I don’t know how many of you watch the show “Sons of Anarchy” but I’ve been fascinated by the character Juice Ortiz [probably some spoilers in this but I haven’t written it so I’m not positive]. Other than Opie, who was my favorite character on this show, Juice has kept my attention throughout the duration of this series. I’ve been completely enthralled with overall story arcs on this show and I’ve been checked out on plenty of story arcs over the course of the seven seasons. Characters have lost me left and right.
I’ve never been all that in to Jax’s character, even though early on in the show he was like a young lion trying to figure out how to rule the jungle. Once he broke through to the leadership role and started his family with Tara, his struggle just didn’t grab me at all. The story arc of Gemma has always been boring. She’s an awful, power-hungry matriarch who will do anything to protect her family. The secret though is the family she’s protecting isn’t her actual family but the mythical family of controlling the club like she’s done for decades. It’s the same cycle every season with just new dastardly ways in which her subversive nature breaks through. Yawn.
And while I love Bobby, Tig, Happy, Chibs, Piney, and Clay [he would rank third in my character rankings], only Opie has been able to surpass my fascination with Juice. The Juice storyline has given his character the most depth on the show and we’ve seen the most range from this actor (Theo Rossi) in portraying that character. While I want to see the finality of the close of this series, I probably would have ejected shortly after Opie’s exit from the show had Juice not been so compelling.
I don’t know if the plan was always for Juice to be such an important glue guy for the show. I’d love to know how much of the story Kurt Sutter (the show’s creator) had written out when he created the characters. He was a guest spot on the show, showing up to stage fake shootouts and steal trucks for gun transport. Maybe the funniest moment of the early seasons was when he thought drugging a guard dog with crystal meth would subdue the dog and allow them to steal the truck. It only made the dog more ferocious and aggressive as he chased down Tig during the heist.
Eventually, Juice was implemented as a full-time secondary character. Perhaps it was focus groups saying they liked him, perhaps it was Rossi knocking the quiet intensity of the character’s persona out of the park, or maybe it was just the plan from Sutter all along as he force fed some racial diversity into the dynamic of an almost all white motorcycle club (except he’s pretended to be Puerto Rican when he’s actually African-American, which matters later in the show). Regardless of the reason, Juice was part of the family now and a huge part of the show.
He did a lot of the dirty jobs for the club, always with the portrayal of someone doing his part in order to fit in and battle demons of an awkward fit. Again, the racial diversity angle of his character wasn’t quite stated until later seasons, but it was definitely in the undertones of his existence in the club. He’d flirt with inmates when the club was in lockup in order to help complete a greater task for the reputation of the club (often revenge or justice). It’s his ascension up the ladder of the club into a more powerful position that makes his character’s turn in Season 4 so important to the overall story of the show.
The internal struggle that has begun to poke through with Juice comes to a head in the fourth season because his true racial makeup threatens his place with the motorcycle club. This is when Rossi’s ability to convey emotions without having to speak really takes off. He’s essentially blackmailed by the sheriff to steal a sample of the drugs the club is trafficking so a case can be built. If Juice doesn’t go through with it, his heritage will be revealed to the club and he’ll likely be kicked out.
This leads to theft, a cover-up, and the murder of one of his fellow club members. He has to frame the friend, the brother he kills as the thief of the cocaine so the club doesn’t find out he’s working with the sheriff. It’s all lowlife type behavior, and yet it’s coming from a very vulnerable, understandable place of wanting to remain accepted by his friends. While the acts aren’t transferrable to our understanding of our life events, the paranoia of not being accepted hits everybody at some point in life. It’s the bizarre way in which Juice is able to capture the audience’s heart and understanding that makes his crimes forgivable, which is an awfully difficult thing to accomplish with a lot of characters.
Eventually, Juice is arrested by the sheriff to convince him to rat out other members of the club and their illegal doings. We notice the struggle of trying to balance the fear and gravity of the events going on in his life. And that’s when the show does something so perfect with his character, showing just how important he is and how much he keeps the cast together. This show hasn’t had any problems killing off characters. While plenty of characters have definitely stayed past their welcome, many drop left and right. Juice attempts suicide by hanging himself from a tree branch, but the branch breaks. He’s not able to escape the reality of his actions and he’s forced to reconcile them by admitting his heritage.
It’s not the doomsday reaction Juice believed it would be or was threatened with because he’s part of the club’s brotherhood. He’s too deep in their hearts to be banished for an old mindset that hasn’t carried over with the evolving social times. It teaches honesty in a dishonest world, which is a brilliant twist to such morally reprehensible characters and settings.
The next two seasons are again a struggle for Juice, but it’s a struggle between loyalty to the older leader, Clay, and the new leader, Jax. The battle between Clay and Jax for direction and leadership of the club is drawn out and overly repetitive, but Juice’s conflict leaves it was some mandatory fresh blood. He’s loyal to Clay, but he has to fight for Jax. He goes back and forth between helping the power struggle tug-of-war move from one side to the other and back again over the starting line. He gets beaten by his friends and patched back up. They try to snap him out of the downward spiral he’s created for himself, but eventually he tries to kill himself once again — this time by overdosing.
He’s 0-for-2 on killing himself and may not have a single win when it comes to redemption. He just can’t get right.
Jax reveals to Juice that he knows about the lack of loyalty that’s been displayed. Juice, desperate to show his loyalty in some way, murders a sheriff after the sheriff discovers that Gemma has killed Tara. He goes into hiding and comes back out of hiding. He betrays the club once again and is once again exonerated in a way that forces him to show his loyalty once meant something.
As the series wraps up in the final few episodes, pain and agony for Juice seem like the only absolutes we can be guaranteed. It’s his cross to bear as the only lesson of true remorse and the tangled path of thorns that comes with the decisions of lies, deceit, and choosing brotherhood over morals. He’s the only true character that has learned from actions in the past while escaping the inevitability of a life he chose long ago. His pain and torment can’t be released by death because he’s unable to die before he truly goes through hell. His ups and downs are the true redemption of the story, even once we eventually get a showdown between Jax (the alleged hero of all of this) and Gemma (the controlling mother who is truly the downfall of this club’s ideology).
What does any of this have to do with the Minnesota Timberwolves?
Not a damn thing. They wasted 2.5 hours of our time Friday night by setting a franchise record for the biggest loss in Wolves’ history. The 48-point loss surpassed the 2010 loss to the Orlando Magic by 42 points. There is no game recap because there wasn’t a game. There was the New Orleans Pelicans running through drills and scoring with the ease of a morning shoot around walkthrough. They gave up 139 points, a franchise record for the Pelicans. It was the 913th time in NBA history a team has scored 139 points or more in a game.
Teams are 832-81 when they score 139 points or more in the NBA, so the Wolves’ chances of winning this game were great.
Tyreke Evans hit the game-winner on a goal tend:
Showing a game-winner that occurs with 7:02 left in the third quarter should not be a thing!
Whenever a Wolves team gets blown out and I am scheduled to write the recap, I make sure to write about something I actually enjoy and can be stimulating to someone’s mind — hence my love for Juice’s character on SOA. That Wolves game didn’t stimulate anything but New Orleans’ season numbers.
But hey, Andrew Wiggins scored 20! I wrote about him yesterday.