Sons of Anarchy (“To Be, Part One”)

At the end of last week’s episode, Opie discovered that Clay had shot and killed his father. Much of the episode was spent waiting for Opie to act on his knowledge—which he finally did at the end of the episode, springing suddenly into action and onto his motorcycle, with Jax giving chase in a hearse (before abandoning it for a commandeered bike). The episode ended on a cliffhanger—with Opie firing three shots into Clay’s torso.

“To Be, Part One” begins one second later, and, if you haven’t seen the episode, spoilers follow.

So, it turns out, Clay is not dead—at least not yet. When Opie sees that Clay is still breathing, he raises his pistol to shoot him again—and Jax shoots Opie in his gun hand. Given the show’s acknowledged roots in soap opera, I was half expecting to see Tara, one arm in a cast, arrive in the operating room to save his life, but the show doesn’t go that far in soapiness. And Tara has other plans for Clay (hint: they don’t involving saving his life).

Gratuitous nudity warning: Jax in the shower!

Gratuitous semi-nudity warning: Jax wandering around the house in nothing but a towel!

To cover up Opie’s role in the shooting (and to keep the internal club matter internal), Jax and Wayne tell the police (and the other club members) that Clay was shot by two black men. This sends Tig off seeking vengeance—against Leroy, the leader of rival club (and former allies) the Niners. Things go badly.

Gemma reveals everything to Tara—that Clay has killed Piney, taken a contract out on Tara, and beat Gemma, all in an effort to get back the letters. “The only way we get out this alive,” she tells Tara, is to give the letters to Clay. Tara tells her where to find the letters. “Tell me that you love me, Gemma,” Tara tells her before she leaves (she said the same thing to Jax earlier). Last season, one of the themes seemed to be the importance of family, that family is what keeps you together, although, as the season revealed, family is what keeps tearing people apart as well. I’m not sure that being loved by Gemma and Jax isn’t also a double-edged sword.

Gemma also reveals everything to Jax—that Clay killed Piney, that Clay is also responsible for Jax’s father’s death (which is what the letters Clay has been trying to get hold of revealed), and that Clay also tried to have Tara killed. Gemma says, “I know how dangerous secrets can be. It’s time we all know the truth.”  It does seem that if Gemma had done this earlier, much of this season’s melodrama could have been avoided, especially, as she then sets Jax on the path she has been trying to keep him from going down by withholding the letters in the first place. “You have to kill Clay,” she tells him. Of course, she doesn’t give him all the letters, just the ones that implicate Clay (and not the ones that implicate Gemma).

The real surprise of the episode is that it’s Tara that gives Jax the means to kill Clay undetected.  “You kill him,” Tara tells Jax, echoing Gemma’s words.

The only hug in this episode was not a man hug, but a comforting hug between Gemma and Tigs (who has an emotional moment by Clay’s bedside), so it’s not a man hug, but, still, good to see a little manly emotion being expressed by the tearful Tigs.

The title of the episode recalls Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and that makes sense here, as Sons of Anarchy is in some ways a soapy pop culture version of Hamlet (dead father replaced as King/MC President by the man who killed him who then also marries his wife who is also Jax/Hamlet’s mother), but this episode, despite the title seems more MacBeth than Hamlet, only we have two Lady MacBeths who encourage Jax to screw his courage to the sticking place and kill the King/Clay. Each Lady MacBeth has a different outcome in mind. Gemma wants Jax to kill Clay and take his place. Tara wants Jax to kill Clay and get the hell out of Charming. By the end of the episode, Clay is not dead yet. We will have to wait until next week to find out whether Clay is going “To Be” or “Not To Be.”


2 Responses to “Sons of Anarchy (“To Be, Part One”)”

  1. Maria Kovacs Says:


    Great write-up. I found myself so riddled with anxiety after this episode and the one before it. I particularly like your tie to Shakespeare. As I worry for Tara’s sanity (I almost cried during the scene in a previous episode where she smashed her broken hand all up again) and think about Shakespeare, she becomes increasingly Ophelia-esque in my mind. “Tell me you love me” is what she says to Jax and Gemma, so stone faced; I’m not sure what to make of that or of what her motivation is. It did not seem desperate (like our tragic Ophelia) or like she really needed affirmation. It was almost cold; distant. I can’t help but think if they have to stay in Charming (and I think they will have to) she may pull an Ophelia and kill herself, or worse (Heaven forbid) do something more crazy like killing herself and the boys (to “save them from the MC cycle?”). Time will tell, both the fate of the King, the son, the wayward lover and the matriarch.

  2. Michael K. Johnson Says:

    Tara did seem to be headed down the Ophelia path earlier on. I believe I read that SoA was renewed for another season, so, one way or another, I imagine Jax will wind up back in Charming (even if, by the end of this season, he finds a way to escape), as he’s the one character that I can’t imagine the show going on without. I’m ready for Clay to go, though.

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