‘Sons of Anarchy’ Review: “Faith and Despondency”
‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 7 roars out its 10th episode of the final year, “Faith and Despondency,” as Jax seeks revenge against Moses Cartwright for Bobby's death, and Abel's continued outbursts at school bring to light a long-feared truth.
Last week’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ installment, “What a Piece of Work is Man,” saw Jax making a bargain with August Marks for Bobby's life, while Unser and Jarry uncovered surprising new details of Tara's murder, and SAMCRO lost yet another of its own. So, how does “Faith and Despondency” keep the series rolling toward its inevitable conclusion?
Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 7 episode 10, “Faith and Despondency”!
The ever-increasing length of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ episodes has become something of a running gag for the critical community, and while the final ride of Kurt Sutter’s FX biker drama has operated under much larger burdens than a padded runtime, it’s especially hard to overlook when the season has spent so long skirting its core conflict. Only 10 episodes in has Jax even been remotely clued into the fact that the club's season-long killing spree stems from his mother’s coverup of Tara’s murder, and while the prospect certainly opens up the floodgate of narrative possibilities, I’m not sure we needed 70 minutes (before commercials) to get there.
There’s a lot of interesting work being done to chart the role of love and sex in SAMCRO dealings (the opening montage jackhammers this home in about 50 different positions), both from a societal and personal standpoint. On the one hand, Jax’s concern for Abel’s well-being leads to a tender and cathartic scene wherein the weary club leader delicately explains to his troubled son the complicated past between he, Wendy and Tara, subsequently rewarding the two with the revelation of Abel’s true parentage. People have a way of clinging to romantic and sexual sentiment in the face of overwhelming grief, and though the revelation clearly backfires when Abel lets slip that Gemma killed his “first mommy,” there’s a wonderful shift in Jax and Wendy’s relationship that, while in no way sexual, fosters the kind of intimacy Jax desperately clung to with “Winsome” at the top of the hour.
On the other side of the coin, Tig and Venus share their own lengthy revelations about their unique relationship, in a scene beautifully played both by Walton Goggins and Kim Coates, yet the exchange’s ultimate relevancy to the season's story at large somewhat undercuts its impact. We love the characters of Tig and Venus, and creator Kurt Sutter no doubt seeks to reward either actor with such a meaningful pairing to play, but when an episode runs 70 minutes, we have to wonder if there wasn’t a way to tighten some things up.
The same goes of the hour’s A-story, which understandably swings a sickle in the direction of some payback for Bobby’s death, but takes a few too many detours in getting there. I mentioned last week that Bobby’s ultimate exit felt somewhat robbed of its pull, with all parties having pushed to said chaotic point based on Gemma’s one lie, and while it makes narrative sense that Jax and the boys would go after Moses Cartwright before August Marks, I’m not certain of the need to spend so much time getting there. Jax makes his deal with Tully and Otis in order to lure Moses Cartwright in, but ends up sidetracked shooting dicks off and pursuing Leland back to the hospital, which ultimately only has the effect of adding a few spoonfuls of tension to Unser and Jarry’s various relationships.
Not to mention, Juice’s purpose in prison remains somewhat on the back burner with Lin out of the picture, and with Jax having at least somewhat clued into the truth of Tara’s death, it’s hard to say what more use we have to spend time with the character beyond the subsequent confrontation it might bring.
At the very least, “Faith and Despondency” showed the most sensible Jax we’ve seen all season, what with Abel’s disturbing self-mutilations shocking out of apathy parental instincts that until now had been deeply entangled with the notion of revenge. I doubt if the words of a conflicted five year-old would hold a tremendous amount of weight, given Abel’s earlier lie about Gemma, but at the very least we’ve seen the seeds of doubt planted for an ultimate confrontation between Jax and his mother. There’s a bizarre repetition we’ve seen this season with characters assuring Jax of his innate status as a good guy, and while we’re meant to understand that Jax’s many cruel actions this season have stemmed from a lie entirely beyond his control, it’s a heavy burden to place on the final three hours (or more likely 30) to redeem the character.
There was a lot going on overall with “Faith and Despondency,” between Chibs and Jarry’s latest power-play sex games, or the seeming emphasis on Rat’s trials and tribulations as a mirror of young Jax, and we didn’t even address the hanging eyeball in the room of SAMCRO’s wordlessly explosive takedown of Moses Cartwright. I’m definitely excited to see where the series goes in the final three episodes, now that Gemma’s sins have at least somewhat been uncovered, but boy howdy, if the next few weeks can't find a more concise runtime and pace with which to close out this last bloody chapter.
AND ANOTHER THING...
- Cases could be made to justify the statements made of each character in the opening sex montage. I'm less certain that extends to Happy.
- Guys, Nero is literally one day away from retirement at this point. I've made this joke already, but I've bought Jimmy Smits a boat to celebrate.
- I DON'T KNOW WHICH SERIES WALTON GOGGINS DESERVES MORE EMMYS FOR.
- Loyal as he's been, Tyler still has to end up dying pretty horribly, right?
- Well, now we've all seen Marilyn Manson boning Theo Rossi, and reading him love poems after. Alright then.
- Very weird editing of the self-congratulatory scene where Rat and TO rejoin the party, as if to expect it to take some horrible turn.
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of road-rashing ‘Sons of Anarchy’ action? What did you think about tonight's latest, “Faith and Despondency”? Join us next week for another all-new ‘Sons of Anarchy’ review of season 7's latest “Suits of Woe,” and stay tuned as we bring you additional coverage on season 7 from cast and crew!