Something struck me as odd near the end of last night’s Sons of Anarchy, the penultimate episode of this sixth season. It took me a good bit of time to realize what it was before it dawned on me that it had almost nothing to do with how the characters were behaving or how deals were going down. It was much more simple than that; it was raining. Has it ever rained during in Charming before? This is a serious question. I faintly remember some precipitation during the extended trip to Belfast a few seasons ago, but I don’t have any recollection of there ever being bad weather at the Sons’ home base. It was weird to watch, these characters protecting themselves and their loved ones from something other than each other. Tara placing a blanket over Thomas’ holder so that he wouldn’t get wet, not so that he wouldn’t see his parents hurt or angry, was touching in such a sad way that her decision not to take the deal and enter Witness Protection hurt more than it would have if she had made the decision earlier in the episode instead of seemingly at the last minute.
Rain is always an interesting plot device to use on television. It can be a destroyer, as with flash floods that take out entire towns and usually a character or two, it can be a way for power to go out in order to facilitate more humorous interactions between the cast when placed in a blackout setting, or it can be a gentle shower that is interpreted in romantic, joyful, sad, or touching ways. This episode’s usage of it was closest to the last option, as for some characters it briefly represented what seemed like a clean slate in their lives while for others it was simply a sign of larger storms to come.
The business with the club is at a point where it is probably the most taken care of and wrapped up neatly since the first season. There aren’t any major enemies out there after the crew or a deal that needs to go down within the next 24 hours in order to save themselves. Unfortunately, this came about after yet another convoluted plan that was “just so crazy it has to work!” and as we’ve covered before I’m never a fan of when things magically work out for the Sons if only because Sutter has dipped into that well one too many times before. But Jax’s attitude after all was said and done but before the rain and the phone call from Gemma came was nothing short of relieved, if not ecstatic inside. Even after all the awful things we’ve seen him do he’s still the de facto hero of this series and it would be nice if he could actually have a normal life with his wife and daughter. At least there wasn’t a slow motion hugging and celebrating shot of the entire club as all the deals closed, as we got some sadness and regret being dealt with over at Deosa. Juice’s confession was a long time coming, and it was pretty obvious that something was going to happen this episode based on the “Previously On” that started the episode. Theo Rossi has shown before how good he can be when the show makes him more than a background character and that was absolutely the case here. He shows pain and regret so well in his eyes that it wasn’t a stretch to imagine all the pain he’s been going through over the past few weeks, even if the show hasn’t spelt that out as specifically as it could have.
Tara, meanwhile, had a cloud over her the entire episode, as anybody could have expected. It was clear she hadn’t decided what her final option would be throughout the entire hour but I still believed deep down she was going to take the deal. In fact, I’m not entirely on board with the position the show has put her in at this point. There’s one more episode to work things out but not having her take the deal paints her as foolish and naive rather than protective of her sons and conflicted about her feelings for her husband as I think was the point. How stupid is she to think that a random hotel room is enough to protect her from the acid rain that’s about to come down on her from three different directions? That isn’t the Tara we’ve known and that the show has built up over the last six plus seasons, and it reeks of the show making a decision because it will get them to where they want to go rather than a character making a decision because her decision making process got her there logically.
To background all of this was one of the best covers the show has used to date. Yes, having the episode titled “You Are My Sunshine” with the ending montage set to a cover of that song while it started raining as the music began might have been a little much. But I’m willing to forgive the sin of too much symbolism just because of how great a song choice it was. Sung by Jamey Johnson, Shooter Jennings (Waylon Jennings’ son) and Twiggy Ramirez, the haunting quality of their voices and the minimal use of instruments combined made everything happening on screen that much more wrenching and awful to watch. The Washington Post called this cover “a slow motion sock in the gut” and I couldn’t agree more. The entire episode could have been described that way and the lonesome, depressing sound of the three men’s voices only served to reflect even more how dire everything has become in Charming.
The tragedy of Jax’s reaction when he realized how much his personal life had fallen apart while he was busy keeping the club together was so well done by Charlie Hunnam, especially how the explosive rage in Thomas’ bedroom was clearly the only thing he knew might help and at the same time something that wouldn’t change anything about what was happening no matter how many things were shattered to bits. Gemma watching from the doorway as her only child fell apart in front of her was the most I’ve liked Katey Sagal in a long time, as well as Jimmy Smits’ realization that he couldn’t be angry at Jax in that moment because being a father figure and helping him through losing his children was the only sensical option. The decision to combine the closing montage this week with ambient sounds from the show and people actually talking instead of reacting was smart. Nothing but reaction shots gets old after a while (read: one season) and if there was ever a time for a little bit of background noise to be intermingled with the music it was here.
Because that’s what this episode came down to in the end. All the symbolism throughout the hour was clear as day but it pointed to something that’s been the same since episode one of SOA; family comes first. No matter how the club operates or what kind of trouble you might be in with your relatives, they will protect you from harm unless you outright betray the family. The titular sunshine that the title spoke of this week are Thomas and Abel, it just so happens that Jax’s commitment to his family didn’t line up with Tara’s view of who was worth protecting the most, her adopted family at the garage or her children. It was never going to be both, and I hope the show doesn’t cop out at have it end up that way at the last minute. With one more episode to go this season, before what is likely the last season of Sons next year, there’s still a lot of trouble to be worked out within the club. I’m looking forward to Tara continuing to protect her children being a main part of the next stretch of episodes because there is definitely more rain coming to Charming in the near future, and only time will tell if Tara’s will is enough to keep her two rays of sunshine close and out of harm.