By Mandi Bierly
October 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Prashant Gupta/FX
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Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s Sons of Anarchy, stop reading now. Charlie Hunnam has perfected that stone-cold glare, and he got to use it a lot in this episode as the heat was turned back on Clay and Gemma became a pawn. Let’s break it down, starting with the accident.

Seeing Abel on a stretcher was upsetting enough, but then add in the fact that Jax and Tara didn’t yet know about the accident. Instead of seeing them rushing to the hospital, we watched Jax take care of the guy he killed when he and Chibs were run off the road. “I’m gonna tell her there’s a dead black guy in the back of our car,” Jax said, as he prepared to drive Tara and the body to the cabin. Once there, Jax asked Tara to stay inside the bedroom. It was nice of him to put the music on so she wouldn’t hear him pick up an axe and cut off the dead guy’s hands. Jax told the boys to take one hand to Unser to ID him and the other to Damon Pope to do the same. Very smart — if Pope hired the guy, he’d lie about who he is. Tara finally got the call about Abel and Thomas and told Jax they had to go. “It’s my babies,” she said. Why not our babies? Was that to reiterate that she’s a protective mama bear or that she, at least at times, sees herself and the kids in a life without Jax?

At the hospital, as Tara and Jax watched Abel in surgery to reverse his irregular heartbeat and wondered if Gemma had been high or drunk, Clay tried to comfort an inconsolable Gemma in her room. You knew Clay would seize the opportunity to help his Blame Pope campaign by telling Jax that Gemma had been run off the road by a van at the same time Jax and Chibs were under fire. Clay told Gemma he couldn’t bear to have Jax hate her, too, and he, of course, knew she’d go along with his story so Jax wouldn’t keep her away from the kids. (Notice Gemma called them “my babies,” too). Unser determined the dead guy, Charles Turner, had no ties to Pope; Pope gave Jax the same name.

Eli showed up at the hospital to tell the club that the detectives would need all the information they had on the nomads. Clay had the nerve to apologize for not vetting them better. “They were white, racist, and violent. That fits all the requirements, right?” Roosevelt said. He asked to see Juice alone and wanted to know if Frankie Diamonds was the one calling the shots. Roosevelt knew Clay would be curious about their conversation. “You’re gonna get me killed,” Juice pleaded. “That concern left me when I watched my wife die,” Roosevelt said. Poor, Juicey.

Back in Gemma’s room, Gemma told Nero the truth about the accident and that she let Jax believe what Clay told him. Nero knew the truth would come out and told her it was best to get out in front of it. Excellent advice, Nero. Too bad Clay interrupted them. “I need to step out. My bowels get very loose in situations like this,” Chucky said. Love him. Clay walked Nero out and told him he’d kill him if he didn’t end things with Gemma. There’s the Clay we love to hate. Tara thanked Gemma for keeping the kids safe. She seems to think Gemma did an excellent job driving into the tree. I thought Gemma might break when Jax started asking her questions about the van, but she didn’t. She’s in too deep.

Jax and the boys went to visit Turner’s brother-in-law, who they figured was the driver. He was hanging with the van and a bunch of guys. Which one was he? They knew when he saw them and immediately started firing. A rare SOA foot chase occurred to the top of a building — uh oh. The guy said he was just helping his brother-in-law. Frankie Diamonds, an old friend from Chino, had hired Charlie by giving him his custom chopper worth $75,000. Jax wanted to know why they went after his family. The guy said they didn’t. What would Jax do with him? Jax told him to “come here” and put his arm around him. I assumed he was going to push him off the roof — which is why he didn’t. Instead, Jax shot him three times in the gut. The guy sat down on the ledge, died, and fell backwards doing flips on the way down. It wasn’t pretty, and yet, it was. I’m beginning to think Chibs is tiring of Jax’s impromptu violence. Does he want Jax to delegate to him or to let the club vote before he offs someone?

