N0S4A2: Season 1, Episode 1 Recap and Review

So, the month of June has come upon us.

As in, it’s summer time…

You know, when the temperatures rise and the sunscreen doesn’t matter?

Of course, I live in an unnamed state in the southern United States.

All I can tell you is that it’s not Florida.

And living in Not Florida during the summertime is just Not Cool.

As in, it’s hot.

Really hot.

Seriously, my face melted off the other day.

Anyone have any hints for cleaning melted face off the floor?  Windex doesn’t seem to be working very well…

So, since it is so hot in Not Florida right now, I am doing what any red blooded (as in even my blood is sweating) Not Floridian would do…

Finding the nearest air conditioned living room and making camp in there until…

Oh, October or so…

So, to keep my self entertained during this sweltering Not Florida summer, I am spending some quality time with my television set.

You, just watching some Christmas stuff, right?

Yes, you heard that right!

I am watching some Christmas stuff here in Not Florida, while trying to mop my face off the floor!

In other words, we are talking about the premiere of the show N0S4A2, a television show based on the novel of the same name.

It goes without saying that the source material is a novel written by Joe Hill, who has been deemed the Prince of Horror.

You know, since dear old dad is The King, after all?

I am huge fan of the source material, and just a fan of The Prince in general.

(His number one fan, heehee.)

So, I watched the series premiere of N0S4A2 this week.

And I must say, I see potential here…

Lots of potential, in all its icy, snowy, Christmas-y potential glory…

And I am excited…

Christmas is only supposed to come once a year, right?

So, without further ado, let’s get down to our review and synopsis of episode 1 of season 1 of N0S4A2, titled The Shorter Way.

And, as always:

Continue reading

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11/22/63: Episode 4 Recap and Review

So, I think I need to get my eyes checked again…

Seems like they were a little..well…leaky earlier this week…

Yes, Peyton Manning has retired from football.  That’s a good reason for the old eyes to leak.  Especially after that farewell speech…so thanks, Peyton…I needed a cry and didn’t know it!

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So, I should have learned my lesson, right?  Go watch something on TV that is light hearted and fun, like say…something based on a Stephen King novel?  Sounds like just the ticket…

Well, apparently my eyes didn’t get the memo, since I suffered more leakage after watching The Eyes of Texas, the fourth episode of the mini series 11/22/63.  Nope, not an easy night for the old eyes the other night…

So, thanks, Peyton!

And thanks, Uncle Stevie!

Stephen King

And just for good measure, let’s thank Obama while we are at it, since I am sure he doesn’t get thanked enough…so thanks, Obama!

In all seriousness, The Eyes of Texas is a pivotal episode in the mini series 11/22/63, especially in terms of character development.  Jake was treated to some character development.  We got to know the Big Bad, aka Lee Harvey Oswald, even better.  Sadie is slowly being drawn out of her shell.  Heck, even Cletus er Bill was treated to some character development.

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The show also dealt with some serious issues, such as domestic abuse, rape and a few others, while still reminding us that we are watching a show where a guy travels back in time to change the past, which does not want to be changed and will let you know in various, non-subtle ways that it does not want to be changed.  Just another typical episode, in other words.

So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of The Eyes of Texas, the fourth episode of the mini series .

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with Jake spying on the Oswalds yet again.  Lee poses for a picture with his rifle, although his wife, Marina, tells him that he looks ridiculous.  Bill also sees Marina and waves at her.  Marina waves back, and seems not to be bothered by the fact that Bill has been stalking her.

Jake and Sadie have begun a relationship, although they try to keep it a secret, so they don’t endanger their jobs at the high school.  Jake sings a Beatles song to Sadie, forgetting that the Beatles have not been discovered yet.  However, they are interrupted when Principal Deke Simmons walks in.  Deke gives Jake a lecture on how he and Sadie are role models and must practice discretion.  Deke also gives Jake a card that has the name and address of a hotel that he and Sadie can use to meet and practice discretion.

That night, Ms. Mimi pays Jake a visit at his home.  She has deduced that Jake is not who he says he is, since she was unable to obtain his immunization records.  Jake concocts a cover story that he is in a FBI witness protection program because he testified against some members of the Mafia.  Mimi is skeptical, but agrees to keep Jake’s secret.  Mimi also hints to Jake that he should tell the truth about himself to Sadie, as their relationship has become more serious.

Sadie meets Jake at the hotel room, and the two consummate their relationship.  Jake realizes that he needs to tell Sadie something, but their time is cut short when Jake realizes that someone has been watching them and taking pictures.  Jake is convinced that the CIA is on to him and attempting to blackmail him, so he will drop his plans of preventing the assassination of Kennedy.

Bill and Jake follow Oswald and George de Mohrenschildt to what they believe is a top secret CIA meeting.  However, the meeting spot is actually a brothel.  They attempt to spy on Oswald and de Mohrenschildt, but the cops raid the place, and Bill and Jake are arrested.

Deke bails out Jake and Bill the next morning, and tells Jake that he still must show up to his teaching job the next day, as he has no substitute lined up.  Mimi reprimands Jake for his disheveled look, but is coughing and appears to be ill.  Jake also catches Sadie talking to her ex husband and confronts her about it.  Sadie becomes upset, and tells Jake about her marriage.  She says that Johnny attached a close pin to his penis on their wedding night.  When Sadie laughed at him, he hit her.  He then hit her again and raped her.  She thought that she had escaped Johnny, but he was able to track her down through her mother and has refused to grant her the divorce.  Sadie is then convinced that Jake is repulsed by her past, and tearfully drives away.

Bill arrives at school and tells Jake that de Mohrenschildt will be taking Oswald to what may be an important meeting.  Jake follows Oswald and tries to listen in on the conversation, but is interrupted by a barking dog.  When Jake tries to quiet the dog, he realizes that he is face to face with Johnny Clayton, Sadie’s ex husband.  Clayton tries to intimidate Jake, but Jake turns the tables on him, telling him that he will hurt him if he does not stay away from Sadie.  Jake realizes that Johnny took the pictures of him and Sadie, not the CIA.  Jake also repeats the story of Johnny and Sadie’s wedding night, telling him that he will tell the secret if Johnny does not stay away from Sadie and does not grant Sadie the divorce.  Johnny is afraid and appears to back down.

