Tara returns home, Gemma visits Clay, and Jax and Nero dig themselves deeper holes
Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Sons of Anarchy | ''I watched five seasons of Sons of Anarchy . I resisted for ages because I had no interest in watching a show about a motorcycle…
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After watching this episode, a depression has set in. Not because it wasn’t good — it was. But because things are imploding, and if you’re invested in these characters, you feel the weight of the rubble. That promo of Jax and the boys riding by exploding, crumbling wall portraits of Tara, Clay, and Gemma is beginning to make sense. Though I suppose I’m still not sure if they are bombs going off to hurt Jax, or if he is detonating them.

We opened with Jax riding his bike and a nice shot of his spotless white sneakers when the song on the soundtrack got to the word “clean.” A knock at the door interrupted Gemma and her “tired” tubes having a very good morning with Nero in bed. “It’s not my gardener, it must be for you,” she told Nero before he let in Arcadio (Dave Navarro), his cousin. Arcadio told Nero and Gemma that the shooter in yesterday’s school shooting was his old lady’s son, Matthew, and the weapon was his KG-9. Darvany told the cops she’d never seen the gun before, but as Gemma pointed out, her boy just got killed, so they’re not pressing her — yet.

Toric was at the jail bright and early to give Clay his deal. Clay wanted to know what Toric’s end game is. “You know why I was such a good lawman? I never gave a s– about justice, it was always about retribution for me. Hurting people who hurt people, that’s always my end game,” he told Clay. Otto crushed the RICO case, so Toric needs another way to make the club hurt — and a former president turning rat will do it. In exchange for agreeing to cooperate, Clay would get a legal team to fight the murder charge, immunity from his club-related crimes, and a spot in the witness protection program. Before Clay would sign, he wanted to see Gemma and Jax. Why? “‘Cause I want to hurt people, too,” he said.

After Gemma helped Nero put on his cross necklace — was it always that prominent? — she told him the club could help get Darvany out of Arcadio’s house, which the cops are watching. They agreed to meet at Jax’s, where Gemma was heading because Tara was coming home today. Cut to Tara and her bandaged hand being escorted out by Lowen. After she saw Jax waiting outside the doors, Tara handed Lowen the notepads we’d seen her writing on in jail. She said everything she could remember was on them. She asked if Lowen had started “the other paperwork.” At this point, even though Tara had told Toric she’d never turn on Jax because of their boys, I didn’t know what to think. She walked out, Jax handed her a helmet and sunglasses, and she hopped on the back of his bike — in silence. I loved that. We were all waiting to see what they’d say to each other; I bet none of us thought the answer would be nothing. I liked the hint of a smile she gave at one moment. It was probably directed at a passerby — Tara rising to the challenge of pretending her marriage is fine when it’s not. Something she’d also be doing with Jax. It also set the tone for this slightly calmer, more reflective episode.

The kids were happy to have Tara home, and for a second, Jax smiled as he saw her hold Abel. There was the nurturing, maternal Tara he fell in love with. But then the smile was gone, as he remembered it’s the kids that they’re essentially fighting over. Gemma took Jax into the kitchen to tell him Nero was coming over to talk about the shooting. You saw the look of horror on his face, and you almost felt guilty smiling then as an ATF agent played by C. Thomas Howell (!) updated Toric at the crime scene: Toric was right about it being a street-converted automatic KG-9 with no marks. We learned four people were dead, three of them kids. Nine more are injured, two critically. The security guard put two bullets in the shooter’s head when he was switching clips. The shooter was 11. We got our first look at District Attorney Tyne Patterson, played by CCH Pounder.

NEXT: “It’s trashy money, but it ain’t dirty… or bloody”

Back at Jax’s house, he told Tara they needed to talk, and he kissed Abel’s head (like every parent does to their child after news of a school shooting). Can we always hear the sound of Jax’s cut when he moves, or was it just that the silence between he and Tara made the leather seem louder now? He hugged her and told her he’d missed her. She said it back. Jax told her he understands why she wanted him to sign those papers naming Wendy guardian, but that he didn’t. He said he was meeting with the Irish today to get the club out of guns. They’re going to start earning legit by growing Diosa. “It’s trashy money, but it ain’t dirty… or bloody,” he explained. “I can take care of us, Tara. No one gets hurt anymore. We don’t need papers or guardians to protect our family.” He knows staying in Charming isn’t what they wanted, but if he leaves now, he feels like Opie’s sacrifice will have been for nothing. And this is why Charlie Hunnam is so great at Jax: There is a softness in him that makes you want to forgive him and believe in him. It doesn’t matter, Tara said, because she’s not going to Oregon anytime soon. After her trial in six weeks, she could be back inside. (Actually, that’s exactly why it DOES matter, Tara, but why pick a fight when you’re planning a sneak attack?) Jax said any jury would rule in her favor — she’s not going anywhere. Knowing where Tara was headed this hour, that wasn’t comforting, was it? I’m scared to think of the day when Jax is no longer tender with her, when those words “you’re not going anywhere” make her feel trapped like a caged animal. I wonder if that’s why Abel rushed in at that moment to show Tara his new stuffed giraffe.

