Episode two of season three of Kurt Sutter’s “Sons of Anarchy” continued upon last week’s aimlessness (save for the final holy-shit moment), as the puzzle pieces continue to shift around on the season, leaving us unsure of where any of the pieces belong. There’s a lot going on so far, but there’s not yet any definite direction. Sutter seems intent upon playing around in the grey areas for a while before aligning the plot strands and taking off in a certain direction. So far, that means a confused and convoluted story, with no definite arc.That’s fairly typical of the season opening episodes in any serial drama. Nothing to worry about. Yet.
What we do know is that Cameron — who was responsible for kidnapping Abel — is now dead, but only after Sutter spent much of the episode making him more sympathetic, while simultaneously playing up the real threat, in Father Ashby. The kidnapping storyline is a mess right now: Maureen (“Deadwood’s” Paula Malcomson) is taking care of Abel and clearly bonding with the infant, which will likely create some reluctance on her part to give the baby up. Otherwise, with Cameron dead, and the Irish on speaking terms with SAMCRO — even if Jimmy O is lying about the whereabouts of the child — there seems to be no immediate danger to the baby, and no real sense of urgency. Jax is not likely to turn into Liam Neeson in Taken just yet.
The real danger to the child’s safety is likely the political posturing between Clay and Jimmy, as well as the sinister dynamic between Jimmy O and Father Ashby, the latter of whom had Cameron killed even after suggesting that he’d let Jimmy or the SAMCRO take care of it. He’s an evil motherfucker. The kidnapping hasn’t severed the relationship between SAMCRO and the Irish — because Clay convinced them that Gemma wasn’t behind the murder of Jimmy’s son — and my fear is that Abel becomes a pawn in their ongoing relationship. I hate to think that Clay would endanger Abel in a game of blink, but if Sutter wants to redevelop the strained relationship between Clay and Jax, Abel is the perfect device to make that happen. My theory is that the well-being of the baby will be pitted against the well-being of the club, and that’s where the internal divisions will creep up again, like they did over the allegiances of Opie, only now the stakes will be even higher.
It’s way too early to say what’s going on with the Mayan proxy gang and the drive-by patch-over. Presumably that will play into the rest of the storyline, but right now it feels like a sideshow; a diversion to keep the show steeped in violence and to reinforce the alliance with the African-American gang. My guess is that eventually, the feud with the Mayans will create a stronger need to heal the relationship between SAMCRO and the Irish, creating a lesser of two evils scenario: Work with the people holding Abel hostage, or risk losing a turf war with the Mayans. In that potential Abel vs. SAMCRO scenario, it’ll be an easy choice for Jax, and a not so easy choice for Clay. The wild card here could actually be Tara, who — as Gemma’s protege — might be more inclined to cold political calculation, even at the risk of Abel. This is, of course, pure unfounded speculation on my part.
The subplot with Gemma, Tig, and her father, Nate Maddock, was useful last night in adding some levity to an otherwise self-serious episode, first with Tig’s freak-out over the dolls, and then when Hal Holbroom shot Tig (who was schtupping the caretaker) because — in his dementia — he mistook his caretaker for his late wife. Tig’s become a solid source of comic relief, and the best part of the Nate Maddock subplot, which is setting up another hostage situation for next week, when Tara joins Gemma to deal with the caretaker, who is angling to turn Gemma in for the ransom. I like the caretaker; she’s got chutzpah. I hope Tara snuffs her out, though.
There was no Ally Walker sighting this week, and that’s unfortunate, because if there’s one unambiguous villain in this show, it’s the she-devil Agent Stahl. And right now, “SoA” could use a more identifiable villain, at least in the short term while the other storylines are being developed.
Oh, and I love Bobby’s ex, Precious, who unloaded on poor Bobby last night for being a deadbeat. She was a brief means to an end (using her bounty hunter husband to help locate Cameron), but I hope we see more of her in future episodes.
Elsewhere, Opie is not so at peace with Lyla’s career as a porn star, so it seems.
Finally, because I love the political maneuvering on the show, my favorite development last night was probably the one with the least amount of screen time: The relationship between Chief Unser and Jacob Hale, who is angling for the Chief’s endorsement for his run as mayor in exchange for blocking the county’s attempt to swallow Charming’s police department. In the trade, Unser also gets to pick his successor, although no candidates have yet been revealed. If Unser recognizes the increasing futility of the partnership between the police and SAMCRO, we could see another Hale type succeed him, only one even less likely to recognize the benefits of an occasional alliance. That could set up another interesting villain for later this season or next.