The past comes back to haunt SAMCRO, the Byzlats, Nero, Gemma, Wendy...you get the picture

By Mandi Bierly
October 30, 2013 at 05:03 AM EDT
Prashant Gupta/FX
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In a poll in the recap of the previous episode, only 29 percent of readers were firmly Team Tara. Thirty-nine percent were angry with her for faking the pregnancy and miscarriage and blaming it on Gemma. Thirty-two percent were too torn to pick a side. All they could do was wonder how Tara and Jax could stay/end up together now. The calm conversation at the end of this episode told us neither Tara nor Jax know the answer to that question either. But that soft, honest, believe-me-babe voice Charlie Hunnam used made you root for them again. Which in turn made you sad again. Here we go.

We opened with Jax holding Thomas’ sweet little baby foot as he waited for the tea kettle to boil. He brought Tara a cup in bed and told her that he was going to take the boys to daycare, check in with the club, and then he’d be back. Oh, and he doesn’t care who bails Gemma out of jail. Admit it: There was a tiny part of you that expected to see Tara smiling after hearing that. But she didn’t. There’s no winner in this situation.

“Black, lots of sugar… the coffee,” Eli joked to Gemma when he brought her a cup in the holding cell. She hadn’t told anyone her side of the story because who would believe the “dirty biker whore with a record” over the “good doctor”? But Eli seemed genuinely open and curious, so she told him exactly what had gone down. But why would Tara hurt her baby to keep Gemma away from the boys? Gemma told him she doesn’t think Tara was even pregnant. Smart as ever.

After we saw a guilty, teary-eyed Wendy buy some drugs, we caught back up with Jax at the new clubhouse. The candy jars are still overflowing at Charming Scoops & Sweets, but the mood was somber. Jax thought Bobby, Chibs, and Tig were worried about the situation between Tara and Gemma, but nope, check the top headline in the San Joaquin Tribune, Jax: “Local Gangs Tied to Count of Aquino Shooting: Byzlats, Sons of Anarchy May Have Supplied Gun to Shooter’s Mother.” The DA showed the paper to Nero and explained that to satisfy public outrage, she’ll have to have a heavy police presence in Byzlat territory. Perhaps they’ll pick up a Byzlat on some petty infraction and he’ll turn on SAMCRO to save himself. Then the DA won’t need Nero at all. She told him he has six hours to take the deal.

Tara was miraculously up and out of bed, reading the paper, when Unser showed up to chat with her. He’d pieced together that she’d asked for the restraining order request BEFORE anything had happened. He couldn’t imagine she’d do anything to harm her baby. “Oh, I wouldn’t,” she said, all but confirming to him she’d faked the pregnancy. She told Unser it was the only way to give herself the legal means to separate the kids from Gemma and the club, and he told her that Gemma could get manslaughter. Tara won’t be pressing charges, but Unser had to make sure the County wasn’t. Knowing how much Unser cares for Gemma, Tara was worried he’d tell her the truth. He won’t. But he also won’t help Tara anymore. “I’m not upset about Gemma, doc. I’m upset about you. It breaks my heart that you had to become something so wrong to do what you thought was right.” When Unser did see Eli, Eli told him Gemma’s suspicions. Unser encouraged Eli to make his own call on charges but said he’d cut Gemma free and let the family handle it.

Side note: Does anyone else remember in season 1, when ATF Agent Kohn was attacking Tara, that Kohn revealed she’d had an abortion? Completely different circumstances and times in her life, of course, but for the record, I don’t think it’s impossible to imagine a scenario in which Tara would’ve chosen not to bring another child into the world when she’s fearing the boys will be trapped with someone who’s dangerous and she’s facing jail time. Though her faking this pregnancy and miscarriage also raises the tiniest possibility that she faked that pregnancy and abortion hoping Kohn would be so angry that he’d leave her alone, right? (I’m reaching? I retract the question.)

NEXT: Chapel

SAMCRO had a few immediate concerns: They need Hale to stay onboard with the club because the town wasn’t going to react well to that headline. Bobby offered to stay behind and handle interviews for Cara Cara girls that day because he’s the self-proclaimed “Manager of Operations.” (Cue Tig’s hearty laugh.) Juice reported that Connor is free, but the Kings are keeping him stateside to work on tying down their buyers for Clay, which Happy is off handling. Jax can feel the guys’ concern for him and his family and he loves them for that, but he needs everyone to worry about keeping the Byzlats level so none of them do anything stupid.

Jax explained to Fiasco, who’s running the Byzlats while Nero’s inside, that the DA has nothing. She’s just using the media to spook them. It’s working, Fiasco said. He’s got three guys MIA, the others are jittery, and the Triple Twos are circling. Chibs offered manpower to help defend the street and Jax said everything works out if everyone just stays even. Tig noticed a car parked in the middle of the block. Juice assumed it was Vice tailing them. It approached. Juice didn’t even move a muscle as it barreled toward him — death wish — but it swerved. It wanted one of the Byzlats and took out Fiasco’s second, Gomes, in a spectacularly grisly hit-and-run. I did one of those audible “Oh!”s and laughed so loudly I felt extremely guilty afterward. We spoke to special effects supervisor Chris Nelson about how they pulled off that sequence. Enjoy that chat here. Jax told Tig to have the Byzlats take the body to Skeeter and to find out who was driving that car. Chibs told Jax to go home and be with Tara, they’d handle it.

