Jax takes the club in a new direction, as Nero and Tara feel the DA's heat and more than one familiar face returns

By Mandi Bierly
October 16, 2013 at 06:05 AM EDT
Prashant Gupta/FX
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This was the most uplifting episode of the season, with the large collection of Sons beating the table in support of Jax’s decision to get out of guns, and Bobby, who we all thought was going nomad, revealing that he was actually recruiting for SAMCRO all along. (Just typing that, I teared up.) But how long will this reprieve from death last? That’s the beauty of an episode like this: it just makes you more nervous for what lies ahead. Let’s dig in.

We opened with a full 2.5 minutes of Jax and Chibs exploring the clubhouse wreckage in silence (other than the mournful soundtrack, an acoustic version of “John the Revelator,” as reader Formerly_Marcella noted). Jax’s dad’s bike was destroyed, but at least the Reaper section of the table was still salvageable (I hope). “I did this,” Jax said, when he finally spoke. Chibs picked up the gavel from the charred, water-logged ground and handed it to Jax. “We’re gonna fix this, brother. You hear me?” Chibs said. I did a little “Chibs! Chibs! Chibs!” cheer, but Jax answered with a solemn “Yeah.”

I’ve been revisiting season 1 recently for a gallery on its body count, and it’s interesting: You might remember that it was after the Mayans blew up SAMCRO’s gun warehouse in the pilot that Jax suggested they not rebuild it and instead get out of guns and look for new ways to earn. Also, “Yeah,” was Jax’s response in the final moment of the season 1 finale, when Piney gave Jax his copy of Jax’s dad’s manifesto on the club losing its way and said it was time for a change. (A more rousing version of “John the Revelator” had been playing in that moment.) Season 1 also had then-VP Jax delivering a speech to Clay about the two of them needing to trust one another, and Jax needing to know where Clay was taking the club, if Jax was going to be his No. 2 and protect it. Chibs’ talk of trust last episode should’ve sounded familiar to Jax then. And season 1 really hammered home Unser’s deal with Clay: The outlaws live in Charming, and they keep the consequences of their lifestyle outside its borders. Unser needed Clay to orchestrate a truce with the Mayans and stop the tit for tat. Now it was Eli telling Jax that he knows this bombing was the work of the Irish, and though he can tell that Jax and Chibs believe they can make sure this beef doesn’t blowback in Charming again, he’s not so sure. Jax got the last word, however. Eli had been informed that Gemma was at the precinct pitching a fit to see Nero. “Good luck with my mom,” Jax said. He can still smile. That’s nice.

When the cops wouldn’t let Gemma see Nero, she barged her way through and shoved a cop holding her back. Nero, watching from a windowed cell, just hung his head. That landed her in there with him, handcuffed. “How’s it goin’?” he asked. “Okay. Just uh, you know, thought I’d come by and say hi… Hi,” she said. He sat her down and put his hand lovingly around her throat. “What am I gonna do with you?” he asked. Gemma was desperate to see him because she knew after the explosion, Nero might be even more eager to get away from the club. She said she had to be there for her family now, but she wanted to be with him, too. She’d figure out how to do both, if he gave her more time. Nero’s thinking she’ll have a lot of time when he goes to jail. He’s losing hope.

The club had reconvened at Gemma’s house. Tara had the boys in Jax’s old room. Abel hasn’t slept or eaten, Tara said. She was going to head to the hospital for an ultrasound to make sure the stress of the explosion and lockdown hadn’t affected the baby. I’m still not buying that she’s actually pregnant. Jax was headed up to Chester with the boys to sit down with the Northwest charters and explain what had happened. Jax kissed Tara goodbye on the forehead — we’re still not doing lips. Jax got a call from the Irish, and Gemma’s dining room table became THE table. He told prospect Rat that he could stay (yay!), and put the phone on speaker. If SAMCRO didn’t abide by their terms, they’d blow up more clubhouses. I love how director Adam Arkin slowly moved the camera toward Jax as Galen spoke. Clay would handle the Irish guns in Northern Cali and Jax would facilitate that transition, making sure all the buyers are on board. Jax wouldn’t be getting a cut of that money. Jax took a quick silent vote (sorry, Rat, that you don’t get yet), and it was a unanimous yes. When Jax said he’d cut Connor and the other Irish loose, it was clear that the Kings believed that Jax would definitely have killed them. “I told you, I didn’t want a war,” Jax said. Is Galen in the Irish doghouse? He’s at least on the porch.

The boys decided to keep Connor for a couple more days to make sure the peace declaration was real. As they mounted up, the police dropped Gemma off at home. “Eat me,” she told a female cop. Ah, Gemma. Jax told her he needed Clay to know what happened and that he wants him to take the Irish deal. Gemma was visibly shaken, thinking that’d mean another conjugal, but it didn’t. She didn’t need privacy to deliver the go-ahead. Tara told Gemma that Wayne was taking her to the hospital to meet with Lowen. Abel ran and jumped into Unser’s arms. Line of the night: “Ow. I got me a little Nazi owee here,” Unser told him.

