At the risk of sounding like a blood-lusting savage, boy, was I looking forward to watching SAMCRO inflict some damage on the League, and last night on Sons of Anarchy, we pretty much got the battle we, or at least I, had been waiting for.

But first: The episode started with the SAMCRO leadership puts the families of the club under lock-down — precautionary protection before the revenge the big boys plan to exact from Zobelle and the League. Spending some quality-time together, Gemma tells Tara that the rest of the people in the club will now show her “respect” because she’s “Jax’s old lady” and “not some CRO-eater.” (This was one of those moments when I thought, am I really rooting for this machismo-fuelled gang of motorcycle thugs who still call a girlfriend an “old lady,” as though the ’60s had never passed? Then I considered how cleverly crude the phrase “CRO-eater” was, and decided I was being unnecessarily prissy and enjoyed the rest of the hour.)

There was a lot of good, fast deal-making early on here. Chibs, Jimmy, ATF agent Stahl, plus the Asian, the “Mayans,” and the black gangs all variously bargained, committed, or betrayed. A consensus was forming, however: None of these folks wanted Zobelle and his alliance with the League to interfere with them anymore. Bad ol’ white supremacy: it brings disparate groups together!

Some superb moments bullet-pointed:

• Gemma calling Chuck — he of the chopped fingers, save for his index digits — “Stubby,” with Chuck proving to be of great help to SAMCRO

• The look on Weston’s face when Jax tells him that Zobelle is “in bed with the Mayans” (ooh — race-mixing! Westin can’t abide that!)

• I could swear that when Westin then confronts Zobelle about this, he said, “You race-traiting sonofabitch!” “Race-traiting”? Did anyone else hear this neologism, or was it something else? If that was correct, my hat is off to SOA creator Kurt Sutter once again for his bending of the language

• Zobelle’s ultra-creepy behavior with his daughter, Polly, kissing her on the lips a bit too passionately, and, before that, sniffing her fingers and murmuring, “You smell of the Irishman” — b-r-r-r-r….

• Tara’s “assault” upon the hospital administrator who’s been giving her a hard time (again, I know I shouldn’t be enthused about such violence, but… well, judge me if you will)

• Gemma’s heartfelt declaration that she believes it is her mission in life to be “of service” and that “God wants me to be a fierce mother — that’s my path,” thus freeing her to be both devout and righteous in her fury from this day forward

• Weston, when the League brings guns to the site of the SAMCRO fight after having promised not to: “Fair is for losers; I’d rather win” (I realize Henry Rollins has only two expressions — contempt and rage — but he does these very well)

• The fight between SAMCRO and the League, a good, thorough, bloody one

• Zobelle’s clever way of getting out of Clay’s clutches, giving himself up to the police by pointing out the drugs in his cigar store and telling the cops to arrest him and his daughter (and in the process, pitting Unser and Hale against each other in that moment)

• Jax’s episode-ending promise to Zobelle: “We’re gonna kill you”

This late in the season, it’s clear that the overarching theme has been the crucial importance of trust, of keeping one’s word. In thriller literature, this is one of the most important codes of behavior, and Kurt Sutter and his writers are working territory that novelists from Dashiell Hammett to Jim Thompson to Ross Macdonald kept vibrantly alive. Sons of Anarchy is working in this great tradition.

Only one more episode left. (An extra-long one, too.) So I ask you: How do you think the season will end? Will Zobelle get what’s coming to him, or find a comfy bed in prison? What devillishly clever cliffhanger will Kurt Sutter construct for Jax, Clay, and the club? Please post your ideas below; thanks.

(You can follow me on Twitter @kentucker.)