Sons of Anarchy recap: 'Toil and Till'
Jax makes a big move against Lin, Unser meets the new sheriff, and Juice refuses to leave.
The final season body count climbs by 12 in this episode, which finds Jax starting his long-game destruction of Henry Lin by taking out everyone at one of Lin’s guns-for-heroin exchanges, plus the two local guys that Indian Hills president Jury volunteers for the job. The action is badass, but if we didn’t have six seasons of liking Jax Teller in our memory, the killing spree would be tough to take—even with that tear he sheds in the final seconds of the hour, presumably while thinking about what Tara would think of him now. Yes, in his misinformed mind, he’s doing this all to avenge his wife’s death, but most of the men he helped murder weren’t in Lin’s crew—they’re collateral damage, even if Lin’s crew had killed Tara. Maybe it’s because Jax and Tara’s love seemed so real and grounded that his larger-than-life response doesn’t initially compute: It’s like he’s snapped, but no one in the club sees it. Are they all blinded by their love and support for him? (Update: Tommy Flanagan hopes you don’t hate them.)
The opening: The show—known for its montages—starts without a song in this episode, which is especially powerful coming off the season premiere’s epic “Bohemian Rhapsody” ending. Jax wakes to the sound of a lawn mower, a barking dog, and his own breathing. Life goes on for the outside world, but inside that house, it’s stopped. There is no more joy, just the sight of Tara’s empty side of the bed and the spot where he cradled her lifeless body in his kitchen. It’s almost enough to make you feel guilty for being excited to see Charlie Hunnam’s bulked up torso. Almost. Go ahead, and tell yourself you’re just appreciating the Abel tattoo.
The smoke of his cigarette bleeds into Juice taking a drag as Unser sits bound and gagged in Wendy’s bathtub. Then it’s to Gemma’s smoke, as she sits at her kitchen table being served coffee by Nero (who is the best boyfriend ever). Does he wish he’d never bought her that drink? No, you find who you’re supposed to find, he says. Cue Wendy’s entrance, shippers. “Mom… dad,” she says, greeting them. They decide Gemma will write the check for Abel’s preschool, but Wendy will go check it out with her chauffeur, Nero. It takes a village, people.
Juice lets Unser go: Viewers would have been more afraid of Juice carrying that large knife into the bathroom if they hadn’t seen promos showing that Unser makes it out of Wendy’s alive. Juice frees his hands, and they have a nice chat during which Juice admits he’s hiding from the club because of “old sins.” Unser figures out Gemma’s hiding him, and instead of leaving, Unser sits down. (Who else wanted to reach through the screen and hug Uncle Touchy?) Hearing that Jax will kill Juice and that Juice has no plan to get out of Charming, Unser offers his help. It’s a heartwarming moment—until you remember Juice killed Eli, and Unser is a former Chief.
The Return of August Marks: The man still knows how to wear a suit. He’s happy to hear Jax has hooked the Chinese up with the Irish and that it’ll quench Lin’s thirst for payback
for something that isn’t Jax killing one of his men. August promises they’ll find out what happened to Tara, but for now, he needs Jax to know the retaliation can’t land on the street, just like the Niners couldn’t retaliate against the Mayans for what happened at the junkyard last season. All the heat would crush the gun expansion. From the snarl on Jax’s face, August should know Jax doesn’t like what he hears. The greatest lesson Pope taught him, August says, was patience. And the man did have it, allowing Jax to keep Tig alive. Of course, we know how that turned out for Pope. “Clarity settles all scores, pays back all debts,” August preaches. Jax promises he won’t do anything until the time is right. Cut to Happy, looking straight out of Breaking Bad, getting rid of the body but saving Chris Dun’s head with the carving fork in it. Enjoy your mail, Lin.
The Rat and Tig Show: Don’t you want to hear all the stories Tig told Rat during their four-hour stakeout waiting for Lin to move his guns? (That’s a web series that needs a green light.) Rat grows impatient enough to spark the kind of exchange this show can get away with because you don’t really believe the characters are truly misogynistic, racist, and homophobic:
Tig: What if when we’re done here we go to your house, and I rape your mama?
Rat: What if you find her on top of your dad slamming a big black dildo in his a– while he’s calling out my name?
Tig: Nice touch.
When the Chinese finally move, Tig pushes Rat’s head into his lap and tells him to “think gay thoughts,” so Tig just looks like a driver on a backstreet getting cheap head. He keeps gyrating and talking dirty even after they pass by. Welcome to the club, Rat.