Jake then pays Sadie a visit, giving her flowers and chocolates.  He tells her that he knows that she is not perfect, but that he still loves her.  They embrace, and someone appears to be watching them.

Back at the house, Jake finds Bill lying on the couch, drunk and angry.  Bill is frustrated because Oswald mistreats his wife, and wants to do something about it.  Jake stops him, telling him he can’t interfere.  Later that night, Bill finds Marina sitting on the steps, beaten and sad.  He offers her a cigarette and a shoulder to cry on.  Jake apologizes to Bill, affirming that he cannot attempt his quest without Bill, and that they are a team.

At school the next day, Mimi is nowhere to be found.  Deke tells Jake that she is out sick, but appears to be angry with him for something.

Later that day, Sadie stops by Jake’s house with baked goods and a nice note.  She cannot find Jake, however, and calls out for him.  A shadowy figure follows her.  Sadie then finds Jake’s surveillance tapes, and listens to Oswald’s conversation in Russian with his friends.  Jake arrives at the house, and a bewildered Sadie wants to know just who he is.


 

My Thoughts

Usually, my feelings about on-screen adaptations of books are mixed, at best.  Some are watchable (It, cough, cough).  Some are instant classics (give one up for Green Mile, yo).  And then there was the abomination otherwise known as Under the Dome that I simply cannot excuse.

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But, here we have 11/22/63.  And my feelings on this one are not mixed.  Well, maybe they are mixed, but it’s a mixture of love and pride.  Maybe like how a parent feels on his/her kid’s first day of school, where he/she “debuts” to the world?  Or that could be hyperbole.  Well, it’s not far off, though.

Yes, there have been changes from the book.  But remember, the book is told in the first person, so changes are necessary.  Again, a book adapted to the screen will have a different face, so to speak, and there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, changes are necessary, as television is a visual medium, and the story should be able to reflect that.

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I have not talked much about James Franco in prior posts.  And there is a reason for that:  we were only a few episodes in.  But now, we are halfway through, so let’s start talking about James Franco and what he has done with the character of Jake Epping.

Normally, I am hesitant to make such statements about an actor “being born to play a certain character.”  Different actors can bring different takes to a particular role (Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson, who both played Batsy’s arch-nemesis are great examples) and the finished product can still be good, even if it’s different from the other actor’s interpretation.  And I still believe that.

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But it does seem that Franco fits the role of Jake Epping very well.  Maybe even perfectly, although again, it is early.  Sometimes, low and slow in the way to go (kind of like soul food, actually).  And that’s just what Franco, along with the producers and the writers, are doing with the character of Jake Epping.  Jake comes off as apathetic in the first couple of episodes.  And lost as well, as it seems his life is going nowhere.  But, slowly, that is changing.  Jake is beginning to care about something bigger than himself (stopping the assassination of the leader of the free world).  And he is beginning to care about the people around him.  He stands up against the racism that was accepted in 1961 (and still is in some ways), by helping Ms. Mimi after she has suffered needlessly because some bigot won’t sell her gas.  He helps his present day friend Harry Dunning by preventing the murder of his family.  And he has fallen in love.

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Which brings me to my next point:  the love story.

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While 11/22/63 is a story about time travel, social justice and war written by the master of modern horror, it is also a love story.  The love story between Jake and Sadie is one the main plots of the book, and is one of the greatest in any book I have ever read, let alone a Stephen King book.

And when I watched this episode the other night, I shivered.  Almost uncontrollably, actually.  And no, that’s not because my husband needs to have our house at the temperature of a meat locker in order not to sweat profusely.

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In other words, the mini series is doing a smoking job (see what I did there) with the love story aspect of 11/22/63.  And one of the things that is helping this part is the chemistry between Franco and Sarah Gadon, the actress who plays Sadie.  Every look, every kiss and the overall way that they interact with each other is just so believable.  And sweet.  And tender.  And sexy.  Very sexy, as a matter of fact.  And when Jake makes that speech about how life isn’t all flowers and chocolates, but how he loves everything about the person standing in front of him…I was no longer shivering, but fanning myself instead…woo!

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I also need to give props to the other part of this love triangle:  Johnny Clayton, Sadie’s ex husband.  In the book, this character is not as big a player as he is in the mini series, and he does not have as much interaction with Jake.  However, this has been modified a bit for the mini series, and it works.  In fact, it works really well.  That interaction between Jake and Clayton was just beautiful.  There are no other words to describe it.  I loved how Jake threatened to hurt that bastard if he didn’t grant Sadie the divorce and stay away from her.  I also loved the fact that Jake used a bit of blackmail as well…

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Remember how I was saying that his episode managed to incorporate some serious themes?  Well, the above would be one of them.  In other words, spousal abuse.  Anyone who has read at least some of King’s work (or seen some of his movies) knows that domestic abuse of all kinds is a theme in many of his stories.  11/22/63 is no different.  We saw in the episode The Kill Floor, with the character of Frank Dunning.  And we have seen again this week, with The Eyes of Texas.  The show does not try to hide the fact that Clayton abused his wife, and is still trying to control her, even though she has left him.  To add further insult to injury, no one will acknowledge the abuse.  Even worse, Sadie is blamed for the troubles (a sign of the times then and still true in some ways today).  The mini series even managed to make Sadie’s story more heart-breaking than it was the book, which makes Sadie to be even more of a sympathetic character and makes us root for her (and Jake) even more.

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The portrayal of domestic violence in the mini series has also provided an opportunity for character development from someone else. This character would happen to be Bill.

Now, I have stated that Bill is well…annoying.  I understand the need for this character, in terms of advancing the story.  But I still find him annoying.  However, I have grown a little more tolerant of him after this week’s episode.  His feelings in regards to Marina Oswald and the treatment she endures from Lee (which are likely related to the feelings he has in regards to what Frank Dunning did to his sister) make him a little bit more sympathetic in my eyes.  His interest in the Oswalds has actually gone from creepy to almost sweet.  I still scratch my head over this guy, but at least I can feel something other than annoyance towards him.  So, props, mini series…keep it up!

