Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lochan Mor and Turas - Lessons in Shakespearean Comedy

(Notice:  SOA Apps spoilers)

Photo Courtesy of Bobby Elvis's Bake Sale
In an ideal television-programming world, Lochan Mor and Turas would be shown as a two-hour mini series within a 15-20 episode season of Sons of Anarchy.  I just watched both episodes back to back – as I think they should be.  From what I’ve been reading, there isn’t much love for Turas.  I found it an incredibly informative episode.  It also followed the Shakespearean narrative very well.  Shakespeare provided endless, sometimes exhausting turns of fate that often left the audience with a “what now?” feeling.  Usually this occurred in his comedies.  I reference the Wikipedia site on Shakespeare comedies here:  Characteristics of Shakespeare Comedies: 
·       A struggle of young lovers to overcome difficulty
·       Separation and reunification
·       Deception among characters (often within a family)
·       A clever servant (Ooooh….I love this one:  who is the SAMCRO Fallstaff?  What do you think – Tig is a good candidate, as is Unser, Juice…who else?)
·       Tension between characters, often within a family
·       Multiple, intertwining plots
·       Use of all styles of comedy (Slapstick – Tig/Kozik, Dry Humor – “I don’t recognize your bullshit MC).
·       Pastoral element (Charming – small town; Ireland – hello green).
·       Happy Ending (I don’t know if Sons exactly follows this line – although we have had some happiness…who here is happy for Opie, or just loves that Happy will be a regular on the show?)

So I want to spend this post (another coming later), going over some of the Multiple, Intertwining Plots that give the show it’s characteristic yumminess.

Photo Courtesy of Bobby Elvis's Bake Sale
Things we know (and yes, I know I’m leaving stuff out….there’s just too much to cover):
·       The SAMCRO/Sam Bel/RIRA relationship started when John and Gemma Teller were caught up in the idiocy of the United States health care system when their son, Thomas, fell victim to the Family Flaw.
·       John Teller was a little reluctant to enter into the world of black market arms dealing.
·       John Teller made “friends” with members of the RIRA and their affiliates.  “Friends” because I don’t think Kellan Ashby is being completely honest with us about how much he “loved” John. 
·       John Teller fell in love and fathered a child with Maureen Ashby.
·       Trinity is just as much a child of The Life as Jax is, and I think this bond is what attracts the two to each other (not the icky physical reaction that many of us have been mulling over).  I think they recognize this subconsciously, and Jax’s arm around Triny’s shoulder was a big brother act, not a “move.”
·       O’Neill and McGee are double-crossing assholes, but I think McGee is extremely uncomfortable with his actions toward SAMCRO.
·       Kellan Ashby probably has not intention of returning Abel to Jax. 
·       Kellan Ashby wants SAMCRO to get rid of Jimmy.
·       Jimmy wants Sam Bel to get rid of SAMCRO, but he also wants his guys to get rid of Sam Bel.
·       Fiona is a badass – only she would pull a gun like that on Gemma to save Gemma’s life.
·       Jacob Hale is a dirty bastard who is in bed with a developer who is subversively attempting to take over the retail property market in Charming.
·       Jacob Hale is in bed with two people who will continue to be thorns in his side until someone (I hope Tara) gets rid of them:  Hector Salazar and Luisa 
·       Kozik and Tig are going to kill each other (and make us laugh during the entire power struggle).
·       Margaret Admin is/was and Old Lady.
·       Jax’s deal with Stahl is in real trouble.  She was probably going to double-cross him anyway, but now we have real reason to fear that the deal may fail without her help).
·       Stahl is a bitch.

