By Stacey Harrison
The title of the season finale is an Irish term for “the troubles,” referring to the longstanding ethno-political conflicts that plagued the two Irelands and England through much of the latter half of the 20th century. In other words, brace yourself.
This Chinese box of a wrap-up may have one too many coincidences and contrivances, but I’ll be damned if you’re not too busy picking your jaw up off the floor to get too upset. There is no cheating here — blood is frequently, shockingly, spilled — and it all ends with one of the more shocking cliffhangers I can remember.
The surprises come fast and furious, starting off with the truth about Zobelle. He and his daughter, Polly, are cut loose from prison quicker than a celebutante. When Unser confronts Stahl about it, and lets her know about Gemma’s rape, Stahl calculates her options and tells Unser that Zobelle is an FBI informant, giving them leads to catch corrupt politicians and well-connected Aryans. So he’s untouchable … at least till the Mayans and Aryans find out. In the meantime, Alvarez and his crew are guarding their investment and protecting Zobelle from SAMCRO. Unser lets Clay know immediately about Zobelle being a rat, and the word is quickly put out to Otto in prison, where it eventually will reach the Aryans’ ears.
Weston also gets out of jail after the police deem Chuckie an unreliable witness. Hale, in the interest of preventing more bloodshed, tells Weston he needs to get out of town or the Sons will kill him. He even assigns an officer to protect him and allows him to see his kids. That works OK until Jax, Opie and Chibs get the drop on him at a tattoo parlor (seems an odd stop when you’re trying to run for your life, but whatever). They corner him in the bathroom, but he has one of his young sons with him. They allow him to say goodbye to the kid and send him away, after which Jax puts five bullets into him. It’s only one of the scenes that forge this episode’s strong theme of parent-child relationships, which make the stakes as high as they could possibly be.
Zobelle and his daughter prepare to skip town to go home (to Budapest!), but Polly insists on going to see Eddie, whom she’s apparently developed real feelings for. Here’s one development that was a bit lacking. Maybe it’s a result of just too many characters and situations, but there was never any depth given to their relationship, and her onset of affection for him feels like little more than a plot device. You could see, given that they’re both trapped in violent destinies set forth by their father, how they might bond, but we never saw any of that. Zobelle is against the idea, but Polly asserts a bit of her freedom and goes anyway. This starts a chain of events that leads to nothing but tragedy.
Eddie, meanwhile, is still working with Stahl to turn over his dad. He has a gun hidden in his house and is deciding whether he has the courage to use it. His dad wants to meet him at a wharf, but when they get there, Cameron is nowhere to be found. A cell phone starts to ring and Edmond picks it up, and it’s his dad. Cameron tells him he needs to prove his loyalty to the Irish by killing Stahl. He comes up with a plan to get him and Stahl alone at his house, where he can grab that hidden gun and do just that.
Remember that Polly is on her way there as well. But before she gets there, she’s spotted by Gemma who’s out picking up groceries with Tara and Abel. Half-Sack is riding along for protection. Again, here I have a problem. With the clock ticking so loudly, would Polly really feel the need to stop and pick up flowers? She doesn’t seem to be a gal who puts much stock in floral arrangements. Anyhoo, Gemma decides it’s God stepping in (because God often makes sure we get the chance to kill those who have wronged us … obviously) and tails Polly, her ultimate goal never in doubt.
Eddie sets his Godfather-type assassination plot in motion, grabbing the gun from a vent above the toilet, but Stahl proves to be a tougher target than Sollozzo and McCluskey. He can’t bring himself to fire the gun, and she takes it from him, only to immediately fire it herself. Blanks. The Feds knew about the gun, and the phone at the wharf, and now the coast is clear to get Cameron to meet his son, thinking the boy has killed himself a meddlesome FBI agent. Eddie finally develops a little nerve, though, and punches Stahl. He tries to make a break for it, but Stahl guns him down in the back, killing her star informant. When her fellow Feds call in to say they heard shots fired, she says it was just the blanks, the first of her many cover-ups.
Before she can go much farther with it, Polly walks in and discovers Eddie’s body. She brandishes her gun, about to come upon Stahl, who is hiding behind the wall, when Gemma walks in with her hand cannon. Polly looks as if she’s about to commit suicide, but at the last second turns the gun on Gemma, who fires and hits her dead center in the chest. As Gemma takes a breath, Stahl comes around the corner and points a gun at her. She then surprises Gemma by telling her she can go free. Er, at least she’ll have a chance to say goodbye to her family before they bring her in. She’s even nice enough to tell her to go out the back to avoid the other Feds (Didn’t they see her go in? With the gun?). But then as Gemma is standing over Eddie’s body, Stahl tosses the now-unloaded gun to her and tells her to drop it. All the better to frame you with, Gemma. While Gemma knows she’s screwed, she can’t help but show a little admiration for Stahl’s plan.