Tell me: Did that shot of Gemma and Unser talking in his truck, with the clear window so we could see the traffic behind them, scare you? Not that you could think of anyone who’d want to ram them at that moment, but after that last scene, we were on edge, too. Gemma asked Unser for the truth, and all he confirmed is that he didn’t know the extent of Tara’s plan, that Tara was doing what Gemma would do (protect her kids), and that Gemma’s control over those boys and her family isn’t healthy. Bad history drives her, and it isn’t what’s best for the boys. It’s a true testament to the writing that Unser was able to tell Gemma all that he did without her wanting to kill him. He said she’s got a lot of sweet, deep love in her, but it’s so wrapped around secrets and hate, he’s not sure if she can find it anymore. So does she just let Tara ruin her life? He said she has two roads she can travel: One’s slow and painful but eventually leads back to her having the boys in her life; the other is the one she’s on.

I was shocked to learn that Lowen had no idea that Tara was planning to frame Gemma for the fake miscarriage. She looked pretty pissed informing Tara that the restraining order would be served to Gemma’s house that day and her custody waivers are in place. Lowen wanted full disclosure so she could defend Tara. Tara said plausible deniability is how Lowen defends her. She wanted Lowen to take her check and leave. Completing her transformation into Gemma, we saw Tara cry into a bathroom mirror and tell herself to stop it until she restored her steel facade, just as Gemma had done after she saw Clay when Toric was watching behind the glass. Did you think Tara might slam her hand into the mirror to hurt herself? I found myself begging her not to, through the TV. It’s an interesting position to be in: wanting a woman to stay strong when what she’s doing is wrong.

NEXT: Everyone’s tired of being hated (okay, just Wendy)

The DA had Barosky escorted in to her office so she could threaten to put the port under the sheriff’s jurisdiction — which means he’d lose all those cops he has in his pocket — if he didn’t find out who just ran down the Byzlat that morning and why. Barosky called Jax from the men’s room and interrupted Handsome Jack’s time smiling at Abel’s stuffed giraffe to tell him he needed to give the DA something. Jax said he’d head out and phone him when he had it. Wendy was at the door. She told him she wanted to check in on Tara. Jax said that wasn’t necessary and that he didn’t want her coming around. Would he put another speedball in her arm? He’d do whatever he had to. Wendy tried to tell him that she’s not the enemy. She wants the same thing he does: “For your son to grow up without hate in his heart. That’s what I want,” she said. “I’m tired of being hated.” She left.

Nero had a meeting alone with the DA. He was ready to give up the source of the gun. He started by asking that his son be moved to the best facility in the state and have the best care for the rest of his life. He said he wanted to end up some place near him so his son could visit. And that’s when you guessed what Nero was doing: He lied and said HE was the one who supplied that gun — he bought it off the street from some journeyman dealer. He gave it to Darvany for protection. Matthew must have found it. “I’m responsible for the death of those children,” he said. Pick your jaw off the floor. That was the best play for Nero, when you think about it. He’d accepted that he was going to jail for Erin’s murder. If he ratted on Jax, he’d lose Gemma and the club would probably kill him.

Tara had gone to the new clubhouse to see Jax. He was in Stockton, so Bobby took a break from the overwhelming IQs of his “counter girl” candidates and smoked a joint with Tara outside. Again, after that earlier drive-by, you had to be a bit nervous seeing Tara step out into the alley as they talked. She asked Bobby if he thought Jax could really do it, move the club into legitimate business. Was she wavering on her plan to leave him? Bobby asked her if she thought he could.  She said it didn’t matter what she thought, she’s just an old lady. “Look, doc,” Bobby said. “Don’t give up on him. Jax is someone who needs to be with someone. Always been that guy. We’re up against it here. I honestly don’t know if we’re gonna make it. But he ain’t got a chance without you.” Tara nodded uncomfortably and left.

Jax arrived in Stockton, and with Chibs’ hoodie hood up, you knew it was about to go down. They’d found the car used in the hit-and-run. The Byzlats wanted to go in and kill the guy, but Jax told his guys they needed to keep the Byzlats calm until they heard police sirens. Eli hand-delivered the DNA results from Toric’s hotel room to the DA, confirming he’d killed Erin, not Nero. He wanted to cut Nero free, but the DA told him about the confession. Eli expected Nero’s lawyer to have him claim it was coerced using the bogus murder charge. But the DA was offering his son a better life in exchange for his full admission. Nero’s looking for a penance, and she’s looking at the greater justice. The DA knew about Gemma’s arrest. Eli said he’d cut her loose because the facts were unclear — he was looking at the simpler justice, guilty or not guilty.

