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One thing Sons of Anarchy has going for it this season: it hasn't been delivering episodes that are universally loved and praised by the critics. I wouldn't normally say that's a good thing, but I'm kind of floundering for compliments here. On the one hand, we've got a show entering a phase that will eventually lead to the conclusion of the SoA storyline and it's bound to be divisive as its characters free-fall in various ways -- on the other hand, Breaking Bad manages to deliver television's darkest emotional gut-punches while still being recognized across the board for its quality.
What I'm trying to say here is that I'm not really feeling this season so far. But creator Kurt Sutter's definitely not out to please every viewer, and a little controversy and disagreement over the show aren't necessarily bad for ratings. Assuming you're caught up with the latest episode, "One One Six," let's talk about last night's big coverup and the fallout from the previous episode's shocking events.
In last week's episode, the show ended with a young boy carrying out a horrific school shooting. Last night we learned that four are dead as a result of that massacre, including the shooter, 11-year-old Matthew. The gun used in the shooting was SAMCRO's, because Matthew's drug-using mom was shacked up with Nero's cousin, who I guess is named Arcadio but he's always going to be Seriously Who Did Dave Navarro Blow to Get On This Series? to me.
Jax is hell-bent on keeping Matthew's mom, the "junkie rat," from talking to the cops, so they drag her out to a cabin in the woods to keep her quiet. The plan falls apart when she finds a rifle (why was a rifle left where she could -- oh, never mind), Arcadio gets iced, and after Nero pleads for the woman's life to be spared, Jax has Juice shoot her up and smother her with a pillow so it looks like she died of an overdose.
Our one emotional connection to the shooter has now been murdered, and if you're thinking anyone in SAMCRO is reacting with horror at the fact that their gun business has led to the massacre of children, you'd be wrong. Predictably, Jax is mostly looking to cover his ass, and while I get that he's become darker and more Clay-like, his increasing moral bankruptcy is difficult to connect with. An anti-hero you can root for, a villain you can love to hate. Whatever Jax is becoming, it's not compelling to me yet.
It's also difficult to watch the show fail to deliver any remorse or upheaval over the school shooting. I know there's a long game in the works here, and I do get what Kurt Sutter said about including the shooting:
If I am making any kind of social statement here, it is the fact that it takes a village to heal a kid and it takes a village to fucking kill a kid.
The kid had a parent on drugs, a school that never noticed his increasing mental instability (that notebook!), and his life was directly affected by SAMCRO's actions. Several factors contributed to that massacre -- a village of societal decay.
The payback may be coming for Jax in a big way, but right now the show feels unbalanced. It's relentlessly bleak, there's no one left to root for, and we're not seeing any karmic justice -- even in terms of sorrow! -- for the school shooting. If a child mass murderer was a natural progression for the gun running storyline, what now?
Sutter did say that SoA's final episodes would challenge viewers:
You know, here’s how I describe all this: It’s a heavy world, it’s a dark world but as heavy and violent as it is, I like to think that ultimately there is some sense of hope. So that it’s sad and heavy, but there is always some sense of hope.
Will it be a happy ending? No, but I do think that there will be something hopeful about the way it ends.
Here in the series’ penultimate season, we have the darkness, the heaviness, and the violence, but hope is nowhere to be found.
What do you think about season 6 of Sons of Anarchy so far? Did you like last night's episode?
Image via FX