The latest episode of Sons Of Anarchy ’Home’ was something of a emotional rollercoaster, with the events of the season finally taking their toll on Gemma (Katey Sagal) – finally discovering the truth about Abel’s kidnapping. In other places the episode felt a bit like a stop-gap, serving simply to reunite SAMCRO with Gemma and Tig (Kim Coates), whilst tying up several threads which began at the start of this season. This meant the episode felt a little slower in pace than usual, possibly acting as the calm before this season’s storm.
While last weeks episode ended with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) finally aware of Abel’s location in Belfast, this immediately changed at the start of this episode, with Jimmy O’ (Titus Welliver) lying to Jax about Abel still being in Vancouver. Putting SAMCRO back to square one felt like an unnecessary step backwards simply to give the writers some more time.
But while the episode couldn’t quite shake this feeling of slowing the season down, it was still an excellent hour of drama. Perhaps, mostly thanks again to Hal Holbrook’s turn as Gemma’s father Nate, whose fantastic performance in the show came to a moving end this week. The episode also highlighted why Katey Sagal fully deserved her Golden Globe earlier this year for her work in this season. Her performance, with Gemma having to deal with not only saying goodbye to her father, but also the discovery of Abel’s kidnapping was faultless.
These problems for Gemma formed the major focus for the episode, athough there was a small sideplot involving SAMCRO helping a friend of Piney’s (William Lucking) to protect a stash of prescription drugs from shotgun wielding hillbillies. It was good to see Piney at the forefront of the action for once; receiving a smooch for his troubles and a selection of freebies for the gang to sell. This part of the episode was an enjoyable little distraction, but being so brief and sidelined it couldn’t help but feel a little undercooked.
I’ve particularly enjoyed Gemma’s storyline this season, with her relationship to her estranged father providing some much needed emotional depth and background for the clubs matriarch. Yet, it undoubtedly ran its course as signaled last week by a dead caretaker and a goofy Stephen King cameo. What was clear about the reunion was that it was now only a matter of time before the truth about Abel came out. Not quite as quickly as Tara’s (Maggie Siff) revelation to Jax about her and Gemma’s deadly ordeal with Nate’s carer Amelia. The truth about the murder slips out after an argument over Tara’s desire to go with Jax to Vancouver, resulting in a heated argument and an upset Tig (“You two are killing me!”).
Gemma and her father Nate had come to terms in the previous episode that without anyone to care for him, he would have to be put into a rest home. While he had not only accepted this news and acknowledged the passing of his wife Rose, the nature of his condition made their goodbye a truly heartbreaking moment. At the doors of the home, Nate pleaded with Gemma to take him back home whilst being reluctantly led away. Unable to stay composed, the usually strong Gemma could only stand and watch in tears as Nate was led into the nursing home, pleading and crying out to his daughter.
Holbrook’s role has been superb this season, especially when coupled in scenes like this with equally brilliant performances from Katey Sagal. This scene was moving in not only what was said, but simply the physical performances from both actors. Just the look in Holbrook’s eyes as the realization of his fate set in was gut-wrenching.
Shortly after this we saw Gemma trying to contact agent Stahl (Ally Walker), although the reasons why were not clear. The grief of saying goodbye to her father sent her speeding back home, much to the distress of Jax and Clay (Ron Perlman) who had yet to informed her of the slight issue of her grandson’s kidnapping. Arriving to an empty cot and almost empty clubhouse, Gemma received a perhaps too well timed call from Maureen (Paula Malcomson) in Belfast, informing her of the kidnapping. The news proved too much, with Gemma collapsing to the ground and seemingly triggering a heart attack. It was a strong ending to the episode, although it left me wondering not only why Gemma was contacting Stahl but also how she’ll escape capture after suffering what appears to be a condition which will surely leave her hospitalised.
So far the season’s Belfast storyline has struggled to find focus, with characters feeling underdeveloped and disconnected from the rest of the show. This did somewhat improve this week, with Father Ashby (James Cosmo) making his plans clear to Maureen, and an increasingly sinister Jimmy O’ turning up at her house to intimidate her. It’s not going to be long before the storylines finally clash, with SAMCRO’s trip to Belfast looking more and more imminent – hopefully putting a rest to the problems with the location shifting storyline so far.
Despite somewhat slowing down the flow of the season, it was a strong episode full of emotionally charged drama that tied up several threads and paved the way for the season to go in a new direction. SAMCRO is now reunited and there are no doubts hanging over Abel’s location – but it’ll be interesting to see how Gemma’s condition and her call to Agent Stahl will effect the ongoing efforts to get Abel back from Ireland
Best bit: The tearjerking moment when Nate begs Gemma to take him away from the nursing home.
Worst bit: Meanwhile…. In Belfast.
Quote of the week: ” I just helped your mother kill someone…. Is that old lady enough” ? – Tara responds matter-of-factly to Jax’s claims that she’s not acting old enough.
Sons of Anarchy continues on FiveUS Wednesday nights at 10pm