Sons Of Anarchy Review: “What A Piece Of Work Is Man” (Season 7, Episode 9)


Sons of Anarchy is making a sprint all the way to the end, and “What a Piece of Work is Man” gives the show one more unfriendly push along its way. There’s no accounting for the lengths that Kurt Sutter will go to for a good story, even if that means saying goodbye to a main character so close to the end, and the loss that SAMCRO has suffered tonight will surely set the tone for the rest of the season.

Gemma (Katey Sagal) has to be feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders after this episode. Her actions have dominoed into unforeseen waters, and landed right back on her front door. It was one thing when the collateral damage was limited to outsiders. Pinning Tara’s (Maggie Siff) murder on Lin and his guys, arbitrarily selecting the guy who would take the fall for doing the deed, through everyone off her scent. In a way, it even made sense. Jax (Charlie Hunnam) being his passionate, impulsive self, would want to even the score quickly – and the Chinese were frankly the weakest link in the outlaw chain.

After the body count at Cara Cara, turning on Juice (Theo Rossi), and losing Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) – that’s right, folks – Gemma has backed herself into a corner that even she can’t justify her way out of. The saddest part of this whole ordeal is that I still can’t bring myself to be disgusted with her as a character. I was quick to condemn Tara for her betrayal, for the way she went about it more than anything, but every time I watch Gemma talk to someone who is either gone or can’t talk back, there is a sense of devastation in her performance that keeps me on the hook.

Gemma’s choices are a product of her environment – lies, murder, cheating, covering up – this is a way of life for her. We see it in the way that Jax behaves (e.g. what happened with Jury), and it’s starting to show more and more with Abel. It’s hard to separate the characters from the events that are enveloping them on a daily basis. And, when you do, it seems to take the accountability away as well: Gemma loves her family, but. Jax is basically a good guy, except.

At the end of this episode, I’m torn between whether I actually want Jax to find out Gemma’s truth at all, or if in the end, it would be better for everyone to let them both live in this lie they’ve created (err, if they both survive whatever comes next). Jax has very little to hold onto these days outside of his club and family, both becoming more compact as Sons of Anarchy approaches its looming series finale. Although, I can’t picture Jax, Gemma, Wendy (Drea de Matteo), and the boys all playing house on Nero’s (Jimmy Smits) new farm, especially with Abel knowing Gemma’s secret – and being a child prone to spilling the beans. But, it does present a nice visual.