NEXT: Frankie Diamonds sucks

Jax, Bobby, and Chibs went to see Nero at Escort HQ, and Frankie Diamonds was there. He had Nero tied to a chair and a gun in Lyla’s mouth. He wanted $200,000. Nero offered him $130,00 and a couple of good watches that were in his safe in a closet in his studio. Nero made taking the gun out of Lyla’s mouth a condition. So chivalrous. Frankie sent Bobby to get the cash and told Jax that Clay was behind the break-ins. Jax asked if Clay had signed off on going after Gemma and the kids, and Frankie said that wasn’t them. Frankie got the money (anyone else think Bobby was gonna come back with a gun that was in that safe as well?), and took Chibs as a hostage. If the club came after him, he’d kill Chibs. Jax told Frankie he was making a mistake, and Frankie shot Lyla in the leg. God bless her, she wanted to know if Frankie was gonna kill Chibs, and Bobby, in his sweetest voice, said he’d probably just leave him out when he gets far enough away. Frankie was going to shoot Chibs as he knelt on the side of the road, but after Chibs told him the least he could do was look him in the eye as he did it, Frankie clocked him on the back of the head with the gun instead. Chibs was last seen bleeding in the dirt, but I assume he’ll live. Again, he’s right by the road. If he was in the woods, there’d be more suspense.

Nero figured Jax bringing club trouble to Escort HQ’s doorstep before the doors even opened rendered their stay-away-from-Gemma deal null and void. He told Jax that no one had driven Gemma off the road, and that she’d only let Clay lie for her because she was scared. Jax told Nero that Gemma was his problem now. Jax went to confront Gemma as she was holding Thomas in Abel’s very large hospital room. Jax removing Thomas from her lap as he said he got new information — I wouldn’t have put it past him to hit her like Nero was worried he would. Instead, it was Tara who punched Gemma in the face after Gemma admitted she was getting high with Unser when Tara called to ask her to watch the kids and just didn’t want to miss her chance to be with them. “You’re done. You don’t call, see, or come near my kids again. Get out!” Tara yelled. It was only afterward, when Tara winced, that I realized she’d used her wounded hand.

Back to Clay: He pressured Juice into telling him why Roosevelt has targeted him since they got out of jail. Juice came clean about everything: his father being black, helping the Feds with the RICO case, and killing Miles. Clay told him he’d ordered the nomads to Unser’s trailer and killed Greg himself. Clay said that made them even, no one else needs to know, and their fates are linked. No one on this show plays vulnerable better than Theo Rossi. So quiet and innocent, you can almost imagine those sad, scared eyes convincing Jax to spare his life if he ever finds out Juice is the rat. And that may happen soon.

Bobby reminded Jax that Clay’s fate has to be decided by the club, not just him. Jax doesn’t want Clay to know they’re onto him (again) until they can prove it. Roosevelt came to see Jax and gave him extra motivation: The DNA evidence under Rita’s nails was inconclusive, so if Jax brings him whoever was responsible for killing Rita and their unborn child (she was 7 weeks along, Eli told Jax), he’ll deliver Jax the rat at his table. Yep, Juice is screwed. But then again, maybe not…

Jax is showing mercy for those Clay thinks he can trust. Jax told Tara about needing to prove Clay was behind the nomads so the club could vote to cut him out and kill him. He has a plan, but she probably won’t like it, he said. (That was a nice callback to the season 4 premiere, when Jax and Tara had a conversation in bed about Jax’s exit strategy after he proposed.) Jax went to see Clay and told him he thought Frankie had “hired black” to throw them off, and that Tara had cut Gemma out after hearing the truth about the accident. Jax said he wasn’t mad at Clay — he’d have lied, too, to protect Tara. He assured Clay that Gemma was dead to his family. You knew what he was doing: He was convincing Clay that now was the time to get Gemma back — he’s all she has left. It’s a good thing Clay never really looked at Jax during that conversation: Jax couldn’t quite hide how much he was enjoying setting this in motion.

Then, of course, Jax went to see Gemma, who’s staying with Nero. He told her the truth about Clay, and that the only way she can get back into his family’s life is if she helps him take Clay down.

Jax: I want you to be with him. Sleep with him. Make him feel like a king. The dirty secrets will start to flow, just like they always did.

Gemma: What if I can’t do that?

Jax: Then get used to living in a brothel because hookers and bangers are gonna be your only family.

Amazing. I am both excited and horrified by the thought of watching Gemma with Clay again. I guess her almost killing Jax’s two kids (and whatever role she had in his father’s death) means we’re not supposed to feel too, too bad for her. But that’s why you have an actress like Katey Sagal in the role: We will. It could be her best story line since season 2.

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Where do you think we’re headed? Will Juice survive this season?

Read more:

‘Sons of Anarchy’ recap: Another wild ride

Dave Navarro to guest star on ‘Sons of Anarchy’

‘Sons of Anarchy’ recap: The table’s divided, and it’s a small world after all

‘Sons of Anarchy’: Walton Goggins discusses transformational role — AWESOME PHOTO

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