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Sons of Anarchy Watch: Street Fighting Men

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Spoilers for last night’s Sons of Anarchy coming up after the jump:

After a run of episodes that were like a string of emotional gut punches, “The Culling”—which featured far more actual punches—seemed, for all its confrontation, like a scene-setter for next week’s Sons of Anarchy season finale.

What I’ll most take away from it is not the nighttime brawl between SAMCRO and the Weston’s white-power army, nor Zobelle’s being saved by the law from Clay’s street justice, but the striking scene at the beginning where the gang brought everyone—club members, family, friends, kids—to go to ground with them. The war brought home the fact that the Sons are a “family” in more than the sense of being close and committed to one another; they are literally responsible for the lives and well-being of a wide-ranging community around them.

And while Clay gets his shining moment now by avenging Gemma and taking on Zobelle’s truly heinous group, let’s not let him off the hook. The tableau of the “family” that SAMCRO has brought together here is also a reminder, or should be, of the kind of actual functional community that Jax’s father envisioned, and that Clay perverted by taking the club the violent criminal route that he did.

I hope and trust the show doesn’t lose sight of that. Clay notes that people have been hurt on his watch; unsaid is that the larger decisions he’s made about how to run the club have brought them to this point. “God wants me to be a fierce mother,” Gemma said in this episode. But has Clay’s fierceness gotten in the way of his being a good father to SAMCRO?

And what did you think of Tara’s beatdown scene? Once SAMCRO has given itself over to violence, is there anybody left who can’t be corrupted by it?