Puppet Jax, Clay’s self doubt, and oh Juice
Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Episode 7 recap
I asked Lainey after last week, did Jax used to do things? She said that in fact he did – that he’d been neutered this season. And that got me thinking: what has to happen for you to be neutered? What happens when you stop doing things and start just reacting to what’s around you?
This week was about everyone making hero moves and getting egg smashed on their faces for their trouble. How long do you keep up the fight when everything you do, with the best of your abilities, trying to do the right thing, the best thing, winds up sh-t with nothing to show for it?
Jax is utterly impotent to protect Tara. All he can do is hand her off to the club and take off on a power mission in an effort to make himself feel like a real person. All the guys in the club took off after the shooters but it was Jax who made it his personal mission to exact some sort of order back into the world. To find the shooter, to make them pay so that he could feel like everything he was doing wasn’t in vain.
But of course, this is what we learn: that everyone is only operating by the codes that will make their world run properly. That everyone is trying their best. I say this a lot as it relates to movies and television – nobody’s trying to make something bad. Nobody’s trying to do something that will ruin everyone around them. This is the central conceit of this show and it’s what it does best. Proves that we are all hard-wired to want to protect ourselves and our families. The bad choices happen when someone else’s protection of their family conflicts with yours.
At least Jax has the grace to look ashamed. He’s horrified by what goes down in the apartment full of kids. He knows he’s been stupid to think that just because SAMCRO is working with the cartel, that they are worth defending, that’s the lot they’ve drawn.
But Clay – man, that guy has got to have balls. Don’t you think? No matter what happens, the dude doesn’t flinch. He talks to Tara, to Unser, to Gemma – all with the straightest face imaginable. There is, we have to believe, exactly no doubt in his mind that what he’s doing is the right thing. That he is preserving the club’s integrity at all cost, even if, in fact, the club is disintegrating in front of him. After all, Bobby and Chibs want a new president, Unser’s going behind his back, and the weak spot that was Juice – Clay tried to paper over it in the best way he knew how, but when it comes to light that that didn’t work, do you think he’s going to wear it? Outwardly, anyway? Has Clay ever shown self-doubt, and does it make him less interesting? (Lainey: Donna’s death comes to mind but even then, he rationalised it by blaming Stahl. And THAT is interesting. The President can always rationalise.)
Now. Juice. This story has been fascinating to me. I have a lot of questions and not all of them are going to be as well articulated or, dare I say it, as politically correct as I would like. So bear with me…
I thought the portrait of how law enforcement finds one pup to lure away from the pack fascinating. I was with Roosevelt all the way through and I wanted him to win, and I wanted Juice to win. I could see easily how, once he was as far in as he was, getting out either way was too sticky (and now I have Anna Nalick’s “Breathe” in my head). I understand why Juice was stuck and I thought it was well-portrayed and admirable.
But my one question is that the seeds of the discontent – the reason Roosevelt was able to get Juice in his corner at all – was the idea that his black heritage ultimately wouldn’t have been acceptable to SAMCRO. And you know, that may be true. It may have been the reason Roosevelt thought getting the inroad to Juice would actually work. I’m just not sure it’s the actual reason everything went down the way it did.
Juice was portrayed as having a conscience – as a worrier who was (arguably) all too aware of what road the club was going down. He was uncomfortable and despite the fact that he was in deep when he talked to Chibs last episode, it was about his general misgivings – not the ones about himself.
So all of this would have been fine but as a result I found the addition of “Strange Fruit” as the closing song a little heavy-handed. It is, at the root, one of the reasons Juice felt stuck and hanged himself but not the only reason. Also – do you think that branch cracking sound was meant to tell us that perhaps Juice isn’t dead?
What do you think? Is Clay suffering on the inside and I just can’t hear it? Does he actually know why SAMCRO has every possibility of voting him out? Is Jax ever going to tire of being a puppet, and what’s that going to look like? Is he going to lose Tara in the process?
Okay. It took awhile, but now my heart’s in my mouth. Now I’m living and breathing these people. But given that the only ones I’m rooting for are Gemma and Bobby, it really could go any which way and I don’t know what I want.
(PS from Lainey: one of these days, when the liveblogs come back, when all our new site updates are complete, we have to talk about the ongoing attraction to Jax. Because how can you get hard for the guy who put Ima’s face into a desk last week? Don’t care if she’s a skank. This is not a man you want to love…is it?)