With her trial date rapidly approaching, Tara finally puts her exit strategy in motion on Tuesday’s Sons of Anarchy by attempting to best Gemma in a nasty game of cat and… far more devious cat. The stalwart men of SAMCRO, meanwhile, come to the rescue of an in-need Venus Van Dam (played by the incomparable Walton Goggins).
Tara, along with her trusty (?) cohorts Wendy, Unser and Margaret, draw Gemma to the hospital, where they pull the trigger on Part 1 of Tara’s foolproof plan: to secure a restraining order against the queen.
Wendy finds Gemma in the parking lot and gives her a faux update on Tara’s latest move, one which finds custody of Abel and Thomas going to none other than hospital bosslady Margaret. Furious, Gemma storms into the very public cafeteria and insists she and Tara sort this situation out — demands that the latter refuses. She, instead, heads to a nearby conference room, places a blood bag beneath her dress (ew) and awaits Gemma’s inevitable arrival.
Having just choked out Margaret (in front of a rather large audience!), Gemma enters the room and the two go at it with the verbal jabs.
After being on the receiving end of Tara’s snide, “They will not know their angry and psychotic grandmother,” Gemma slaps her daughter-in-law — and Tara slaps right back. However, the physical assault unexpectedly stops there, with Gemma sneering, “You’re lucky you’re pregnant.”
Desperate to stick with her plan, Tara lets out a guttural scream and throws herself against the corner of a table, leaving Gemma with her jaw on the floor. The result: Everyone who’s just entered the room (including Margaret, Unser, Wendy and a few nurses) sees Gemma stand watch as Tara lies there bleeding out.
With Margaret shouting that they all saw Gemma attack Tara, security leads her out of the room and, ultimately, she winds up booked by Charming PD. Tara, meanwhile, informs a heartbroken Jax that she’s lost their baby girl — and, in regard to Gemma, exclaims, “I can’t be around her anymore, Jax. I don’t ever want her near our children again… You promise me!” He, of course, obliges, and signs the restraining order.
As a favor to Nero — who calls Venus his “familia” — the Sons step in to save her “newphew”/son from the clutches of his evil mother. Explains Venus, “when my inclinations began to dominate my gender directions” as a boy, her mother would get her drunk and sleep with her, trying to quite literally “straighten her out.” Venus, of course, wants to get her son away from suffering a similar fate.
Here, Goggins chats with TVLine about the joys of slipping back into Venus’
boobs shoes, what’s really going on with Tig and whether or not he’ll be returning to Sons any time soon.
VTVLINE | Venus’ story was much more serious this time around. Was the energy on set different than it was last season?
Yeah, it was. First and foremost, it was more than just one day; it took place over the course of three weeks because it was two episodes. Sustaining that and living in that headspace was a little more challenging — for myself as much as it was for my wife! [Laughs] She kept saying, ‘Where are my shoes?’ Both Kurt [Sutter] and I weren’t interested in repeating what we’d done last season and it would have done a disservice to Venus. If we were going to do it again, we wanted to see another side of her and to see the tragedy in her life and the pain that she’s been living with — and also how that can impact the larger story that is Sons of Anarchy. So, I was just over the moon with what Kurt and his writers came up with. I’m a new parent, I have a three-year-old son, and regardless of your sexual orientation, the idea of having to hide who you are or not to participate in the things that I’ve been able to participate in as a parent? It’s heartbreaking. It was very personal to me and very personal to Kurt. We both are in love with her. I don’t stop thinking about Venus, and as soon as I took those high heels off, I wanted to put them right back on. She’s a very courageous, very flawed, very strong woman — or let’s shoot right past that and say [that she's a strong] person in the world.
TVLINE | Did you know ahead of time that the work would be so much heavier this time around?
I did not know that it was going into Venus’ backstory. I knew that it would be very serious, because the audience had a certain expectation from their experience with Venus… But we hopefully infused it with some humor, because that’s just who Venus is. She’s a very funny woman and a very cool woman. The things that she says and does are also funny, so we tried to have our cake and eat it too, I suppose.
TVLINE | Gemma seemed to feel an immediate connection to Venus. Were there any discussions between you and Katey Sagal about why that might be?
No, but I think it was so cathartic for Katey [as Gemma]. Venus is outside the person that Gemma would normally hang out with or have compassion for, but in that moment she came full circle and surprised herself with how much compassion and love that she really does have. For Katey and her character coming to it the way that she does and really showing this tender side and this compassion for another human being that isn’t in her immediate family? It was a big step in her evolution. As it is for Charlie [Hunnam]‘s Jax and for the whole gang. What I was most surprised about and happiest with is that I no longer thought of myself — speaking as Venus as herself — as someone other than a human being; she was accepted for who she was as a person in distress who needed help.
TVLINE | You share such incredible chemistry with Kim Coates. How did the Venus/Tig relationship come to fruition?
First off, I’m such a fan of Kim Coates. Everything he does is grounded in reality and he’s such a good actor that it was a pleasure to have these discussions before [we shot] and to really talk about, ‘What is this? Really, what is this?’ What I was so surprised about was that there was no sexuality in that moment at all. He was putting his arm around a person and comforting that person when they needed to be comforted. It takes a lot to earn that and I thought what Kim did there was amazing. Now, I don’t know what happens when they go home! That’s another episode. [Laughs] But in that moment it was not about Venus Van Dam as a transgender and Tig as a biker; it was about two human beings that are looking at this very difficult situation and one supporting another. It’s beautiful.
TVLINE | Will Venus be back again this season?
I can’t tell you that! [Laughs] I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw her again. I’m in love with her and I miss her as much as I’ll miss [Justified's] Boyd Crowder and as much as I already miss [The Shield's] Shane Vendrell — and I think Kurt feels the same way. In some ways this is like a second family to me, and I’m such a fan of all the people that work over there; I’ve known them for a long time now… So, I hope I get to put on a dress again! [Laughs]