Sons of Anarchy recap: 'Playing with Monsters'
Remember how Tara said Jax had turned into a monster in the season 6 finale? Well, he gets a bit closer to that side of the scale in this episode. Vengeance-seeking Jax is simultaneously disturbing and enjoyable to watch when he’s one step removed from the Chinese: Without that immediate weight, he grows a twisted sense of humor and an invisible mustache that he practically twirls. This is a new Jax, one that gets off on the scheming and the beating (which is tougher to watch). Just don’t get too cocky, son. Let’s dig in.
Skankenstein Lives!: When released onDVD, Redwoody’s first production (starring Jenna Jameson) should have the guys’ reactions as a bonus feature, because Chibs’ and Tig’s were the best. Jax calling Lyla “a genius” may have been a stretch, but here’s to any woman working behind the camera.
August reminds us he’s a bad man: How long has Sutter been waiting to use the 12 Inches a Slave joke? August is not amused. He’s worried SAMCRO hit the Chinese shipment, and he somehow knows the Chinese lost 4 kilos. Bottom line: He and Jax don’t trust one another, and August, who’s actually been pretty decent to Jax since Pope died, makes sure Jax knows the difference between August and Damon: Damon made his bones being the smartest guy on the street, August made his being the deadliest. “Don’t cross me, Jackson. I have no remorse killing you or any of the Sons,” he says. When Jax emerges from the car, he has that snarl on his face. Change of plans, he tells the guys. “It’s a black day,” he says. Translation: August thinks he’s cold, but Jax will challenge himself to be ice. Jax has no remorse killing anyone who threatens his club. Jax’s first call is to Tyler, because he knows the One-Niners won’t be happy that August is shutting down their payback against the Mayans. It’s a risky move for Jax to tell Tyler that SAMCRO is defying August, but the show’s earned the right for Jax to think he can manipulate Tyler: It set Tyler up as a guy who had no desire to be a leader. He just inherited the job. The problem: The Niners have no independent income like SAMCRO does. Jax has Tig give Tyler half a kilo so the Niners have a base to break away—how much does heroin go for?—and Tyler says he’ll make sure the Niners side with the Outlaws if SAMCRO takes care of his internal problem, an OG named Chester who wants to splinter the Niners.
Why are crews so trusting?: Did Jax fool you when he meets Chester and, for once, tells the truth? He says he’s looking for someone in Purple who has the balls to go against Marks, and well, this Chester does seem more badass than Tyler, right? Notice how Jax says he could handle his s—, which was a line in the song that played at the end of episode 2 when Jax, Chibs, and Bobby killed those two local muscle. Jax offers Chester the address of where the Mayans are storing the guns they took from the Niners (what Barofsky had handed Handsome Jack). In a scene we’ve seen play out multiple times before, Chester and two of his guys walk in, put their guns away to open their stash, and as their backs are turned, they’re taken out by SAMCRO. Like, maybe have one guy who stays facing the crew you just allied with 10 minutes ago? Best part of the scene: Jax answers a call from Gemma right afterward, “Hey, mom, what’s up?”
Mayans are fools: Okay, the show’s established Barofsky is all-knowing when it comes to dirty things in Stockton, but after he claims his local cops shot and killed the rogue Niners, he lays out the address of the Niner coup for Nero and the Mayans so clearly, he might as well have just handed them the address. Jax suggested Tyler have someone put out the word that Chester was having a meeting for like-minded Niners in Stockton. Tyler and Jax tell Marks about the rogues, who could retaliate against the Mayans or Chinese before they get to them. Smart play, for as long as they can keep Chester a ghost. Marks comes clean about the real reason he doesn’t want a street war: His business partner on this big development deal is MIA, and his investors are getting skittish. Last thing he needs is a gang war that has the Feds sniffing around his relationships. He gives them permission to end the rogue problem, now. “I hate to tell you, Mr. Marks, but the war is already on, and you’re losin’ it,” Jax says afterward. He’s really enjoying his villainy this episode. The Mayans and Nero end up killing the rogue Niners. They use a crazy amount of fire power for four guys.
NEXT: Juice makes us cry
Juice’s long goodbye: Another deal occurs between Unser and Juice. Juice tells Unser to focus Tara’s murder investigation on the Chinese (which Unser report to Jarry, minus the name of his source) and in exchange, Unser has Chibs’ parole officer call for a meet so Juice can get Chibs alone. Is that the same diner Justified used when Art had the badass scene last season? Anyway, Chibs walks in and sees Unser, who plays it like Juice has made him lure Chibs there by gunpoint. Chibs can barely look at Juice, who wants to know if the club has ordered Mayhem or if Jax is coming after him on his own. Juice wants to know if he can do anything to earn his way back in. “If I were you, I’d get that gun, put it in my mouth, and pull the trigger,” Chibs says. For him to say that to a guy he knows tried to commit suicide—ouch. They both have tears in their eyes, but Chibs tries to hide it. “I’m sorry, brother,” Juice says. “I never meant to hurt the club. It’s the only family I have. I love you.” Someone hug him, please. Chibs tries to follow Juice out, but Unser stops him because there’s a dozen badges in the place. “He’s lost, son,” Unser says. Chibs’ response: “I know. That’s why he has to go away.” Go away as in leave town, or go away as in dead? Deep down, Chibs is hoping for the former.