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Well, that’s it for The Eyes of Texas.  Join me next week for the recap and dissection of episode 5, titled The Truth.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

 

My Top 10 Scariest Stephen King Books

So, it’s that time of year again…

Yes, Halloween is drawing upon us…

The season for scary stuff!

Like watching scary movies…Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers, here we come!

Oh, and don’t forget watching NFL football, especially Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts!  And I am not talking about the good kind of scary here, unfortunately…

Oakland Raiders v Indianapolis Colts

But there is a good remedy for when your football team is so embarrassing that the local Fox syndicate switches from the Colts game to the game played by the other not scary good team (the Washington Redskins, as a matter of fact)…

Yes, a little therapy from The Master!

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Football team got ya down?  Go read some Stephen King, and be reminded as to what is really scary!  Suddenly, two interceptions thrown by your darling quarterback (sorry Andrew, you know I still got love for ya) seems pretty tame!

Yes, Stephen King is scary.

Well, his writing, at any rate.  He doesn’t look too threatening in that picture, but one never knows.

Stephen King is many things, and I have spent an incredible amount of time on this blog (who knew) addressing those things.  Most importantly, he is a great writer.  He has the ability to even appeal to the non-horror fan (well, the one who will give him a chance, anyway).  He creates characters that readers get attached to (and kills them off and seems almost gleeful about it, but I digress).  He is also the Everyman, giving the reader realistic scenarios, and then casually placing in the horror and/or fantastical element, making the story that much more believable.

But, I would like to get back to fundamentals for a moment, if I may.  Stephen King writes scary stories.  This may sound like Captain Obvious tooting his horn, but the man is able to frighten folks.  And frighten folks badly.  It could be the fact that seemingly “good” characters often go “bad”, at the drop of a hat.  Or maybe it’s the element of realism that makes it seem a certain room in a hotel really could be bad news.  Or maybe because he makes great villains, including evil clowns, that haunt the dreams of many a 90’s kid.

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Whatever the reason, people find Stephen King books frightening.  And many enjoy being frightened.  Some people skydive (eek).  Some watch Indianapolis Colts football (eeek, maybe I should skydive instead).  Some people enjoy drag racing.

And then there are the stalwart, the steadfast, the bold (you know, like me?)…we read Stephen King for our fear fix!  After all, gotta get the good old adrenaline rush somehow, right?

And a King book will give you that and then some!  In fact, many King books may just scare you into a change of pants!

With that being said, here is my list of the top 10 scariest books of all time.  Please note, this is my opinion only, and not to be taken as gospel…

Oh, and as always:

Homer spoiler


 

10)  Rose Madder

As I have stated before, one of King’s strengths as a writer of horror is the human horror.  Sometimes (well actually, a lot of times), men are beasts to their fellow man…

And woman.

The villain in the book Rose Madder is human.  Well, in appearance at least.  However, on the inside, Norman Daniels does not pass for human.  Not even remotely.

Norman Daniels savagely abuses his wife Rosie, for the nearly 14 years of their marriage.  To boot, he is racist.  And uses his position as a police officer to grossly abuse his power and literally get away with murder.  It is only a mere drop of blood on the sheets that awakens Rosie one morning, when she runs away from her hellhole of a marriage and attempts to begin a new life, free of the horrific abuse.  But, as can be expected, Norman does not take Rosie’s flight lightly, and leaves behind a trail of bodies in his quest for revenge and his hunt for Rosie.  It takes a magical painting set in the world of our friendly neighborhood gunslinger for Norman’s trail of blood to be halted.  Even then, the death count is enormous, and Rosie is barely able to cope with the events.

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There is a line in the book that where Rosie thinks that after surviving her horror of a marriage to Norman, anything else is pretty cut rate.  As a survivor of an abusive marriage, I would have to agree with that assessment.  When you are married to an abuser, you don’t need to Stephen King or scary movies to get your fear fix.  An argument with your spouse will give you that fix in spades.

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9)  From a Buick 8

The unknown is scary.  HP Lovecraft played upon on our fears of the great beyond, with stories such as The Colour Out of Space and The Dunwich Horror.

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Stephen King has cited HP Lovecraft as an enormous influence.  This is evident in his novel From a Buick 8, which tells the story of a mysterious vehicle that becomes the charge of a police department in a small town in Pennsylvania.

It quickly becomes evident to one of the officers of that police department that the “vehicle” is not actually a vehicle at all, but rather an object from another dimension beyond human understanding.  The vehicle becomes the center of many odd occurrences, and the police department struggles to do damage control.  However, the vehicle is responsible for the disappearance of at least one person and the death of the department’s mascot, a dog named Mr. Dillon.  There is even a confrontation of sorts with one of the creatures from the unknown dimension.  The images King paints are disturbing, especially when he references the fact that our world may be as frightening or even more frightening to those creatures as their world is to us.

What is perhaps most disturbing about this novel is the fact that the “vehicle” very nearly traps a young man who is the son of a fallen police officer, and sees the “vehicle” as his one remaining connection to his father.  The young man is saved by timely intervention from another officer, but barely.  Sometimes, a person with an obsession is the most frightening of all.

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8)  Revival

Revival is another novel that deals with our fear of the unknown.  More specifically, Revival deals with the last of the unknown frontiers:  death, and what may happen once we die.

Revival is also a morality play, much like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  If we have the means to find out what happens after death, should we?  And what will be the consequences if we intervene in matters that we (probably) have no business intervening in?

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The consequences for Jamie Morton and his friend Charles Jacobs are not pretty.  Jamie Morton first met Charles when he was a child, and Charles was the pastor in his rural hometown.  However, tragedy strikes Charles Jacobs, and he is forced to leave town after a disastrous sermon that comes to be known as “The Terrible Sermon.”  The experience shakes Jamie’s religious beliefs to the core, and Jamie is never quite the same afterwards.

