2012 YEAR IN REVIEW
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- Sons of Anarchy "Toil and Till" Review: Jax Is Screwing Everyone
Sons of Anarchy S07E02: "Toil and Till" I have good news and I have bad news. First, the bad news: I'm back from being lost in a Wal-Mart for two weeks, which means I finally have time to tell you what I think of Sons of Anarchy Season 7. And the good news? While I was gone, I got a pair of Bermuda shorts for really cheap! Meanwhile, now that I'm all stocked up on inexpensive clothing, Kaitlin and I can return to our conversational reviews of Sons of Anarchy, which is great since it takes at least two brains to keep track of everything that's happening on this labyrinthine bike ride. And because this is the show's final season, shouldn't more opinions be merrier? We say yes, so think some gay thoughts and let's talk about "Toil and Till"! TIM : Once I got over the fact that almost everything that's going on stems from Gemma lying or thinking she knows what's going on (as was the case when she murdered Tara, oops), "Toil and Till" was a string of awesome terrible decisions fueled by revenge, and it really pushed this season in a great direction. The episode wasn't unlike what Sons has done in the past (to mixed success), with the second hour of a season responding to the big events of the first. There's a different feeling now, though, because I don't think a TV show has ever needed a final season more than Sons of Anarchy, and now that it's here, the darkness of the endgame is hovering like a Reaper ready to claim the show for good. I really felt that in "Toil and Till." The actions Jax is taking can no longer be resolved by wriggling his way out with some convoluted scheme. These rival gangs won't be placated simply because Jax offers them a new deal or gets the right cops on his side. Jax's decision to go after Lin is going to be big (please be big please be big), and turning on the muscle hired by Indian Hills (SAMCIH?) will mean big problems from within the Sons of Anarchy family. If the match cuts and camerawork we saw in "Toil and Til" meant anything, that was Jury's (the Indian Hills dude) son that Jax had killed, right? COLD. KAITLIN: Oh, It has to be Jury's son. For all the elements of Sons of Anarchy that I consider extraneous, the final moments of any given episode are not one of them. Sometimes they're so frustratingly obvious that I want to punch a baby, but I thought the editing in "Toil and Till" was just subtle enough to work. And to be honest, it's the hint of future internal discord within the Sons of Anarchy as a whole that has me more excited about this final-season arc than anything else. The brewing war with the Chinese? Bo-ring. The bullshit going on with the Mayans? Don't care. But brother-on-brother action (and not the kind Tig faked with Rat in the car this week) has the potential to be great. As long as Jury and the Indian Hills charter leave Abel and Thomas alone, I think this could be the storyline that gives SOA a fantastically fun send-off after six years of Jax and the club not paying for their sins. Jax is drunk with power and revenge, and I can't wait to see how his short-sightedness plays out. Did he honestly think Jury wouldn't find out? No matter what Jax was (or wasn't) thinking, just to be safe, Wendy should probably grab the boys and take off for parts unknown. Gemma has proven time and again that she's a horrible mother and grandmother. She's leaving them in Brooke's care most of the time; for someone who always claims to have their best interests at heart, that doesn't really translate. I don't know when Wendy became Charming's most level-headed resident, but I'm glad she's back, and I'm glad she's around to look out for the boys since no one else seems to care. TIM: Kaitlin, you're pro-Wendy now? Did you fall headfirst off a bunk bed between seasons? And I'm of a different mind when it comes to SAMCRO's war with Lin and the Chinese. I'm actually looking forward to it more than any other gang battle in SOA's history, specifically because this is the final season; there won't (or shouldn't) be any last-minute reprieves based on flimsy alliances, because the show isn't coming back (although I do wonder why Jax believed Gemma's accusation so readily, enough to try to take down the entire Lin empire). One of these gangs is going extinct in spectacular fashion—Lin's is the first domino, obviously—and that's going to mess everything up and fall back on Jax. Add to that the beef with Jury and another charter, and the pressure is coming from outside and from within. All this already, and we're only two episodes in! That's a good start to the final season, even if the chance of SOA sustaining this level of tension is damn near impossible. I know I've said it before, but I'm saying it again: FINAL SEASON. SOA has nowhere