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'Sons of Anarchy' recap: Did Gemma do the right thing last night?

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Katey-Sagal_l“Do you want me gone?”

“Yes.”

With this curt but emotion-flooded exchange between Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and Clay (Ron Perlman), “going nomad” began to look inevitable, and Sons of Anarchy roared off in a daring new direction. You don’t take one of your stars and put him on another team (unless you’re Friday Night Lights). But SOA has proven that — like the FX series whose rough unpredictability it most resembles, The Shield — it’s willing to make drastic changes to earn its drama. HERE’S YOUR SPOILER ALERT IF YOU DID NOT YET WATCH LAST NIGHT’S SONS OF ANARCHY. Following up on last week’s threat to “go nomad” — that is, leave the motorcycle club’s charter — Jax spent some time pondering the pages of his dead father’s uncompleted manuscript, what Jax called the “half-angry-manifesto, half-MC-love-letter” writings that were supposed to serve as a new guidebook for the SAMCRO future.

(I want to just stop here and say that it’s a testament to the creativity of creator Kurt Sutter and his writers that he’s made convincing what could be a batch of ludicrously over-the-top, hardboiled-romantic notions — foremost among them, that we can root for a motorcycle gang that commits violence, breaks the law to survive, and still lives by a moral code. With each succeeding week, I keep saying to myself, “I can’t believe I’m invested in characters like this, but I’m all-in now.”)

The Jax-Clay beef is founded in history (the accidental murder of Opie’s wife), error (Jax thought Clay burned down the porn palace), and truth (Clay thinks Jax wants to oust him as SAMCRO leader). As is true of this kind of resentment, it only festers and gets worse, something Bobby has been saying for weeks now. Bobby’s great line last night: “I think this club needs a psychic shift of some sort.” Right on.

Not since The Wire have there been more rival gangs and ethnicities opposed to and united with each other. It’s cunning the way IRA gun supplier Titus Welliver manipulates Chibs by threatening the latter’s family. With intricate precision, this has led Chibs into an arrangement with ATF agent Stahl that can only spell some kind of doom, right?

The scene in which SAMCRO discovers a supply of bullets hidden by a group of Native Americans? Hilariously cold-blooded. And just plain flat-out hilarious: The Native Americans’ insistence upon selling psychedelic mushrooms along with the bullets, and Clay’s idea of testing the merchandise is to have Tig and Half-Sack eat a bit of the ‘shrooms.

One of the beauties of last night’s bountiful episode is that it used the season’s new main villain, Adam Arkin’s Zobelle, primarily as a looming threat — he’s all the more effective for being, at this point, above all the down-and-dirtiness. Which, the series’ makers know, makes us want Clay, Jax — hell, anyone wearing colors and riding a bike — to bring him down with bloody vengeance.

Which would seem to be something that can’t be too far off, after last night’s perfectly calibrated scenes of Gemma finally speaking openly of her rape at the hands of Zobelle’s thugs. Her decision to do this was both brave and expedient: She needed a reason to bring Jax back into the fold, to help repair the rift. She also needed to end her own silent agony, but at what price, now that macho Clay knows and may view her as a defiled woman?

My questions:

Do you think Gemma did the right thing in speaking out about her rape, and what do you think the ramifications of this are going to be?

(You can, as always, follow me on Twitter.)

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