Charles is also shaken to the core by this tragedy, and quickly becomes a man obsessed.  Charles discovers what he refers to as “the secret electricity”, and believes that this mysterious force will allow him to find out what happens after death.  Jamie refers to Charles as his “fifth business” throughout the book, and encounters him by chance when he is an adult.  Jamie is addicted to heroin, and Charles is able to use his “secret electricity” to cure Jamie of his addiction.  Jamie feels that he owes Charles a debt, and agrees to help him conduct what turns out to be his final experiment: using the “secret electricity” to find out what happens when we die.

And it turns out that sometimes ignorance is bliss.  As stated before, the consequences are not pretty for Jamie and Charles, and Jamie’s “cure” for his heroin addiction has come at an enormous price.  The ending is disturbing, reinforcing the belief that at least sometimes, not knowing is the best option of all.

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7) Desperation / The Regulators

Yes, I know that this entry actually consists of two books.  However, I am considering one work for my purposes, since both books mirror each other, with one being written by Stephen King, and the other being a posthumous script from the poor, beleaguered Richard Bachman, who died an untimely death due to cancer of the pseudonym.

Stephen-King-Sons-of-Anarchy

Both Desperation and The Regulators are also tied together by one of King’s uber-villains, Tak.  Tak may not be as creepy as Randall Flagg or Pennywise the Clown (at least to some), but he is able to hold his own in the King universe.  Tak is frightening because he is able to drain people almost like human batteries (mostly), and discards them in the same manner.  However, there is one human that Tak cannot drain, and that is Seth Garin (the autistic boy in The Regulators).  What Tak does to Seth is perhaps even more frightening:  he uses Seth body to manipulate his surroundings, causing the suicide of Seth’s uncle, exploiting Seth’s aunt and killing many people in Seth’s neighborhood.  Ultimately, Tak is beaten, but at the cost of Seth’s life and many others.

Desperation and The Regulators are not only frightening because of the entity Tak, but also because they deal with a theme that many of us can relate to:  isolation.  Desperation begins with a couple who becomes stranded in a small, seemingly abandoned desert town after they experience vehicle trouble.  In The Regulators, Seth and his aunt are isolated due to Seth’s handicap and Tak’s effort to alienate Seth’s family from those who might help them.  Isolation is a big theme in many King books, and once again it adds that element of realism to the story to make it that much more frightening.

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6)  The Stand

It is no secret that horror and fantasy are closely related.  In fact, one could almost say that horror is fantasy taken to the next, darker step.  From the Orcs in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to the witches in SA Hunt’s Malus Domestica, to the Others in the Game of Thrones series, many works that are considered to be fantasy and not horror certainly contain some frightening elements.

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The Stand is another book that toes the line between dark fantasy and horror.  On one hand, there are reluctant heroes (Larry, Stu and Nick).  But on the other hand, there is an evil wizard figure (Randall Flagg).  The evil wizard tends to be a common archetype in fantasy stories (Sauron is a good example).  But Flagg is something beyond the ordinary evil wizard (if such a thing exists).  Flagg invades the dreams of the survivors of a great plague that has wiped out most of Earth’s population.  Frannie Goldsmith is one of those survivors.  Frannie is pregnant, and dreams of being chased by The Dark Man (Flagg), who has a coat hanger in his hand.  Nick Andros and Tom Cullen, two other survivors who are a deaf-mute man and mildly mentally handicapped man respectively, encounter Flagg’s presence when they seek shelter from a tornado that may have been sent by Flagg to dispose of them.  Mother Abagail, who is Flagg’s counterpart on the side of the White, encounters Flagg when she is gathering food for her charges.  Flagg has transformed to a weasel, the one creature that frightens the old woman.  Mother Abagail is nearly beaten by Flagg, but is still able to best him the end.

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The Stand is one of King’s best books, blending both elements of fantasy and horror to make it a truly frightening, yet fantastical read.

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5)  Black House

Black House is another novel (co-written by Peter Straub) that may be considered part of the fantasy genre, along with its predecessor, The Talisman.  However, it is Black House (much like The Stand) that toes the line between fantasy and horror.

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One of the reasons Black House is so frightening is because it contains a human villain that is unfortunately all too realistic.  There is a supernatural villain, a creature known as Mr. Munshun, and King’s ultimate uber-villain, the Crimson King, is also alluded to in the book.  However, the human villain, Charles Burnside, is another person that is human in appearance only.  Charles Burnside appears to be a senile man suffering from the indignities of dementia and living out his final days in peace in an unsuspecting nursing home.  However, the reader learns that Burnside is actually a serial killer who targets children.  Burnside has made a grisly contract with Mr. Munshun and the Crimson King:  he allows Mr. Munshun to possess his body so that he may murder children, in exchange for seeking out children PSI abilities who Munshan and the Crimson King can use for their evil purposes.  Charles Burnside and Mr. Munshun are eventually defeated, but not before Burnside has murdered several children and left a small town nearly paralyzed in fear.

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Charles Burnside is another one of King’s chilling examples of man’s inhumanity to man.

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4)  ‘Salem’s Lot

If I mentioned ‘Salem’s Lot to you, and you responded with “vampire story”, you would be correct…

But, wait…there’s more!

‘Salem’s Lot is indeed a book about vampires.  And those vampires are scary.  The head vampire is killed but his TEETH are still alive and bit Ben Mears…so the vampires in this book are indeed gruesome.

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But, like most really everything single thing he has ever written   of King’s work, ‘Salem’s Lot is much more than a vampire story.  Much, much more, in fact.

‘Salem’s Lot is a story about a small town, and how the small town succumbs to the vampire plague.  There is clinical language and some medical terms included when the “patients” are diagnosed, and that just adds another level of gruesomeness to what is already frightening.  Also, the description of how quickly the people in the town are either transformed to vampires or killed in some awful manner is quite disturbing, given how attached the reader gets to these characters and the town itself.

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However, ‘Salem’s Lot is also a haunted story.  Most of the action centers around the Marsten House, which is the local haunted house.  We learn some of the history of the house through Ben Mears, who believes he saw the ghost of the former owner as a child.  The house was a site for many terrible deeds that involved children, and King is able to weave this seamlessly into the vampire tale, thus adding an extra dimension of terror to an already scary story.

