Jax takes it upon himself to negotiate with the Irish, and Gemma visits Clay for information (both plans end badly)
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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…

The first time I watched this episode, I focused on the devastation of the clubhouse being bombed by the Irish. But the second time, I paid more attention to Chibs’ scene with Jax right before it. Did he finally get through to him? Will Jax slow down and trust Chibs and the rest of the guys to weigh in on decisions that affect them all? Did SAMCRO need to fall to rise back up again? Am I naïve to think this season will bring me anything more than more pain?

Because we’d seen pistol-whipping in the promo for this episode, the opening montage of the boys staking out various Irish haunts ratcheted up the tension. We also saw Gemma, Lyla, and Chucky tucking everyone in at the clubhouse, which is still on lockdown; Clay getting a new black cellmate; weary Nero locking up at Diosa and placing the gun from his ankle holster on the coffee table as he sat watching the door; and Eli looking at crime scene photos of Toric and Otto. Happy told Jax to get some sleep, but Jax said he was good. The fade to daylight on his face let you know he stayed up all night staring. You know you’re old when you start thinking about how the lack of sleep will affect his decision-making capabilities. Back at the clubhouse, a shaken Chucky was on refreshment duty, he told Gemma they needed beer and soda; she sensed he was upset about Otto, who had saved his life on the inside.

Jax’s persistence paid off. They saw a Suburban SUV arrive. One of the Irish went inside while the other was introduced to the butt of Happy’s gun. Happy honked the horn so the other guy would come back out, and Jax chased him — kind of awkwardly, let’s be honest, there’s no way to jump over a box like a badass. The guy got smacked in the head with the butt of Jax’s gun (that’s the go-to move this season), then Jax told him this didn’t need to get any bloodier. He just wanted to know where Galen and Connor are. The guy wouldn’t talk — until Jax stabbed his hand. Galen left the day before, he said, but they had Connor’s suitcase and were due to pick him up at a beverage supply house in Lodi. Jax handed the guy a pen and paper sitting conveniently nearby and told him to write down the address. “I hope you’re not a leftie,” Jax quipped. The second time you watch the episode, you notice that it was a shamrock pen, just like the one that appeared in the clubhouse at the end.

Jax had the two Irish tied up and said the plan would be to roll up in their Suburban and see if they could get close to Connor. But first, he had to go handle escort business. Good thing Juice was thinking of Tara since Jax wasn’t. Jax was going to have Rat watch her. Meanwhile, the DA paid Eli a visit to tell him Toric believed the dead escort Erin could tie the Byz-Lats and Sons to the school shooting. Was Otto killing Toric a hit, they wondered. Otto won’t be able to tell them, so the DA wants to use Tara. Eli knows Tara’s not the bad guy, but in the DA’s book, she’d bad until she does something good. So while the DA presses Tara, she wants errand boy Eli to focus on finding dirt on Nero. Eli didn’t look happy. I think he learned with Juice that pressuring good people to get at bad ones isn’t his style. I’m torn between wanting to see less of the DA because she’s still pretty one-dimensional and wanting to see more of her so she can be developed as a character. Since we need the DA in this story to keep the heat on SAMCRO, let’s hope for the latter?

NEXT: “No more bodies, Jackson, please”

Man, we should have guessed something was up when we got that nice long shot of the clubhouse exterior as Nero drove in past the row of bikes. It was no doubt meant to show us how separate from the M/C Nero feels, but it also gave us a good look at that exterior before it went boom. After Gemma told Nero they simply tell garage customers they’re remodeling during a lockdown, Jax and Rat arrived. We’re at the point in the series when Gemma asking Jax if the rest of the club members are alive isn’t a joke. He assured her he wasn’t starting a war (which I didn’t believe at that point). “No more bodies, Jackson, please,” she told him. Before he and Nero left for Colette’s, Jax spoke with Tara. Notice they didn’t kiss hello on the lips. She told him she had to get out of there — Gemma scares her. She said nothing had happened yet, but she knows Gemma still thinks she’s trying to take the boys away and doesn’t trust her. She told Jax not to say anything to Gemma. “It’s just too much anxiety in my first trimester,” she said. She told him she was going to use her old office to talk to Lowen, and he insisted Rat go with her. They hugged goodbye but again didn’t kiss on the lips. So clearly Tara is going to fake a miscarriage, right? Is she hoping that will turn Jax against Gemma, or the court against Jax and Gemma? As Jax got in Nero’s car, we got a moment of levity: “Where my 40, homes?” Jax asked. “Eh, just get in the car scooter boy,” Nero answered. As they pulled out of T-M, Eli followed tailing them.