to hide now, and no reason to hold back. Kurt Sutter thinks he's going to make the greatest TV finale ever, and to him, that means fans should be scraping their dropped jaws off the floor after watching a storm of violence and blood and montages. And he's doing it by making Jax the eye of the storm. Jax is bombing so many bridges right now that he might not even make it to the halfway point. He's so broken that he wants everything around him to be even more broken, until there's nothing left but dust. KAITLIN: But what about the CHILDREN, Tim? Someone has to be the voice of reason now that Tara's gone. By process of elimination I thought that person was going to be Unser—he's always been the most sympathetic, level-headed person around these parts—but now that he's working as a consulting investigator with the local sheriff's office, I worry that his number is finally up (by the way, it was nice to see that SOA hasn't completely forgotten about his cancer). That leaves Wendy to step into the role of protector, and I appreciate the fact that the person who was the most effed-up in SOA's series premiere is turning out to be the most competent and capable in its final season. She's cleaned herself up and she's got her wits about her. Team Wendy! As for Lin and the Chinese, let's agree to disagree for now. I'm going to wait a bit longer before I let you persuade me into anticipating that showdown. I've been burned by Sutter before, and I'm curious to see how long Jax will be able to maintain the whole "It wasn't me!" thing before Lin discovers the truth. There's no way SAMCRO can keep pulling the kind of shit they pulled this week for more than a few episodes, right? And what's going to happen when August Marks discovers that Jax has already lit the fuse that will blow everything up and start this war? Marks told Jax that patience is the key to winning his battles, and Jax looked him in the eye and was all like, "Yeah, cool. I am totally all about what you're saying right now," but in reality he was probably flashing back to the night before, when he was literally rubbing salt in the wounds of Gemma's scapegoat before stabbing him in the head. TIM: Sutter has pushed Jax to dark places before and our response has been, "Yeah, yeah, whatever," but with the end in sight, he can go full-on psycho. I've never seen him quite like this; usually there's some important club business behind his decisions, but new he just wants to see the world burn around him. Jax has zero regard for anything but his own interests, because without Tara he just don't give an F or an S. Sorry, kids. And sorry to all you readers who want to see Jax come out on top as the good guy. I love this version of Jax, and with SOA ending, I'm growing more and more convinced that Sutter wants to do his own "good guy gone bad" story and is setting things up for tragedy. He gets off on sadness, so I'm starting to lean toward the idea that Jax isn't going to survive. And you know what? I'm okay with that. KAITLIN: Now that's something we agree on. If Jax somehow escapes this downward spiral, SOA will lose any and all credibility with me. There was a time when I would've argued that Jax had to survive, but he's done too much and gone too far to walk away unharmed. He'll pay for his sins the same way Clay eventually paid for his; all actions eventually have consequences. I just hope he doesn't take everyone else down with him. TIM: Ummm, that's exactly what he's doing, and I LOVE it. "Toil and Till" was a very good episode of Sons of Anarchy, and I like where things are headed. I just wonder if we'll be spared the typical mid-season sag that the series has gone through in recent years. Readers, what did you all think? NOTES – What is up Juice up to? Gemma gave him a wad of cash and a free place to crash, and instead of taking off and saving his own ass, he called Chibs like a stalker/former lover, breathed heavily in to the phone, and turned around and went back to Wendy's. Juice seriously has a death wish, eh? – When will Gemma stop referring to Wendy as "the junkie?" It's starting to piss me (Kaitlin) off. – Everyone was smoking in the opening montage! Are thy part of The Leftovers' Guilty Remnant? – Annabeth Gish made her debut as the new sheriff of Charming, and she doesn't exactly boast the same kind of commanding presence as a Rockmond Dunbar type (not even close). I (Tim) have to question that casting decision, at least as of now. – Abel to Gemma: "Were you there when mommy went to heaven?" Ummm, yeah kid, it was at the same time Gemma booked her ticket to hell. – Jax was pretty sloppy in framing those kids as the ones who stole from Lin. And why wouldn't Jury mention that they were important to him? Would Jax still have framed them? – Juice listens to emo music in the car. Sad.
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