My questions for future episodes:
·       What exactly does Jax NOT know about JT & Belfast.  Is it that he cheated on Gemma with Maureen?  It’s understandable that Gemma wants to protect the saintly image Jax has of his dad, but he’s a big boy now, and we all have to learn the harsh truth about our parents sometime:  they were once young and foolish, too – and probably did some stupid and foolish shit. 
·       What was the promise Kellan Ashby made to John Teller about his family, and does it involve making sure future little Teller offspring are separated from "the life?"  If that’s the case, he did a pretty terrible job with Trinity.
·       Were Tara and Margaret on their way to the abortion clinic or driving home from it when they were abducted by Salazar and Luisa?
·       Is the Sam Bel VP (Seamus Ryan) aware of the deal O’Neill and McGee have made with Jimmy?
·       Do O’Neill and McGee understand Jimmy’s intentions toward Sam Bel?
·       Are McGee and O’Neill making a power play to become the head “mother chapter” of the MC? 
·       For those of you who have purchased the App:  when do you think we get to meet Lenny “The Pimp” Janowitz?
·       When are Gemma/Maureen going to tell Jax and Trinity that they are brother and sister? 
·       When are we going to find out about the woman who came between Kozik and Tig?
·       When is Jax going to realize that, by his own reasoning, he can’t ever have a romantic, loving relationship with ANYONE if he’s going to stay in the MC life?  The very nature of his lifestyle will always put the people he loves at risk, so he must be ready to live the life of a monk.

I’m still working on a post about some thoughts I have about John Teller and his relationship with his Charming family and his Belfast famiy, but I’m kind of waiting for the App update on the 15th to finish it up.

Would love to hear your thoughts about the Multplie Intertwining Plots we are now faced with this Season.  Any that you love? Any that you hate?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mere Anarchy is Loosed Upon the World

Turning and Turning and Widening Gyre:  the titles of episodes 305 and 307.  Maybe Sutter likes Yeats.  Maybe one of the writers has a degree in English Lit.  Maybe someone thought it would be cool to be all literary and shit and googled "anarchy" and "poem" together.  I really don't care.  What's interesting, whether it's intentional or not, is how this season is echoing the themes in the first stanza of Yeats' poem

The Second Coming:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


First:  what the fuck is a gyre?'s a vortex, a spiral, a spinning ring.  There are naturally occurring gyres everywhere.  Ocean currents actually move in big gyres.   Hurricanes are big gyres of spinning storm systems.  Whirpools are spinning gyres of water. 

So, a widening gyre makes me think of a spiral of energy getting wider and fatter and faster with every rotation.  Where two things were once close together, they grow farther and farther apart.  Tara and Jax. Sam Crow and Sam Bel. Jimmy O and Father Ashby. Unser and Clay.  Charming and the MC. But spiraling energy also has a way of bringing things together.  Think of your washing machine, or a centrifuge.  Gemma and Tara, Tara and the Admin, Clay and Jax, the Mayans and SAMCRO. Jax and (God forbid) Stahl. 

The circular imagery of a gyre also brings to mind the "circle of life" archetype.  And not only the one about "dust to dust, ashes to ashes."  I mean how patterns tend to repeat themselves.  "Secret babies are bad ideas."  Well, now we have two secret babies:  Trinity and Sweet Baby Tara Jr (everyone assumes Tara's baby is going to be a boy, including Gemma.  Why the fuck can't it be a girl?  Oh, I forgot...we live in a paternalistic society where boy babies are preferred over girl babies...okay, I'm off my soap box).  Another repeating pattern:  JT went to Belfast to settle some business, now Jax is headed there for some business of his own.  JT had children from two different mothers.  So might Jax.

What really makes the hairs on my arms stand up about this poem and the Sons of Anarchy are the last two lines of this stanza of "The Second Coming" - which also have a lot of tie into the Hamlet parallels of Jax.  The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity

Jax's allegorical characterization to Hamlet is so spot on here.  He is "the best," but we as fans are often left to wonder - does Jax have the courage of his convictions?  Why does it seem like he's dilly-dallying around in the quest for Abel (because having sex with a porn bitch and arranging the movement of heroin through Charming are SO important)?  Why does he preach the Brains Before Bullets mantra, but act so impulsively and violently?  Has he even opened John Teller's book this season?  Why is he suddenly okay with heroin being trafficked through Charming?  Is that something his dad would be savvy with? Let's not forget that the heroin is being fed to the Aryan Brotherhood in prison!  Or did I miss the press release that convicts who leave prison as drug addicts are LESS violent than when they entered. Does he even remember that he wants to recreate the club into a kinder, gentler MC?  Wouldn't that protect Abel and Tara and everyone else he loves? 