Unser later tells Wendy and Gemma about the meet, and they worry Jax will piece together where Juice has been staying. (I guess Jax has too much on his plate to actually do that?) Still, Gemma needs Juice gone now, so she sends Wendy and Unser off to fetch him and take him to a hotel out of town.
Escort Sandy: This young bird lover has a dad who hates what she does until he needs money. He beats Sandy trying to find her wallet, and Gemma gets in the middle of it. She throws a punch, the dad backhands her hard, and Nero throws down. Abel sees Gemma injured and asks if his dad does bad things, too. Of course Gemma says no. Does Abel ever smile? If directors are telling him to be creepy, it’s working. When Jax and Chibs arrive, they meet Sheriff Jarry, who informs them Sandy’s dad is pressing assault charges against Nero and that if she can’t find Juice, the DA is going to put out an APB. She asks about the Chinese, and Jax says he’s a big fan of their food—he’s gotten funnier since Tara died. She tells them they should work together to keep Charming safe and profitable for everyone. She’s also interested in connecting with Chibs later. “There is a new sheriff in town,” Jax says. Yes, and she’s looking for money and a “humpin’.” Go, Chibs, go. About time! Man, it was nice to see Jax hug Nero. Presumably, he’s feeling genuine affection again toward Nero for protecting his mother.
Chibs and Jarry: 1.) Jarry is pretty hot out of that uniform, and 2.) how cute is Chibs when he fixes his hair? They compare scars, and we find out Jarry’s been married multiple times and apparently likes men who could wind up shooting her. So this will be fun. She’d wanted intel on Juice, but takes the two grand and agrees to at least stall the APB. She seems too smart to not follow up on the Chinese just because Chibs tells her that it’s a dead end. They agree to warn each other of anything coming from above or below. Chibs totally thinks he’s gonna get some… but doesn’t.
The family that commits assault together: At the end of the episode, while Nero and his guilty soul wait at Gemma’s house, Jax and Gemma share a sweet moment off together, just the two of them, going to deliver a cake to someone. He’s had a rough day, so Gemma smiles when he tells her what they’re about to do will help. He’s walking with his arm around her. Ah. But wait, it’s Sandy’s father’s house. Gemma pretends she’s come by with pineapple upside down cake to apologize and have a drink. Jax comes in from the shadows and just punches, kicks, headbutts, and generally destroys the guy. The kicks are the worst. At first, Gemma seems proud, but then even she has to turn her back. The sight of Jax wearing gloves now officially scares me.
Grim Bastards destroy a massage parlor that Henry Lin owns saying, “August Marks doesn’t give a s—.” Tig and Happy are at the wheel of the get-away van, naturally. They just beat customers with bats. Just? Like that’s what this show has come to. Just a bat. Clearly the ghost rogue Niners are to blame.
The missing body: Henry Lin’s No. 2 pays Jax and the boys a visit to tell them they only found one dead body with their heroin. For now, Henry Lin is keeping the détente in place, but the Chinese are going to “dig into this”—the phrase of the season—which means they’re not totally convinced these amateurs took down their men and shipment. Jax tells Bobby to “dig into” the missing boy. It takes long enough for Bobby to make the call. Jury has the kid’s dog tag and the gun SAMCRO planted at the scene. He tells Bobby the kid’s name is Gib O’Leary. He tells Bobby to give his best to Jax. That’s not going to end well. Bobby ultimately tells Jax he has the bounty hunter that’s with his ex looking for the kid. And so we wait. It’s nice to hear Bobby, the voice of reason usually, tell Jax they’d all understand if he wants to slow everything down. But New Jax doesn’t want to.
Rat and Brooke do it in front of sleeping Thomas: Was Wendy’s warning to him not to get her pregnant foreshadowing? Maybe not. Later, when Brooke tells Wendy she loves Rat, Wendy says she still loves Jax—she just knows she can’t be with him. So does that mean Wendy might end up sleeping with Jax at some point this season in a moment of weakness, like, say, catching him in the shower? Just a suggestion.
Gemma is slipping: Sorry, Gemma, but Tara would not believe that everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to happen, including her death.
Till next week. Here’s a photo to tide you over.
Kurt Sutter’s original series, starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, and Katey Sagal.