'Sons of Anarchy' recap: Opie's wake
First things first, that song you want to download, the one played over Opie’s wake, is Greg Holden’s “The Lost Boy.” I got chills when the procession started behind Jax as more voices were added to the repeating chorus: “I will not be commanded/ I will not be controlled/ And I will not let my future go on/ Without the help of my soul.” And then it went back to one voice again, as Jax slammed the door shut on the hearse with a flash of anger on his face. What I liked about that: Jax is holding it together now, making smart decisions, and thinking long-term. It was a reminder of what an effort that is, and how much fight is still in him (for better or worse).
What Jax did right this hour:
• He got the club to unanimously sign off on splitting the muling money with Pope. It’s not trust in Pope, Jax said, it’s fear. They’re buying themselves time.
• He partnered with Nero. We’ve long been told Nero is a man with an exit strategy, and now we know what it is: He wants to bank $1.3 million so he can buy his uncle’s 20-acre spread and give his boy, who loves animals, a farm. Girls are safer than guns and drugs, so Jax made Nero a proposal. Jax will front the cost to get Nero set up in a new location (he’s being evicted), and Nero becomes the booker for the Caracara porn girls who want to supplement their income by giving “the porn star experience” for $1,500 to $5,000 a date. Nero and Jax split the money 50/50. Nero said he didn’t want blowback from what SAMCRO is moving away from, Jax said he didn’t want the heat of what Nero’s trying to get closer to, meaning Gemma. Jax doesn’t want to mix business and family. If I were Gemma, I would’ve wanted Nero to struggle with the decision a little longer. He’s in.
• He stood by Lyla. Did your stomach drop, too, when the hearse first pulled in with Opie’s body?As the president of the club, and as Opie’s best friend, Jax should be there for Lyla, but I was still impressed when he hugged her and knew not to leave her alone in the room with Opie’s open coffin. She needed to tell him she had no idea how to raise three kids on her own and still work to support them. Jax told her she’d get help from her family. Lyla said she had none nearby. That’s when he showed her all the mourners. “That’s your family. Anything you need, you just ask. Anyone says no, they answer to me,” he said. Very presidential.
• He saved Emma Jean. Wanting to make up for the raid that Gemma caused either way (whether it was Emma Jean or Clay who called the cops), Jax offered to do whatever he could to help. Cue two of Nero’s crew coming in to tell Nero they were going to find Emma Jean and kill her. Nero asked Jax and Chibs to find Emma Jean first and get her out-of-town. Nero’s “bottom b—-” Carla overheard Nero tell them where she was staying and called the crew, who showed up just as Emma Jean was hopping on the back of Jax’s bike. (“Hold on, darlin’.”) Chase scene! Emma Jean ended up crashing Jax and guns were drawn. Again, Jax played it smart and pretended like he and Chibs were gonna take Emma Jean out because she’d screwed the club and gotten Gemma arrested. Nero’s guys agreed to it but said they’d need proof she was dead — a thumb and a tit. “Really?” Jax asked. “Okay.” They took Emma Jean to the clubhouse, and Emma Jean told Gemma that Clay never took his pants off, he just asked her to massage his shoulders. Emma Jean insisted she didn’t call the cops. Nero took her to the airport.
• He told Tara she’s the only woman who’s gonna call Abel her son — at least for now. I still think Wendy isn’t getting enough credit for how well she’s handling this situation. She could have made a scene when she saw Abel in the hospital as Tara was taking the boys to daycare, but she didn’t. She met Tara in her office and told her that while Tara can keep her away from Abel now, she won’t be able to keep Abel away from her when he’s a teen who wants to know the truth. That got to Tara, and she told Jax they’d have to tell Abel. But Jax thinks he’s still too young. When he’s older and they know how screwed up he is from Wendy being an addict when she had him and the kidnapping, they can revisit it. Fair enough, I think.
What Jax did wrong this hour:
• He forgot to tell Gemma about Opie. He got distracted when he got to Nero’s, and Gemma had to hear it from Clay, who at least broke it to her more delicately than he had Unser. Gemma had interrupted Clay’s rehab at the clubhouse (which I would be happy to see more of if it means more shirtless Juice), made the other guys leave the room, and had it out with Clay about him checking up on her.
Clay: You want distance, you got it. I don’t even know who you are anymore.
Gemma: Why don’t you bounce my face off the floor. Then maybe you’ll recognize me.
Katey Sagal does the best line readings. Exhibit B: Her sarcastic tone when Carla assumed she’d gotten out of jail because she knows the right people. “Yeah. Or maybe they just realized that I wasn’t a whore.” Anyway, to get out of the conversation, Clay told Gemma he had to get ready for “Ope’s thing.” And then it was clear she hadn’t been told. Clay handled that well, the way he stood in front of her, close enough if she wanted to hug him, but didn’t reach for her. She did cling to him, and then ran out so she could break down in private. “Jesus Christ,” she said. “What the hell’s happening to us?”
I hope Jax knew Gemma had been told before he blurted out, “You know what, mom, I kind of have a few things on my plate today, like buying my best friend, so your need to be loved, worshipped, and adored is a little low on my list today” the next time he saw her.
What Gemma and Tara did wrong — or is it right? — this hour:
• They kicked Carla’s ass. You can tell how desperate Gemma’s become by how see-through that move was. Wendy had stopped by the clubhouse so Gemma could pay back the bail Wendy had posted for her (“Wow, you must really be running out of friends if I am your emergency contact number,” Wendy had said), and Tara saw her. Technically, Tara grabbed Gemma first, but it was Tara who told Gemma to get her hands off of her. Wanting to harness that anger and deflect it Carla’s way, Gemma told Tara how “Dora the Whora” was the real reason Jax went down on his bike. Gemma had the guys clear the garage and put down the door — like she knew it was going to be a cage match. “I was just telling my daughter how you almost got her husband killed today,” Gemma said. Gemma threw the first punch, and once a bloody-lipped Carla took her earrings out, it was on. Tara stood back until it seemed Carla might actually strangle Gemma to death, and then Tara struck her on the back of the leg with a crowbar and took over. Now it was Gemma’s turn to stand back and watch as Tara ultimately beat the crap out of Carla. That final shot with her cast was just as brutal as watching Clay beat Gemma last season. Tara went off by herself and (like Gemma) smoked a joint to take the edge off and (like Jax) zipped up her jacket to hide the blood. I liked how Tara walked alone toward the hearse as Jax led the processional. Was it suggesting that while Tara may come from another walk of life, she’s still a member of the SAMCRO family?
And so, we’re back to where we began. Saying goodbye to Ope. At what point did you get you choked up? Everyone standing when Jax entered the room and Bobby putting Ope’s hat in the coffin started me going, and then Jax putting the picture of him and Opie riding bicycles as children inside Opie’s jacket and saying “I’ll see you later, brother” made the single tear fall.
Your turn. Was this a fitting farewell to Opie? How do you think Gemma will handle Nero shutting her out? (Notice that smile on Carla’s bruised face when Nero helped her into his truck to drive her away.) And do you think this season will ultimately bring Jax and Tara closer or push them farther apart?
Kurt Sutter’s original series, starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, and Katey Sagal.