Sons of Anarchy returned for its sixth season with a very powerful episode, “Straw.”
First, I’d like to take a look at some key events and storylines that will no doubt continue to play out during Season 6:
– Within the club itself, Happy is now Sergeant at Arms, and Chibs is VP. Bobby’s gone away from the club and it looks like he may either go Nomad or try to form a chapter in one of three towns circled on a map.
– Tara is in prison and Gemma is taking care of her grandkids with the help of Happy and even Unser who they keep referring to as “Uncle Touchy” (which is just a creepy nickname).
– Otto’s in solitary and Lee Toric is continuing to exact his vengeance by having Otto raped on a daily basis. Toric thinks SAMCRO was behind the death of his sister and wants Otto to admit that.
– August lets Jax know that Clay is still alive because someone wants him alive. We learn that Toric is keeping Clay among the living (more on that in a bit). August also tells Jax that Tig needs to pay for killing Pope’s daughter. Jax resists because club numbers are down and if he loses anyone else, he’ll lose his charter. August tells Jax that once Clay has been taken out, Tig has to be handed over.
– Having financial difficulties, Opie’s widow, Lyla, is beat up by some pornographers after Ima sets her up with some work, which turned out to be torture porn. She’s in rough shape and asking for Opie. She insists that she won’t ask for handouts and that’s why she went to Ima. Gemma deals with Ima’s bad judgement by giving her a bloody nose, and the club pays a visit to the scumbags.
– Tara meets with her lawyer, Ally Lowen. Tara insists that she doesn’t want Jax to see her “like this” and doesn’t want him to come to her bail hearing. Tara thinks that Gemma is behind the arrest since Tara planned to take the kids away from Charming. Lowen tells Jax about Tara’s suspicions and although he doubts it, he asks his mom about it. Gemma says she was trying to scare Tara smart, but didn’t go to the cops. Gemma tries to pin it on Wendy, but we learn that once again, Lee Toric is at work, trying to make it appear as if Tara killed his sister as a way to put a stop to the RICO case against SAMCRO. Toric attempts to get Tara to turn on SAMCRO and offers witness protection to her and her sons. As we know, Tara is not guilty of any larger conspiracy, and refuses to go along with Toric. Later on, when a fellow inmate has the audacity to steal Tara’s blanket, a once calm and reserved Tara unleashes her inner Gemma and lays the smackdown on.
– While dealing with the porn peddlers, SAMCRO meets a crooked former cop, Charlie Barosky (Peter Weller), who quickly becomes a business partner. Barosky introduces SAMCRO to Colette (Kim Dickens), a madam who shortly thereafter becomes a part of the Diosa empire. Colette is attractive and smart, and although Jax insists he doesn’t mix business and pleasure when she gives him the chance to sample the goods, he later indulges. Tsk tsk, Jax. What a crappy way to deal with your wife saying she didn’t want you coming to her hearing the next day.
– Tig is a mess in the aftermath of losing his daughter. Dealing with slimy pornographers who pushed the wrong buttons may have given him a temporary release, but as he sits on the dock after drowning a guy in a tub of urine and then throwing the caged body into the water, he sings the saddest rendition of “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” that ever existed. Tig does remain the sad clown of the show, and delivers one of the funniest lines: “A crooked cop opens a crooked donut shop. No one else sees the irony in that?”
– Speaking of Wendy, she pays a visit to Gemma and says that she is moving on from the club, and is refusing to be guardian to the boys. While I’m not certain that we’ve seen the last of Wendy, she is pretty convincing when she says that Jax shooting her full of drugs and jeopardizing her sobriety was the final straw.
– Clay is being kept in protective custody. Lee Toric visits Clay and we learn that’s why Clay hasn’t entered genpop yet. Toric shares that he knows Clay didn’t kill Pope, and thinks that Jax framed Clay. Toric wants SAMCRO, and says it’s not “work” – it’s retribution for Otto taking his sister’s life. Clay initially refuses to be a rat, but with just a glimpse of what awaited him once out of protective custody – i.e. death – Clay agrees to work with Toric. Something I totally didn’t see coming – the fact that Lee Toric is a junkie.
– Gemma is still with Nero and appears to be happy. Trying to gain points with Nero’s son, she buys him a water gun, a toy that Nero shows some disapproval of but laughs off (this, of course, foreshadows the major event that takes place near the end of the episode).
– A school shooting takes place. A blonde haired boy who kept appearing throughout the episode produces a gun and opens fire. It wasn’t clear who he was at first, but it’s apparently the kid of Nero’s associate Arcadio’s old lady. We see him writing in a notebook during the episode and the images are revealed to be disturbing, tragic, and indicate he was being bullied. He rolls up his sleeves before taking the gun out and reveals the scars of a cutter. The real kicker is that the gun is one of the guns that SAMCRO gave to Nero’s crew last season.
Although Sons of Anarchy and its characters are trying to find beauty or love in an ugly world, it has never been about glamorizing this life or extolling its virtues. While that scene is shocking and dealt with a subject matter that is extremely sensitive, in the scope of this series, it makes sense. It shows that the actions of this club have consequences that are far-reaching. It’s not just nameless, faceless gang bangers who are shooting each other – now innocent children are affected.
It was ballsy storytelling and completely soul shattering, but I’m not outraged that they “went there.” The seeds for something like this to happen were planted long ago. I thought it was dealt with in a respectful manner. It didn’t feel like a heavy-handed political statement, but rather a cautionary tale: if you sell illegal guns, some day one of them may end up in the hands of a child, and that child, who is fighting his/her own demons, may take that gun and use it to end the lives of others. This event stays true to the story they are telling, and without a doubt will affect the remainder of the season.
Share your thoughts and reactions to “Straw” below.
Photo Courtesy of FX