NEXT: Serious splatter

Jax fed the intel on the driver’s location to Barosky, who was phoning it in to the DA. But the Byzlats made their move. SAMCRO followed them into the driver’s house and Jax tried to tell Fiasco they needed to bounce. But the driver came out with a large knife and slashed a Byzlat in the shoulder-blade. Jax headbutted the guy — one of his signature moves this season — and he fell. The Byzlats had their guns on him when Jax noticed the photo of a young boy. Jax bravely pushed Fiasco out of the driver’s face. The Byzlats and SAMCRO now had their guns pointed at each other. The driver’s son had been killed in the school shooting, Jax said. After reading the headline, he’d blamed them and wanted revenge. It’s what they’d do, too, as dads. Jax convinced Fiasco that killing the guy wasn’t the smart play with the cops on their way, his car parked outside, and a house full of evidence. Tig knocked the guy out for his own good as he reached again for the large knife, and everyone left. “I’m sorry,” Jax said on his way out.

When the cops showed up, the man was awake looking at his son’s soccer photo. He stood up and without saying a word stabbed himself deep in the neck with the knife. We talked to the special effects supervisor about that glorious splatter, too. The DA eventually showed up and asked to see the photo. “Oh my god,” she said. There’s always collateral damage on this show when someone is being pressured to turn rat.

Gemma went to see Wendy. Gemma wanted to talk inside. Me, I would’ve insisted we stay out in public. But Wendy wasn’t going to fight back, even if that quick shot of her purse reminded us that she has Gemma’s gun inside of it. Wendy told Gemma to do whatever she was going to do. Gemma wanted to know what Tara had promised her. Gemma knows Tara’s smart — using Gemma’s “rape rage” to bond was brilliant, she admitted — but she also knows that Jax will eventually find out what Tara has done. Which side of the fence does Wendy want to be on? Wendy was right when she said she doesn’t win no matter which horse she bets on. Gemma may not be able to give Wendy visitation with Abel, but she can make sure Jax doesn’t kill her. Wendy gave Gemma back her gun and asked her to get rid of the drugs as well. Gemma kissed her on the cheek. “You’re gonna have to get rid of that on own your own, sweetheart. Prove to me that you could be trusted… to be a good mommy.” Gemma left and Wendy cried. Interesting move by Gemma, harkening back to season 1 when she gave Wendy the syringe and choice to off herself after Abel was born premature and with complications because Wendy had been using. Gemma didn’t seem like she was being cruel this time. But obviously, if Wendy did the drugs, it helped Gemma — either she’s discredited or she dies.

Jax and Chibs met with Barosky, who informed them that DA Patterson was going to want his balls in a paper cup. Still, he was okay with that because he knows that she knows that he knows the driver’s suicide is on her — and that’s one headline she won’t want leaked. Jax asked what Barosky had done with Alice. He said he’d chopped, burned, and buried her, just like every pedophile should be. Jax said he shouldn’t have killed her. Barosky told him not to worry — he won’t use it against Jax… unless he has to. (Remind anyone of Clay, Oswald, and the dunk tank clown/pedophile/rapist in season 1?) The wink and the smile weren’t exactly comforting. But I’m choosing to believe that Barosky is still Team Jax, especially now that the DA has threatened to put the squeeze on the port.

Jax went to the hospital to pick up the boys and Gemma was waiting for him. She’d gotten the restraining order, but she needed Jax to hear that she hadn’t hurt Tara or caused that miscarriage. He called her a liar (let’s not forget how she covered up that car accident) and a “sick twisted bitch.” He said she’d never see Tara or the boys again. “Grandma is dead.” Cut to a peaceful shot of Wendy having shot up. I hope that doesn’t mean SHE’S dead.

The DA paid Nero another visit. She told him that Toric had killed Erin. She showed him pictures of the children gunned down at the school. She wanted him to hold on to them and think about them every time he visits his son and know that if they believe in the same god, debts will be paid. She said Nero was free to go. That’s been the best scene CCH Pounder has had on this show. The cuffs came off Nero.

Tara kissed Abel goodnight and Jax put Thomas down. “Do you ever regret it… coming back?” Jax asked her, them both standing over Thomas’ crib. There are a lot of things she’d do differently, she said, but no. Thomas makes it all worth it. Does Jax regret it? “I sometimes wish you’d come back five years sooner… or five years later,” he said. “I’m lost here, Tara. I’m tryin’ to put it back together. But I don’t know if I can.”

“I know,” she said.

“I just feel so far away from you now. I know that’s my fault. Please just tell me how do I get back,” he said.

“I’m not sure,” she answered.

“Babe, please let me back in.”

What I loved about that scene: We’d been getting all those close-ups of their faces. The tears in their eyes. The calm, soft voices. You were in that conversation with them, and you had hope. But after that final line, the camera pulled back and you saw the physical distance between them again. It was a jolt. We’re still in limbo.

Episode Recaps

Kurt Sutter’s original series, starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, and Katey Sagal.
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  • 09/10/13
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