Then there's that part about the worst and all of their passionate intensity.   Let's see...who are the worst:
  • Stahl
  • Salazar (we have yet another villain to loathe)
  • Darby (I doubt he's done with the game...he'll be back)
  • Jacob Hale and the rest of the developers trying to "bring Charming into the 21st century"
  • The Real IRA and the Sam Bel traitors
  • Ima (she's not really a contender in this list...but I really dislike her)
Yes indeed....anarchy is loosed upon the world.

On to more positive the Turning and Turning imagery.  This brings to mind the Wheel of Fortune in Tarot and takes me to a happy place.  I realize Yeats probably didn't dig on the Tarot (if he did, let me know...that's the kind of useless shit I love to carry around in my brain), but the imagery is there, regardless.  The Wheel is about luck, fortune, or change that can bring joy. 

 I have a lot of hope for this imagery in the coming episodes of Sons of Anarchy.

Thoughts?  I appreciate your comments and thoughts as long as they aren't in Mandarin. 


Monday, September 20, 2010

'Sons' and Mothers

I just finished watching Sons of Anarchy 302, and two things have struck me. The first, which is unrelated to the theme of this post, is the undercurrent of mistrust that is now threaded throughout the intertwined plot lines. I guess the only "honor among thieves" is the no-ratting rule. Jimmy O lies to the Sons about the whereabouts of Abel and Cameron; the Sons clearly don't trust Jimmy O; the IRA council, Father Ashby, and Jimmy O don't trust each other; trust has been broken between Jax and Tara (even if they don't admit it); trust is going to be broken between Gemma and Tara, Jax, and Clay when she finds out about seems like the only folks who trust each other are the brothers in the MC...and sometimes that trust is tenuous.

I'm sure these issues will play out with ever more depth over the next eleven episodes.

Now...onto the thoughts I've been percolating since dear little Abel was abducted. It's pretty clear the similarities between Gemma and Jax. Impulsive behavior seems to have passed from mother to son. This impulsiveness in Gemma is something we only get tastes of. Can everyone say skateboard? Perhaps it's because Gemma is older and wiser that we don't see her act out of impulse as regularly as Jax does. What distinguishes mother and son in this respect seems to be the consequences. Where Jax's ability to act out tends to land on supernumeraries (unnamed extras), Gemma's impulses got her framed for murder and her grandson kidnapped. From the previews for 303, it looks like her visit to dad's house is going to lead to a hostage situation.

As I stand by my computer (at 2:30 in the morning), bouncing my 12-week old baby boy in a swath of fabric designed to help me hold him without the use of my hands, it isn't difficult to realize how easy it is to be an over-protective (even overbearing) parent. Kids take a lot of damn time, effort, and above all else, sacrifice. Goodbye beauty sleep, driving 55 in a 35 mile-per-hour zone, cigarettes (at least for me), and mid-week-get-fall-down-drunk-because-it's-Wednesday parties. The sacrifice is even more evident if you're a woman (sorry guys - it's true). Women sacrifice their bodies to nurture (when it comes down to it) a parasite. We give ourselves biologically to a separate entity that shares half our genetic structure. Phsyiologically, we're never the same again.  Only mutants regain their pre-pregnancy figures (and other parts) in perfect condition.  I wont go into specifics.  They aren't fun, and may deter those of you who have thought about having kids from going through with it.  The truth is, women are protective of their children because of the sacrifice they've made. 

Gemma's protective instinct toward Jax (and Abel) is therefore very special, because it is defined by more than just genetic connection and physiological sacrifice. The family flaw makes the existence of her offspring both a miracle and a constant source of stress, and all the more protective of them. The death of Thomas Teller from the family heart condition destroyed John Teller. Conversely, it might make Gemma (at least partially) the fierce mother she is. Her protective instinct toward Jax and Abel is about the love she has for them, but it could also be about the survival of her genetic contribution to their existence. They are what she has left to contribute to future generations - they are her shot at genetic success.

I've also been ruminating about the relationship between mothers and sons since the arrival of my own little boy. I have a daughter, and I love her dearly. But I realized the other night that my relationship with my boy will help define the relationships he has with women. His dad will be important here, too.  Learning by example is pretty powerful.  For women, the presence of a son represents a relationship that isn't defined by approval- seeking (with a father figure), attraction (with a romantic partner), or competition (with a male sibling). It's defined by love alone! And that's so incredible. So I'm beginning to understand the ferocity of Gemma's attachment to Jax. And I dig it.