Nero arrived to tell Jax about the kid using a KG-9. Jax remained calm… because even though he had to be worried about the blowback on the club, he was just overwhelmingly sad thinking about whatever part they played in the deaths of three children, or because his own children were so close he could hear them? Had anyone told Tara about the shooting yet? Nero said Darvany wasn’t all there — she’s an addict — so he was hoping the club could help get her lost, maybe take her to another of its charters. Jax said they’d get her to the cabin first and then make calls. He told Nero not to phone Arcadio’s house and to stay off their cells in case the Feds are already listening. Speaking of cells, Gemma had gotten a call from County wanting to set up those visitations with Clay.

After we saw Bobby and Quinn meeting Hopper, another disenfranchised Son, near Vegas, we saw Jax leaving Tara with Gemma and the boys. Jax told her he loved her. “Me, too,” she said. I couldn’t tell if he intended on kissing her cheek or if she made sure that’s where his lips went. Maggie Siff can communicate three emotions in one look. Gemma halted dish duty long enough to comment on Tara’s hair and make sure Tara knew she wasn’t the one who’d turned her in. Tara showed Gemma the torn up guardian papers that she’d found in Abel’s room, because we know that boy will draw on every piece of paper that’s important to this show. Gemma said she didn’t do that either, but what could Tara expect trying to take Jax’s boys to Oregon and naming Wendy guardian? Gemma could tell Tara was a bit off. Tara just said she was tired and happy to be home. That was a difficult moment to act, I bet — Siff has to let us know she’s not happy, but make Gemma believe she might be. Did Gemma buy it?

NEXT: Danger of junkie rat > danger of rat

The DA is definitely feeling the heat from priests, parents, and teachers to find out how the 11-year-old got a hold of an illegal automatic weapon. She’d be happy to put the blame on the Byz-Lats, but, cue Toric, that’s just a bloody Band-Aid, he said. He told her about the Sons running guns, including KG-9s, and supplying to gangs. He wants her not to just close the book on this tragedy, but to prevent more from happening. He gave her his card. Well-played, Toric. You seemed sane for a moment.

Jax, Nero, and the boys climbed over a wall to take the back entrance into Arcadio’s house. (Shouldn’t the police have been staking that out as well?) Evidence of Chibs’ “brotherly love” for Juice was still evident, which Nero noticed. They turned up the music and went in to wake Darvany up on her son’s bed. Probably should’ve waited for Arcadio, boys. She freaked and Arcadio, who’d been getting drugs ready for her in the bathroom, came running with his gun out. Nero told him they weren’t going to hurt her, they just had to get them both out of the house before the cops started pressing her. Juice came in to get Jax — she’d already taken the drugs. Nero said she’d been clean for nine months. Doesn’t matter: The only thing more dangerous than a rat is a junkie rat, Jax said. At this point, I worried she wouldn’t be long for this show. Jax reminded Nero that he would be the police’s first stop when they realize she’s gone since its his crew she could finger. He knew that. They agreed Jax would go meet the Irish and rendezvous at the cabin later.

Gemma, meanwhile, went to see Clay. She couldn’t even look at him. I love these kind of scenes, when you expect Clay to be loud and cruel and he’s soft and levelheaded. He told her he’d figured out what was happening with her, Juice, and the gun. But she was always an amazing old lady, she kept him on task, kept him strong. He said he lied to her about all the crap he’d pulled in the last six months because he knew she’d set him straight and he didn’t want that. So he’d convinced himself he was doing it for the two of them, when really, he was just doing it for him. No matter what goes down, he said, he wanted her to know none of this would land on her. “What? You think I feel bad? That I’m sorry for what I did?” she said. Then she turned to the mirror, which Toric was behind, and added, “For telling the truth.” Clay said he never loved anybody the way he loved her and he knows she feels the same. She wouldn’t admit that. Bottom line: he wanted her to know she’d done the right thing. “Well, thank you. I’ll go home and untie the noose,” she snapped. “I love you, Gem,” he said, almost to himself, as she pounded on the door and shouted to be let out. And there was Toric, behind the glass, quoting Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116: “Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks. But bears it out even to the edge of doom.” And that, friends, explains the episode title: “One One Six.” Gemma went into the ladies’ room and wept. Looking into the mirror, she said the words Gemma would only allow herself to say to her: “You stupid, bitch. Don’t let him do that.” When she walked out, Toric was sitting there waiting for her. I thought that was a dumbass move on his part, letting Gemma guess that he was trying to turn Clay. But then, I think that’s exactly what Toric wanted: he knew that’d be the only way to get Jax to visit Clay.