On the drive to Colette’s, Nero asked for an update on the Irish, which Gemma had mentioned. Whether he likes it or not, he knows he’s a part of Jax’s “other business” now. Jax told Nero the situation might get worse before it gets better. Nero wanted to know if the Irish could have had something to do with Erin. “No, if they wanted to kill someone close, it would’ve been family,” Jax explained. “That’s comforting,” Nero said. Jax told Nero he was going to make Diosa work and end the violence. He didn’t need him to believe it now, he just needed him not to bail. Nero said he doesn’t need details, he just needs to know when to duck. Fair enough, Jax said. “Plus, I’m lettin’ you tap my mom. That’s gotta be worth something,” he added. “Ouch,” Nero said. “I’m gonna pretend I didn’t even hear that.” Charlie Hunnam and Jimmy Smits always give their vehicle chatter a breeziness that makes you wonder if they’re ad-libbing. This one reminded me of that first ride Jax and Nero took together last season, the one that ended in a chase. Nero had been almost giddy then, seeing (comparatively harmless) action again after being out of the game. Now, he’s tired but still fighting to keep the relationship going.

While those two went inside and prepared to meet the inspector with Colette, Eli parked outside a block away. I howled when Barosky’s car drove past, then backed up so he could roll down his window and ask Eli if he could help him with something. Barosky, of course, would know a police tail when he sees one. And Eli knew Barosky’s retirement was forced — it was that or prosecution. Still, Barosky scared Eli off by threatening to out him for a stakeout in someone else’s jurisdiction. Jax is all smiley around Colette — did he forget he saw her boning Barosky? Barosky asked Jax and Nero if either of them knows a “thick black sheriff.” They went outside and told him about Nero being a person of interest in Erin’s murder. Barosky was predictably pissed that they were bringing a problem to his doorstep and threatening his delicate balance. Before the lecture could get too long, the guys pulled up ready to deal with the Irish again. Nero said Barosky and Colette should stop by Diosa to put their minds at ease, and off Jax went. Barosky gave Jax a look that said he hasn’t forgotten Jax saw him boning Colette, and then he told Nero he hopes he knows what he’s doing. Suddenly I’m worried that Barosky is going to end up taking out Nero. Stress!

While playing on the swings with Abel, Unser and Tara had time to talk about him having walked in on her coven at the hospital. “Pretty obvious you didn’t want the queen to be privy,” he said, referring to Gemma. “Exit strategy?” She told him it was best he doesn’t know. “Do you need my help?” he asked. He’d need to know all the facts — cop in him. He said it was an offer and she should think it over. I trust Unser. Even though we know he has feelings for Gemma, he can separate right from wrong, and he knows better than anyone that those boys aren’t safe with her or near the club.

NEXT: “Jesus, another fine Irishman brought down by the bottle”

At the warehouse, it was black hoodies up as Jax and Chibs tried to lure Connor to them while they sat in the Irish Suburban. Why didn’t Jax let Chibs drive in when Connor motioned? That’s how Connor knew it wasn’t his men behind the wheel. Connor yelled, “SAMCRO” and two of his guys started firing. You’d think they’d have known the glass was bulletproof. Chibs ran into one guy. One guy got away. Then a foot chase ensued. (A new meaning to hit and run!) Juicey had to remind Happy that Jax said they needed Connor alive. Maybe someone should have told Jax that: How he knew exactly where to run the vehicle through the wall to send cases of alcohol flying into Connor (but not kill him or hurt any of his guys), I do not know. Pretty sure it was all a set up to Chibs’ punch line: “Jesus, another fine Irishman brought down by the bottle.” Jax told Happy and Juicey to place the dead body of the guy Chibs had hit on top of the clubs’ guns (AKs and Glocks), which Tig and Chibs had found stowed there. Jax was leaving the guns as a peace offering. With a dead body on top? “They still come out ahead,” Jax said. Jax needs more bodies called in, but he still refuses to dial Bobby.

