe, and all of the Irish political bullshit that hasn't been explained enough by a long shot. And in the back of my mind, I keep hoping that Tara will actually make a decision about whether to keep or abort Pinky, rather than relying on Salazar's nefarious dealings with Jacob Hale to resolve the situation.

But with all of that being said, there were several things that I loved about this episode. For example: Gemma, Maureen, and Fiona in the kitchen with Jimmy and the girls, Happy asking Liam where he was going, Maragaret's tattoo, Tig and Kozick together with a dash of Piney, and Unser and Oswald joining forces saved it for me.

But maybe I'm just cranky. Maybe I should rewatch it tonight. Maybe I need some xanax, a coffee and a bagel. A more fleshed out recap will come in a day or two.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sons of Anarchy, Season 3, Episode 8 Lochan Mor, Recap

So previously on As the Harley Rumbles, we were going to Belfast ya'll and in Lochan Mor (the big pond), SAMCRO has arrived and shit is going on in Charming. Anywho since the action was split by location, I'm going to do the same thing with the recap. To the recapmobile!

Warning: contains profanity, irritation with the main character--aw hell, most of the primary characters-- and general crankiness.

SAMCRO arrives in Belfast ready to kick some ass and get Abel back have tea and party down. The Sons arrive in a swirl of political intrigue between SAMBEL, Jimmy O, and the IRA. Frankly, I don't trust any of these assholes. Maybe McGee. Maybe. However, the rest of those McBastards can go suck a dick. Like for seriously. First, Jimmy O was trying to get SAMCRO deported before they even arrived in Belfast. Then, the IRA tried to send a message by shooting up Fiona and Kerrieanne's transport. Then, Jimmy O and Liam were scheming about something that we'll find out about in the next episode. And, finally, there's the shit with Father Ashby at the end. It makes my head hurt.  
While Clay cleverly coerces the corrupt Gardai into letting the Sons slip away from Jimmy's evil clutches of deportation, that's about the only thing that goes well for SAMCRO in Belfast. You need to look no further than one Jackson Teller for a source of general dumbassery. Blah blah blah, Jax is going to Belfast to get his kid. Like he's been talking about getting his kid back for the last two weeks/eight episodes. But he does jack shit about it. I know, I know. It's what Hamlet would do. Jax arrives in Belfast and and what does he do? Does he insist on seeing Kellan Ashby like now motherfuckers? Nope. He has tea with Maureen, nearly makes out with his secret half sister, tosses back a few beers, boxes with Liam, gets creepy flirty with his half sister again, and then is finally summoned by Ashby.  

I don't know how much more clearly Kurt Sutter can make his point: Jax doesn't think that he deserves to be happy and to have his son back given his choice to live as an outlaw. Jax is drowning in self loathing and it's overwhelming. When I watched the episode the first time, I thought that Ashby's vow that Abel will be home with his loving family was a bit of the good Father's trickery that Jax didn't notice. But after a second and third watch, I wonder if Jax caught Fr. Ashby's drift. At this point, I think that Jax hates himself so much that he would give up his child to ensure that Sweet Baby Abel would be safe. Jax has already kicked Tara to the curb in a way that he obviously disgraced himself. 

My rambling, vodka-fueled rage does have a point and here goes: Abel isn't coming back to Charming. If Jax keeps on this trajectory, Abel's happily ever after is what Kellan Ashby says it is and that HEA isn't with Jax. (Side note: Did anyone else pick up on the Kellan Ashby was John Teller's "spiritual advisor" in the SOA app? What is this guy? An Irish Catholic cult leader?) Mark my words, Abel is going to live to see the end of the season, but he'll never be crossing that pond. Now, that could change if Jax decides to MAN THE FUCK UP and get The Kid Back already. But something has to happen to trigger Jax's decision to pull up his big boy panties and just deal with the situation. 

But lest we think that the whole trip to Belfast has been a total bust, at least Chibs was reunited with his family. Oh ya'll I totally cried when the Chibs/Fiona/Kerrianne hug went down. So. Very. Touching. Of course it won't last for long and one of them is likely to end up dead, knowing this show.

I'm leaving out a lot here in the interest of catching up time but of course there were other interesting things going on in Belfast. Gemma is in despair and fear being separated from her family while in prison. All of the scenes with Gemma and Maureen were pure brilliance. And last but certainly not least: WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE TELL JAX AND TRINITY BEFORE THEY KISS OR FUCK OR SHOWER TOGETHER OR SOMETHING. Okay, yes, I feel better now. But that whole situation is totally skeeving me out.

Meanwhile, back in Charming, there's a lot of story building going on so the Sons will have plenty awaiting them when they return from Belfast. Can I tell you how much I love the idea of Tara, Chuckie, Tig, Kozick, and Piney running Teller-Morrow Automotive while everyone is gone? Like that could be the best spin off sitcom.  Anyways, Tara and Lyla bond over differing degrees of secret babies and decisions about what to do about said secret babies. Lyla proves herself to be neither stupid nor naive--and a wee bit hilarious with the alias she gave the abortion clinic.  Jax (and Opie) can talk about old ladies and keeping them on the inside or the outside all they fucking want. Jax may want to do the noble, self sacrificing thing, but the fact of the matter is that they aren't they only ones making relationship decisions in this universe and thank God that Tara and Lyla are the ones making the decisions.

Finally, we got a glimpse into the dynamics of the Tig/Kozick relationship. Apparently their fued is over a woman that Tig love 8 years ago. And that he thinks of her every day. Uh. I'm hoping that we don't actually ever meet this woman because that bit of knowledge is terrifying.

There was a lot more that happened in Charming--Jacob Hale, Salazar, Unser, Margaret at St. Rednecks--but I'm just going to leave things here for now. Your thoughts? The comments section awaits....

As always, a very special thanks to @amonmich for the screen caps. Go check out her blog