Jax, as Gemma had told Clay, was on club business. He met with Gaalan. Sadly, there was no shirtless boxing match this time. Just Gaalan failing to believe that Clay had gotten “sloppy” and killed Pope. He told Jax about Clay asking to lay low in Belfast to survive internal heat and to set himself up as Gaalan’s U.S. distributor because Clay knew Jax had plans to shed the gun business. Jax said Clay was right about the latter. He explained about the club being under the microscope because of the crushed RICO case and now the school shooting. “Some politician pledges vengeance and reform. Six months from now, no one remembers. Just ride it out,” Gaalan said. But they’ll be looking for a scapegoat and SAMCRO is low-hanging fruit. Jax offered another charter, San Bernardino, who would pick up the Sons’ inventory. So nothing would change for the IRA — just now its guns would be going south instead of north in California. That sounded fair, which is why Gaalan didn’t accept it. The Irish Kings worked too hard in that territory. If Clay goes to prison, he’ll need access to Clay to get him to reach out to their customers and make sure they stay loyal to the Irish and don’t switch to the Chinese. As long as the Irish distribute on their own in Northern Cali, fine, Jax said. Oh, but wait: The Irish have a surplus of KG-9s. Gaalan is going to ship them all to Jax to move. “Did you hear what I just said?” Jax asked. He did. “Fear stokes the imagination. Everyone wants the deadliest gun. Double the price, KG-9s will sell themselves. Looks like we all have something to gain from this tragedy,” he said, smiling. And that’s how you give viewers someone to despise more than Clay or Jax. Until the Kings sign off on SAMCRO moving on, it’s business as usual, Gaalan said. Jax told Chibs and Tig to move the guns to the warehouse but not to put anything out on the street till he says so. Chibs thinks that’s going to anger folks expecting deliveries and since it affects the club’s payday, it should go to the table. Once again, Jax isn’t letting the club vote. If a gun leads back to them, there’ll be no table. This was one of those calm scenes that, when you stop to think about what just went down, makes your blood pressure rise (and also wonder why we don’t see Jax drinking EVERY EPISODE).

NEXT: Tara’s planned is revealed

Toric wanted Clay to sign the papers, but he still hadn’t gotten Jax to visit, so Clay refused. Tara, meanwhile, was packing up her office at the hospital. She knew Oregon had pulled its offer, but that’s not why she wanted to talk to her boss. She needed blood work done — A PREGNANCY TEST. WHAT? Turns out, Tara had been looking for documents about her hand injury. She was meeting with Lowen at her house. Those notepads, Lowen said, were very thorough and terrifying. And we found out what they’d be used for: Tara had suspected Jax never signed the papers. She was documenting a “culture of violence” so they could establish that the boys shouldn’t stay with Jax if she goes to prison. Lowen said nothing in the pads would indict either of them since this isn’t about criminality. (I trust that’s truly the case.) Lowen is worried about Gemma being a viable candidate for custody as the boys’ grandmother, but Tara vetoed that. (Will Tara threaten to tell Jax what his father’s letters said about Gemma? Wouldn’t revealing the real cause of Gemma’s car crash with the boys just be Tara’s word against Gemma’s at this point? ) Lowen said they should move on the motion for Wendy to be the primary guardian of the boys now, but that she’d wait to file for the divorce until right before the trial. Even knowing Jax cheated on Tara and all that he’s done — I gasped.

Did you believe Nero when he told Darvany that they were trying to get her up north for her own good? Was he afraid then that the club would kill her? She certainly was. Arcadio assured her they were just going to help her. She begged him to keep her “even,” which I guess means sedated with her usual drug of choice. Someone was making a run. “Mommy’s sorry, baby. I’m so sorry,” she kept repeating when she was left alone — in a room with rifles. Not smart, boys. Not smart. Gemma showed up and when Jax went outside to talk to her, the stone cabin’s porch instantly reminded me of Justified‘s awesome season 1 finale, “Bulletville.” I cannot confirm it’s the same cabin, but man, it looks like it. See Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) in a shootout at 1:58 in the video below. (Also, if you don’t watch Justified, you should.)

Gemma told Jax about Toric being Otto’s victim’s sister and Clay sounding guilty, like he’s made a deal. She told him he had to go find out what’s happening. So Toric’s plan worked. Well, hold up. There was a shot. It was Darvany, firing into the ceiling. She told the men to put down their guns. Arcadio told her not to do this, but she went outside. Jax pulled his weapon, then put it down. Gemma pulled hers, and Arcadio shot in her direction. I assume he was trying to scare Gemma not hit her. Gemma dropped her gun. Darvany begged Arcadio to go with her. Nero begged him not to. When Arcadio turned to get in Gemma’s car, there was a shot and blood splattered on the windshield. Nero had fired. And shot him in the head. Darvany ran and Jax tackled her. He had the shotgun on her when Nero convinced him not to shoot. That cross was still around Nero’s neck.