At the prison, Clay was delivered a book by an Irishman who told him “The Mad King” got real good around page 47. Clay found a note there. Jax, meanwhile, had gotten a hold of Connor’s cell phone and was trying to find out how to use it to contact the Kings. When Connor told him where to find the burner numbers, Jax stepped outside to make the call in private, supposedly just to see if the numbers actually worked. One of the cell phones in a Belfast basket of cells rang. Jax being Jax, thinking he knows best, spoke calmly to the Kings. He told them how Galen didn’t want his plan to work because Galen hates that Jax is at the table and has off-the-book secrets with Clay to protect. He said Clay’s days in Stockton were numbered, but that August Marks could triple their buyers. They said they didn’t like that Pope had made his empire in heroin, but Jax knew they didn’t like that Pope and Marks are black. Still, they said they’d talk it over and get back to Jax. The camera moved and we saw who was sitting on the fourth side of the table — Galen. He used words I’d rather not repeat to describe Jax’s diverse business partners and insisted August would use them to set up his network and dump them for a local, cheaper source. He insisted he’s got no secrets from them when it comes to Clay, who Galen has set up with protection and transport to Belfast. The deal with Clay would be locked down by day’s end, Galen said, and Jax gets what he wants — out of guns and ties severed. Not quite as literal as “hands off,” but you knew from the way he leaned in, it meant s— was about to go down.

But first, Gemma went to see Wendy, who had to rush to put a scarf around her neck so Gemma wouldn’t see the bruise on her neck was gone. Gemma figured the lockdown would send Tara’s exit strategy into high gear, so she came to see if Wendy had heard anything. She told Wendy she wanted a copy of the will so she could show it to Jax. Hearing that Tara was making this move again behind his back would tear him apart, Gemma said, so she’s not going to say anything unless she has proof. Gemma brought Wendy a handful of baby pictures of Abel. Wendy wanted to know why Gemma was letting her in: The push and pull with Tara made Gemma think about what it was like before she returned to town. Gemma wants the family to be right and Wendy was a good fit for Jax — until she became an addict. Gemma hugged Wendy and told her to keep doing what she’s doing. I spoke with the director of this episode, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, who said she had to keep reminding herself who was playing who in this scene. Is Gemma really desperate, or does she just want Wendy to think she is? Is Gemma setting Wendy up? Is she hoping Jax gets rid of both Tara and Wendy if she sees the will?

Back at T-M, Juice got a call from Clay’s lawyer saying he’d set up a conjugal for Clay and Gemma. The guys knew that meant Clay had something he needed to tell them because conjugal cells aren’t tapped since its spouses only. I almost feel guilty now laughing at the boys deciding who was going to tell Gemma. Tig said it was a job for a loving son, and Jax took Chibs as backup. Chibs flipped off Tig and Juice.

Nero went to see Eli to confront him about the tail. Eli said until the DNA results come back, this wasn’t about Erin’s murder, it was about the DA wanting to tie the Sons to the weapon used for the school shooting. Nero told Eli where he could find him for the rest of the day, including when he’d be murdering his next hooker, just to make it easier for him. I think Eli and Nero could’ve been friends under different circumstances. Seeing them fight hurts me. But I’m holding out hope Eli will help Nero in the end.

NEXT: “I’m so sorry”

Tara’s day went from bad (Lowen telling her that Otto killing Toric supports the DA’s theory that Otto killed Toric’s sister under club order) to worse when Wendy barged in to speak to Tara in front of Rat, who could tell Jax. We’d seen it when Wendy was talking to Gemma: She can’t handle this lying and deception. And more importantly, since both sides seem to want her, she needs to align with whoever she thinks is going to win. Tara is convinced she’s going to jail and the only way she can face that is if she knows her son — Wendy’s son — will be safe away from the club and Gemma. I think Wendy has a point: She’s putting her life on the line here and Abel doesn’t even know her. She said she wants to spend time with Abel — soon. She doesn’t care what Tara has to tell him. Tara said they could do that.

Now the scene I never wanted to watch twice. Chibs took Gemma, and the $500 she needed to pay the guard, to see Clay. Gemma and Clay stood on opposite sides of the tiny cell with a made bed. He told her the Irish had reached out to him. She told him about Phil and V-Lin, and Jax now trying to broker peace. Clay told her about Jax offering August as a distributor to the Irish as a way to back the Sons out of guns. He said Galen let him know the offer for Clay to be the distributor still stands. They want to spring him by taking down his transport that’s bringing him to his hearing in two weeks. Clay would go underground, put together a crew, and run everything from Belfast. Clay knows it means they’re going to shut the M/C out and that isn’t good. He told Gemma to ask Jax what he should do. The look on her face — I wasn’t sure how to read it: Was she shocked that Clay was going let Jax make the call on Clay’s future? Was she shocked that Clay could be offering to kill Galen if Jax told him to?

