Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.04, “Poor Little Lambs”: Jax’s master plan goes south

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Sons of Anarchy¬†Season 7, Episode 4, “Poor Little Lambs”
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Kurt Sutter
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX

Sons of Anarchy just broke its own record for erasing any and all good will shortly after amassing it. Episodes two and three of this season are examples of how to properly build up excitement and suspense for the story to come, and here the show ruins all of that hard work in a matter of minutes. Once again, after multiple examples across the history of the show, an entertaining episode filled with well-executed character building and excitement is undermined by the unnecessary and senseless killing of female characters.

But first, the positive side of things as they stand. “Poor Little Lambs” is chock full of guest stars, from returning favorites to new cameos. Courtney Love appears as a preschool teacher at Abel’s school who extends a warm welcome to Gemma during her first day of drop-off duty. It is a meaningless appearance right now, but she has the potential to fit into the show during her multi-episode arc. Without her trademark heavy makeup she looks realistically like an educator of small children, which lends confidence for when her role will inevitably be enlarged.

Elsewhere, Kim Dickens returns as Collette to help Nero out with the books and everyday business dealings at Diosa. This turns out to be Chekhov’s return, but at least she gets the chance to come back to the show once more and put in great work before the end. Walton Goggins also makes the first of his final few appearances, a more substantial one than Dickens, as the Sons’ favorite transgender escort. Goggins is always tremendous in the way he disappears into Venus’ vocal tics and unique facial expressions, but here he gets the opportunity to have a touching moment with Tig (or as she knows him, Alexander) after he is injured in a raid on a lake house containing the preacher’s family. Goggins and Kim Coates have some humorous moments throughout the episode and play off each other well as always, with Jax being worried about Tig and Venus staying in touch the highlight, but Venus telling Tig stories while he lays bleeding out is a new level of endearing for the two actors. It is a moment that will remain a highlight of the season and a sure Emmy submission moment for Goggins as a guest star if he so chooses.

Besides the guest appearances and uplifting jokiness of the episode, it is mostly a dour display of story momentum culminating in one of the most disappointing and pandering endings in the show’s history. Much of the episode consists of one party finding out another is more dangerous than they previously assumed. Nero finds out how Gemma handled the situation with her employee’s father and is unhappy, but declines to confront her; the look Jimmy Smits gives is one of realization at how far gone the woman he loves is, with no shot of turning back. Sheriff Jarry begins to understand how Charming operates when she surveys the crime scene where two of her officers are ambushed. There is no such thing as a random act of violence in this town and her only chance at ending the danger is playing nice with those causing it. Her sarcastic remark, “Charming. Our name says it all” is as meta as the show gets, with her saying what the audience has been thinking since season one.

Most importantly, Jax underestimates the retaliation from one or more of the gangs he is currently playing, resulting in the targeting of the ice cream parlor and the gunning down of every girl at Diosa, including Colette. Director Guy Ferland chooses to go some interesting routes with his camera work in the last quarter of the episode. Unlike most of the other directors the show uses, Ferland lets the camera wash over each crime scene and deadly tableau slowly and deliberately. Background noise accompanies these sweeping shots as necessary, but he refrains from adding in any swearing or screaming from the Sons, instead letting the images speak for themselves as long as possible.

Lin’s crew’s murder of all of the Diosa girls and employees is a poor move for the show in a lot of ways, but more than anything else it is pointless. It is nothing more than another instance of the show using female characters as chess pieces to be moved around a board and killed at will. Shock value is not a reason to stage a mass murder of 95% of the women on the show (including at least one of its best performers, Dickens), and Sutter doing so to have as one gang send a message to another is lazy at best and overwhelmingly misogynistic at worst. Lin or his crew killing a cherished member of SAMCRO to send a message is a guaranteed way to cause more of an impact, but that would require effort on the part of the writers to make it work. Instead, rather than actually trying to be creative, they continue to take the easy way out and use the senseless slaughter of women to galvanize men.

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