When the season 6 premiere of Sons of Anarchy ended with the sounds of a school shooting in Charming, the question became just how the show would address the issue it had so bluntly brought up and connected to the characters at the heart of its story. But bringing up a complicated subject isn’t the same as dealing with it or taking a stance, or in terms of a popular television program, delving into deeper themes and examining the social implications and larger context of the culture of violence which SAMCRO itself frequently helps perpetuate.
With ‘One One Six,’ the school shooting certainly causes Jax, Nero and members of both their clubs to spring into action, but only after it becomes clear that the weapon used in the incident can be easily tied back to not only one of Nero’s associates, but more damningly, the Sons. This revelation puts both clubs into a brief tailspin, as Nero must round up his guy Arcadio (Dave Navarro) and his girlfriend Darvany (Samaire Armstrong) before she “rats” to the cops about where her kid Matthew might have procured such a weapon. Unsurprisingly, this ends with two more bodies being put in the ground.
Naturally, the problem doesn’t stop there, however. Looking to bury the Sons for what Otto did to his sister, Donal Logue’s semi-retired U.S. Marshal Lee Toric quickly makes the connection between the make and model of the gun and the club, and approaches C. Thomas Howell and an ambitious D.A. played by CCH Pounder to assist in running them into the ground. Meanwhile, Jax has a meeting with Galen, who doesn’t take the news of SAMCRO getting out of their deal with the Irish too well, and despite the protestations of young Mr. Teller, fails to cease delivery of more weapons.
All in all, after deliberately inserting something as incendiary as a school shooting perpetrated by an eleven-year-old child of a drug-addled mother, the show – like its characters – seemed only interested in distancing itself from the repercussions of its own plot. So far (this being only the second episode of the season) Sons of Anarchy doesn’t give the impression it wants to take on a role in the larger discussion of guns and gun violence, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t lead to a deeper conversation down the line. It’s just unfortunate that after using such a provocative incident, the immediate implication is that the show was interested in it only as a mere plot device.
To that end, Jax’s search for legitimacy is brought up several times during ‘One One Six’ – especially with regard to Tara, and the ever-widening emotional gap between the two – but that search has yet to cross paths with a legitimate discussion of his and the club’s culpability in an event like the one from the premiere. From a plot perspective, it’s certainly understandable that Jax’s first instinct would be to shore up loose ends and distance SAMCRO from what happened. Hopefully, as the season progresses, the show won’t continue to follow suit.