Last week's premier, “Straw”, featured an event that certainly affected me in a way I didn’t quite expect. Part of that reaction was born out of the act of violence itself, which felt a little to close to recent events. The other was a distrust that series creator Kurt Sutter would not handle an event like a school shooting, with the right amount of tact. If there was one thing I was certain of however it was that Sons of Anarchy would react in classic SOA fashion. “One One Six” doesn't disappoint in that way. It’s still the completely wrong direction to go. The school shooting was a hollow act of violence that perhaps could’ve been filled in a bit in the reaction. It isn’t. In typical fashion a violent act is brushed aside to the winds and only brought up when it’s to the shows advantage.
Such an event could serve as the ultimate wake up call for are would be hero Jax Teller. Other than the realization that, hey school shootings with your product are bad for business, Charlie Hunnam did not let any deeper reaction show on his face. This may not have been what episode writers Chris Collins & Adria Lang and director Peter Weller wanted but it rang home to me the fact that Jax Teller has truly lost his moral compass. He’s no better than Clay and the call he makes later on this episode doesn't help. Jax’s lack of reaction perfectly encapsulates how the school shooting feels cheap and mishandled. Everyone turns the events to their own personal advantage. No one takes a moment morn or react to the fact that they were in a way responsible for several child killings.
Tara is doing the right thing in divorcing Jax and trying to get outta dodge. But knowing this show (well most shows) such a plan will inevitably go awry when she goes to jail for conspiracy to commit murder.
Thank goodness this show picked up Jimmy Smits. The character of Nero Padia is making for a nice surrogate father figure among other things for Jax. It is Nero the only one who has rediscovered his moral compass, once he got back into the life. That compass leads him to have an actual moment of pause and reflection that the life he leads is really bad. His son is also around the age of those shot.
“One One Six” in general was not a good episode for Nero. First, he’s interrupted doing some finger magic with Gemma and finds out about that whole shooting thing. Than he finds out he that his cousin, Primo’s old lady is under heavy lean by the cops to give up knowledge. There could be a rat in his midst.
This is a job for the Sons of Anarchy. Clearly the right kind of silent hammer to drop in a sensitive situation. Other than the whole part in which the potential rat becomes worse: a junkie rat, it goes rather smooth. The cops are not alerted meaning no crazy shootout/high speed chase with the cops. So maybe Sons of Anarchy isn’t entirely set in their ways.
Once at the cabin things turn from tense to terrible. The Old Lady is not taking kindly to coming down and being held against her will. A telling shot of the gun rack tells you what will happen next. Primo is caught up in a bad situation and must make the ultimate choice: the bro or the ho. Given the results, a bullet to the head, Primo chose wrong. The shocking part was Nero didn’t wait a second to dull out retribution. Primo moved towards the car and his brain matter managed to make it inside. It’s an act that appears to be pushing Nero down his arc for the season.
With Primo gone it was only a matter of time for his Old Lady to eventually bit it too. Jax going full Clay by taking matters into his own hand was surprising. Morally compromised he maybe, Jax has generally respected and understood the importance of the chain of command. Weller does ring every bit of awkward bleakness from her death. Juice faking an overdose before smothering her, to expedite the process I assume. It was a scene that understood just how messed up this entire motley crew is. The easy lies that come out of Jax’s mouth to put Nero’s mind at ease don’t help. Nero’s the only one who thinks of the other remaining child. What happens to him now? “We don’t hurt people like this!” drawing that line in the sand for himself and those around him. He just doesn't realize everyone is already on the other side.
Lee Toric isn’t a white knight. Explaining to Clay that the feature that made him such an effective U.S. Marshal was his lack seeking justice for those bad people hurt. Justice is a quaint concept he cares only for retribution. Hurting the people who hurt people. If that means using Clay Morrow to hurt the Sons of Anarchy so be it. He is a bit of a crusading knight in his fervent personal desire to bring down the club. Something that makes him a liability to the law enforcement using the school shooting for their own gains. The Law is no better than the criminals they try to catch, an idea not exactly unique to Sons. That shouldn’t make them any less effective in catching the criminals if anything it’d make them more you’d think.
The continued existence of Clay Morrow has been a tenuous one. They did win me over in keeping him alive the first time. It let Ron Perlman do some excellent acting and explore a reprehensible, once strong character, reduced to nothing. Now he is being kept around mostly by plot necessity, It’s nowhere near as interesting even with Ron Perlman making excellent faces as he reacts to the final bell.
Not to beat on a dead horse but this episode didn’t need to be 90 minutes. It had no sense momentum it all just happened.
The Bits At the End
Was it previously established that Primo was Nero’s cousin or is he saying cousin in a non familial sense?