By Mandi Bierly
Updated September 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Sons Of Anarchy
Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

Have you recovered from last week’s emotional season premiere? FX sent the first two episodes to TV critics together, which was fitting because in episode 2, “Authority Vested,” smoke was still coming off poor Dawn’s body when Jax, Bobby, and Chibs (“Tiggy!”) arrived on the scene. But also because together, they show you what this series is capable of: Brutality that landed a spot on our list of TV’s most disturbing scenes ever and moments of love and loyalty that bring a tear to the eye. SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t seen tonight’s episode!

Let’s start with Jax proposing that he and Tara wed at Nero’s. I grinned through that entire scene. Charlie Hunnam puts that smile on his face, and there’s no doubt how much Jax adores her. They have the ability to get so caught up in each other that you, too, for those few seconds, feel as though they’re the only two people in this world/whorehouse.

Jax: Let’s get married. Today.

Tara: Are you serious? [He nods.] I thought you wanted to…

Jax: I don’t want to wait anymore. Whatever happens, Tara, I want you to be my wife. I always have.

Tara: Here, in a brothel, wanted for murder.

Jax: Hey, I’m all about the fairytale, baby.

Tara: So much for romance.

Jax: Hey, I killed a Fed for you. Nothing says endless love like capital murder.

Tara: Well, I guess that’s true. Who should I tell?

Jax: No one. Let’s just do it. I’ll do something for these knuckleheads later.

Chibs: Jackie, we need to go.

Tara: I’ll make the arrangements. [They kiss.]

Jax: I’ll see you later. Make an honest woman out of you.

Tara: [To herself] Good luck.

I teared up a little during the ceremony. Gemma, who wasn’t originally invited to the wedding, brought her and John’s wedding rings for Jax and Tara. That was a reminder that Tara is the new Gemma (see also: Tara reversing her opinion on Jax running off to help Tig find Fawn while there was a warrant out for their arrest). Was Tara having to remove Jax’s SO-NS rings so she could slip on the band suggesting that Jax will still put Tara before the club, or that Tara was, in fact, marrying the club?

The other scene that got me misty: The end, when Opie rode in as Jax, Chibs, and Tig were turning themselves in and punched Roosevelt so he’d get cuffed, too. “What the hell is Opie doing?” Tara asked Gemma. “He’s stayin’ close,” Gemma said. How beautiful was that? Clay had gone to see Opie and told him that walking away from the club because of his hatred for him was wrong, and that the boys were headed into custody. Opie had asked if they’d secured protection inside. He then interrupted Lyla’s porn shoot to ask her to watch his kids because he was going “out-of-town.” Did you know then that he planned on having Jax’s back? I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who went to iTunes and bought Jack Savoretti’s “Soldiers Eyes,” the song used during that montage. That’s right up there with the use of Joshua James’ “Coal War” and Alison Mosshart’s cover of “What a Wonderful World” in the season 4 premiere.

Other key moments in this hour:

• Unser is now investigating the break-ins, which he doesn’t yet know the three newest SAMCRO members are behind. Give him time. “This wasn’t black retaliation. It felt more white to me,” he told Roosevelt. “Really? And how does white feel?” Roosevelt asked. “Sloppy, clumsy, beat down was obligatory not angry.” I like it when we’re reminded that Wayne was good at his old job. The guys took Clay’s safe, which was full of personal documents like his marriage license. Theories?

• Nero and Jax bonded. In his review of the new season, EW’s Ken Tucker talked about how Jimmy Smits glows as Nero, and it’s true. He’s so fun to watch, whether he’s telling Jax his back story (he, too, had a junkie wife; he spent his 30s in Chino, got off the needle, picked up some books, and saw the bigger picture), or playing chicken with the Niners tailing Jax to impress him (“That was fun. Sorry, I don’t get out much”). He’s so likable after these first two episodes — bringing his boy with Spina bifida a stuffed animal! talking about keeping his girls happy by only taking 25 or 30 percent! not ditching Jax! — that I’m worried he’s too good to be true. Could Nero’s response when Jax asked him why he’s helping them be foreshadowing: “Let’s just consider this networking, okay? Maybe at some point, you get to help me.”

• Romeo and Luis don’t seem all that concerned about saving Jax. Jax has the club’s lawyer trying to find out details about Otto’s confession and which current member might have turned rat so Romeo and Luis won’t have the RICO case to hold over them any longer. But the more immediate concern is whether Romeo and Luis can secure Jax, Chibs, Tig, and now Opie protection that will keep them alive until the CIA can get the murder charges against them for Pope’s daughter’s death dropped.

Luis: What happens if we can’t get ’em out.

Romeo: Let black kill him. Go to Plan B.

Luis: We don’t have a Plan B.

Romeo: We will.

• Tig’s daughter Fawn made an entrance as memorable as Nero’s. Tig found her at a house in Oakland — that still had Top Gun and Tin Cup VHS tapes on the shelves — and thought from her screams that she was being sexually assaulted. No, she just likes it rough with her boyfriend, who happens to be black. I thought Kim Coates played the scene that followed — not being able to verbalize that Dawn was dead and Fawn screaming that she hated him — perfectly. The tears in his eyes gut you. Just as they’d done when he told the guys what Pope had done to Dawn. He was emotionally spent. All that was left was just the overwhelming sadness. That shot of him holding Dawn’s charred body after he’d asked the boys to help him remove her before they torched the cop and the cleaner — the empathy and confusion on Bobby’s face was also perfect.

• Gemma is sleeping with Nero, sober. Again, I’m all for this now, but I worry that the season will end with Gemma pointing a gun at him again. The show does like to come full circle.

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Sons of Anarchy

Kurt Sutter’s original series, starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, and Katey Sagal.

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