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Note:  Nowhere is it mentioned in ‘Salem’s Lot that vampires sparkle!

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3) The Shining

The Shining is another King work where there is more than meets the eye.  Perhaps the most famous, or perhaps infamous (thank you, Stanley Kubrik), of all King’s work.  On the surface, the story is another haunted house story (well, haunted hotel actually).  The ghosts wreak havoc on the Torrance family, and there are some truly scary moments involving the supernatural aspect of the story (the blood from the walls, the dead woman in the bathtub and a ghostly New’s Year Eve party all come to mind, along with several others).

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However, what many people may fail to realize is that The Shining is also frightening because it tells the story of the disintegration of the family unit.  Humans are social animals, and to most of us, the family is the most important unit of all.  The Torrance family feels the same.  Danny loves his parents, even they (especially his father, Jack) have failed him on many occasions.  Wendy and Jack Torrance love Danny, and each other as well.  Jack wants to do nothing more to provide for his family, which is why he takes a job that is less than ideal, given his education and his addiction to alcohol.  But that family unit slowly begins to dissolve even at the beginning of the story.  However, we are led to believe that maybe there is hope for this family, as they make an effort to draw together and achieve a fresh start.  Tragically, this is not the case, as Jack ultimately succumbs to his demons, and Wendy and Danny barely escape with their lives.

Again, Stephen King is a master at including that element of realism in his stories, making them that much more believable and terrifying.

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2)  It

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Obviously, John F. Kennedy did not ever encounter Pennywise the Clown

We all have fears.  When you are an adult, they may be more abstract, such as fear of failure, financial worries, fear of divorce and so forth.  But children’s fears are pretty concrete:  most fear things such as movie monsters, vampires, spiders and so forth.  So what if there was a monster out there that could take the form of whatever a child feared most, and literally scare them to death?  And maybe this monster needs to only be visible to kids (since adult fears are too abstract to capitalize on) and live under the sewers, where It can quietly do its dirty work?

pennywise

Enter Pennywise the Clown!

And yes, Pennywise the Clown makes the novel It terrifying.  He is a clown that lives under the sewers…first strike.  He can take on the form of ANYTHING that one fears…strike two.  And Pennywise is an extra dimensional monster…I know, not really giving that clown a good character reference, am I?

However, as frightening as Pennywise is (which is at a level 19, at least), there are so many other aspects to this book that nearly beat out the clown that lives in the sewers.  It deals with spousal abuse, child abuse and bullying.  The Losers Club spends most of that terrible summer in a lot of danger, but much of that danger is NOT supernatural.  The children face bullying from the local town bully, and must constantly watch their backs.  The adults in town do not care about either the danger under the sewers (even though most can’t see it, nearly everyone is aware of its presence).  Nor do the adults care about the bullies, even though they are as aware of the bullies as they are of the monster under the sewers.  The lone female Loser, Beverly Marsh, is being abused by her father, and the abuse is becoming increasingly sexual in nature.  Other children are abused or neglected.  It seems that no one is safe from the town of Derry, and if one is not killed by Pennywise, his/her parent or spouse will step in and do the job instead.

small towns 1

Childhood is hell.  There is no other way to put it.  And It capitalizes on that concept, showing us just how much more hellish it is for some than others.

It 3


 

And now, for what I believe to be the scariest Stephen King book of all time…

drum-roll-please


Pet Sematary

Yes, Pet Sematary has made the top of the list, and I consider it to be King’s scariest book of all time for a multitude of reasons.  So let’s talk about those reasons.

pet sematary book 1

First of all, the concept of Pet Sematary is really scary.  An ancient Native American burial ground, poisoned by the spirit of a Wendigo that has the ability to re-animate dead animals that come back as zombies, which teaches kids that “sometimes dead is better.”  Can anything get scarier than that?  I have read a lot of stories about the Wendigo too. and the Wendigo is one of the creepiest entities I have ever come across.  So, yes, very disturbing right there…

Pet Sematary 2

But the burial ground is not only for animals.  No, the burial ground can be used for humans too, so yay?

Well, not really.  When humans are buried at the site, they do not come back right either.  And the problems are way more serious than a nasty smell or the need to hunt more rodents than usual.  The Wendigo is able to possess the body of the human, and render its subject with knowledge that he/she should not have.  And this knowledge is not pleasant.  Most of the knowledge is of the hateful variety: affairs and other dastardly deeds that were better off to remain secret.  The Wendigo is not benevolent, and has malice towards the living.

Stephen King's Pet Sematary (1985)

However, to me, the scariest thing about Pet Sematary is that I relate to Louis Creed.  The only evil in the book is the Wendigo spirit.  Gage Creed is not evil, he is the victim of a terrible tragedy, in both life and death.  Jud Crandall is not evil, he is a kind man who was only trying to help his friend.  Rachel Creed is not evil, she is only a protective mother who has an (understandable) fear of death.  Church the cat is not even evil, he is simply a beloved pet who also became an unfortunate victim of circumstances.

pet semetary 1

Most of all, Louis Creed is not evil.  He is a loving father who (again, understandably) became mad with grief, and was willing to do anything to bring his son back and make his family whole again.  He believes that he has found a way to do that, and that he can also use science to combat any problems.  Sadly, he is proven horribly wrong, condemning himself and his family to an eternity of damnation.  But if I were Lewis, and placed in his tragic situation, who is to say that I would not do the same thing?  I am close to someone who has lost a child, and the pain is unbearable.  You will do anything to stop it, even if it is something that may have dire consequences later on down the line.

So if I knew there was a possibility that I could bring back a deceased loved one, who is to say that I wouldn’t?  I would be thinking about my loved one, not about any consequences.  And that is frightening to me:  to be that mad with grief that I would be willing to ignore Nature, and get involved with matters that I really have no business being involved with.  And grief is frightening in that way:  the pain blinds us, so we cannot see what is in front of us that may actually be worse than the grief.

kinopoisk.ru


 

Ghosts are scary…

Vampires are scary…

Haunted hotels are scary…

Heck, Indianapolis Colts football is scary!

