Time and money fixes everything…
“She taught me I was more than just a big cock.”
I had to start with that…the 3rd best cameo (apart from Henry Rollins and Stephen King) in SoA history….David Hasselhoff. Classic. Classically terrible and oh so appropriate.
OK, now onto real matters. WOW. I love how this episode just revealed all of this stuff that we have curiously been waiting to find out about and did it as if it was no big deal (at least the revelation *itself* was no big deal). “Oh yeah, Clay killed JT.” “And Unser covered it up.” Now that these things are out in the open for us, some of *that sort* of dramatic tension is relieved only to pile on us new sorts of tensions, mostly about the future (i.e. no longer about the past). The most classic line for me, and the one that, I think, hearken to the Hamlet-esque inspiration behind all of this, was of course Clay’s question whether Piney has been “talking to ghosts.” The whole gambit by Piney seems dangerous and I think we see foreshadowing here of how things will go with the cartel (not only once the brick incident unfolds, but also as the internal politics of the club unfold and eventually put straight on the cartel-SAMCRO relationship).
We see Juice’s race-line developed more, and I still find it as confusing as I first did…but soon it will be revealed what is at stake with the racial politics. I like also that we are revealing cracks in the “opposition” (i.e. between Linc and Roosevelt) and I foresee that this will have ramifications later on. I still find Linc a complete wild card and don’t know what to make of things, but I am curious to see where he goes (I suspect that he’ll eventually become privy to the information in the letters).
Most fascinating to me, however, was just the amount of lying going on everywhere to everyone at all times over every thing. It made me wonder not about the more prosaic question of “how” these people can do that, but more about the dynamics of these various social structures. Could any of these various entities (e.g. SAMCRO marriages, SAMCRO hierarchies, law enforcement cooperation, etc.) exist *without* lies. It seems that what the show is suggesting is that such entities are *on their face* already always committed to lying, and to imagine them without lying is to imagine a different entity altogether (i.e. the lying is formally or structurally built into such organizations). I find this sort of imagery somehow useful or suggestive in the case of the show because it shows how the various pieces of the puzzle (Clay, Gemma, Juice, etc.) are just pieces in a totality that can just as easily be examined without them. This way of putting things works quite well with the theme of the show (which continually attempts to blur the lines between cops and criminals, foreign and local, etc.) I think it also shows how the pieces are easily replaceable. Just a couple of weeks ago Clay was choking Gemma telling her that “she does not tell him what to do,” and now, very palpably, she was “telling him what to do.” (Of course, even here–as then–they each work independently of each other while maintaining the cover of cooperation).
In any case, looking forward to your thoughts…
Thanks for these thoughts – they’ve helped me reconsider my initial mixed reaction to this episode, which I think arose from the sense that those damn letters keep promising great threats and invocations of doom for the club, but when we find out what they contain – Clay had J.T. killed – that feels like very old news. But perhaps the anticlimactic nature of this revelation is the point: the effect of this is not to be explosive (as you say, no big deal) but rather to highlight the web of lies and cross purposes that they effect. I was also struck by the sheer level of deception going on in this episode – Clay and Gemma lying to one another, with poor Unser in the middle; Juice* is stuck lying to everyone; Jax is lying to Tara; Bobby is lying to Otto; and on and on.
If I might speculate for a minute, following similar thoughts as you develop in that last paragraph: all season I’ve been reflecting, as I alluded to in our first post, on how SAMCRO operates as a kind of microcosmic reflection of a deeply realist perspective on democratic politics. At the time, I was primarily thinking of violence, as “anarchy” is nothing but a rejection of the state’s monopoly on violence, and the show excels at demonstrating the vanishingly small line of arbitrariness between law enforcement and lawbreaking when it comes to the use of raw violence. But this season, where the primary antagonist is increasingly turning out to be Clay (who has at least implied the threat of murder against Piney, Tara, and Gemma recently), the focus instead seems to be the kind of arbitrary constructions of power and hierarchy that hold a society together by sheer convention, showing that convention to be a kind of mass consensual delusion. And a significant part of that “mystical foundation of authority” lies in the prerogative of the leader – whether the mythical lawgiver (a role J.T. plays in so many ways) or his proxy-cum-usurper who serves as the real instantiation of authority. The nature of that structure is that participation in it is almost inevitably complicity in its conventionalized violence and deception, which is why it is looking harder and harder for Jax’s (who is a remarkably passive character thus far this season, as the spotlight shifts to Clay for a while) story to be anything other than tragedy, good intentions or otherwise.
*Juice’s storyline continues to frustrate me as well, although Sutter has promised to explore what’s going on there later in the season. I’ve always liked the character, though, and even if the race plot hasn’t won me over, I’m happy to be sympathetic to his plight. Roosevelt’s ambiguity about playing the race card, though, was a really great moment – as was Potter’s “Ssh! I’m eating!”