Gemma banged on the door saying they were done, and two guards came in saying they weren’t. A conjugal is a conjugal: If Clay didn’t sleep with Gemma so they could watch and get off, one of them would (and the other would watch and get off). Each time Clay protested, they hit him. He was down on the floor about to take a serious beating when Gemma said okay. She helped Clay up and started to unbutton his shirt as the two guards sat down and unzipped their pants. One told her to kiss Clay, the other told her he wanted her to undress. Clay put his head to hers and whispered, “I’m so sorry.” You believed him. Gemma breathed hard, like she was determined not to cry. When we came back, Gemma was dressing and Clay said, “I’m gonna kill both of ’em.” Gemma told him he wasn’t: Jax needs him, and he’s no good to them in the hole or dead. Escorting her out, the guard told Gemma if she talks, Clay dies. You just wanted Chibs to figure it out, but what good could come of it at that point? Those guards have to die by season’s end, right? The question is whether Clay will do it or one of the other guys? (Or, how about Nero?)

I love it when Jax gets that cocky grin on his face. We got to see it as Diosa, when Barosky yelled at Colette for daring to speak when she asked what the DA’s interest in the Sons and Byz-Lats for the school shooting has to do with her house. Jax had told Barosky she’s not one of his street whores, and Barosky had said she wasn’t one of Jax’s either. Was Jax grinning because Barosky didn’t know that Jax had slept with Colette, or because he knows if it comes to a fistfight, he’d win. In the end, they agreed to move forward with the plans for now, and if the DA’s case heats up, Jax and Nero would bow out of Stockton. Barosky issued a warning that this better not blowback in this face, and off he and Colette went. We weren’t the only ones who noticed Colette and Jax lingered holding hands. Gemma did as well. She asked Chibs who the blonde was. “New whore partner,” he said. As Chibs finished a drink and took Jax into the kitchen to talk, Lyla asked Gemma what she could make her. “Three hours’ younger,” Gemma said.

NEXT: “Do you trust me, Jackie? Do you trust any of us?”

Chibs shoved Jax and told him he might as well have asked the Kings if he could rape their mothers — offering them a black partner was the same level of offense, in their eyes. Chibs calmed down and told Jax about the Kings reaching out to Clay to have him be their distributor. Chibs told Jax he couldn’t run the club on his own. Chibs could’ve told him how deep that hatred runs. “Do you trust me, Jackie? Do you trust any of us?” Chibs asked. “‘Cause it’s not just your club.” Jax said it might not be anyone’s club for much longer. He called the Kings and Chibs asked to listen this time. He told Jax not to give up Clay as clueing them in — he may be their only way into the Kings now. Jax was told the Kings would phone the clubhouse at 8 p.m. with an answer and he should have a full table so they can vote on the conditions right away. “Maybe their greed’s trumpin’ their racism,” Jax told a worried Chibs. “Well, that will be a first, Jackie boy,” Chibs said. Granted, they hadn’t heard Galen’s conversation with the Kings, but shouldn’t Jax and Clay have taken precautions at the clubhouse knowing what Clay had told them?

At Diosa, Gemma waited for Nero to drive her back to T-M. She told him Colette was very cute, and he said blondes aren’t his thing. Gemma was a bit off and he knew it. She said she was just tired. But then he took her hand, and kissed it, and went to lead her to his car, and she stopped him. She walked him back to the couch so she could tell him what had happened (off-screen). She doesn’t want to keep things from him, she said. We cut to Eli getting the DNA results from Nero’s car. Then to the table, where Jax sat alone. Chibs had brought everyone up to speed. “We’re all here for you…my brother,” Chibs said. And on the second viewing, I teared up, knowing what was about to happen. “I know,” Jax said. Then the montage started. We saw everyone gathered in the clubhouse. Chucky was struggling with the keg. Thomas started crying, so Tara left Abel sleeping in Jax’s room. Nero pulled in, and he was obviously not okay with what Gemma had shared, but he was going to try to be. She asked him to promise that he wouldn’t take it to Jax now. Before he could answer, police siren!

Unser went outside to see why Eli had shown up. Juice said it was 7:58. Jax told all the guys to head to the table for the call. He put out his cigarette in an ashtray on the bar and noticed the shamrock pen. He asked Chucky where it came from. The delivery guy left it when he delivered the beer a few hours ago. Chucky assumed Gemma had ordered it. “Eight o’clock,” Chibs said. “Full table for the vote,” Jax said. They told everyone to get out. The minute everyone started running and you saw Thomas crying in Tara’s arms, you had to think ABEL. Was he going to die? Tara told Jax he was in the room, and Jax said he’d get him. He told Tig to get Tara out. Jax went running and picked up Abel. I love that Chibs never left the building. He just waited and yelled, “Jackie! Jackie!” until Jax came back. Chibs ushered him out and they ran. It seems everyone made it out before the massive explosion. Thomas was still crying.

NOW the promo with the explosions officially makes sense. Where do they go from here? Got theories? Share ’em.

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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