But what is the scariest thing of all?

That’s right, someone who has never experienced the awesomeness that is a Stephen King book!

Why should Christmas get all the fun?  It is also allowable to give gifts on Halloween, so do your part, and give someone who has never had this experience the greatest Halloween gift of all:  a Stephen King book!

Happy reading!

RoaldDahl

Top OMG Moments in Sons of Anarchy

OMG…Sons of Anarchy.

OMG…I get to see some icons of my childhood being bad asses.

Peg 1Theo 1

OMG…a member of one of the best bands in history had his character killed off.  Maybe that makes him even more bad ass, perhaps on a level with Optimus Prime!

Arcadio 1optimus-prime-death-01

OMG…Jax has 99 problems and a bitch accounts for at least a few of those.

OMG…another ass shot of Juice?  I can’t un-see that!

Juice 1

OMG…they just killed my favorite character!  Kurt Sutter, have you been talking to George RR Martin AGAIN???

Sutter and Martin

OMG…I just spent how many hours binge watching this show and now I need to clean my house, cook dinner and oh yeah, sleep since I need to go to work tomorrow as I don’t think Jax and co. can pay my bills, as awesome as they are.

Jax 1

In other words, I love Sons of Anarchy.  I just finished watching all seven seasons (seven!) over the space of about two months (two months!) and all I can say is OMG.

As in OMG, this show is so incredibly well written, with fantastic acting and I can’t really think of a bad thing to say about it.  Not one, single, solitary bad thing.  And the ending was heart-breaking, but soooo well done and soooo satisfying.  In fact, I can’t remember when the last time I was that satisfied…ok, to my husband (if you are reading this) I hope you know I’m kidding about that!

Jax 3

But seriously, Sons of Anarchy is one fantastic show.  And it was actually a cable show, which makes it even more amazing, as it can be difficult for a show that deals with controversial topics (racism, gang rape and spousal abuse are just a few of those tough subjects that Sons of Anarchy dealt with on a regular basis) to be amazing, due to the limitations constant, unnecessary censorship  that network television is subject to.  But somehow, the genius otherwise known as Kurt Sutter managed to make it work.  And he made it work brilliantly.

Crack_the_censors

And I think that the reason this show worked so well was because of the writing.  Charlie Hunnam, Kurt Sutter, Katey Sagal and several others did some amazing acting.  However, the fact that the writing was tighter than grandma’s butthole (sorry grandma!) didn’t hurt either!  Kurt Sutter always managed to keep us guessing, and threw in quite a few curve balls.  And he was not afraid to go for the jugular when it was called for…I really can’t recall when the last time was that a TV show made me gasp, cry and even laugh so much, oftentimes in the same episode!

Which leads to this post.  Sons of Anarchy, as stated before, pushed the envelope.  And pushed it quite often, sometimes in ways I had never seen before…

So I present to this blog post:  My top OMG moments from the show Sons of Anarchy.  No particular order or anything, these are just moments that stood out to me.  Some are tragic, some are simply gruesome and some are even funny.  But put them all together, and you weave together the incredible tapestry known as Sons of Anarchy.

Oh, and this should go without saying but I will warn you anyway…

Spoiler alert


 

The head in the chili (Season 4, episode 8)

Well, don’t eat before watching Sons of Anarchy.  That warning goes without saying…

Chucky 1

However, I don’t think I have ever had to warn anyone off of chili…until I saw this episode.

Yes, after watching this episode, the thought of eating chili may make you lose your head…

Chucky 2

In all seriousness, this moment in this episode is gross.  Really gross.  But also hilarious.  Bodily functions are hilarious.  And so are heads in a pot of chili.  In fact, heads in a pot of chili may be even funnier than bodily functions.  Alfred Hitchcock was known for inserting a little dark humor into his films, and this moment was a perfect homage to Hitchcock as well.  In fact, I am sure Hitchcock was looking down and smiling after he watched this episode (this show is actually so awesome that dead guys watch it too).

Alfred_Hitchcock

Chucky was also an odd character (in a great way), and it was nice to see him have a moment to shine as well.


 

Gemma choking Wendy and causing her to overdose (Season 1 , episode 1)

Sometimes, you just have to set the tone.  And the pilot episode to Sons of Anarchy certainly accomplished that.

Especially when one of the shocking acts was committed by a female.  And the victim was another female.

GemmaChokesWendy

Ah, yes…Gemma.  Referred to as “the matriarch”, she takes the role seriously.  Actually, seriously is too tame a word to describe the lengths Gemma will go to in order to protect her family, especially her son Jax, if she feels that anyone or anything is a threat to her family.  So maybe psychotic would be a better way to describe Gemma…

Gemma and Jax

And I am sure Wendy would agree with that.  Especially as she was on the receiving end in the first episode, when Gemma strangled her and injected her with heroin, in the name of protecting her grandson Abel, who was born 10 weeks prematurely, partially due to Wendy’s heroin addiction.

Wendy and Jax

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And Gemma’s actions certainly did the trick.  As in, set the tone for the series, and establish Gemma’s character, allowing the viewer a glimpse into just exactly what Gemma is capable of.

Oh, and Gemma’s actions also did the trick in terms of frightening Wendy, as Wendy stayed away from Gemma and her family for a couple of years…

Wendy 1

 


 

Clay’s Amen for Pussy Sermon (Season 6, episode 9)

Not only are bodily functions hilarious, body parts can be hilarious too.

And in this case, the bodily part in question is the vagina aka pussy (and no we are not talking about cats!)

Usually, its penises that are funny.  In fact, penises are just downright hilarious.  But I am equal opportunity I have a juvenile sense of humor and I am not ashamed of that fact   and firmly believe that kitty cats er vaginas can be hilarious as well. In fact, anything remotely sexual is just fucking hilarious!

innuendo

Which brings me to this moment:  Clay’s Amen for Pussy sermon.  As I stated before, this show is dark.  And it deals with lots of serious topics.  But the show is also funny at times, and Clay’s Amen for Pussy sermon is a perfect example of that.  And the fact that this scene takes place in prison church makes it even better, as it adds levity to a serious situation.  It is also unexpected…again, a prison chapel?  Who expects to have prisoner preach about sex in prison chapel?  I sure didn’t, which made this scene one of the gems in the series.

