Well, it’s pretty much impossible to discuss “Aon Rud Persanta,” the most recent episode of the motorcycle-club-soap-opera- Shakespearean-television-adaptation Sons of Anarchy without revealing spoilers, so be forewarned, spoilers follow, and if you don’t want to know who shot who, who died and who didn’t, then you should really stop reading about now.
As I’ve noted before, and as the series makes explicit in its allusions and in commentary from series creator Kurt Sutter, Sons of Anarchy is (very) loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Like Hamlet, Jax’s father, the “king” of the M/C, was killed by the man who replaced him as King and in his wife’s bed—Clay Morrow being the new King of the club, Gemma Shakespeare’s Queen Gertrude, and Jax left to avenge the death of his father by killing his murderer. The problem with this premise, as I’ve also noted, is that Hamlet merely delays the action of vengeance over the course of five acts, and, thus far, Sons of Anarchy has drawn it out for six seasons. Sooner or later, if your stated goal is to kill the King, and as the reasons for not killing him start to accumulate to a degree approaching the absurd, well, eventually, you have to kill the son of a bitch or shut up about it.
And, finally, Sons of Anarchy did it, and Jax finally killed Clay Morrow. This season, the show has lagged when Clay, stuck in prison, has been off the screen as well. So, now the question is, having killed off Clay, can Sons of Anarchy survive without him?
“Aon Rud Persanta” was also the most explicitly “western” episode in a while. Sort of like 3:10 to Yuma, the gang is getting together to spring Clay from imprisonment while he is being transported from one prison to another. Many many westerns have played out a similar scenario. Joining with the Irish, the Sons are planning to break Clay free so that he can head up the new gun-running operation. “It will be clean, fast, and easy,” one of the Irish tells Jax. Yeah, right. He’s clearly never seen a western, or a television show. The Sons are divided up into different plain delivery vans, each a different color, which causes Tig to complain, when he sees the color of the van he’s been assigned, “Why are we pink?” The shout-out here is to Reservoir Dogs, and if the allusion is foreshadowing, we would expect that this might be another heist where things go wrong.
Jax and Juice are in a van together, and Juice confesses that he wonder’s sometimes if he’s the good guy, and Jax assures him that “after this, it’s all white hats,” another western allusion (the cowboy hero is, of course, the one in the white hat), which is followed on the soundtrack by a rock song that begins with the lyrics “when I was a cowboy, out on the western plains . . . .” as the fleet of vans rides off into action.
The other “western” moment in the episode involves a conversation between Unser and Gemma, in which Unser tells her, “It’s not 1967. This life’s no path to freedom. It’s just dirty and sad.” This is a classic western lament—the frontier is closing, the outlaw life of freedom that used to available is no longer there. See, for example, Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. As a lawman himself, or rather as someone who has straddled both sides of the law, Unser’s position is a little bit like Deke Thornton from The Wild Bunch, as his comments here seem to echo some of Deke’s from the film (as well as some of the conversations between Pike and Dutch).
The clean, fast, and easy part doesn’t quite work out, as Bobby is shot and wounded badly, although they do successfully free Clay (or take him into another sort of captivity). Clay does not realize until the last minute what he is walking into. When Jax pulls a gun and shoots Irish bad guy Galen in the head (almost immediately after Clay and Galen share a friendly man hug of greeting), he figures out pretty quickly what is about to happen. After some discussion and explanation, Jax shoots him in the throat, and then fires several volleys into his torso just to make sure (and, there can be no doubt, Clay is dead after this—any resurrections from the grave after this would be hard to do without seeming completely bogus). The bodies are arranged so that it looks like Clay and the three Irish gangsters shot one another as part of some falling out over a gun deal gone wrong.
Throughout the series, Clay has been the main purveyor of man hugs, and it’s a nice touch that he gets two final man hugs before he shuffles off this mortal coil (to quote Sons of Anarchy writer William Shakespeare), one with Juice, and the final one with Galen (sort of like a warped version of a Marty Robbins song, one man hug, and, Felina, good-bye). Will the death of Clay be the end of the man hug on Sons of Anarchy?
The final interesting piece of the puzzle in this episode involves Tara. She is called in to operate on Bobby, since they can’t take him to a hospital. While driving with Gemma and Nero to the hospital to pick up supplies, she receives a phone call from Patterson, who offers to meet her at her office, as the “deal” for Tara’s freedom is suddenly back on the table. There has not, at this point, been a reconciliation between Tara and Gemma, but having to work together to save Bobby’s life has at least produced, if not exactly a thawing, a little less coldness and open hostility. I’m not quite buying the plot point that they all suddenly trust Tara enough to let her go into the hospital by herself—and thus have a secret meeting with Patterson. For enrolling her and her sons in witness protection, Tara offers the possibility of evidence—the bullet she will eventually remove from Bobby during the operation.
At the end of the episode, we see Tara contemplating that bullet. Her earlier gambit to get free did not turn out well, and it was not a very good plan, ultimately. This, however, gives her a much more powerful game piece than she had earlier. The question to be resolved is: will she play it?
Sons of Anarchy “Aon Rud Persanta” By the Numbers:
Man Hugs: 2
Man Hugs Before Dying: 1
Man Hug Count For the Season: 18
Reservoir Dog Allusions: at least 1
Individuals Sorry to See Galen Dead: 0