Review: “Sons of Anarchy” Season 2, Episode 12, “The Culling”

11/25/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Eva Medoff

The penultimate episode of “Sons of Anarchy,” titled “The Culling,” went medieval on us. In the face of imminent war against the League of American Nationalists, the king (Clay) gathers all his subjects within the castle walls for protection, or in this case, within the automotive shop. During his speech to the many club family members gathered together, he leaves authority with Piney and his “queen,” Gemma, in his absence. The knights of the round table (Clay, Jax, Piney, Chibs, Tig, Bobby and Opie) have spoken. It’s time for bloodshed.

Wikipedia defines “culling” as “the process of removing animals from a group based on specific criteria. This is done in order to either reinforce certain desirable characteristics or to remove certain undesirable characteristics from the group. For livestock and wildlife, the process of culling usually implies the killing of animals with undesirable characteristics.” After gang raping the matriarch, Zobelle and his right hand man Weston are little more than swine.

The majority of “The Culling” takes a page from the finale of “Mad Men” in that it’s spent assembling a team and putting a plan in motion. Rather than poaching talent for a new ad agency, however, Clay and Jax are busy getting Henry Lin the gun dealer and Laroy the drug dealer to join in their fight against Zobelle. Once the league is gone, the pathway will be cleared for everyone else to pollinate the countryside with their various illegal commodities.

They also strategically inform Weston that Zobelle has been dealing with the Mayans behind his back; the mere thought that Zobelle would mingle with someone of a darker hue sends Weston into a homicidal rage. Playing the skinhead psychopath to a tee, Henry Rollins as Weston is a thin, harrowing sight to behold--as he offs three people, he discovers secretly processing heroin under Zobelle’s sanction. He stops just short of killing Zobelle himself, but when Unser makes a call to have his kids committed to child services, he makes a date with Jax later that night to let out a bit of his frustration.

Chibs is caught up in a slightly confusing love triangle with his ex-wife, Fiona, and Jimmy O, the IRA gun mastermind. Whether this will be explained more in the finale or next season is anyone’s guess. “The Culling,” like all of the past few episodes of “Sons of Anarchy,” is drawn so tight with threads of plot that some strings are left dangling and neglected. The same can be said about Polly’s (Zobelle’s daughter) dalliance with the Irish gun dealer Edmond, and her father’s subsequent jealousy and rather un-fatherly kiss. Are they not blood related, or is incest being introduced as another dark topic to explore?

Clay is able to convince Jimmy O that Edmond and his father were the ones who ratted him out to the ATF, not Chibs. In a brilliant feat of planning, they lead Agent Stahl to what she thinks is an illegal drug deal that will finally take down her target. Naturally, Jimmy O’s nowhere in sight and the crate she thought was full of guns is empty except for two dead rats. To make matters worse, Stahl forces Edmond onto the scene, thus exposing him as her snitch. I have a feeling Edmond (Callard Harris, possessing the best Irish accent of all time), however cute, may not be around much longer.

Gemma has been dallying with religion all season, and seems to have come to a conclusion that suits her lifestyle. She tells Tara that we are all put on Earth for a reason--Tara as a healer, and herself as a “fierce mother.” It’s been a wonder to watch Katey Sagal and Maggie Siff show us the progression of Gemma and Tara’s relationship. At this point, they’re nothing short of queen and princess, especially when the other club women wait on them hand and foot, and Gemma explains that it’s a sign of respect. Tara is bona fide SAMCRO royalty.

Perhaps this has gone to her head. While doing some paperwork at the hospital, she is cornered by Margaret Murphy, her administrative supervisor and also the woman bringing charges against her and potentially ending her career. Words are exchanged, and Murphy none too wisely insults Gemma. Big mistake. Tara whips around and begins choking her. "This is assault!" Murphy cries. What follows is the most intense session of female ass-whupping ever to grace cable television. "No,” Tara says, punching her in the face, “That was assault.” With a slight mention that she knows where Murphy lives, it seems that the charges against her might be dropped. Tara has officially turned into Gemma Jr. The mantle has been passed, or at least it’s now shared.

We end on two scenes that made my adrenaline pump harder than anything I’ve ever seen on television. The knights kiss their ladies goodbye, mount their stallions, and amid the thumping of the most masculine rock music I’ve ever heard, ride off to do battle against Weston and his crones. No words can really describe the badass-ness of this scene--suffice it to say, it must be seen with your own eyes. Before anyone is killed, however, Hale rides in to rain on their parade. At this point, he must make a choice between enforcing the law to its fullest degree, or choosing the lesser of two evils between Weston and SAMCRO. He chooses the latter, and arrests Weston for arson (one finger guy did not die in the Cara Cara fire, and emerged as an eye-witness).

Clay and Jax are not about to let Hale ruin all their fun, however. They take their business to Zobelle’s cigar shop, where Polly and Unser are already waiting. Zobelle emerges, and just as they’re about to get revenge for Gemma, Hale arrives once again. Foiled twice in one episode! Unser tells Hale he outranks him and commands him to leave, but Zobelle is fast thinking and tells the cops he and his daughter are in possession of narcotics. Once they find the heroin, they have no choice but to arrest Zobelle and his skinhead spawn. “I’ll kill you,” Jax promises right before Zobelle is carted off to jail.

“The Culling” spent the entire episode building up the suspense, but both fights were left without the conclusion Jax and Clay wanted. No matter for the viewer, however. “Sons of Anarchy” is a lesson in tension, and next week we’ll see where the saga ends--or possibly begins.

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