Stahl calls it in, saying Polly came in, then was followed by Gemma, who sucker punched Stahl, took her weapon, then shot Polly and Eddie before fleeing the scene. Listening over his scanner is Cameron, who breaks down in tears. He notices Half-Sack sitting outside, though, and follows him as he goes with Tara and Abel over to Jax’s place.
Let me just take a break here and comment as to how masterful that scene was. The tension built with a great crescendo, and even as you were worrying about who was going to be shot, you couldn’t help but try and figure out each character’s thought process and plans as to how they were going to get out of this one. It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in Elmore Leonard’s oeuvre, a part in Maximum Bob when several assassins show up at the same time to kill the same target. And it was done with all women, something that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Zobelle finally agrees to leave, after waiting way too long for his daughter to come back, but he and his Mayan protection detail don’t get far before they’re ambushed on the highway by the Sons. Zobelle manages to escape to a nearby ice cream shop where a busload of kids has just stopped. The Sons wait dutifully till the kids and locals clear out to make their move. Only that move never comes.
At Jax’s house, Cameron barges in on Tara and Half-Sack, brandishing a gun. Jax can hear a bit of it on his phone before the line goes dead. He knows something is wrong and tells Clay he has to bail. At the house, Cameron is bent on getting revenge for his son, believing Gemma killed him. For a few agonizing seconds, it appears as though he’ll take his pound of flesh from Abel, bringing a knife perilously close to the baby, then pointing a gun at him. Instead, Half-Sack leaps to the rescue, only to be fatally stabbed in the process. Then it becomes clear what Cameron’s real plan is, as he ties up Tara and abducts Abel.
Back at the ice cream shop, Zobelle calls Hale to ask for protection, only to find out about Polly’s death. After everyone is cleared out, and the Sons are ready to go for the kill, Clay gets a call from Jax that Abel has been kidnapped. He immediately leaves and joins the chase to get Cameron at the wharf before he can get away.
Another much slower trip out of town is taking place as Gemma catches a ride from Unser, ready to begin her new life as a fugitive. The look on her face is odd. She doesn’t seem too fazed at the idea of leaving everyone she knows and loves, and being wanted for a double-murder. Maybe she still has part of her that always wanted to get away and see what else the world had to offer, and now she has the chance.
The Sons get oh-so-close, but can’t quite get to Cameron as he takes off in his boat. Jax is left screaming and helpless on the dock, cradled in the arms of his own father, a man he wanted to kill a short time ago, but is now the only family he has left.
I must say, I’m very averse to seeing children put in peril. I still haven’t forgiven Frank Darabont (and probably never will) for the sadistic way he chose to end The Mist. This definitely is attributable to having become a father a few years ago, but even so, having a dude put a knife to a baby is not really something I need to see. You can talk all you want about showing how Jax’s violent actions — no matter how justified he feels they are — leave a horrible price to pay, and that sometimes this cost is visited upon the children. Fine, whatever, but to go and use it as something cheap like a cliffhanger just doesn’t sit well.
Cameron’s plans no doubt include raising the boy as his own, and as an enemy to SAMCRO, so it will be interesting to see how the Sons react from here on out. Hell, will Jax even notice Gemma is gone? Will he be able to focus on his goal of reforming SAMCRO? Is his relationship with Tara going to survive?
More directly, will this be the kind of cliffhanger the writers resolve in one episode next season, or is this a permanent part of the canon now? I can see them maybe never finding Abel, and as dreadful as that is, you have to give the show credit for earning the reputation of nothing being out of bounds.
— You gotta love an episode that opens with a group of rats gnawing on a dead bird.
— Any theories as to what the tattoo Weston was getting would have said? All we got was “DUI,” but my guess is that “I” was an unfinished “K” and that it was going to be “Dukie,” after his son.
— I sure would like to see a copy of the script to determine the meaning behind Clay telling Jax, after Weston’s murder, that he’s “a good (S)on.” Is there a capital “S” there? Probably.
— Right after Stahl taunts Eddie, telling him that his dad raised a “pussy,” it proves to be a poor choice of words, serving as an inspiration for where to punch her.
— RIP Half-Sack. You’ll never have to worry about neuticles ever again.