“Authority Vested” could be categorized as a holding pattern of sorts, with Sons of Anarchy‘s main cast circling one another yet staying within clearly set parameters. With a couple noteworthy exceptions, the episode is mostly talk and little action and Sutter spends the episode mostly on set-up for what is bound to be a tension-filled scenario, that being Jax, Tig, and Chibs locked up, not knowing when or how Pope will come at them. In short, he had to get all his ducks prepared and in a row before he sent them forth into the shooting gallery.
Normally, I’d have no qualms with this approach. Some of my favorite shows, Breaking Bad in particular, excel at set-up; however, why it works for them is because they don’t let it drag things down. It never feels like they’re dragging their feet, as it does here. These characters are meant to be on the run, but there lacks a sense of urgency, a feeling of the net tightening around them. Minus Nero and Jax shaking (and baking) a tail in what was the episode’s sole escalating moment, Jax and the others avoided detection without the slightest bit of trouble.
If not for that brief run-in I just mentioned, I’d argue they’d have been better served staying on the run, rather than letting themselves get carried off to Pope’s playground. It would have made for an interesting dynamic, at least. Who would taken the lead in the club if those three are busy staying off the grid? Does Clay use it as an opportunity for a power grab, convincing everyone that they’re putting the club at risk and can’t be trusted?
He looks poised to make one now, with Bobby and his earlier confession being all that’s holding him back. Opie is out of the picture, so to speak, with Clay manipulating him into getting himself locked up alongside Jax, leaving no other opposition except the new additions who may or may not be acting under Clay’s orders, ransacking the homes of all those with club ties. With all that in mind, the stage is set for Clay to make the performance of a lifetime, meaning Bobby should not take him so lightly.
Furthermore, if he is behind all this, then one has to wonder if it’s not about more than getting back his old seat. Clay clearly still cares for Gemma, whether those feelings are honest or self-centered on his part. Gemma, however, refuses to even let him touch her, making it a surprise that she hasn’t yet filed for divorce officially. Without the marriage certificate stolen from their safe, though, she could be trapped into staying with him, for better or for worse, unable to get the separation she so desperately wants.
Speaking of power plays, there’s also Jax and the CIA. As viewers were unsubtly reminded, by way of Jax asking his legal representative to undo the RICO case against them, the Sons of Anarchy are still the CIA’s errand boys, which no one in the club knows but Jax and Bobby.
Though, that won’t stop Jax from trying to use the situation to his advantage. They need him, he argues. With him gone, their deal falls through, whether they have Clay or not. Either they get him and the others out of lock-up or everything falls apart. The CIA plays along, telling him they’ll see what they can do, but they’re, understandably, not too optimistic. To them it’s looking like it’ll probably have to be Plan B. Problem is, they don’t yet have one.
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