Quick Take: Sons of Anarchy, "June Wedding"
"Let Charming know they got themselves a hostage situation!" - Salazar
Review: Sons of Anarchy, "June Wedding"
(S0312) "June Wedding" was the final chapter of the frantic saga that began last season with Abel's kidnapping. While there were certain things about the Belfast story that worked, I am glad to see the show put this portion of its history in the rear-view mirror. With SAMCRO (and the baby) back in Charming and the season finale upon us, we can see the Season Four storylines start to take shape. My hope is that without the Abel plot sucking the air out of the room, the show will get back to its roots and focus on the club, the town, and the struggle for the future of both.
There are still three balls up in the air at the beginning of the episode: Tara's kidnapping, the deal that Jax (Charlie Hunnam) struck with Stahl (Ally Walker) to make Gemma's (Katey Sagal) murder charges disappear, and the issue of the County Sherriff's Office taking over the Charming PD. By the end of the hour we have at least a little bit of closure on each of these, which should allow the writers some flexibility going into the finale and the season to come.
Thankfully, Unser (Callie Dayton) seems to be fully in SAMCRO's corner again. First, he promises Clay (Ron Perlman) that the Charming PD will give Gemma a few days' grace period before coming after her. Then he shares a joint and a chat with the fugitive mama. She tells him that Jax is in trouble and that he has cut some kind of deal with Stahl. Since she herself doesn't know much about the deal, she can't give him many details. SAMCRO and the police department have always had something of a symbiotic (if occasionally tumultuous) relationship and that dynamic seems poised to continue into the future. SAMCRO needs Unser to be able to continue to act as their man inside given their tenuous legal status and Unser needs SAMCRO's influence to help stave off the County Sheriff. If SAMCRO can help convince Salazar (Juan Pablo Cantillo) to admit that Jacob Hale (Jeff Kober) was the one who sent him to intimidate Lumpy, Oswald has a real shot to win the election. And if Oswald wins the election, he can pressure the city council to back off the plans that would allow the County Sheriff to take over the police department.
Stahl and Jax also find themselves needing each other as much as ever, which I don't think I will ever get used to. Jax is relying on law enforcement to help bring Tara (Maggie Siff) back safely and Stahl still hopes Jax will help her bag Jimmy (Titus Welliver), the big fish that will give her career the boost it needs. "The sooner we find Tara, the sooner I find Jimmy," says Jax of the quid pro quo. Gemma has never been comfortable with the deal, she sees Stahl for what she is: a conniving bitch. She tries repeatedly to get Jax to back out, telling him, "I can't protect you from Clay if he finds out," and reminding him what the club does to members who become informants. But Jax has made up his mind, and he is in too deep to turn around now. Gemma takes matters into her own hands and approaches Stahl, forces her into her car and threatens to come clean to the Feds. Gemma tells Stahl that she is sure Stahl's partner will be relieved when Gemma admits the truth. "End the deal or I end your career," she says, but Gemma has no idea how far Stahl is willing to go for her career.
Stahl's career goes nowhere unless she is able capture Jimmy O, who has recently arrived in the states and is currently under the protection of the Russian mob. Jimmy is desperately trying to pull together cash and connections to finance a trip to Brazil. Although I was a bit fuzzy on the details, what with all of the awful accents (both Irish and Russian), the deal has something to do with Jimmy raising money up front to pay the Russians to get him to Brazil and once in South America he would hook them up with his gun connections at a reduced commission...or something like that. No sign of Father Ashby. Did he survive the trip?
The episode concludes with a solid if not entirely original action sequence. Salazar storms in Jacob Hale's office with Tara and declares, "Let Charming know they got themselves a hostage situation!" When the cops, ATF, and negotiators get there Salazar demands a ride to cartel country in Mexico and a hostage swap of Tara for Jax. He doesn't actually plan on swapping at all, he just wants to get Jax in the room so he can kill Tara in front of him, and then kill Jax. Jax, knowing full well the risks, jumps at the chance to rescue his pregnant old lady. He doesn't get that chance, however. Salvation comes from an unlikely hero as Hale stabs Salazar just as he is about to slit Tara's throat. Salazar takes off, but Jax chases him down and stabs him, ending any chance that he will ever testify against Hale. Hale's heroic act all but solidifies his seat as mayor, which will make life much more difficult for the MC going forward. Jax may not have been thinking about it at the time, but by killing Salazar, he might have also sealed the fate of SAMCRO, and he might not necessarily consider that a bad thing.
Let's talk for a moment about what will surely be the most controversial moment of the night. Right after the chaos of the hostage showdown, Stahl shoots and kills her partner, Agent Tyler (Pamela Gray), who was getting more and more suspicious of Stahl's connection to Jax. She radios the shooting in, blaming the gunfire on Mexican bikers. Now, anyone familiar with Kurt Sutter knows that he worked on a little FX show called The Shield in which a very similar scenario played out in the first season. During a chaotic raid, dirty cop Vic Mackey uses a drug dealer's gun to murder a fellow officer he suspected of knowing too much. I'm not accusing SOA of blatantly ripping The Shield off; borrowing might be a more appropriate term. Either way, anyone familiar with Shawn Ryan (the other guy responsible for The Shield) and Kurt Sutter's work could see what was coming with Stahl and her partner form a mile away. After the shooting, Stahl tells an ATF investigator that Agent Tyler had admitted responsibility for the Eddie Hayes shooting. "Gemma was wrongly charged," she says, holding up her end of the bargain. Now Jax just has to figure out a way to get to Jimmy before he finds a way to Brazil.