Clay 4

Also, the show has some funny characters (like Tig and Chucky).  However, Clay is not one of those funny characters, for the most part.  Hell, when I watched some episodes I wasn’t even sure if he had teeth, since he never smiled.  So it was refreshing to see a different, somewhat unexpected side of his character.

Clay 1


 

The Cleaner (Season 3, episode 3)

I love Sons of Anarchy.  And I really, really, really love Stephen King (who has been the subject of many a blog post and somehow made his way into some of my other non-King related blog posts, since he is that awesome).

So Sons of Anarchy AND Stephen King?  Is that a really nerdy, wet dream come true for me?

Stephen King

Well, actually yes.  The master did guest star in one episode of Sons of Anarchy.  And his character was true to form.  King played a weird guy named Bachman (I see what you did there, Kurt Sutter) who was hired by Tig to help dispose of a dead body.  And Bachman took part of his payment in the form of a macabre souvenir, and had a penchant for listening to 80’s music, as he took measurements and set up shop so that he could properly dispose of this dead body so no one would find out about the dead body…

Cleaner 1

Pretty creepy, huh?  Almost sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel, actually…

Cleaner 2

But seriously, this show has had many unexpected guest stars.  In fact, probably too many to count.  But I think one with my favorite writer deserves a special place on this list.

Cleaner 3

Oh, and apparently poor old Dickie Bachman did not die of cancer of the pseudonym.  No sir, he passed on to the Sons of Anarchy level of The Tower, where he listens to 80’s music while quietly disposing of dead bodies.

Rose


 

Otto removes his own tongue (Season 5, episode 13)

Oh Otto, you can’t blame the cat on this one, can you?

catgotyourtongue

Nope, only you are responsible for the loss of your tongue.  All felines have been cleared in any wrongdoing in this case.

Again, Sons of Anarchy can be gruesome (I am serious about that warning about not eating while watching this show.  Quite serious).  And Otto Delaney biting his own tongue off is certainly the textbook case of gruesome.  Really, if anyone were to actually write a textbook on gruesome, this moment ought to be included.

Otto 1

This moment also showcased Otto’s character, letting the viewer know that he would always remain loyal to SAMCRO, no matter what extremes he needed to go to.

Otto 2

Apologies if that last statement sounded tongue in cheek (see what I did there).


 

Jax and Tara make love in the same room as the dead body of Tara’s ex (Season 1, episode 8)

So you’ve just killed your former high school sweetheart’s asshole of an ex, who has been stalking your sweetie and apparently can’t leave well enough alone.  Now you’re horny and feel an urge to get it on.  And it looks like the weird, creepy guy who takes payment in blood-covered souvenirs is not around to help with the “cleaning”…what on earth are you going to do?

Well, getting a room is obviously out of the question, so you do the next best thing…

As in, follow the lead of these guys:

Jamie and Cersei 2

No, not commit incest!  Are you sick or something?

Not commit incest, but make love right there in the same room as the dead body, like most sensible people would do, right?

Jax and Tara 1

And maybe the fact that your boyfriend was the one who killed your ex (or rather, helped you finish off the job) is an aphrodisiac.  After all, when the urge strikes, sometimes you can’t fight it.

This scene is also memorable in that it sets the tone for Jax and Tara’s relationship.  Even early in their relationship, the couple is plagued by violence, and also by secrets that may come back to haunt someone later.  This incident is just one of many that will test the relationship, and make one wonder just how far Jax and Tara will go to protect one another.

SONS OF ANARCHY: 203: L-R: Charie Hunnam and Maggie Siff on SONS OF ANARCHY airing Tuesday, Sept. 22'rd, 10 pm e/p on FX. CR: Prashant Gupta / FX

The fact that my hero Jax Teller killed a man who coincidentally shared the same last name as my rat bastard ex husband is just icing on the cake.

Icing 1


 

Clay’s savage beating of Gemma (Season 4, episode 10)

In Sons of Anarchy, no one is safe.  This not only includes individual people, but couples too.  Even the strongest couples will struggle under the influence of SAMCRO, as loyalty to the club can test anyone’s bond.

Clay and Gemma 1

And those bonds include Clay and Gemma’s.  At the beginning of the series, it seemed as if that relationship was one of the strongest and could actually withstand the pressures of the club and the lifestyle that came with it.  Sure, Clay and Gemma had some volatile moments, but it seemed that they were a rock solid couple and would be able to work through anything together…

Until Clay tried to hurt Gemma’s family, by attempting to kill Tara, which resulted in Tara’s hand being injured and her career as a surgeon nearly being ruined.  And as stated before, no sane person ever tries to hurt Gemma’s family.  EVER.

Apparently, Clay never got the memo and tried to hurt Gemma’s family anyway.  And was then rightfully confronted by Gemma.  What followed next was a savage beating.  And it was issued by Clay to Gemma, instead of the other way around. Spousal abuse is always brutal, but this instance was especially brutal, as it appeared that Clay and Gemma were previously a loving couple.  The fact that Clay and Gemma were such a loving couple made this scene that much more emotionally crippling.

This scene was also a major pivotal point in the series.  Clay was traveling a dark path, but it seemed that there may still have been redemption for him.  However, this beating of Gemma foreshadowed the eventual downfall of Clay, in much the same manner as the fall of Claudius from Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, and the rise of a new leader in Jax.

SONS OF ANARCHY: Season Finale: L-R: Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal on SONS OF ANARCHY airing Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10 pm e/p on FX. CR: Prashant Gupta / FX


 

The death of Donna Winston (Season 1, Episode 12)

Everyone is expendable in Sons of Anarchy.  Everyone.  No one is safe, not even the innocent folks (as few and far between as those folks may be).

And Donna Winston was one of those few truly innocent people.  She was troubled by her husband Opie’s involvement with SAMCRO, due to the time he spent in prison on behalf of the club, but also stood by her husband.  She was also the mother to their two children, and was fiercely protective of her children.  In short, she tried to do the right thing.

