Sons of Anarchy, Season 6: Episode 12 – “You Are My Sunshine”
Written by Kem Nunn, Mike Daniels and Kurt Sutter
Directed by Paris Barclay
Airs Tuesdays at 10 on FX
One of the more interesting discussions that’s been going on between TV critics this year – now that Breaking Bad has finished and Mad Men is slowly on its way out – has revolved around darkness of tone and how unrelenting it can be in a series to the point where it’s a problem. We’ve seen plenty of new, dark shows carve a niche for themselves without being too oppressive with their content (I think first and foremost about Hannibal, which would be inexcusably violent if not for the fact that – unlike most violent shows – it takes so much time to examine the horrific effects violence has on its characters). Sons of Anarchy, though, is one of those shows in which I often feel like I’m being pounded in the face with pessimism. There was one episode this season that played out really well for these characters and allowed the viewer to relax his incredibly tense Sons muscles. But since then, it’s been downhill in terms of worldview. Even in the final moment of “You Are My Sunshine,” where Nero has to bite his cheek and offer a sympathetic hand to Jax, there’s nothing that doesn’t feel awful to us about what’s going on in Charming.
It begins with Jax finally – finally – getting the Sons out of guns after some elaborate, ridiculous and fun twists and turns. People died. People cried. But there was a goal. And that goal was ultimately achieved. It’s not like Kurt Sutter to leave it there, however. He has to let Tara get away with taking Jax’s children away from him. Not even that, she takes what is the worst option for her on paper. She doesn’t sign the deal with Patterson to go through WITSEC, where she and the boys would be theoretically safe. She doesn’t stay in Charming to attempt to raise them surrounded by all the horrors that she’s seen in the past few years. She opts to go on the run, which Patterson tells us straight-up will lead to the Sons hunting her down and killing her. I guess the decision is based on not wanting to turn on Jax, but we’ve seen Tara portrayed as an extremely selfish individual all season, so why would she not do the thing that had the best chance of guaranteeing both her and her family’s safety? Because shit’s dark, man. That’s why. We’re probably going to see that hunt and murder, whether it’s in the finale or somewhere in the final season, and it won’t be an iota of pleasant for anyone involved. Jax, in this episode, is told that the point of vengeance is to feel the satisfaction for oneself by being the one who enacts that vengeance. Despite how much Sons of Anarchy revolves around payback, there have only been a handful of times in which that vengeance has felt satisfying. Mostly, it feels depressing. Sons of Anarchy? Yeah, mostly depressing. One has to wonder if the satisfaction is there anymore. Or if the final satisfaction will have been worth spending all this time on.
– Sean Colletti