Sons Of Anarchy Review: “To Thine Own Self” (Season 5, Episode 11)

Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy is often an exercise in frustration, especially lately, and “To Thine Own Self” serves as the perfect example of every reason why that is.

First, and most importantly, Sutter grants Clay with yet another reprieve. I can’t say I was surprised, though. Juice finding the documents felt too easy, and I knew Juice would leave Clay alone at the house as soon as Jax demanded he not do just that.

That being said, Sutter’s reluctance to kill Clay off, or at least to take him out of the picture, is grating on my nerves immensely. I balked when the CIA swooped in and saved him (unintentionally) at the end of last season, and that was when I thought it would only be about one more season before he got what he deserved.

Now, though, it looks as if he’ll escape this season alive unless a drastic change occurs in the remaining three episodes. He’s hidden the documents once again and now knows Jax will be looking for them. That means Jax can’t prove much of anything. It’d be his word against Clay’s, and even though his probably holds more weight nowadays, it’s doubtful that’d be enough on its own.

If I’d known he would get this long a stay of execution, I’m not sure I would’ve stuck with the series, to be honest. Especially with how little has come of Jax being forced to keep Clay alive, at least in terms of dramatic tension between the two. Outside of the series premier, the tension between them hasn’t exactly been palpable.

Because, for me, that was the big draw. Clay has had a hand in more deaths than Dexter, a serial killer, usually has in a full season and Jax didn’t just have to let him live, he also was made to act on a daily basis as if nothing had happened. How could Sutter not milk that for copious amounts of drama?

Simply by being himself, apparently. He’ll kill off the characters no one’s invested much in (Miles), the ones viewers are likely surprised weren’t dead yet (Piney), and the ones whose deaths are guaranteed to have people talking due to being so unexpected (Opie). However, if a character doesn’t fall into one of those three categories, the chances of him actually dying are slim.

Sutter wants so much to surprise his viewers that he ends up becoming the opposite: predictable. At this point, if I see a character being blatantly set up to die, I immediately begin wondering about the cheap manner in which Sutter will go about saving them. I’m only surprised when he actually goes through with it for a change.

Similarly, many of his plot developments could be predicted by just about anyone. I knew right away that Clay would see Gemma with Nero when she stopped short of telling him what it is Jax wants her to do. Also, as I already said, I knew Clay would be gifted a way out of the corner Jax had put him in.

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