By Mandi Bierly
Updated November 13, 2012 at 12:00 PM EST
Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
  • TV Show
  • FX

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s Sons of Anarchy, stop reading now. Before the season 5 premiere, Kim Coates (Tig) told EW that because SOA creator Kurt Sutter is planning for seven seasons, the show doesn’t have to pull any punches now. “It’s just all in. We’re all in. We’re all f—ed,” Coates said. He wasn’t lying. Each episode, they’ve all been f—ed a little more, in ways we may or may not have seen coming. Tara’s always been the character we’re supposed to relate to, and her words in that final scene, as she sat shell-shocked after realizing that she could be facing an accessory to murder charge, resonated:

Jax: Babe, I’m not gonna let that happen. Okay. We’re gonna get through this like we do everything else.

Tara: [She leans in.] That’s what scares me the most. [They kiss.]

Let’s dig in.

We picked up with Jax tailing Juice. Luckily, a squad car was waiting outside Juice’s house to supposedly take him in for questioning on the nomad murders at Unser’s. Really, Eli had called him in to warn him that Jax knew he was the rat and to suggest he leave town. I knew Juice wouldn’t go as he stood there dazed. Eli asked if there was anything that he could do. “No… No,” Juice said. “I got it.” His soft voice always destroys me. Plus, “I got it” sounded an awful lot like “I got this,” which is the phrase people have said this season before they sacrifice themselves (Opie) or execute someone else (first Jax, and now Chibs in this episode). I think Juice knew then that he’d go to Jax in the morning, and if Jax killed him, so be it.

While Tara was home alone with the kids that night, stomping on a toy piano to wake up Thomas so she had someone to hold (that was uncomfortable), Jax met with Bobby and Chibs to talk about Juice. Chibs found out about the RICO case, and Jax and Bobby learned what leverage Eli had on Juice — that his father is black.

Bobby: You gotta be kidding me.

Jax: Maybe it’s time we change a few bylaws.

Chibs: Amen.

Jax didn’t want to expose Juice — yet. If word gets out about a rat now, after the nomad debacle, it’d spook the club’s new business partners. Jax suggested they wait. Then what, Chibs asked. “Then we bring it to the table… Let him hang himself,” Jax said.

In the morning, Tara woke Jax up with the announcement that she was going to see Otto and that Abel was playing with Juice. I love when tense scenes on Sons are played calmly rather than as a shouting match. Genuine question: Is this how men always fight with each other? It’s just women who scream? Juice explained that Eli had told him to go, but he has no friends or family, so his life would turn to s— no matter where he went. He told Jax how he was trying to save the club by cooperating with the Feds, but Jax didn’t want to hear it. He guessed that Juice had killed Miles. That’s when Juice broke down. He had a single tear falling down his face when Jax asked him if he wanted to earn a pardon. Jax said he’ll keep Juice’s betrayal from ever hitting the table (and thereby keep him alive) if Juice helps him take down Clay for orchestrating the home invasions. Juice said that Frankie had tried to tell him that Clay was behind them, that the nomads had stolen Clay’s safe and given him back his legal papers. Those papers are the proof that Jax needs, so he told Juice to find them.

Next we saw Tara, she was receiving a job offer to go work as a neonatal specialist for an all-brilliant-female practice willing to gamble on her hand’s good prognosis. “I have a hot date with some inmates,” she joked, explaining why she couldn’t take her potential boss out to lunch. (Also uncomfortable!) Jax met with Mayor Hale to pick up a Charming Heights proposal that he could take to Damon Pope — not that Hale knows that’s who Jax wants to invest. Jax can barely hide how giddy that makes him. In exchange for securing an investor, Jax made Hale promise that all the maintenance on Charming Heights’ vehicles would go to the club’s garage and that Lyla and the kids would get subsidized housing there.

At Stockton, Tara met with Otto, who’d been complaining of a headache, stiff neck, and nausea so he’d get to see her. Their conversation was immediately more civil this time. He asked if she believed in God, and said something happened to him the last time they met — he hadn’t cried the way he had with her since he was a kid. He said he’d make the RICO case go away and asked for one more thing in return: That she bring him the crucifix his mother gave him, which he’d given to religious Luann to hold until he got out of jail. He said he knows they won’t let him have it in prison, but he wanted to wear it for a few minutes. My first thought: He’s preparing to kill himself — he has nothing left, death is what he’s wanted, and that’s one way to make his testimony go away. He told her she needed to find the crucifix today because once his blood work came back, the prison would know there was nothing wrong with him. (That, too, played perfectly into Otto’s plan to set up Tara. Smart.)

