I’m trying to catch up on my Sons of Anarchy.
My habit is to let a bunch of episodes accumulate on TiVo so that I can watch more than one at a time (because they’re usually so good that one episode really isn’t enough). I just finished watching Sweet and Vaded, and I actually couldn’t watch another episode; I’m still too busy processing this one.
SPOILER ALERT: if you haven’t watched the episode (and don’t want to know one of the central plot lines), stop reading.
There are always a shit-ton of things going on in a Sons episode, but my focus in this one is the Venus storyline. An episode ago, she showed up distraught and with a black eye looking for Nero, who’s inconveniently in jail on suspicion of a murder he didn’t commit, so she ends up seeking comfort from Gemma. When Gemma later asks Nero about Venus, he tells her that Venus is family and that Gemma should help Venus in any way that she needs.
Long story short, Venus is a wreck because her nephew is in the custody of her mother who, we find out after Venus’s particularly heart-wrenching confession, is nothing short of a monster. She wants to get the boy out of the house, but her last attempt landed her with a black eye, courtesy of her mother’s latest “dim and dangerous” husband.
For reasons I’m still not sure I comprehend, the boys decide to help Venus extract her nephew. The attempt does not play out well (we knew it wouldn’t) and after a bit of chaos and mayhem, the mother escapes with the boy. As the crew chase them down, the mother’s bouncers try to ram the Suburban that Jax, Gemma, Tig, and Venus are in. This results in gunshots that cause the bouncers to crash their car and lose a license plate, which helps the boys track down the likely whereabouts of Venus’s mother and nephew.
When the crew get there, they discover what looks on the outside like an ordinary photography studio but, given what Venus told us a few scenes ago, we know there’s something sinister behind all those angelic children’s pictures hanging on the wall. In the back of the studio, Venus’s nephew is drugged on a fainting couch and we see video cameras set up at a crib (a CRIB), and we know for sure that the horrific story that Venus told us about her being her mother’s first child pornography subject is true. The looks on the faces of our boys – our violence-hardened, take-no-shit-from-anyone boys – when they realize the implications of what they’re actually looking at is enough to break my heart.
That’s when the mother comes in.
I should back up here to say that, from the moment the crew arrived at the mother’s door after deciding to help Venus, I felt twitchy and nervous. I didn’t realize how tense I was about the whole scene until we got to the studio and I stopped to take a breath and realize that my palms were sweaty and clenched, and that my stomach was turning over. I was in full-on, adult child of abusive parents, PTSD survival mode.
This show is GOOD.
So, back to the plot; the mother starts laying into Venus. She says all kinds of vile and awful things to her son-turned-daughter, but we don’t really get to see Venus reacting to any of it; we’re watching Jax. As she continues to spew her evil and ugly, I notice that Jax is tearing up. Just before she can put the finishing touches on her tirade, Jax levels his handgun at her and, quite literally, blows her brains out.
I was both horrified and deeply, deeply grateful all at the same time.
I’ve been thinking about this scene ever since, not only in terms of how it relates to the things that happened in my own life (the ways in which a parent can damage a child are truly stunning, and even though I’ve found a way to live around my own damage and not let it dictate my life going forward, I find that I’m still affected by it in surprising and unexpected ways), but also in terms of the character of Jax and why he did what he did. There is MUCH more to this than just his defending Venus; while she’s a compelling and instantly likeable character for whom the crew very clearly has a soft spot, that shouldn’t have been enough to get Jax crying before he pulled the trigger. I’m having a hard time deciding whether his emotion is looking backward to his own experience with his mother (who is deeply and profoundly abusive in her own very different way) or looking forward to his own children and how his choices are going to affect them, even IF he can get the club straight and atone in some way for his past.
Wanna download this with me? I need someone to bounce my thinking off of…