NEXT: Jax’s plan revealed
And so it begins: Jury, president of the Sons of Anarchy’s Indian Hills charter, tells Jax he needs to know the game plan because his guys have been doing some muling for the Vegas Triads in New Mexico. Bobby says they’re going to unravel Lin’s business relationships, but no one can know it’s them because of Marks’ order to cool their heels. Where does it end? Jax has this all thought out: When Lin is out of friends, Jax will offer to be one and gain his trust. Then he’ll let him know he’s the one who ruined him and ask him who among his family and men he wants spared. The first person he points to, Jax will kill. Then everyone else Lin cares about follows. After Lin has lived with that pain, Jax will end him “as slowly and painfully as possible.” There was no remorse in his voice, no hint that causing that many deaths phased him at all. Again, if viewers didn’t have six seasons of fondness for Jax, this would be tough to stomach. Jury tries to remind him this goes against the vision Jax detailed at last season’s Son Summit. But Jax has no vision now. All he sees is what’s in front of him. This should be when someone like Bobby says, “Do you hear yourself? Why are we following a man with no vision?”
The “local muscle” arrives—two trustworthy guys Jury says his whores introduced him to—and Chibs calls Tig to find out where he and Rat are. What cell provider do these guys use, because that signal is impressive. It’s time to roll. Chibs and Jax look like badasses standing in the bed of the local muscle’s truck when their three-vehicle caravan pulls in to where the Chinese exchange is going down and Jax opens fire. Why are all the Chinese guys such bad shots? You’re ambushed, but there’s a lot of you, and some of you manage to fire: HIT SOMEONE, preferably from Indian Hills, of course. One Chinese guy hops into a delivery truck, and Jax takes off after him in the muscle’s truck because no one can live to tell Lin who was responsible for this. Our big car chase scene (for the season?) takes place as Chibs falls backward but somehow grabs onto the truck and manages to pull himself back up. Sure. Finally, Jax manages to run the other truck off the road and crash gently enough into it to not hurl Chibs to his death. The poor Chinese guy starts to limp off and Chibs shoots him in the leg. Then he puts his boot on the wound until the dude admits that the heroin in the briefcase is Lin’s: The Triads trade their weapons for heroin. Jax puts a bullet in the guy’s head, and Chibs takes the smack—which is significant, but look how white Jax’s sneakers are in the desert!
Jury offers to help with the pile of bodies, but Tig says SAMCRO’s got it covered. Bobby’s going to call Barofsky and get storage at the docks for the guns and heroin, the latter of which they’ll split 50/50 with Indian Hills, minus the brick Chibs snags. It’s obvious we’re supposed to remember the gun we see Jury put away. And you just know Jax asking the local muscle for their address so he can have the guys drop off money is bad news.
The new sheriff in town: Sheriff Althea Jarry (Annabeth Gish) gets a visit from Unser, who has now decided to help investigate Tara’s murder. He’s almost giddy when he asks about his title—consulting investigator—and it’s nice to see him feeling useful as something more than a shoulder for Gemma to cry on or a cleaner. He gets part-time pay but full medical coverage, which is a reminder that the man has terminal cancer. Both he and Jarry know what they’re getting themselves into, but he has to school her on Juice (a child who’s not too savvy) and the rest of the club (Jax is as formidable as he is dangerous). She shows Unser respect, which means she can stay.
Abel makes Gemma cry: It’s cruel to critique a child’s acting, right? Abel asks Gemma if she was there when his mother went to heaven. She lies and says she wasn’t. Abel wants to know how she knows Tara went to heaven then. Because all angels go to heaven, Gemma says, tearing up even more. Abel asks if she’s alright. “Always,” she answers. “Always.” Spoiler alert: She’s not alright. She may be able to look Jax in the eyes and talk about Tara, but she can’t look at Abel and lie. Sorry, Brooke, you’re babysitting all day.
Unser heads to TM and tells Gemma about his night with Juice. He thinks Gemma has put friendship above club rule, so he offers her help because he’s tired of counting bodies, too. Oh, Unser. You are blind when it comes to her.
Gemma takes Unser tea, and admit it, for a split-second, you wondered if she’d poisoned it. I mean, she wouldn’t… yet. You also had to wonder if Unser was dead. That would almost have been hilarious, that after all he’s been through, the man gets to simply die in his sleep. But he just needs to rest while Gemma spies Tara’s file on his desk, looks at the gruesome photos, and sees his investigator paperwork.