After we watched Bobby riding with Quinn and Hopper — needing just one more to be able to go nomad again — we saw Toric in his hotel room. He beat his hands on his desk, so he could forge Clay’s signature. He ultimately took the document to the DA, who didn’t even look at it. All Toric really needed to do was claim Clay would be cooperative, and she would call County to keep him in protective custody until she could get her own agreement drafted for Clay to sign. Nice move, Toric. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between him and the ambitious DA.

NEXT: Juice has this

Back inside the cabin, Darvany was tied to the bed, and gagged. Jax was going to let it be Nero’s call, what they did with her. Gemma comforted Nero as he sat looking down at Arcadio’s body, which was unwrapped enough for us to see the head wound. Chibs was going to cook up the dope for Darvany, but Jax said, “I got this.” That means someone’s dying, right? Jax told the others to clean Gemma’s car and deal with the rifle, and he told Juice to get the drug kit. Did Chibs and Tig already know what was going to go down? Juice calmed Darvany down, and told her everything would be okay. He gently shot her up. Then he moved one pillow. And then another, which he held over her head. As she writhed, Juice just looked straight ahead at the wall. (Read what Theo Rossi had to say about the scene here.) “She good?” Jax asked when Juice walked out. So Jax had him kill her, right? Even Gemma knew it. Juice scrubbed his hands as thoroughly as a surgeon prepping for surgery. He’s trying to work off one sin by committing others. Poor Juice. (And that’s why Theo Rossi is so great: Juice just killed a woman, and I wrote POOR JUICE.) How much longer can Juice hold on? Is he strong enough for this, or is he going to crack? Can’t he just go nomad with Bobby?

Toric showed up at Diosa and mingled in the “Goddess bar.” He wanted to know if the girls could do outside jobs. They can. He eyed a woman who looked a bit too much like his sister for me to feel at all comfortable with whatever he’s planning. Back at the cabin, Juice was explaining to Nero that he only gave Darvany half a ten-pack. He could look, there was still some left in the balloon. That’s the beauty of this, I guess: It’s not like Nero can take the body in for an autopsy to prove Juice (or Jax) killed her. Nero was suspicious. Jax theorized that she probably dropped something they didn’t know about before she went commando. Nero is a smart man. He said Arcadio betrayed him, so that had to happen. But Darvany has two other kids who live with their dad. Her youngest is dead because of him and Jax, Nero said. “It don’t matter what the risk is, we don’t hurt people like that,” Nero said. Nero asked if that was Jax’s call, and Jax said no. He was so convincing, looking him straight in the eye, I almost believed him. He told Nero again it had to be the drugs, and everything he was doing, he was doing for him. (That sounds an awful lot like Clay trying to convince himself everything he was doing was for Gemma, right?) Nero hugged it out. I guess he bought it. “We got this,” Chibs told Jax, when Jax said he had to go home and see the wife. On his way out, Jax hugged Juice and kissed him on the cheek. Again, assuming Jax ordered that killing, how amazing is that: To go from calling that death, to lying about it, to thanking Juice that sweetly for doing it.

Clay was delivered sheets and told he has another night of peaceful sleep, and then we saw Jax arrive home where things couldn’t be more uncomfortable in the bedroom. He hugged Tara and told her he was glad she was home. “Me, too,” she said. She asked what’s going on with Nero. He told her nothing, a Latino family crisis. She told him she’d had a quiet mom day. That’s not how their relationship works. They’re supposed to tell each other everything. As Jax kissed Tara, the end montage began. Toric gave his hotel name and room number to the escort on a napkin and his business card to the hostess to give to Nero. Bobby wrote Hopper’s name down on his map. Nero and the others buried Darvany and Arcadio (with Nero’s cross necklace dangling above Arcadio’s face as he leaned down to kiss him and tell him he’ll see him on the other side). Gemma embraced Nero, and I couldn’t help but think a part of him must wish he never met her now that he’s buried his half-sister and his cousin. And Jax and Tara had sex in their bed. They weren’t kissing. He couldn’t look at her. She was holding back tears and missed one. Seeing his back tattoo, it was like the weight of the club was on top of her, holding her in place. Read what Maggie Siff had to say about the scene here.

Your turn. Can Jax and Tara come back from this? If you want them to stay together, do you feel guilty about it? Do you think Chibs and Jax are going to have it out? Is Clay really turning rat? Discuss.

Episode Recaps

Sons of Anarchy | ''I watched five seasons of Sons of Anarchy . I resisted for ages because I had no interest in watching a show about a motorcycle…
Sons of Anarchy

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

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