If you asked me what I’d consider to be a perfect episode of Sons Of Anarchy ‘Family Recipe’ was pretty much it. The episode was just as hilarious as it was tragic, with plenty of character driven moments as well as just the right amount of requisite action. Even if its been an arguably patchy season, the last few episodes have been a definite confidence boost.
Having said that, watching Piney (William Lucking) being brutally slain by Clay (Ron Perlman) at the end of the episode was quite a sucker punch. He’s not only been one of the few characters this season who we’ve been able to sympathise with, but Piney has always been one of my favourites of the crew – thanks to his almost fatherly relationship with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and his dedication to the old-morals of the club. Taking a shotgun blast to the chest was not the kind of death that Piney deserved.
Clay’s brutality during this scene was loathsome, and while its a season that’s been lacking in focus, it now feels like we have a true villain and more of a reason to want to see his world fall to pieces. Its been a long time since I’ve hated a character so much in a TV show, but god-damn it, you’re an asshole Clay.
Still, there were laughs too this week – big ones – as we had a nice solid dose of Chucky (Michael Marisi Ornstein), who found himself having to hide a severed head. It might all sound a bit Weekend at Bernies – but this whole plot thread was a brilliant antidote to the darker elements of the episode.
With police inspecting the clubhouse and in need of a hiding place, we saw Chucky use the head to form the base of a particularly chunky chili. The shot of the head floating to the surface as Gemma (Katey Sagal) gave the chili a stir, was both macabre and hilarious – it had me genuinely laughing out loud.
Less of a shock was the good health of Juicy boy (Theo Rossi), with the audible snap in the closing fade of the last episode being revealed as the tree branch breaking. In my last review of the previous episode I had expressed some annoyance over the possibilty that the writers might not have been brave enough to follow through with killing off Juice, but with the death of Piney this week it’s now clear why and that’s fair enough.
I also loved the scene between Juice and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan), as he caught Juice attempting to finish what he started and berated him for trying to take the cowards route. I genuinely felt bad for Juice as he wept in the arms of Chibs, and it’ll be interesting to see if he decides to finally come clean to either Chibs or the whole crew.
A similar moment came between Jax and Piney, as they had a heated exchange over the future of the club and specifically Jax’s slipping allegiance to John Teller’s vision. For much of this season, Jax has inexplicably acted selfishly – even siding with Clay over the drug cartel – but this conversation helped rectify that somewhat. Thanks to the great performances of both Charlie Hunnam and William Lucking during this scene, I fully believed Jax’s reluctance to want to single-handedly change the club.
Problems with the Lobos Sonora cartel continued this week too, with the tense and unresolved vote over Clay’s presidency rudely interrupted by a clubhouse attack by the rival gang. Initially I was pissed that such an incredibly exciting moment was being ruined by a surprise shoot up, but it led to a great plot – including the aforementioned severed heads – of which the victims were a mix of Mayan thugs and even Armando, head of the Tuscan charter of the Sons.
Things aren’t over with the Lobos Sonora, far from it. The severed heads only played the first part of what was one incredibly brutal attack. On preparing for a full scale war at the clubhouse, a solitary truck was disbanded outside in what initially seemed like a potential bomb attack.
On opening the truck the headless bodies were aligned together, with club patches on full display. Rather than giving us the action that seemed inevitable, the show went down a different path, with an eerie scene that’s once again shown us exactly what SAMCRO is up against.
Even though I loved the episode, there’s a couple of questions and loose ends rattling around in my head. Where are the letters that Piney has clearly hidden ? Could they be with another club member ? More importantly, what about the contingency plan that Piney boasted about ?
Hopefully they’ll be answered next week, and I’m happy to put my prior problems with this fourth season aside if the writers can deliver more episodes like ‘Family Recipe’. It seems like the threads which have slowly been building are finally clashing together in an epic way and there’s no turning back.
The shit has hit the fan ladies and gentlemen.
Best Bit: Chucky’s Chilli
Worst Bit: R.I.P Piney, we’ll miss ya buddy.
Quote Of The Week: “I can accept that” – an old favourite returns.
Sons Of Anarchy continues on Tuesday nights at 10pm on F.X (U.S)