The DA came to Eli for an update. Eli told her he thinks Nero was set up. She didn’t care. She was sticking with the evidence for now. She told him she needed to make some calls. Which meant he needed to leave his own office for a bit. (Remember in season 1, when ATF Agent Stahl kicked Unser out of his office for an extended period of time because of his loyalty to SAMCRO?)

NEXT: “You’re spinnin’ a lot of plates there, sweetheart”

At the hospital, Tara and Unser discussed how she was becoming Gemma — taking the violence in stride. She accepted Unser’s help, which meant she had to tell him that she’s filing for divorce and for full custody of the boys. If she does time, they’ll go to Wendy, who showed up to play with Abel in daycare. “You’re spinnin’ a lot of plates there, sweetheart,” Unser told her. As SAMCRO rode through the town of Eden, two cops on motorcycles pulled them over. Rat couldn’t stop — he had all their guns in a cooler in the van. The cops got them for speeding and wearing gang colors (they’re a club!). They asked for ID because there was a robbery last week of bikes heading to a Butte County Harley dealer. The cops could tell the Sons’ bikes had recent modifications, so they told them they’d impound their bikes, run the serial numbers, and make sure nobody sold them stolen parts. When Juice talked back, the cop handcuffed him to his bike and said he assumed since the boys were all about the brotherhood, they wouldn’t abandon Juice. The two cops had to be on their way. The guys were given a card with an address for where they could pick up their bikes. After a cop shot Juice’s tire, Juice elbowed him. Happy grabbed the other cop’s gun. SAMCRO knows a scam when they see one. “That’s right, we do,” Tig said. “I’ve seen Smokey and the Bandit a thousand times. Love that movie.” HA!

Juice grew a huge set of balls and not only stole a cop’s bike, he blocked the police, now in an SUV, as they chased SAMCRO. Rat redeemed himself after being a ball of nerves at the white supremacist shootout when he opened his van’s door and told Juice to jump inside. The SUV ran into the cop bike and flipped. “Holy s—!” Jax yelled. “That boy ain’t right!” Chibs added. I’m still worrying about that coming back to bite SAMCRO in the ass, as everything does. But for now, it seems okay. By the time they’d reached the summit location in Chester, Juice had talked to Barosky, who confirmed there was no APB. No one was looking for them. Those cops were dirty and feeding the pipeline of stolen parts in Butte. They’d be visiting that chop shop. Jax hugged Jury at the Summit, as well as Bobby, who was there with his guys. He asked Jax for time after the meeting.

Gemma went to see Clay, and though he wanted to assure her that what those guards did to her wouldn’t go unpunished, Gemma wanted to stick to the script about the Irish. Oh, and she also wanted to ask Clay if Toric was capable of setting Nero up. “Considering I rode your cock yesterday for that creep show and didn’t say s— to Jax, I’m thinking maybe you owe me one,” Gemma said. Clay explained about Toric threatening to do the same thing to him that he’d done to Otto — have him beaten and raped daily.

At the Son Summit, Jax and Jury sat at the heads of the large table. Jax really is a great public speaker. He spoke about his father, who questioned every decision he’d ever made about the club and his family in the end. That fear and doubt ruined him and made him vulnerable. “I’m here to tell you that I’m not following that path,” Jax said. Were you worried? Let him continue. He was just setting up that his decision to get out of guns and go deeper into pussy — bringing Diosa into Stockton and rebooting Cara Cara — wasn’t made out of fear or doubt in the club’s future. He’d watched Opie die for the brotherhood. They’ve all lost someone. You can run from the pain or allow it to burn into your heart as a constant reminder of the love that brought them together, Jax said. Every charter there would take a financial hit without the gun trade because they helped with protection, storage, or distribution. How each charter wanted to earn outside of guns was up to them, but Jax offered SAMCRO’s help however possible. The goal is to keep them alive and whole and out of jail, to have a future. Chibs started smacking the table in approval. Soon they were all doing it. I got chills. But is it too late to save Nero? To save Jax’s marriage?

NEXT: “It’s because I love this club, and I love you”

Gemma stormed back into the police station — “Really?” said one cop — and headed straight to Eli’s office. She came face-to-face with the DA and told her what Clay had said about Toric’s methods. Eli pointed out that if word got out that Toric framed Nero, it would look like it was the desperate DA’s call. “You might want to get in front of that,” he told her. The DA sent Eli and his second to check out Toric’s hotel room. They smelled the bleach and found his guns, his drugs, and the bullet holes in the linoleum floor. Eli thought it was pretty clear Nero was innocent, but the DA wasn’t cutting him loose until the DNA was processed. She’s hoping to make Nero sweat long enough that he cracks and turns on Jax.

