If you aren’t watching “Sons of Anarchy” I understand. I didn’t watch it either for the first two seasons. A show about some bikers in NorCal? Who cares? I can’t relate to the lifestyle, to the situations, to the politicking, so why would I watch? It’s not even funny or in any way an absurdist commentary on anything.
I started watching it over Christmas, catching up on the past seasons, and I discovered what everyone else who watches it already knew: It is myth, retold in gritty motor oil drawings. The themes are Shakespearian; the drama is personal.
What follows contains spoilers. Properly warned ye be, says I.
The protagonist in “Sons of Anarchy” is Jax Teller, heir apparent to the motorcycle club. His father, a reforming founder of the club, died mysteriously, and his mother married the club president. The first season sees Jax filling Hamlet’s role, dealing with his father’s legacy and his obligations to family and club. He has a baby with a drugged-out ex-girlfriend, and slowly involves his upstanding doctor girlfriend in the club life, against his better judgment and hers. He is buffeted by destiny.
The second season places the club in opposition to an easily-hated white supremacist group, and their outlaw nature is suppressed a little. In the end, through tragic errors and lies involving a federal agent murdering an IRA gun runner allied with the club, Jax’s infant son is kidnapped by another IRA member and taken to Belfast.
The club follows the baby, Abel, to Belfast and eventually Jax discovers that he’s been given to a nice middle-class white family who believe themselves to have adopted him from a Catholic orphanage.
Jax follows the couple around a market for a while and this is where he breaks my heart. He’s been psychotic in his pursuit, making deals with government agents and torturing traitors. With his dead father’s voice ringing in his ears, and his son’s content face peeking out from over his adoptive mother’s shoulder, Jax can’t bring himself to take his son back.
He can’t take him back. He can’t take him back. He thinks his son is doomed if he is raised in the club. He thinks like his own father did before him, that the lifestyle has to end. He lets his son go.
I couldn’t do that. I saw Jax doing it, I saw him going through everything you imagine he could be going through and I could never make that choice. It’s too rational and despite my own rationality in every other matter I am utterly irrational when it comes to my kids. I can’t believe they could be better off with someone else. As Jax’s mother says to him when she finds out he let her grandson go: “I don’t care if you killed a hundred people he’s still your son.” It’s completely wrong and I can’t help but feel that it’s right.
TV broke my heart making me watch a father go through that.
Then TV made me eat it when Jax gets his son back anyway.
Dear “Sons of Anarchy”: You’re a show about bikers bangin’ chicks, running guns, and shooting racists. Stop making me cry in the afternoon.