Sons of Anarchy Review: Low on Juice

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Sons of Anarchy was due for a letdown, following what many (myself included) consider to be one of the best episodes in show history. So I was prepared for "Call of Duty" to dial back the action a bit, to let the awesome insanity from last Tuesday night sink in for both viewers and characters.

But, while there was a lot to like about this installment, I wasn't ready for a couple of major storyline snaufs to pop up, the first of which I especially must address.

Romeo and Clay

Let's talk about Juice. Consider the two options with which he was faced after getting approached by Roosevelt with information on his father:

  1. Go along with Roosevelt and Potter's demands, which included stealing a sample of the cartel cocaine and ratting out his club's role in gun and drug running.
  2. Tell fellow SAMCRO members about the blackmail attempt.

Juice, of course, chose the former. He reasoned that it was actually safer to side with the law than to trust his supposed family members, even though Sons of Anarchy has spent very little time establishing the motorcycle world's racist rules. It's the only complaint I've had about this season, never really buying into the basis for one of the most important ongoing storylines.

It has seemed hard to believe the club wouldn't be understanding of such a loyal member's predicament and now it turns out... I was right? Assuming Chibbs isn't misleading Juice, the African-American heritage really isn't a big deal and Juice simply made the world's most dangerous assumption?!? That makes the entire arc seem rather contrived. Think of all the dangerous actions Juice undertook. I'd have thought they were at least grounded in a fear that couldn't be brushed off by a few words of assurance.

It's still possible that Chibbs was lying. He might still go to various club members and Juice could still be in major trouble with SAMCRO. But I doubt it, and that makes this storyline feel a bit cheap.

My other beef rests with the return of Wendy. It's not as big of a deal because it's certainly conceivable that she could be clean and anxious for some relationship with her son. It just feels like too much at this point. I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the show tacking on yet another obstacle for Jax and Tara to overcome.

Isn't her broken hand, the attempt on her life and Jax's overall involvement in a cartel war enough?!?

Those complaints out of the way, there was a lot to like about "Call of Duty," starting with Juice's funny reference to the video game with that title. But we had Otto painfully agree to work with Potter, while soothing his conscience as much as possible by putting in a request to help Lenny, a member of the Original 9.

We also watched as Gemma lined up her own little army against Clay, never outright calling for anyone's assistance, but making a point of showing her face to Jax and Tig in order to get them on her side. Unser, of course, is already there and while Clay may have meant to belittle him with that cancer remark, the bottom line is that he's correct: a dying man has nothing to lose. I'm assuming the initial plan was not to keep Unser around past his retirement, but Kurt Sutter has adjusted and made outstanding use of this character.

Then, finally, we witnessed that final scene. What raw hurt and outrage from Ryan Hurst, an actor who isn't typically asked to emote beyond Opie's grave demeanor. But that just made his reaction to Piney's death that much more effective. Couple it with Tara's outburst at the hospital last week and no show can depict such enormous pain as Sons of Anarchy. These scenes are far more explosive than even the most advance's grenade launcher.

And that's where we left things, in nearly the same spot as the prior episode: Clay must die by the hand of the son. But which son? And why did Unser call an audible from Gemma's request that Piney's murder not fall on Clay? Everyone has some kind of agenda at this point, and almost everyone is aligned against the SAMCRO President. It's starting to seem too obvious that the season will conclude with his death.

I smell a swerve. But I'm not about to make any actual predictions. I'm just gonna take as many breaths as possible over the coming days in preparation for whatever SOA shocks me with next.

Call of Duty Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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