Clay, meanwhile, had a meeting of his own at the prison — with Lenny, who told him that Jax knows that Otto has been talking to the Feds. Gemma reconnected with Unser, hoping he’d thought of a way to prove Clay’s involvement with the nomads. (It was one last attempt to save herself.) Nope. But at least Unser has a new place to park his Airstream (at the garage).

NEXT: “Who the hell are you?”

It felt a little odd that Jax would choose now to resume his vendetta against the men who killed Opie, but the prospects has found one. SAMCRO went to a club to find Randall Hightower, the largest of the four guys who’d beaten Opie. Instead, they found T.O. and the Grim Bastards. Slight problem: Hightower had hired the Grim Bastards to protect him, and oh yeah, he’s T.O.’s cousin. T.O. said he hadn’t known who Randall was running from, but he couldn’t turn on family. Randall came out shooting, and a foot chase ensued. How badass did Jax look walking out into the middle of the street and firing at Hightower’s oncoming SUV? Chibs had to pull him back. Then Chibs kept firing as Hightower sped off. Jax was pissed at T.O., but Bobby told Jax not to ruin the 20 years of peace between the clubs. Jax agreed to compromise: He said he’d beat Hightower but let him live, if T.O. arranges a meeting so Hightower can give Jax the names of the other three guys who beat Opie.

Clay was now off trying to cut a deal with Romeo and Luis. Clay’s smarter than I gave him credit for. He figured out that Romeo and Luis must be Feds holding the RICO case over Jax so he’d let Clay live and keep the guns running to the cartel. Clay told them he figures Jax is trying to squash the case so both Clay and the guns go away. Clay said he wants protection, and he and Galen will keep the cartel in business with the Irish once the club bails. Romeo and Luis said they need the club, so if it comes to that, they’ll take out Jax so Clay gets his chair back. To his credit, Clay said he wouldn’t make that deal. But Romeo said he would.

Now that Jax’s life was freshly endangered, it was time to remind us that Tig is a marked man as well. Jax presented Pope the Charming Heights proposal, and Pope seemed not only interested but also proud that Jax was thinking beyond the street (like him). Jax’s smile seemed less genuine than it did with Hale, but he was selling it. Pope said there’s only one thing standing in the way of their beautiful new friendship: Tig being alive. Jax said he still needs him to help bring Clay down, but once that’s done, he’s all Pope’s. It’d happen soon, Jax promised. “If not, I intervene, and that’s bad for everyone,” Pope said. As another good faith gesture, Pope told Jax where to find Randall — at the boatyard. Man, Pope has balls selling out all these guys that carried out his orders.

The Grim Bastards also showed up at the boatyard — on their own — and Jax promised again that he wouldn’t kill Hightower. Jax had sunglasses on, which made me think he was lying. We never see him in sunglasses making deals. When they caught up with Hightower, T.O. convinced his cousin to put down his gun. Hightower gave the names — Aldo Smith, Fox, and Mace — and said that’s all he knows. Jax looked at Chibs, who was standing behind Hightower. “I got this,” Chibs said. Jax nodded. Chibs shot Hightower in the back of head, then two more times after he fell. Guns were raised everywhere as T.O. and Bobby tried to process what Jax had done. The way Jax rationalized it, T.O. hadn’t delivered his cousin, so Jax didn’t need to keep his word either. The blood splatter on Chibs’ face or the look of horror on Bobby’s face — which was tougher to see? I believe Bobby was thinking what T.O. said: “Who the hell are you?” Jax didn’t answer.

Later, Bobby told Jax what he’d done was wrong because it ended two decades of brotherhood and hurts all of the guys. But Jax told Bobby he wasn’t there when Opie died — he hadn’t seen how much Hightower had enjoyed it. Alone with Jax, Chibs told Jax he’d done what he had to do. “Things are gonna get bloody, brother. I’m not sure if Bobby’s gonna be able to roll with it,” Jax said. He wanted to know he has Chibs in his corner. “I’ve always been there, and I always will,” Chibs said, angry that Jax even had to ask. “Come here. I love you, kid. You understand.” That’s the juxtaposition that makes this show powerful — Chibs had just had a man’s blood on his cheek, and now he’s kissing Jax’s cheek. And you believe it.

NEXT: “No… Not here,” she said. “Let’s go home.”

