TV Review: “Sons of Anarchy” Episode 5 – “Orca Shrugged”

Written by Jesse Gelinas October 12, 2012

Walton Goggins as Venus van Damme on "Sons of Anarchy"

Oh sweet Jesus

“Love is a fickle beast.”

Oh Sutter, you beautiful bastard. You still know just how to win an audience back over after shitting on them for a month. “Orca Shrugged” is a light one, a relief after so much chaos. “Sons of Anarchy” has always had a nice balance of action, drama, and humour, and this week was all about regaining the balance. It helps remind the viewer that there’s still most of the season to go, and we can’t know for sure just how much worse things will actually get before they get better, if at all. But at least we’ll get some laughs in along the way, and might see a few more familiar faces show up along the way.

“It’s hard not to hate.”

There are essentially three threads being handled this episode, one for drama, one for action, and one for laughs (heavy on the latter).  We see the return of Mayor Hale, still chomping at the bit to see Charming Heights developed. SAMCRO, looking for a location to set up shop for their new partnership with Nero come to him with a proposal: in return for an old lodge he holds the deed to, they help swing the city council vote his way. Hale, scumbag that he is, seems hesitant to accept bribes from criminal bikers. It’s a mad mad world. Meanwhile, Gemma is still going through her empty-nest syndrome, being simultaneously pushed away by both Jax and Tara, and Nero (a stipulation of his deal with the club). As per usual, she’s handling it badly.

The episode shows us a crucial side to the Sons of Anarchy: their fickle nature. Two seasons ago Hale may have been the ‘big bad’ and his development deal was seemingly a death wish for the Sons’ way of life. Now, they’re willing to turn a full 180 just for an empty lodge. Added to this, Gemma, always one to try and protect Jax from dangerous personal liaisons, is ready to fight tooth and nail for the right to bang Jimmy Smits, despite the possible shitstorm it could rain on the club. It’s almost as if these thugs have no sense of ethics at all. Granted, Jax is trying to steer the club toward a more legit business model (porn star escorts), so I guess… it balances out?

Ron Perlman back in action on "Sons of Anarchy"

The Irish connection re-secured

“I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I’m totally hard. Just sayin’.”

Now, back on the bad side of the law, the big gun shipment for the Cartel finally arrives, along with Galen (the Irish contact Clay deals with for weapons) who immediately enters into an old fashioned ‘Irish discussion’ with Jax for literally no reason other than to see a bare-knuckle brawl and fill time. In the end, the guns are delivered, the Cartel is happy, and Clay is enjoying being back in the mix dealing with the Irish. I have to commend Perlman for his performance so far this season. He’s playing the role of the broken man incredibly well, and the subtlety with which he’s piecing himself back together is fantastic, and of course offers a thinly veiled threat to Jax’s rule once he’s at full strength again. You can’t keep a bad man down.

After all this serious shit is out of the way, we get on to the bulk of the episode which deals with SAMCRO’s end of the bargain with Hale. Drugging a severely overweight city council member, the Sons of Anarchy revert back to their amateur photography days. Enlisting the aid of Venus van Damme, a transgender prostitute (played by the always classy Walton Goggins, of “Justified” fame), the boys put on a little smut show for blackmail purposes. This takes up almost fifteen minutes of the show, and is pretty damn funny, if a little disturbing at times. Walton Goggins, however, is ever graceful.

Galen demonstrates his firepower on "Sons of Anarchy"

Sadly, this gun is about to destroy three beautiful bikes. Oh the humanity!

“Every day is a new box… You’re the one who determines if it’s a gift or a coffin.”

The episode ends with yet another home invasion, this time at the home of Sheriff Roosevelt, whose wife is home alone. In the melee the woman is shot and left for dead. We can only assume this will not be good news for the Sons’ image, already crippled by public outcry over the break-ins.

“Orca Shrugged” is another low-key episode, but it helps move things along and delivers a good many laughs, much needed after all the grief about Opie. We also get to see the Sons finally starting to take back a bit of control over their fates. Pope is barely mentioned this episode, and his absence is oddly noticeable. We have to wonder what he’s doing with all his time not focused on the Sons of Anarchy. More so, we have to wonder when SAMCRO is going to finally decide to strike back at the man who’s trying to pull their strings, and get back to ruling the highways like they used to. The season is almost half gone, but it’s got promises to keep, and miles to go before it sleeps.

 

My Rating: 7/10

 

The Sons of Anarchy cut

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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