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Sons of Anarchy has always been one of my favorite series because of its interesting narrative and complex character structures, and this season is solidifying that love. “The Mad King” is the latest episode of the violent thrill ride that is SOA. Haven’t seen the episode yet? Read on!
This latest episode resulted in the complete upheaval of any notions of safety. Because of past startling blows to beloved characters, it’s quite obvious that characters are never truly safe. However, “The Mad King” piled on yet another layer of the consequences of the violent lives of the characters by revoking any semblance of safety, including the clubhouse. Countless episodes have portrayed the clubhouse as a safe haven, not only for the club members, but also for family and friends. Whenever an extreme threat presents itself, members, friends, and family are rounded up inside the safe walls of the club and protected. “The Mad King” completely rejected that notion of safety, as the clubhouse almost became the demise of the club members and their loved ones. As relieved as I was to see Jax, Abel, and Chibs escape the club before the explosion, it didn’t put me at ease. The war that the club was trying so hard to avoid came knocking on its doorstep in the form of a lovely little bomb.
Earlier in the episode, Jax says, “I know you’re just doing you’re job, but we don’t need to make this any bloodier than it needs to be,” hinting at the necessary blood that needs to be spilt, while allowing for the hope that the violence will not get completely out of control. Too late. Yes, things were always going to get bloody and violent, but, now, the end feels even more ominous than before. The violent affairs of the club over the years have consequences that cannot be escaped. I think this is slowly, and forcefully, becoming clear to its members and their loved ones. Even Gemma finds herself hoping for no more dead bodies.
It’s not just the violence that’s destroying the club; it’s the lack of trust. The shady deals that have transpired amongst the club members over the years have tore the club apart bit by bit. Chibs questions whether or not Jax truly trusts anyone. Tig has to suspect he’s merely been a pawn in Jax’s desperate attempt to save his family, himself, and the club. Bobby saw the implosion of the club and left before its physical explosion. The club itself has been falling into a deep, dark hole that seems quite inescapable. The explosion of the club into pieces acts as the tangible evidence of what the members are already feeling.
Props to Katey Sagal this week. Gemma remains that nurturing, but lethal, mother hen. She’s been through Hell and this week put her right back in that Hell. After being brutally raped in the past, she faced a similar fate at the prison. The prison guards forced her to have sex with Clay while they watched. The scene made me want to scream. Such a pit in my stomach. Kurt Sutter is definitely continuing to push the boundaries, as he rightly should. But, Katey Sagal, as Gemma, brings such a personal nature to the role she’s playing. How she’s able to withstand such horrid action, compartmentalize, and resiliently continue on with what needs to be done is remarkable. It’s not only a testament to Gemma’s characterization, but also to Sagal’s amazing talent.
I can’t wait to see what happens next. As I’ve said before, Sons of Anarchy is a remarkable series that you shouldn’t be missing. Seriously, tune in. Again, thank you to the cast and crew for your outstanding work.