“Sons of Anarchy” recap: The Culling

Credit: Prashant Gupta / FX
Credit: Prashant Gupta / FX

By Stacey Harrison

The penultimate episode this season is one long call to battle, with the opening musical montage consisting of the West Coast chapters of SAMCRO coming together to assemble a task force to fight Zobelle and The League, while the old ladies — yes, Tara included — stand by their men to the plaintive swoon of “Someday Never Comes.”

It’s all headed toward an epic throwdown between the Sons and Weston’s faction of The League, all orchestrated by a united Jax and Clay fully in control of their dispute with the neo-Nazis for the first time. They tell Weston about Zobelle’s buddying up with the Mayans to run the heroin trade, in order to get the right-hand man to turn on his leader. They then turn Family Services onto Weston’s kids, resulting in having them hauled away in front of him. That’s when they confront Weston, let him know that they’re aware of his role in Gemma’s rape, and Jax challenges him to a fight, his best 10 against their best 10. No weapons. They also get the better of Stahl yet again, thwarting her latest attempt to catch them with a bunch of guns, instead making Cameron’s decision to cooperate and go against Jimmy O look like a fatal mistake. They’re also able to get the Chinese and the Niners to enter into an agreement that restores order and brings SAMCRO a lot more protection. All in all, some pretty fancy maneuvering.

All this brawling must be rubbing off on Tara, who takes matters into her own hands — er, fists, with her meddlesome administrator. You know, the lady who doesn’t care for murderous bikers hanging around the hospital and running insurance scams? Then reacts negatively when another biker mama threatens her and tells her to lighten up or else? Yeah, some people. But Tara finds a way to get out of what seems an inevitable career besmirchment, by cornering her boss in an office and smacking her around a little bit, making her bleed and scaring her out of her mind. Oh yeah, she also threatens her children. Nice. OK, you don’t get the feeling she would actually hurt the kids, but it’s a little odd to reconcile her putting that out there, then calling herself a “healer.” That said, who isn’t up for a good catfight? Seriously, though, this is presented as a breakthrough for Tara, the final step in standing up for herself and realizing her importance in Charming. Of course, that importance has nothing to do with her being a doctor, and everything to do with being Jax Teller’s old lady, but that bit of problematic gender politics isn’t really explored.

Weston takes the bait but good and goes after Zobelle in the cigar shop, calling him a traitor and basically severing their relationship. It’s a nice parallel to see how Jax and Clay’s relationship could have ended up, with the underling convinced that the father figure had betrayed the group’s original purpose for his own personal gain. Where it differs is that Zobelle is the deeper thinker, supposedly, and Weston is the hothead true believer. Combine that with having Weston see his kids taken from him and it’s almost enough to make you feel a smidgeon of sympathy for the racist bastard. But then you see him shoot and kill a couple of minority women for merely being part of Zobelle’s machine and that all goes away.

This episode could very easily have been the season finale, if not for Hale finally reverting to his strict good-cop self, and thwarting a couple of key situations. Both come at the end of the episode after the big fight. And hey, about that fight … good stuff. Jax and his crew — among them Clay, Tig, Opie, Bobby and some Sons from other chapters — wait for Weston and his bunch at a remote country outpost. The white-power guys show up, and immediately break the agreed-upon rules of the event and whip out an arsenal of guns. That’s when the Sons show that they’ve brought their own armed insurance, bringing out a contingent of Chinese and Niners out to play. But it’s all in effort to ensure a fair fistfight. The action is good, but it’s a little unbelievable that in all the one-on-one fights, the bikers win every single one. I mean, come on, it’s not like it’s the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. I’m sure the Nazis would be good for one win.

But that is the state of things as Hale shows up with a bunch of squad cars to break up the action. He then arrests Weston for suspicion of arson in the porn-studio fire. Turns out Chucky was able to ID him. Jax and Clay move on to the next target, heading to Zobelle’s shop and demanding to see the leader. They only find his daughter there, so they smack her around a bit, threaten her, until Zobelle comes crawling out. Unser is there, seemingly content to let outlaw justice take its course until the Boy Scout shows up again, telling them to break it up. After a few near disasters, everyone seems to be calming down, but Zobelle yells out that he and his daughter are in possession of some illegal narcotics and must immediately be taken into custody.

So, in any event, it ought to be an interesting conversation in the cell shared by Weston and Zobelle, eh?

It’s all setting up for a terrific finale, which seems to be heading toward a most bloody path.