Sons of Anarchy, Season 6: Episode 5 – “The Mad King”
Written by Chris Collins, Roberto Patino & Kurt Sutter
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Airs Tuesday nights at 10pm ET on FX
So, after last week’s Sons of Anarchy, we didn’t quite get a sense of what was going to happen with Roosevelt’s investigation into Nero. Would he back off now that Toric was dead? Would he keep pressing into the issue, hoping to tie the Sons to something tangible? Would he even be a part of the next few episodes (Sons has certainly stepped away from semi-important characters in the past)? “The Mad King” kind of gives us our answer, but neither fully nor satisfactorily. Just as Roosevelt looks like he’s going to do something serious about the DNA results from Nero’s vehicle, the Sons’ clubhouse blows up and the screen cuts to the series logo. Once again, what does this mean? Is Roosevelt going to cuff Nero right at the start next week? Or does this whole Irish thing take precedence now, even with CCH Pounder hounding Roosevelt about tying all these guys to the school shooting from the beginning of this season? More questions, more answers being dragged out across the season.
Even though we’re used to seeing Sons do the whole slow-burning routine with its narrative, it’s a bit worrisome how much head-scratching “The Mad King” evokes. There’s still no scenes with Bobby, which is only a good thing at this point until that storyline becomes worth following (Bobby does get a mention here, though, just in case people have forgotten about the moral compass of this series already). But all of the drama in the Tara-Wendy-Gemma plot really drags down “The Mad King,” which would otherwise be on par with the rest of this season so far. After all, we get a fantastic sequence in jail as Gemma visits Clay (“fantastic” in the sense that it’s really good; it also happens to be horrific, even if the “rape” occurs off-screen). And despite how silly the clubhouse explosion is – someone leaving a shamrock-covered pen, which makes Jax realize everything, plus the slow-motion shot as Jax is running out with Abel – it’s still a cool action piece that allows the episode to end with a literal bang. All the scenes with Tara, though, are of little interest. Wendy is on the verge of cracking after Gemma has a genuine moment with her, but all of Drea de Matteo’s talent can’t make that scene hit home when we’re not invested enough in the first place.
A few weeks ago, I talked a little bit about how Sons of Anarchy and Kurt Sutter can go a little overboard or not hit the mark with the ratio of interesting material to minutes in an episode. “The Mad King,” like last week’s episode, runs way over the normal 42-44 minutes that a cable drama would usually go to. With this episode, that length is really felt because of those plotlines that might not work as well as some of the other, co-current material. Would “The Mad King” be a better-paced episode with some heavy editing? Absolutely. Is Sutter going to make any changes to how he runs this series? Absolutely not.
– Sean Colletti