Back to Juicey. He was at Clay’s looking for the documents and coming up empty-handed. That was tense, right? It’d be just like Juice to get caught at that moment. He found a gun that’s clearly special, and no, we’re not supposed to know what it is — yet. (I checked.) Hearing Clay come in, Juice pretended he was there to put away Clay’s dishes — which is actually believable. Clay asked him to sit. He said he doesn’t think he could’ve made it through the last month without him, that he reminds him of what being a brother really is. Clay said he’s made a lot of mistakes and done heinous s—. And now he’s at the point where’s he’s wondering if the s— he’s been chasing is what he even wants anymore. He said he’s exhausted and asked Juice to watch his back. Admit it: You felt slightly bad for Clay.

Gemma showed up then with groceries for Clay so he didn’t live on bourbon and Corn Flakes alone. Of course Juice helped bring in the bags. “You okay?” Clay asked Juice as he left. Then Clay hugged him. Ah. Juice can’t handle this pressure! It reminded me of that time when Gemma told Tara that Juice doesn’t get a lot of positive reinforcement after Tara said Juice had done a good job assisting her with a clubhouse surgery. With Juice gone, Clay came up behind Gemma and touched her shoulders. We all cringed, right? She turned around. He kissed her hand and said, “Thank you.” She looked appropriately scared with water collected under her eyes. He moved in to kiss her. “No… Not here,” she said. “Let’s go home.” (Emmy clip?)

Back at the prison, Tara had returned with the crucifix, which Gemma had retrieved from Luann’s belongings in storage. Otto asked Tara to put it around his neck for a few minutes, next to his heart (which meant under his shirt). Then he asked for a few moments alone, since he hadn’t prayed in a while. At this point, I still thought he was planning his suicide. But oh, was I wrong. He raised the bed and called for the nurse and orderly, claiming he was ready to go back to his cell. The orderly freed one of his hands, preparing to take him back to the guard. Tara came in and told them she wasn’t done. That’s when Otto made his move. He knocked out the orderly and then the nurse. Then he tore off the crucifix as he crouched over the nurse’s body. “Please. Don’t,” Tara begged. “Sons live. Redwood bleeds,” he said, then stabbed the nurse with the crucifix in the neck repeatedly. Blood splattered and gushed. Tara just kept screaming “Nooo!” until two guards finally came in and pulled Otto away. How’s she gonna explain how he got the crucifix, I wondered. It hadn’t yet hit me that Otto was trying to take Tara down.

As for Jax, he remained blissfully unaware for a bit. He had time to apply more pressure to Juice, who asked what happens to Clay when he finds the document(s). “The same thing that happens to you if you don’t find it,” Jax said. He also offered a bit of comic relief with Unser, whose response to Jax saying he’d expect some labor in exchange for the Airstream space was, “I’ll work on my pole dancing.”

And cut to a woman trading her body. Gemma was back at her house with Clay, sitting on their bed. Clay admitted he was surprised he was there after all he’d done. The only good that came out of the chaos he created, he said, was that it showed him the only thing he cares about is her. He told her he didn’t want to be there unless it’s really what she wants — because he can’t handle losing her twice. I believed him, but it doesn’t mean I think she should take him back. But Gemma had to go through with the plan. She kissed him. That was a fairly brilliant way to make that happen — Clay was kind enough that it wasn’t totally repulsive; Gemma knew she was hurting him in the long run.

Over at Jax’s house, Eli was waiting outside to find out where Juice was. Eli told Jax not to compare their guilt. “Hey brother, once you cross the line there is no comparing,” Jax said. “There’s just that side of the line.” Jax said he’d take care of Juice. Eli told Jax he knows Clay is behind his wife’s death and doesn’t want him delivered to him like Frankie was — dead. Jax said they have a common goal again, and he’s open to suggestions on how to handle Clay. Inside, Tara sat at the table smoking weed. She told Jax what Otto had done: He’d saved the club because they’ll have to throw out his testimony now that he’s killed a nurse, but he also needed to hurt Jax by hurting someone Jax loves. They’re gonna find out who Tara is, why she was there at the prison, and know Tara gave Otto that crucifix. He was framing her (and, presumably, speeding up his death sentence again).

Now back to those final lines.

Jax: Babe, I’m not gonna let that happen. Okay. We’re gonna get through this like we do everything else.

Tara: [She leans in.] That’s what scares me the most. [They kiss.]

Your turn. Where do we go from here?

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Sons of Anarchy

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

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