Back at the Son Summit, Jax told Juice “No more cowboy s—.” Juice was good with him; Chibs would be fine with Juice about the time Juice’s face heals. Juice didn’t sound that enthusiastic. He’s still dead inside. Tara called Jax, who was happy to hear the baby was okay. He’s convinced it’ll be a girl, strong and beautiful like her mom. (IF SHE EXISTS.) Lowen arrived at the hospital and told Tara the DA wanted to offer her a deal. Meanwhile, we got the best surprise: Jax assumed Bobby’s boys were there to go nomad. But the bikers gossip worse than teenage girls, Bobby said: He handed Jax not one transfer, but three. Quinn, Montez, and West will be SAMCRO. Bobby handpicked them because they’re hardworking, loyal, and they’ve got families. I’m tearing up again just typing this. It wasn’t a power play, Bobby said. He has no interest in the gavel or a new VP patch. “It’s because I love this club, and I love you.” It was good to see Jax smile and hug Bobby. For a second, he was weightless. I chanted, “Man love!”

Of course, if Jax is happy, Tara has to be miserable. The only offer the DA made was full immunity for proof of the gun-running. She wanted to remind Tara that she’s not the one who deserves to be in prison. Lowen wanted Tara to consider the offer. She said she knows how much she loves Jax, but Tara said she doesn’t. “The betrayal of love has boundaries, ones that I have to live with. I don’t need to think about an offer,” Tara said. I think all this time I was letting myself think that Tara was falling out of love with Jax, when really, she wasn’t. Maybe she cried when they had sex that time because  she knew she had to start pushing him away so it would somehow ease the pain of the separation when she files for divorce. She has to get used to being without him. Maybe she’s trying to prepare herself for him falling out of love with her when he finds out about the divorce and guardian papers.

Gemma went to Diosa to tell Lyla she’d have to help Jax keep the place running until Nero gets out of County. Lyla told Gemma someone had come in pretty upset looking for Nero, so she’d put her in his room. VENUS! “Wow,” Gemma said. “Oh yes,” Venus said. “At the very least.” Did she lighten her hair a bit? She looked lovely, aside from a black eye. No assless latex catsuit to be seen. I love that they once again didn’t promote Walton Goggins’ appearance, so it was the second best surprise of the night.

Gemma got Venus a drink, and Venus said she knew Nero had himself a new lady, she just didn’t realize she was so “substantial.” Just like Gemma, Venus knew Nero would never raise a hand to a woman. We got to hear how Venus knew Nero: Back when she was Vincent, her mother Alice was one of Nero’s best “street performers.” Alice wasn’t as good at raising “a boy of questionable orientation.” Vincent was 15 when his mother went into prison, and Nero took him in and kept him safe. HOW MUCH DO WE LOVE NERO? Nero never asked Venus for anything. He was her guardian angel. When she was struck (by a relative, if I heard that correctly), she didn’t know where to go until she found herself there looking for Nero. Gemma sat next to Venus on the bed and told her she was safe. She held her, and Venus cried. The look on Gemma’s face said she never expected to be doing that. But that’s what family does.

NEXT: “He’s gonna take Liberace’s bike”

The club hit that chop shop on the way back. Happy rang the bell so enthusiastically Jax had to tell him, “Enough!” Again with the smile, Jax. Swoon. They scammed their way in to find Juice’s bike. “This okay with you, mom?” Jax asked Bobby. “Blow me, boy,” Bobby said. Ah, good times. Juice’s bike was a goner. “That’s new,” Bobby said when he saw Juice go after the guy working there. Tig and Rat had found a whole garage of stolen bikes. They were going to call their Eden police friends.

Lowen told the DA that Tara wouldn’t rat. The DA went into the bathroom and took off her bad wig. “Time to go hood, sister,” she said to herself in the mirror, letting down her hair. So much better! She ran into Tara and asked her to tell Lowen she’d be moving up the trial three weeks and prosecuting the case herself. Tara looked appropriately scared.

The two cops showed up at the chop shop and Jax informed them that they’d taken photos of all the bikes and cars in case they needed to return them to their rightful owners. As the club scolded them for being lazy outlaws, Juice got to choose a new bike. “He’s gonna take Liberace’s bike,” Jax said, when Juice picked one with bronze sparkles. Ha. I like to imagine the guys sitting around the clubhouse watching Behind the Candelabra. With Bobby being an Elvis impersonator, I feel like he would’ve gotten sucked into it.

Jax told the cops he needed them to make sure nothing that happened earlier that day would blowback on them (good call) and, he said, he needed them to apologize to his guys for their behavior. “You gotta be kiddin’ me,” one said. And Jax elbowed him hard in the face while taking a drag on a cigarette. “Do you think I’m kiddin’?” Jax asked the other. THAT SMILE. STOP IT. I CAN’T TAKE IT.  Watching the cops go down the line saying, “Sorry for my behavior today” — amazing. Bobby was happy to be back. The acoustic “John the Revelator” played again when the boys rode off, headed home. Enjoy the moment while you can, guys.

Next week the bullets appear to be flying again — along with the fists. Tara and Gemma smacking each other — all a part of Tara’s plan to get that restraining order? How is the town of Charming going to get rid of the M.C.? Do we really think Nero would rat? And how wonderful will it be for Tig to see Venus? Discuss!

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