Opie and Donna 2

Not only was Donna innocent and the victim of a bullet meant for her husband (due to Clay’s paranoia), her death was unnecessary.  Clay believed that Opie had betrayed the club, but that belief could not have been further from the truth.  However, Clay was still determined to have his son’s best friend and fellow member Piney’s son pay for his sins.  This backfired horribly, and the club and Donna’s remaining family was left to pick up the pieces.

Donna 1

In other words, Donna’s death set the stage for even more OMG moments on Sons of Anarchy.

Opie and Donna 1


Jax double crosses Damon Pope and uses Tig as bait (Season 5, episode 13)

When you’re a gunslinger  member of SAMCRO, sometimes you have to make tough decisions…

Roland 2

Sometimes, you have to throw your friends to the wolves, so to speak.

South Park wolf

But good gunslingers  members of SAMCRO know how to use trickery to their advantage.  And that is exactly what Jax did to get rid of his arch nemesis Damon Pope:  he used trickery.  And that trickery would have made a certain gunslinger proud, and perhaps even a little envious.  Oh, and this allowed Jax’s buddy to take revenge on the monster who burned his buddy’s daughter alive.  Oh, one more thing…this was another step in the downfall of Clay, and the rise of Jax as a leader, as the death of Pope was actually placed on Clay and not Jax (stealing your stepfather’s gun can be a good thing sometimes).

Jax and Pope 1

And Tig survived, which made me happy.  Jax may be my favorite character, but Tig would do in a pinch.  In fact, I could have seem fun with Tig, if he just gave me one night…hey, what can I say, he doesn’t judge, and people who don’t judge are just hot!

Tig 1


 

The gang rape of Gemma (Season 2, episode 1)

Again, Sons of Anarchy is shocking.  And violent.  Brutal, at times.  And one of the most brutal moments was the portrayal of the gang rape of Gemma.

Gemma Teller Morrow was one of the most complex female characters in television history.  She was tough, smart and charismatic.  Often, her actions left the viewer scratching his/her head, and sometimes those actions were more brutal than those of any other character on the show, including those of the male characters.  This is exactly why she was a fascinating, if somewhat unpredictable character:  she was capable of surprise, both good and bad.

Gemma 2

And this is exactly why the gang rape of Gemma was one of the most painful scenes in the entire series.  The viewer had seen enough of Gemma to sympathize with her, even if her actions were not always admirable.  The shows producers pulled no punches with this scene, including the build up, where Gemma was kidnapped by none other than another female.  The subsequent fallout and Gemma dealing with the trauma in later episodes, along with the reactions from the men in her life once the rape is revealed to them (as Gemma kept it a secret to protect the club before she finally cracked), were emotionally devastating…there is simply no other word to describe it.

Gemma 1

I’ve been known to ugly cry over emotional scenes in books, TV and movies, and this scene was one of those moments.  In fact, very few scenes in any book, TV show or movie have made me react this way.

ugly cry


 

The death of Gemma (Season 7, episode 12)

Building something on lies is like building a hut made out of sticks:  it may hold up for a while, but eventually the wolf will find it and blow it away like the hair on his chinny chin chin.

big bad wolf

And like the little pig that chose to build his house out of twigs instead of bricks, Gemma chose to build hers on lies instead of the mortar of truth.  And her house may have held up for a little while, but eventually the big bad wolf found the lies and the house was blown down, exposing its non-existent foundation.

Roland 1

Gemma murdered her daughter-in-law Tara in a fit of rage, and blamed it on members of a rival gang known as The Lin Triad.  Jax sought revenge, and things got bloody.  Very bloody.  However, the truth was eventually revealed to Jax.  And things go from bloody to tragic.  Gemma’s lie sets in motion a chain of events that culminates in her own death, at the hands of her one surviving child, Jax.  And the path Jax had been traveling was dark.  But when he murders his mother, that path becomes even darker, and Jax now knows that his fate is sealed.

Gemma 3

The imagery in this episode was wonderful.  The red and white roses, along with the blood spattered white sneakers, fit the theme of the episode so well, and also provided excellent foreshadowing for Jax’s fate.

Jax and Gemma 2


 

Now, I know I said that I was not ranking any of these moments in any particular order.  However, this blog post is about to prove that is a lie, as there is one moment that stands out to me and that I will never be able to forget…

So here we go…

drum-roll-please

 


 

Opie’s death (Season 5, episode 3)

Many members of SAMCRO made some tremendous sacrifices and suffered greatly, all in the name of protecting the club (Otto immediately comes to mind).  However, no one suffered in the name of protecting the club as much as Opie Winston, son of Piney and best friend to Jax.

Opie 4

Not only did Opie serve jail time for the club, he also lost his wife Donna due to the misguided actions of members of the club.  And the club was also responsible for the death of his father, Piney.  SAMCRO dealt huge losses to Opie, and he had every right to be hurt and angry.

Opie 5

And Opie was hurt and angry.  However, his loyalty to the club remained steadfast.  His loyalty was so strong that Opie made the ultimate sacrifice for the club:  his life.

Opie 2

For once, I have no words to describe the death of Opie.  Brutal and heartbreaking don’t seem to be nearly adequate.  Again, the show spared no detail, and I watched as Opie was clubbed to death in front of his friends, who were also helpless to stop it.  It was simply one of the most painful and heartbreaking moments I had ever witnessed, yet I was helpless to stop watching.  And this was yet another incident that provided some foreshadowing for the dark path Jax would travel down and his eventual fate.

“I got this.”  These are Opie’s last words.  Never has that phrase sounded so chilling.

Opie 3


 

And there you have it.  My top OMG moments for Sons of Anarchy.  I am sure I have missed a few, but this show is chock full of them.  And its chock full of so many other things:  humor, great characters, great symbols, witty one-liners and some awesome literary references.  But more importantly, Sons of Anarchy is chock full of great writing.  So if you find yourself whiling away a Sunday afternoon and doing absolutely nothing productive, at least while your afternoon away watching Jax Teller and his friends…you will have no regrets, I promise!

Sons 1