Sons of Anarchy – The aftermath of a shooting
What seemed like a bang in the season premiere of ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ turns out to be merely a whimper in episode 2, ‘One One Six.’
The Sons of Anarchy season 6 premiere had no shortage of horrors. Every terrible thing that happened in the first 85 minutes though, was quickly eclipsed by something even worse: a school shooting. With Sandy Hook still fresh in everyone’s mind, tackling a school shooting in a television series is a risky move. It’s so easy to look like you’re exploiting the events that ended many lives and ruined even more. However, as a long-time fan of Kurt Sutter‘s work, both on Sons of Anarchy and The Shield, I was confident that he was doing this for a reason; that instead of looking to cash in on a national tragedy, he was trying to make a very specific point.
In my review of the premiere, I talked about how such an event was likely to shake Jax and the club to the core and change both SAMCRO and Charming forever. Kurt Sutter himself seemed to confirm this in the latest edition of his YouTube show, WTFSutter. In it, he talks about the larger narrative and how naïve it is to think that there would be no repercussions from the club’s gun running.
All of this combined is why I was expecting a very different episode from the one we got this week.
Instead of a town shaken to the core, the shooting is treated as a mild inconvenience. It’s mentioned in passing. “Hey, you know that kid who shot up that school…” as if they’re talking about some confused senior citizen who ran his car into a farmer’s market and smashed a bunch of melons. Jax, of course, immediately understands the implications of having one of the guns the club sold being used to carry out this unspeakable act, but instead of questioning himself and his club, instead of grieving for the children not much older than his own, he goes straight into survival mode.
The first thing he does is enlist Nero and his men to get the shooter’s mother out of Charming and up to the cabin and away from the police and reporters. Perhaps it’s naïve of me, but I don’t think Jax brought her up there to kill her. I really think he just wanted to have her hide out until the heat died down and they could figure out a plan. However, once she goes rogue and Nero shoots Arcadio, Jax feels as if she’s too much of a liability. So it falls to Juice to fulfill his “no questions asked” promise and kill her as well. Of course, what Jax doesn’t find out until afterward, is that she had two more children who are now without a mother, thanks to Jax’s self-preservation.
In the video, Sutter does say that the shooting leads to a bigger narrative arc that flows through the remaining episodes of the series. My hope as a fan is that Jax’s behavior in this episode is merely a delayed reaction; that the true weight of what he has done will come crashing down around him. Dead children have to have consequences beyond added attention from a retired U.S. Marshall. Having an event like this in a television series has to be a game-changer, or else, what was the point?