Gemma goes to see Juice and tells him she picked a Chinese guy out of Lin’s crew to frame for Tara’s murder. Jax needed it, she says. “Closure.” Gemma may believe one man is where Jax’s vengeance would stop, but would Juice? With Unser on the case, Gemma wants Juice gone, so she gives him $4,300, a burner, and the directions to her dad’s house. On his way out-of-town in Wendy’s car, Juice dials Chibs and hangs up. When we see him in the end montage, he’s back at Wendy’s. Juice Watch 2014 continues!
NEXT: Nero makes a deal
Wendy and Nero continue to bond: Nero’s car is where he makes all his friends. He and Wendy discuss their junkie pasts. Chino helped Nero kick a $2,000-a-day opiate habit in the worst possible way, which makes Wendy using while pregnant seem… pretty effing horrible. But Nero’s not judging. Wendy admits she gets off on all the drama Jax and Gemma cause, and Nero gets it: Being around them, even if it’s to help, makes her feel like the healthy one. Bottom line: Nero says if he is straight and truthful with everyone, he knows whatever happens is going to be the right thing. He does know he’s dating Gemma, right? That woman has never met a truth she couldn’t alter. Wendy wants to know if that applies even when it results in killing a guy, and Nero politely ends the conversation. Who’s judging now? She convinces him to visit the school with her as “the nanny and the gardener”—ha!—then she’ll ride to Stockton with him and they can visit all her old drug dealers. Who would’ve thought these two would be bringing the comedy?
Meeting of the minds: Nero sits down with the Mayans’ Stockton charter president and Barofsky as they discuss the Mayans’ port-based “coffee” business. It doesn’t go well, but Barofsky says he’ll settle for $5,000 a week to keep everyone looking the other way. The Mayan prez says the crooked cops in Oakland never got greedy—which means Barofsky could sooner or later need a body bag. For now, the conversation between the bad cop and the bad rapist is tabled, and, okay, Barofsky probably really is racist. Does his place have any other customers ever?
Nero’s in the middle: On their way back from Stockton, Nero and Wendy get pulled over by Lin, who says six of his guys and four of his best customers are missing, as are his guns and compensation. He thinks SAMCRO did it with intel from the Irish. Nero won’t believe it and calls for a meet. Bobby joking that they heard about Lin’s missing guns from “Fox News… they’re blamin’ Obama” = classic.
When Lin arrives, Jax lies straight to his face about SAMCRO being preoccupied all day, and Chibs vouches for Connor. Jax claims he has the Indian Hills charter “digging in,” and Lin gives him a deadline of noon the next day to find his men, guns, and heroin. If Jax doesn’t, the violence won’t stop at the Charming boarders: Lin will turn Mayberry into a killing field. The way he phrases that should be a clue to Jax that Lin hasn’t spilled blood in Charming yet/recently, but Jax must believe everyone’s as good at lying as he’s become.
Framing the locals: Jax, Chibs, and Bobby show up to deliver the cash to the two local muscle, who are high and partying alone. Bobby shoots one, and Chibs does the other. They set the scene with the heroin and the gun we saw Jury load into the van. Bobby calls to report that they’ve found the crew that hit Lin’s delivery.
Final shots: Tig is concerned they’re running out of room to bury bodies in Chigger Woods, but Happy knows a thousand places to bury bodies, so it’s all good. Jury heads to the local muscle’s house and finds those two dead. He cradles the one he calls “Gibby” and spots the gun. So he knows SAMCRO did this, and considering the way he’s sobbing, this boy is special to him. Which begs the question: Why wouldn’t he have told Jax so? Jax probably wouldn’t have killed him then. Were the kid and his pal so desperate for work Jury risked their lives, thinking Jax would never find out their names or where they live? He heard Jax say Lin couldn’t find out the truth. He should’ve guessed what Jax is capable of after hearing his plan to kill all the Chinese.
Jax comes to Gemma’s, and gives Wendy a polite goodnight. He touches Thomas’ sweet face then crawls into bed with Abel. Jax sheds a single tear. Again, I think it’s less about all the people he just killed and more about what Tara would think of him now.
Is Jax’s plan insane, or the right amount of crazy for an outlaw who’s lost everything?