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    Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.12, “Red Rose” is a bloody and powerful penultimate episode

    “Red Rose” is a powerfully emotional episode built on the backs of three central deaths, most of which could be expected to occur before Sons of Anarchy takes its final bow but weren’t assured to happen in tonight’s episode until the last twenty minutes or so. With so many central characters reminiscing about mistakes made and their pasts there are more than enough people to choose from when guessing who says their final goodbyes, making the actual moments that much more powerful when they arrive. That doesn’t mean each passing comes as a surprise though. A building mix of tension, regret, and resigned acceptance is present in all three instances which lends a gravity and legitimacy to these killings that has not been present for this entire season if not before that. Stop reading now if you have not yet watched the episode.
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    Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.11, “Suits of Woe”: Jax comes to grips with a disturbing truth

    For an episode that has so many scenes that could all individually be described as great, this episode continues to not have enough happen in order to properly justify the run time. The majority of the action is important, but letting every scene breathe and take as much time as possible to play out undercuts the levity of the scenes where the drawn out nature of an interaction instills everything with increased emotion. Having a conversation between Gemma and Nero be the same length as one between Althea and Unser, or close to it, attempts to place them on the same level and this doesn’t make any sense. There are few transitional scenes this week, only increasingly long and drawn out exchanges as Gemma’s actions in relation to Tara’s death come into focus and get passed around the club. In an episode where long-awaited fireworks are expected, the sudden refusal to put Jax and Gemma in the same room is a disappointment and one that is not tempered by the prison murder of Lin or the semi-pointless car chase Jax takes part in. Finding the emotional heart of the show again this close to the finale after so many seasons of blood and guts is a good thing, but with over an hour of screen time filled with lots of tell and not a lot of show, the emotional heart isn’t balanced with anything else. More

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    Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.10, “Faith and Despondency”: Professions of love (or something close)

    Lo, the grandmother’s comeuppance begins not in the form of blackmail from a member of SAMCRO, nor an outside party seeking revenge. No, it comes at last from her own flesh and blood. Abel, who this episode goes a long way towards transitioning from “devil spawn” to “devil spawn with revenge blinders on”, single-handedly starts the avalanche that will doom Gemma in the end. The first half of “Faith and Despondency” lays the seeds well, not playing an obvious hand as to whether the reveal would come in the confines of this episode or if it would be pushed until next week again. By the last third, however, the dread builds slowly but surely until Jax’s bedtime visit could not reasonably culminate in anything besides Abel spilling the beans about who murdered his mother. Even if he is confused as to the motivations behind her killing, his wide-eyed innocence lends an ominous “accidentally on purpose” air to his line of questioning. More

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    Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.09, “What a Piece of Work is Man”: A club member falls

    The title of this week’s Sons of Anarchy episode refers to a speech from Act II of Hamlet, in which the Prince of Denmark confesses his general malaise and depression to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. While outlining his outlook on life, he commiserates about how many accomplishments and abilities mankind is capable of in which he cannot bring himself to take part, for lack of purpose and motivation. This lack of interest in the general goings on or excitement of the world can surely be applied to the club throughout much of this season of Sons, but is also accurate meta commentary on the way the show is spurning narrative opportunities left and right over its final stretch. More

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    Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.08, “The Separation of Crows”: Emotional payoffs finally arrive

    Putting aside all of the violence (which packs no punch), torture (which has gone too far yet again), and killing (which has no motivation behind it) for just a minute, this week’s episode of Sons of Anarchy tries to do some interesting things with its characters for maybe the first time all season. It doesn’t always pan out, but that is a result of not committing fully rather than refusing to take the time to try something different. After weeks of dropping breadcrumbs in regards to Abel’s mental state and the club’s effect on him, there is finally a definitive incident that proves Abel’s surroundings are turning him into an indiscriminately violent and angry person, just like his father. Of course, Sons doesn’t have the restraint to discuss raising a child in this environment with any sort of tact. So instead of Wendy and Jax having a one-on-one conversation about him attacking another child with a metal lunchbox (he’s resourceful, too!), Abel gets turned into an approximation of devil spawn at the kitchen table. More

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    Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.07, “Greensleeves”: Jax’s blind confidence puts Bobby in danger

    Jax Teller’s braggadocio is officially out of hand. Up to this point, the season has consisted of a variety of stupid plans from Jax, but they have seemed to be the right choice, at least from his point of view. Even if the audience can see clearly that his manipulations of rivals and lies to the club are bad ideas, his confidence in them has done enough to make his decisions believable. During Tuesday’s episode, however, Jax finally commits to throwing all caution to the wind. Having Jax stop offering any sort of explanation when he gives orders officially places the final season squarely in nonsensical territory and unmoors it from responsibility to reason all together. More

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    Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.06, “Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em”: Signs of a new direction

    Insist things have been made right. Take a drink. Smile smugly at the friends and family that surround you in your time of “triumph”. Rinse, repeat. Such is the cycle SAMCRO, and by extension Sons of Anarchy, finds themself in after once again conquering a would-be enemy with nothing but fire power and questionable wit. The thing about this cycle of pulling solutions out of nowhere shortly after discovering impending danger is that it makes for a repetitive and predictable season. Instead of Kurt Sutter emptying out his story bucket and taking chances when possible, the show has found itself in a rut of inevitable violence and unsurprising dialogue. A few developing threads this episode have great potential to reverse this trend, but they move so slowly it is possible nothing could come to fruition for a few episodes more, though at this point, any forward momentum is welcome. More

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    Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.05, “Some Strange Eruption: Jax escapes unscathed again

    Jax’s early declaration to Nero about his shock that Lin would go so far as an act of revenge is the first time in a while he has shown any true concern for the people around him. It also comes off as incredibly naive in that even if the murder of sixteen innocent people is indefensible, the reason it even came to retaliation in the first place stems from his actions first and foremost. His inability to understand how his actions affect an ever-widening pool of people is quickly becoming a theme here, but without any real consequences for the club or his life. More

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

    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. More

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    Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.01, “Black Widower”: The Sons return to business as usual

    Coming off a bloody and shocking season finale, the final stretch of Sons of Anarchy kicks things off with nothing less than a bloody and shocking premiere. The actual action takes up less than a third of the episode, with most of the super-sized premiere ending up as time spent watching various gangs and family members talk in circles about last season’s events. With only a handful of episodes to iron out all of the conflicts from last year’s denouement, set up a proper season arc, and tie everything up in a satisfying manner, one would think Sutter and co. would have a sense of urgency when it comes to moving the plot along. Instead, a small number pieces on the chessboard are shifted a few spaces while everybody else stands around and observes the events unfolding. More

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