Sons of Anarchy, Season 6: Episode 9 – “John 8:32”
Written by Kem Nunn and Kurt Sutter
Directed by Guy Ferland
Airs Tuesday nights at 10 on FX
After finally managing to craft something kind of interesting out of Tara’s fake pregnancy plot last week, Sons of Anarchy is beginning to make the exponential climb to its season six climax. The shit might not have hit the proverbial fan just yet, but “John 8:32” positions all the pieces to make that journey, especially in its final scene with Tara on her rocking chair with a gun.
First thing’s first, though. How about Katey Sagal? I know she’s been bringing effortless nuance to Gemma since this series started, but the conversations she has with Nero and Jax in this episode go a step further in affirming her position at the head of this cast (as enjoyable as Charlie Hunnam is as Jax, Sagal’s performance blows his out of the water). It’s difficult to anticipate when and if Sons of Anarchy is going to call back to certain events, and I had written off the conjugal-turned-rape as something that would get lost in this year’s plot. But, sure enough, it’s the one piece of information that can get Jax to calm the hell down and listen to what Gemma has to say without the high chance of punching her in the gut. Sagal’s performance verges on the ridiculously good here, because you can actually see the heartstrings being pulled in opposition directions as she tells her son than his wife is in the middle of a split-up-and-split scheme. Gemma loves Tara too, she says. I’m inclined to believe her, even if there’s a huge asterisk there. Tara is family, after all, and that is the only thing Gemma really cares about at the end of the day. Even with Nero, it’s a matter of letting him in as part of her family, not just the family of the MC. That position is a bit more delicate now that Nero knows about JT, but I can’t imagine that he would leave Gemma, despite how precarious that information makes his position as her boyfriend/lover.
Elsewhere in Charming, Jax strikes a deal with Patterson that just might work out for all parties involved. Each time an authority figure gets tangled up with the Sons, it’s hard not to remember the bullet that Agent Stahl got way back when. But Patterson’s got a good head on her shoulders, so she’s a likely candidate not to take advantage of a good deal or to get taken advantage of. Like Roosevelt and the younger Hale from the beginning of this series, Patterson teeters on the villain/antagonist line. When her motives are clear and legitimate, she’s simply a roadblock for the Sons; however, she’s gone full villain in a couple scenes this year, causing havoc just to do it. And – again, like those other authority characters before her – she’s much more interesting when she’s just being an antagonist (see Lee Toric for the blandness of being a pure villain). So, here’s hoping we get a couple more good, conflicted Patterson moments before the curtain falls in a few weeks.
Like always, Guy Ferland’s directing in “John 8:32” is great, and that final sequence in particular lives up to Sons‘ high standards of music montages. His camera catches a lot of useful facial expressions in determining what these characters are going through emotionally, and the descent on Tara’s handgun works perfectly in terms of closing shots. As much as it makes sense for Tara to meet Mr. Mayhem for her actions, I don’t think Sutter will be willing to get rid of her with a season of events still left to play out. But expect that confrontation when Jax walks in the room to be…interesting…
– Sean Colletti