Showrunner Kurt Sutter took to the internet to proclaim that “Salvage” would be a return to form for the Sons and that it would set the tone for the remaining season(7 episodes). In a way, Sutter is right, “Salvage” is a return to form for the Sons but not a lot has changed really. Everyone just seems to have had a psychotic break where they no longer decided to feel bad for all the terrible blow back they are experiencing due to their actions. This denial of reality isn’t anything new for the show and honestly hoping for the series writers to gain some awareness is just asking for punishment.
Tonal dissonance aside it was pretty fun seeing some stereotypical stupid shit happens to the Sons of Anarchy. On their way to an all hands on deck meeting of Sons officers for the North West, SAMCRO must pass through Eden. The enjoyment some rather nice scenery is interrupted by a pair of shit head wanna be outlaw cops who use their position to attempt impound of their vehicles. The gang colors being worn by the crew make them suspect numero uno in a recent theft of several high end bikes. They see this schrade after a few minutes and Juice takes it upon himself to fulfil the role of Cowboy (or really Happy). Providing the requisite amount of crazy to make really make a random action sequence in the Sons pop. In this case, it means jumping into to a moving van driven by Rat while also slowing down the cops in a SUV.
All the technical elements are there.
- Crazy stunt work - Check
- Terrible blaring music - Check
- Various hand held cameras glued to the vehicle's - Check
- At least one car must take a tumble - Check.
It was out first typical big dumb and stupid bit of Sons of Anarchy in a good while. Even the closing of that thread, where Jax forces the inept outlaw cops to apologies to his crew was great. Everything felt all brotherly for a change and not trite “dark and gritty”. If big dumb biker soap opera is what Kurt Sutter and crew want, they’ve been doing it for nearly a half decade. That tone makes it incredibly hard to take attempts (half measured as they are) to make your world be moral and have cost.
Charlie Hunnam wavers between being a solid actor who can rise to the occasion. His monologue at the head of the table was one of those moments. That monologue in general was just very well executed and felt like the accumulation of all the death and destruction it for them to get there. So with an impassioned speech about the true cost of the gun business, Sons of Anarchy are out of guns. This may sound like a hollow gesture on the page but it really was one of the better scenes of this show in general.
This show may not have a huge amount of awareness when it comes to the deep moral and thematic side of the show from earlier seasons. They might have just gotten bored with that and found writing big dumb biker chases to be more entertaining. Where they do appear to have a great deal of self awareness is in how they use the seasonal formula. The end of last season special guest star Donal Logue seemed ready to carry the Big Bad torch forward. And then they killed him in bloody fashion four episodes in. Replacing Donal Logue with CCH Pounder as the Big Bad. This season the show has been using appearances to imply one thing and than do it but in another way. Tara is divorcing Jax and attempting to give Wendy full custody, surely she would take the chance to get out of prison and get her kids. Only she doesn't, desperate as she is, she knows turning on the club in a legal matter is one quick way to meet Mr. Mayhem ex-Old Lady of the King or not. Now it seems like Gemma will be the one turning rat.
On the Hollywood Prospectus Podcast Andy Greenwald and co host Chris Ryan have talked about the “weird” side of a show. Most often talking about the weird-Bridge, everything that wasn’t the terrible serial killer plot. Sons of Anarchycertainly has its weird side. This time the weird-Sons comes in the surprise return of Venus Van Dam! Surprise Walton Goggins is always the best Walton Goggins. Instead of being played for laughs, Van Dam is there to remind you that Nero Padia is the best. No really he is the best. The ideal well adjusted gang banger who can understand people and dosen’t hold to hard and fast dumb conceptions of identity.
Sons of Anarchy is fully entrenched into being itself and won’t take no guff from no one about being itself. On one hand that should be respected. On the other it can be seen as arrogance with 90 minute episodes, no sense of pacing, and delusion. This show is really odd to watch, I both like and despise you all at the sametime.