Sons of Anarchy, Season 6: Episode 8 – “Los Fantasmas”
Written by Roberto Patino and Kurt Sutter
Directed by Peter Weller
Airs Tuesday nights at 10 on FX
All season long, we’ve been following a pretty lackluster B-plot in Sons of Anarchy focusing on Tara and her subversive plans to get her kids out of the crossfire of all the horrible things that go on in Charming. It has been so dragging that last week‘s mostly-stand-alone episode with Walton Goggins was a welcome breath of fresh air in this weird narrative that hasn’t had much focus all season because of a lack of structure and main villain. But “Los Fantasmas” at least takes a stab at addressing this mostly problematic aspect of season six. Does it redeem it completely? Of course not. A couple of scenes containing some fantastic acting, though, go a long way in getting us to care a little bit more about some of the implications of these conflicts.
One of the most immediately noticeable problems with this plotline has been how little chemistry there is between Jax and Tara these days. That’s been the point of the direction of the story, of course, but Tara has mostly been defined in relation to Jax – as an old lady – so seeing her carry out her scenes without him and the awkwardness of the scenes when they’re together creates this jarring effect for the viewer. That “wait a second, something’s weird here” kind of feeling. If the content had been up to the task, that feeling would show mastery over the viewer’s emotions, which Sons of Anarchy has certainly shown in the past. Executed as it has been in this season, though, it is annoying at its worst. That’s why the final scene of the episode is comparatively great and important. Jax and Tara know how distant they have been with each other, and even in spite of all the things the kind of the MC has to juggle on any given day, he still makes that attempt at bridging the gap. Oftentimes, the score in Kurt Sutter’s show overpowers the screenplay, so those powerful moments when the screen cuts to black without an overbearing score are even more of joy as in the case of “Los Fantasmas.”
The other big scene that helps nudge us in the direction of caring about the stuff going on here is Unser talking to Gemma about what her options are. Unser has always been a voice of reason in this series, but it has been a long time since he’s been the voice of reason. Bobby took that mantle for a while and sometimes, even, a voice of reason did not exist. This is definitely one of those classic Unser moments, though, and Dayton Callie nails it. It’s also great to see him to some police work when he is talking with Roosevelt. Even considering how closely tied Unser is to the club, there is that glint of respect in Roosevelt’s eye when speaking with the old, retired cop. Again, the performances in these cases are the things that are doing most of the heavy lifting, but the fact that the episode’s highlights have to do with the weaker story brings some good energy into that story as we continue with it in the remaining episodes.
Meanwhile, Nero throws himself under the bus to save CCH Pounder from going full postal on the Sons. It’s pretty safe to say that Nero has been one of the best and most interesting characters on this show since he hopped on, and he continues to show how much of a good guy he is (in the context of this series and its moral compass) by tying the school shooting to only himself. Just based on who has died so far this season and the erratic nature of the serialization, it’s hard to say how the last five episodes are going to go down. Luckily, being able to anticipate that kind of stuff is not a concern here, since Sons is almost always too predictable. I’ll be surprised, though, if we don’t see another death – maybe a major one – coming up soon.
– Sean Colletti