Sons Of Anarchy, "Fruit For The Crows": deja vu all over again

Quick Take: Sons Of Anarchy, "Fruit For The Crows"
"That's embracing the stereotype, man" - Tig 


Review: Sons Of Anarchy, "Fruit For The Crows"
(S0407) Television audiences are a demanding bunch. We're fickle. We ask for one thing, and when we get it we ask for something else. Being a show runner must be a hard job to begin with. When you add the hordes of fans and critics second-guessing you at every turn into the equation, it begins to look damn near impossible. Despite all of his money and power and actress wife, I find myself feeling a little bit bad for Kurt Sutter.

Throughout last season viewers and critics alike chided Sutter and the writers of Sons Of Anarchy for getting away from what worked in the first two seasons. Often fans will whine that a show has gotten stale and repetitive. In Season Three, Sutter combated that by completely flipping the script. He went away from the internal club drama that defined the show in the first two seasons and made the third season about a purely external crisis. He introduced new characters. Hell, he even moved the setting to an entirely different continent. Yet, people weren't satisfied -- myself included. We wanted Shakespeare, not James Joyce. We wanted to go back to Charming and get the hell out of Ireland. We wanted the focus back on the power struggle between Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and Clay (Ron Perlman).

This season, so far at least, we've received exactly what we asked for. Season Four is much more similar to Season One and Two than it is to Season Three. We're back in Charming. The "Hamlet on Harleys" stuff is in full effect again. Sutter has given us what we wanted. So, why do I feel that familiar itch of dissatisfaction creeping back into my fingertips as a write this?

It could be because we as viewers hold the shows we love to impossibly high standards. It could also be that when we asked Sutter for more stories like the ones we got in the first two seasons, we didn't mean we want basically a carbon copy of those stories. Herein lies the rub: it really feels like Sons Of Anarchy is recycling pieces of the plot from Seasons One and Two, slapping a new coat of paint them and calling it a new season. There's nothing wrong with reusing basic elements of stories if you are a sitcom or a show like Law & Order, but I hold Sons Of Anarchy to a higher standard.

Let's start with Tara (Maggie Siff). Tara is one of the more divisive characters on the show. I know a lot of SOA fans who cannot stand her. I usually don't mind her, but I recognize that she can be a little grating at times. When she first appeared on the show, it was basically in the capacity of Damsel in Distress. As she started getting closer to Gemma (Katey Sagal) and her character gained some depth, she became much more tolerable. Fast-forward to the end of Season Three, Tara gets kidnapped. Then, last week, she received an anonymous death threat and she's back in full-on Damsel in Distress mode. It's like anytime the show wants to ratchet up the drama with Jax, they do it by having something threatening or dangerous happen to Tara. Jax is an interesting, complex character on his own, surely there must be a way of giving Charlie Hunnam something to sink his teeth into besides constantly saving his girlfriend from certain doom. Enough about Tara, let's move on.

When the season began, I was super excited about the Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon) character -- and not just because Sons Of Anarchy was adding another Deadwood alum. I thought the Assistant U.S. Attorney, with his eccentric behavior and strangely relaxed demeanor, would be an interesting foil for SAMCRO. Ray McKinnon's performance in the first few episodes suggested that there was something going on inside this man and I couldn't wait to find out what that something was. Well, it turns out I was right. Potter does have something inside of him...and that something is Agent June Stahl (Ally Walker). He's just freakin' like her! He's a closet sociopath hiding behind a badge and a gun, willing to destroy anything that gets between him and SAMCRO.

He tries to pressure Juice (Theo Rossi) into giving up information about the club by making promises that he didn't intend on keeping. He switches up the terms of the deal at the last minute and totally screws Juice. Swap out a detail here and there and you have virtually the same scenario that played out between Stahl and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) in Season Two. The only difference is this time around that rat doesn't man up and come clean to the club. He hangs himself from a tree instead.

If Potter is the Stahl of this new configuration of old story lines, then Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) is definitely the Deputy Hale. He's the squeaky clean, do-gooder cop who is dragged into a sketchy situation by an overzealous federal agent. They both simply want to protect and serve Charming. Like Hale before him (and Unser before Hale), Roosevelt seems poised to take the position that maybe SAMCRO is the lesser of the two evils. By supporting the crazed Potter, Roosevelt might be doing more harm than good. It feels like he's on the precipice of accepting the fact that the only way to truly protect and serve the citizens of Charming is to work with the Sons. And I can't shake the feeling that I've seen this all play out before. Hopefully, for Roosevelt's sake, he stays out of the middle of the street.

By Lucas High

About the author

Lucas High is a man on a mission. That mission: to watch television for a living. Drop him a line at lhigh2@gmail.com, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/LucasHigh.

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3 Comments
On: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Pixie said:

your review of soa is so totally off. 

On: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Lucas High said:
a. This piece isn't exaclty a review, per se. It's more an observation of the parallels between this current season and the first two seasons. It is also commentary on the fact that no matter what a show does, there will always be people who complain about it. (In this situation, I'm the one doing the complaining). b. Would you care to elaborate about why I'm "so totally off"? Do you disagree that the stories that are developing in Season 4 are similar to stories that we saw in previous seasons?
On: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Batgirl said:

Actually, Lucas, I think you are spot on. Piney loading guns while wasted-done before. Conflict in a chapter-done last year and again this year. Another crazy, loose cannon agent and the whole trying to turn a member into a Rat- done EVERY season. Enough of the Rat, please.

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