There’s a brief, fleeting moment of satisfaction to be found in “Some Strange Eruption” – but it’s hard to miss, happening in the final scene, after an awful, awful rendition of “Age of Aquarius” has battered our eardrums during the weekly montage. When Juice finally realizes that Gemma’s going to off him in the woods, he turns the gun on her and asks her what her plan was. Her response? “I… I… I don’t know!!!”
It was satisfying because the last four seasons of Sons of Anarchy have been a series of convenient plans – and even before those seasons, if one considers Gemma’s plan to get John Teller out of the way a “plan” (for reasons the show’s never really ever made clear… because of money? Because she thought he was soft? She was just being complicit so she didn’t get murdered? Certainly doesn’t seem like the last one). Those in the Teller family (and if you include Clay, extended family) are infamous for their ability to create complex, coincedence-heavy plans, and execute them: and for once, it was nice to hear one character admit they didn’t have a plan, no secret conversation taking place off-screen to color current events in a different light, or lead to a shocking conclusion.
Unfortunately, “Some Strange Eruption” spends most of its time on one of those aforementioned Magic Plans, working the audience to believe Lin is finally closing in on Jax by turning Nero to his cause, while simply hiding the fact that Nero is setting up Lin’s gang the whole time. At this point, we all know Nero is an idiot that will stay by Jax’s side because he’s dating her mother: even though his son is most likely going to die in the near future, Nero’s going down with Jax, despite constantly being pissed at him for lying, murdering, and otherwise betraying his trust at every corner. And that’s the conceit for the whole episode: we’re supposed to believe Nero sold Jax out, even though it’s totally obvious when Nero is screaming “BRING YOUR WHOLE CREW” to Lin that the tables haven’t turned at all – Sons of Anarchy is just wasting our time with another of its infamous magic illusions.
With that taking up the entirety of the episode – that, multiple images of a cop smoking pot (oh my!), and Juice being a psychopath – there isn’t much “Some Strange Eruption” can offer to anybody, be it viewers looking for thrills, or an audience looking for a gritty drama with a bit of substance (who have all probably traded this show in for Banshee by now). Jax stares and smokes a lot, Sons tries to think of some lame reasons for Chibs and Jerry to sleep together (another tension for the season’s back half to cash in on, I’m sure) and Unser is surprisingly OK with senseless murder: at this point, Sons of Anarchy isn’t trying to be interesting, just going through the rudimentary steps to show us how awesome Jax is (he can beat up an Asian mobster a decade-plus older than him! Wow!) and just how much smarter he is than everyone, even when he’s letting his family and club fall apart under the weight of his selfishness and ignorance… but never acknowledging the weight of those decisions, beyond the deaths of innocent people that don’t matter, and the growing (and very obvious) concerns that Abel is not “normal”. In other words, the longer Sons waits to drop the inevitable hammer on Jax’s soul, the more difficult to watch the prologue to the fall becomes, an ever-indulgent exercise in exploring the most superficial, cliche-ridden aspects of masculinity.
[Photo via FX]