Ridin’ through this world…
Another ride, another mile down the road. Another year with the Sons of Anarchy and their crumbling crime dynasty. While it will never enjoy the acclaim of “The Sopranos” or “Breaking Bad”, “Sons of Anarchy” has carved out a nice little niche with itself. This year especially, their merch is EVERYWHERE. Unfortunately, after six seasons of dedication to this ride, I’m sad to say I want to get off.
Season six takes some time to find its focus. Essentially, the Sons of Anarchy are dealing with some loose ends from last season, particularly, Clay’s incarceration for a murder he didn’t commit (Jax set him up), and the obsessive attention of a psychotic US Marshal out for blood. Meanwhile, Jax continues his fight to get SAMCRO out of the gun business. This gets complicated when one of the club’s KG-9s ends up in the hands of a child who shoots up his school.
“Sons of Anarchy” is not high art, close as it’s come in the earlier seasons, it’s just not up to snuff with the top dramas on cable. But we already know that, and that’s what we love about it. It’s pure entertainment, and fo four (arguably five) seasons it’s been exactly what it should be: high octane, adrenaline fueled, hardcore, balls out action with some really thoughtful moments and a few twists thrown in. It’s good stuff. Sadly, Kurt Sutter has been sliding down an awful slope these past two seasons, and I think he’s just about bottomed out here. This season suffered from the combined issues of all previous seasons, magnified by about, oh, let’s say thirteen. The worst transgression? Sutter’s self-indulgence.
The season started out relatively strong. The premiere set up a couple new characters (Peter Weller joins the cast) and alliances for the club, and had a hell of a closer with the school shooting. Now, some might scream “too soon” in the wake of the ongoing gun debate in the US following Sandy Hook, and I’d almost agree. The plot does come off as a bit of a shock-grab. Worse than that though, is the fact that it doesn’t really set up any kind of new, interesting storyline. We simply get a rehash of season two and four. The sons are under the microscope of a new legal official (this time a DA), and under the threat of RICO being reopened. It’s not new ground, but it’s also not helping wrap up old business. Going into the final season next year, Sutter really needs to start thinking about this.
The king is dead…
Characters hinted at getting developed last season are also thrown by the wayside. Tig, who you could argue was the focal point of last season’s action, has been demoted to comic relief once more. Bobby starts out with a mysterious quest which comes to a sudden halt halfway through the season when we find out… it’s nothing.The only actor who managed to impress (or even had the chance to) is Maggie Siff. Tara’s arc is both interesting and tragic, and really gives the season its only true emotional depth. Everything else seems kind of half-assed and on the fly. Entire subplots are just dropped like nothing. Lee Toric, the psycho ex-Marshal who’s ready to burn the Sons to the ground? His arc ends halfway through the season, after causing exactly ZERO effect on the club. Of course, Sutter dispatches the supposed primary antagonist personally (through his obnoxiously present character Otto). Tara’s supreme plan to screw over Gemma and escape with her boys? It works… for ten minutes, then Gemma the mastermind turns the tables and all goes tits up.
And this is where the show truly lost me. In true “Temple of Doom”, Spielbergian fashion, the creator’s wife is ruining the picture. Katy Sagal’s Gemma has become an absolute bore, and little more than a constant annoyance this season. She is in EVERY. SCENE. She is the single most detestable character on the show, and we’re expected to invest large chunks of our viewing each week into watching her fawn over her boyfriend, and cry over her husband. This is not “Gemma & the Sons of Anarchy”, but it’s quickly turning into that. Not only that, but she’s invaded the soundtrack, with multiple episodes featuring her song covers over brooding musical montages (of which there are no less than two per week). It’s not getting old; it’s ancient, stale, boring, take it away; we’re done with her! Luckily, Sutter has promised she’ll get even more screen time next season. Maybe she needs the money; I don’t know.
But life goes on.
All in all, it was a sad year for “Sons of Anarchy”. The season showed some promise near the beginning, but lost focus, and soon fell into all the same old traps. Sutter needs to sit down and plot out the final season now. Then he needs to write it, finalize it, print it, and shoot it. You know, like a story writer does. This flip floppy crap won’t cut it for a big finish. He’s left himself a lot of new loose ends to tie up, and not a lot of time to do it. And with Gemma hogging up half of each episode, he’s got even less. Unless the show was always meant to be about her. But if that were the case, I’d never have started watching.