Tonight’s Season 5 finale of Sons of Anarchy goes by the strange title of “J’ai Obtenu Cette,” which translates from French to “I Have Obtained This.” (Or perhaps more appropriately, “I got this.”) It’s just the latest in a healthy line of episode titles that the writers and producers have seen fit to put in a foreign tongue. Whether it’s just for effect, or if there is some special relevance to the plot, it’s undoubtedly one more thing that makes the unrelenting biker drama so compelling. Here’s a list of all the titles, along with their translation and — hopefully — some meaning to the larger story.
(Note: Two episodes that might sound like foreign-language phrases are in fact scientific terms. Yes, they’re in Latin, but I chose not to include them. So there. “Dorylus” is a genus of ants, and “Falx Cerebri” is a part of the brain.)
Fa Guan (Season 2, Episode 9)
Translation: Judge (Mandarin)
This was during the heat of the clash with Ethan Zobelle and his white supremacy outfit. Gee, doesn’t that conflict seem quaint these days? Luann had just been murdered, Clay was trying to get the porn studio shut down, and — here’s where the “judge” part comes in — Jax and Opie break into a judge’s house to convince him to do them a favor and throw out a case. Unfortunately, the judge’s 20-something son happens upon the situation and is promptly taken hostage. But while they threaten the son, the judge is unmoved. Opie is infuriated by the guy’s seeming lack of compassion, and in the end can’t bring himself to kill the son.
Na Triobloidi (Season 2, Episode 13)
Translation: The Troubles, referring specifically to the conflicts in Northern Ireland from the last half of the 20th century
The Season 2 finale was a bloodbath, featuring the deaths of Zobelle’s daughter Polly, Cameron’s son Edmond and Half Sack (who was like a son to the, er, Sons). Then, in one of the series’ most indelible moments, Jax must watch as his own baby son, Abel, is taken away from him by an avenging Cameron off to Ireland. It ensures that the following season would involve SAMCRO going to the Emerald Isle for a substantial period of time (not to mention a bevy of episodes that use Gaelic and Celtic phrases for their titles).
Lochan Mor (Season 3, Episode 8)
Translation: “Big Pond” (Gaelic)
The Sons arrive in Ireland to visit a local chapter and to start a series of episodes that are among the most divisive within the SOA fan base. Whenever a longtime fan of the show talks about the one part they haven’t liked, it’s usually the Ireland episodes. Personally, I’m not really sure what people find so unsavory about them. Perhaps it’s seeing the Sons so far out of their element, and perhaps not being the big shots they are in Charming. Perhaps they’ll eventually end up like Season 2 of The Wire, which really cheesed people off until they could see the greater picture. I’d argue that this season’s subplot with the Irish was made stronger by this little dalliance in Season 3. Oh, and the “Big Pond” of the title is probably the Atlantic.
Turas (Season 3, Episode 9)
Translation: A devotional journey where pilgrims move, usually in a clockwise direction, stopping for prayer at stations or sites related to a saint. At each site there is usually a particular reflection, then a prayer or series of prayers. The stations of the cross in the Catholic church follow the pattern of a Turas. (Source: writingthevision.com)
This is the one where SAMCRO accompanies SAMBEL on a protection run, and a big truck ends up exploding. Also, Jax starts getting a little too cozy with Trinity, who he doesn’t know is his half sister. Back in Charming, Tara and Margaret get kidnapped. The title seems to refer to a very specific pilgrimage, and should probably just be applied in a general way to the goings-on. Everything takes on more of a religious vibe, though, with the involvement of the church in the Irish shenanigans.
Firinne (Season 3, Episode 10)
Translation: Truth (Irish)
Jax and Trinity learn the true nature of their relationship — just in time to avoid adding incest to the thorny issues Sons has covered — but the real bearing of truth comes from Father Kellan. The man shares with Jax that he’s been keeping Abel’s location a secret not just to get at Jimmy, but to keep a promise to John Teller that he would break the cycle of gang life. To wit, he’s been arranging for Abel to be placed with a family far away from the Sons and their violent life. In spite of our inherent inclination to root for Jax, we all know deep down the guy is probably right.
Bainne (Season 3, Episode 11)
Translation: Milk (Gaelic)
In keeping with the show’s adherence to the adage of no good deed going unpunished, Jax finally finds Abel as he is in the custody of a nice, young Irish couple. He makes the heartwrenching, yet noble, decision to let him go. But instead of the happy ending, Jimmy finds the couple and executes them, stealing Abel back to use as more leverage. Gotta think the “milk” of the title refers to a mother’s nurturing of some sort, in light of Jax and Gemma having a big scene, where she lets him know about Tara’s pregnancy.
Una Venta (Season 4, Episode 4)
Translation: Sale (Spanish)
Linc Potter (Ray McKinnon) was a great adversary for the Sons, and one I think regrettably wasn’t developed to his potential. He was as smart as any of them, and proved himself to be just as ruthless, putting the squeeze on Juice and Gemma in order to get them to work his side and help take the Sons down. So while Linc is selling and trading people to meet his ends, the club continues to sell themselves into getting in deeper with the cartel.
Andare Pescare (Season 5, Episode 9)
Translation: Go fishing (Italian)
After a couple seasons away from foreign-language titles, the hunt for rogue Nomad Frankie Diamonds got us back on track.
J’ai Obtenu Cette (Season 5, Episode 13)
Translation: I have received this (French)
Yeah, I’m not going to tell you anything about this one just yet, people. Read the recap tomorrow. OK, I will say that Chucky does have a tendency to spout French when people talk to him, having moved on from Dr. Seuss rhymes.
(UPDATE: OK, here’s that season finale recap.)
Photo: Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX