Posted October 24, 2012 by Matthew Frendo in Movies & TV

Sons of Anarchy Review: "Toad’s Wild Ride"

“As Keanu Reeves so famously said in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “Whoa.” I realize that’s not the most intellectual way to start a Sons of Anarchy review, but it’s all I can muster after watching the chilling ending of this week’s episode.”


The truth is, even without the cliffhanger, it was a pretty killer episode overall. The feud between Clay and Jax is picking up steam faster than I thought it would. Jax figured out Clay was behind it all early on, which led to Clay making that big play by helping to kill the Nomad’s himself. It was a smart move to make him look right with the club. However, Frankie Diamonds is still out there, which makes things quite interesting. Is he still with Clay, planning another scheme? Will he get caught and tell the club the truth? Only time will tell. Side note: there is a great camera shot during the confrontation between Jax and Clay, at Clay’s place, that encapsulates what’s about to happen perfectly. It starts with a view of Jax, showing an AK-47 (I think…not quite a gun expert) on a table with Clay in the foreground. It then cuts to a view of Clay, with a pistol and Jax in the foreground. This shot is a perfect visual foreshadowing of a war between the two approaching. And yes, it will be bloody.

Where Juice lands in this thing could really make the difference. He’s becoming one of Clay’s trusted allies more and more, but he seemed to have some doubts during the episode. First, after hearing Tara go off on Clay, he realized Clay did something he’s not aware of, and seemed troubled by it. And then, after the Nomad killings, when he was hearing the guys talk in the clubhouse, he started to have even more doubt (but not enough for him to say anything to Jax). He’s slowly realizing that things are quite rotten in Denmark. To add to that conflict, let’s not forget the Sheriff, who’s wife was killed in the home invasions, still has something over Juicie’s head, namely that he was a rat. Juice is about to be in a world of s**t. It’s only a matter of time now.

Not sure if Joel McHale’s going to stick around longer, but he now has the distinction of taking part both in the most intelligent drama currently on television, and what may be the most intelligent comedy in Community (with 30 Rock being the other contender vying for that throne). The scenes with him really gave new life to Nero, as we saw him in a more brutal fashion than we have so far. His feelings for Gemma are really starting to show more, and it will be interesting to see where those feelings go after the events of last night. It will also be interesting to see how his relationship to Jax changes, as he was the one who got Jax to let Gemma in again. In the metaphorical battle for Jax’s soul, represented by Pope on one side and Nero on the other, last night’s events may be a game-changing factor.


And it seems like Pope may not be the friend Jax thought (or somebody doesn’t want Jax to think so). The shooter at the end being from a black gang was a twist I was not expecting, at least so soon. It will be interesting to see Pope’s reaction to this, and how it affects both club business and the issues with Clay. For, if the club thinks Pope was gunning for Jax, they’ll be more likely to believe he was doing the home invasions as well.

Okay, so back to the ending, when Gemma pulled a Chris Moltisanti with her Escalade. It looks like Abel is either dying, or badly, badly injured. And this brings a lot to the table. For one, the parallel to John is deeper, as the Thomas situation seems to be playing out again for the next in line to the throne. I don’t even want to speculate much on what this will do to Tara, or how Jax will handle Gemma, as I honestly have no clue.

“The priest gave his life to get Abel back to Jax, with Jax making a vow to keep Abel safe from now on–a promise he could not keep.”

What it did bring up in my mind, however, was Season 3. Season 3 was the most maligned season by many fans. I liked it. With the exception of the “twist” at the end (which would be fine for most shows, but Sons has strong enough characters and dramatic plotlines to not need to trick the audience), I actually really liked Season 3, and could tell it would have some moral importance for later episodes. And now it’s starting to. First off, the priest was obviously right: Abel would have been better off adopted in Ireland. He told Jax what would happen, after seeing it happen to John, but Jax would hear none of it. Now, Abel suffers for his actions. Also remember, the priest gave his LIFE to get Abel back to Jax, with Jax making a vow (probably more to himself) to keep Abel safe from now on. A promise he could not keep. The weight of this knowledge should weigh Jax down even more, and the fact the Priest gave his life for it all may bring up issues with the Irish, depending on who knows what happened, given how much the Priest was loved by them all.

I want to end by recapping what poor Abel has gone through. The kid is maybe 5 or so at this point, and, at birth, had health problems from a meth-addict mother, was kidnapped by the I.R.A., had his Dad thrown in jail during his early years, and now this happens. Man, that kid just cannot catch a break!

Geeksmash Rating: 91/100

Sons of Anarchy  reviews by Matthew Frendo

Here is the AV Club’s take on last night’s episode.


Matthew Frendo

Matthew Frendo is an accomplished concert violinist, Hong Kong Kung Fu champion, the creator of World of Warcraft, and a screenwriter living in Los Angeles. He’s also a pretty good liar, as only one of the things he listed is true. In reality, he’s a huge geek for television, literature, and film, with bachelor degrees in Philosophy and Media Communications, and a Masters in Motion Picture and Television. His interests include philosophy, martial arts, Zen Buddhism, Ring of Honor, intelligent horror used as a mirror to society’s ills, forgotten pieces of music and art, French Extremity, comedic satire, the lost art form of reading, BBC, Sons of Anarchy, Star Wars, and Planet of the Apes. The only reality TV he watches is Big Brother, a source of both inspiration and shame.