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Television

‘Sons of Anarchy’ recap: ‘What A Piece Of Work Is Man’ - good soldier

Bobby Munson
RIP Bobby “Elvis” (Mark Boone Jr.). The SAMCRO veteran meets a bloody and sad end in “What a Piece of Work is Man.”
(FX)

If we could narrow each “Sons of Anarchy” episode to maybe ... let’s say a 20-minute run time? I think I’d be one happy pseudo-TV critic.

There are powerful moments hidden in the 61-minute sprawl of “What a Piece of Work Is Man,” but finding those scenes is like getting to the meat of a crab leg.

Somewhere between the relationship drama between Rat and whoever that girl is and the lovely image of Chibs and the local sheriff living out a Bloodhound Gang song on the hood of a car, we get the inevitable and painful death of Bobby Munson, one of the show’s most sympathetic, layered and worth-his-salt characters.

I just wish I didn’t have to watch most of what came before and after.

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Let’s try and focus on the good here, because Mark Boone Jr. was always a welcome presence on “Sons” and he will be missed. The entire lead-up to Jax’s standoff with August Marks played well on the show’s habit of having SAMCRO constantly rip victory from the jaws of defeat when they are seemingly outclassed, and I was fairly certain the pastor’s body was going to contain a bomb or something else ridiculous would led to Marks’ demise. 

See what happens when you assume?

I guess it’s dangerous to compliment the show for playing on its past narrative folly, but it’s a neat trick, one that made Bobby’s death even more painful than it already was. Munson was, as Moses put it, one of the last good soldiers on the show. A loyal gun dog always striving for the club’s best interests. He was a murderer and an honest man, a voice of reason in SAMCRO’s pack of sociopaths and outlaws. And of course he went out the only way he could, beaten and broken for the sake of the club, trying to warn Jax of a Marks trap through the pain of a broken jaw.

And Bobby’s death of course gives us another chance to watch Gemma drown in her own guilt, as the bodies just continue to pile up at the feet of her lie over Tara’s murder. Her need to  confess to capital crimes out loud has also helped drive Abel’s storyline, a background plot I’ve failed to mention enough as one of the season’s bright spots. The little boy’s descent into madness, social disorder or whatever as a result of the chaos he’s growing up around has been entirely unnerving, while the expression of child actor Ryder Londo’s face is just scary. Good stuff.

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Problem is, those scenes take up maybe one-fourth of this episode. They are well-earned, well-executed. But why am I watching Theo Rossi strip and come up with, ahem, creative hiding places for a shiv while Juice’s plot line spins its wheels?

Did I really need to watch Chibs and Althea Jerry go at it in a parking lot, or have several minutes of air time devoted to Rat and his lady friend figuring out their relationship? I’ve long complained that the show has turned several of SAMCRO’s members into nameless faces, but with so much going on, isn’t it a little late in the game to try and give Rat depth?

I know I’m screaming into the wind here. “Sons” has a rabid fan base, the ratings are what they are, and FX would let Kurt Sutter write a 2-hour, 14-minute episode with a musical interlude if he wanted. But this is a show that needs editing, because once again, there’s a lot to wade through to find the scenes that matter.

With Gemma’s guilt, Abel’s decline, Marks in prison, Jax out for blood and Unser ever close to unraveling the truth about Tara’s murder, there’s plenty of narrative flesh to chew on over the final handful of episodes.

But with so little time left in Charming, can we please just barrel ahead? 

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