If you’ve been following along with my thoughts on season three of Sons of Anarchy, you probably recognize that I”m a little cold on this season — and I think, for good reason. Things have been really slow-moving and honestly, at some times, boring. I’ve said previously that I totally understand where Kurt Sutter and the writing staff is coming from by not wanting to jump right over to Belfast, but when the execution isn’t as interesting as it should be, things drag.
With that in mind, “Widening Gyre” is a welcome episode where the Sons finally make their way to Belfast. Well, at the end of the episode, but because of that, the 40 minutes leading into their departure at least feels full of urgency in a way that no episode since the premiere has. In that sense, this episode is a success because everything is finally ramping up in the way we expected it to when the season began.
However, to accomplish that ramping up, the episode takes some short-cuts, allows the characters to make stupid decisions and is generally lacking in logic in the ways that Sons of Anarchy usually isn’t. There are a number of hackneyed character motivations here that don’t really make sense and ultimately feel too soapy or melodramatic.
Though he’s been growing slightly more frustrated with her career choice, Opie’s outburst towards Lyla where he more or less blames her for Jax’s desire to sleep with the bitch porn star as a way to hurt Tara seems out of character, or at least feels like an attempt to drum up some drama between the two of them before he goes off to Belfast.
Moreover, the face-off between the MC’s in the bathroom at the public park rang a little false. Not that any of these individuals or groups are beyond dealing with their issues in public, but good lord did they have no problem yelling, fighting and ultimately killing someone in a public place where there are literally dozens of witnesses within earshot. It felt like a sloppy sequence that wanted to do one thing really badly and didn’t really care where that thing happened.
Finally, the final sequence sees Gemma and Tara team up to break Gemma out of incoming police custody and a part of the trip with the rest of the crew and again, it’s something could have perhaps worked, but really didn’t. I get that Gemma can’t not go with her son and husband to find her grandson, but her actions seemingly nullify the interesting deal (and story) Jax made with Stahl and the whole thing feels too coy for its own good.
The hospital administrator is changing her tone on Tara and the Sons with little or no motivation, so although it might be nice to see Gemma on the run again instead of trapped in one room, watching Tara and the hospital admin cutely smile at one another because they’re so smart is unfortunately not as great as the episode tends to think it is.
Hopefully, this is all behind us now because the Sons are on their way to Belfast and walking directly into some sort of trap. And hopefully the murky plots that have been stewing over in Belfast finally start to make sense once characters we care about are actually near them in proximity, because like the Charming threads, the plotting in Belfast has been mostly a exposition-filled bore. I have confidence the writers will right the ship, though, starting next week.