For anyone who thinks this season of Sons of Anarchy has been tough to follow, this episode makes things a bit simpler: Jax now has SAMCRO, the One-Niners, the Grim Bastards, and the Mayans united in a mission to take out August Marks after another action-packed day. (Don’t you want to map their whereabouts and see how many miles they cover?) Even more impressive: Jax’s mind works faster than whatever speed they’re traveling. He also figures out a way to make things right with Tully and the AB, and how to use Gemma’s eye-witness account to keep the DA from offering Lin a deal to flip on the MC. Does he have a plan for traitor Juice that doesn’t involve a bullet? We’ll see. Let’s dig in.
Gemma lives, for now: Did Juice expect Gemma to make it somewhere walking 12 miles in spiked boots, or did he leave her for dead? Either way, he didn’t shoot her and she’s got a lot of time to kill while Unser and Wendy drive to get her. Gemma sits at a diner and talks to Tara, saying that seeing how Jax loved her when they were kids was the first time she realized he wouldn’t be hers forever. The waitress (Lea Michele) interrupts her to tell her not to smoke, and though Gemma is rude at first, she warms up to the sweet, soft-spoken Gertie, who offers her a blueberry danish (we know Gemma enjoys baked goods).
When Gertie later takes a smoke break, she invites Gemma to join her. Is Gertie the younger version of Gemma? Married young when she got pregnant, loves her son more than the (ex)husband, and has highlights? Gemma lets her guard down long enough to admit that it’s her fault that her daughter-in-law is dead, but then she steels up again saying she can’t stop it and that’s just life. That’s classic Gemma: The truth won’t do her any good, so she compartmentalizes and focuses on what she can control. Gertie is way too trusting telling exhausted Gemma where she hides her car keys (which is dangerous enough). Gemma can tell Gertie’s a good girl and that her son is lucky to have her. It’s strange: You know what a compliment that is coming from matriarch Gemma, and yet, knowing what she’s capable of, you wonder if her opinion should matter at all. Not up for debate, however: Lea Michele was well cast. It’s believable that Gemma would be kind to her; she is to those who don’t threaten her.
Gemma is pissed when Wendy shows up with Unser because she was supposed to come alone. Clearly, Gemma knows Unser won’t buy that Juice would sever his only lifeline. Unser asks if she killed him—half joking. Gemma claims it was almost the other way around, and again, Unser is flummoxed: Gemma isn’t a threat. If she rats Juice out, Jax will find out she helped him. Gemma says it doesn’t matter why Juice snapped, bottom line, Juice couldn’t pull the trigger. “This time,” Unser says. (Foreshadowing?) He tells Gemma about Lin being arrested and that now is the time to tie him to Tara’s murder—either she tells Jarry what she saw or he will. What’s he doing?? “The right thing, for a change,” Unser says. On the one hand, you don’t ever want to hear a man tell Gemma what to do. On the other, he’s right. She needs to talk. For the first time, I wondered if Gemma might kill Unser. Would it be poetic after all the years he’s loved her and supported her? Yes. But Unser is at his best as a character when he’s the clever one. What if HE’S the one who ultimately puts a bullet in Gemma, choosing to shoot her because she’s got a gun on someone?
Diosa Recovery: Tig leads Jax, Chibs, and Quinn in tequila shots at Diosa to honor the fallen escorts. “I’m sorry, ladies,” Jax says. “We made it right.” (Really? And what about the Johns that were killed? Nothing for them?) Slamming the shotglasses down together in unison makes the sound of a gavel because this is just business for the club. As if to prove it, Tig and Jax go through the books and Tig naturally gets distracted by one dead goddess offering a mint-flavored bl– job. Nero walks in, and Jax tells him they should simply clean the place up and hire more girls. People will come back? Tig says they could’ve left the bodies on the floor and guys would return. “Too soon?” he asks. Yes.
Nero tells Jax that Lin “is done”—which just means he’s out of business—and that he doubts the remaining Triads will attempt any retaliation this far north. Since the liquor store is locked up tight, Nero’s expecting a visit from Alvarez. Jax promises that SAMCRO has his back. This joke is welcome:
Jax: Who knows, may be calling you stepdaddy soon.
Nero: Yeah, we all know how well that worked out in the past.
Jax: Yeah, we’re a fun family.
Jimmy Smits does more with a sigh than most actors do in entire scenes.
Eventually, Alvarez and the Stockton Mayan president Oscar “El Oso” Ramos roll in with some guys to talk to Nero about Lin getting busted. Nero tells them he got involved because Gemma saw the Chinese leaving Jax’s house. Ramos suggests it’s convenient that Gemma is the only witness. (Ding! Ding! Ding!) Outlaw code is a powerful thing though: Nero explains that Lin gave him the ultimatum to either bring him Jax or risk his life and that of his son, so he made a choice. Alvarez softens a bit but still has to handle it as a betrayal. Ramos takes a call and motions Alvarez over. Did you see Smits’ eyebrows drop half an inch? That’s anger over someone else determining his fate. They decide to take Nero with them to Marcus’ “office,” and when Alvarez says for Nero not to make it harder than it has to be, it felt like we were finally saying goodbye to Nero. (Did anyone else talk to their screen and warn Marcus not to touch him? Just me? Okay.) Ultimately, he ends up in holding cell (read: closet).
Juice’s hail mary: Juice has Gemma’s SUV and knocks over a liquor store for some Blow Pops and cash. Mostly the cash. He doesn’t care if there’s a camera or that customers can see him. He knocks out the clerk, whose head bleeds next to a pack of Dismas smokes (that’s “saint” in Spanish). Later, he drives by the Mayan liquor store and gets the idea to ask them for help. That must have been the call Ramos took at Diosa because they’re expecting Juice when he walks in to Marcus’ office and admits SAMCRO wants him dead. He asks for safe passage to Mexico and an ID, and in exchange, he offers a little under two grand and Gemma’s Navigator. When that’s not enough, he offers any intel they’d like on SAMCRO. Finally, Juice is a real rat. Guy Ferland, who directed this episode, says he wanted that spotlight on Juice and Alvarez to help convey the weight of the club on Juice in that moment—it’s like an interrogation. Combine it with Juice not being able to look Alvarez in the eye afterward, and you feel it.
NEXT: Jax sets a new plan in motion