Jax's plan to secretly destroy Henry Lin goes kaboom in what has to be the busiest day in SAMCRO history.
There are bad days, and then there are bad days for SAMCRO. The former involve one catastrophe, the latter at least four: Tig gets shot while trying to track down the pantyhose preacher’s wife, Aryans shoot the cops during a drug deal, the Chinese blow up Scoops, and the Chinese massacre everyone at Diosa. To quote Bull Durham, they’re dealing with a lot of s—. Let’s dig in.
The Return of Venus Van Dam: In EW.com stories, she’s always referred to as a fan favorite, and then inevitably, a few readers comment that they don’t understand why she’s even there. Her appearance last season, when Jax ended up shooting Venus’ mother (who was refusing to let Venus break their family cycle), seemed pretty apropos. And now, she reenters the picture when Tyler comes asking SAMCRO for help tracking down the wife of the pastor who needs to sign off on August’s business deal before the end of the next day. Lin thinks the Niners hit his massage parlors, so retaliation is imminent; August needs the deal to go through before his investors get skittish. If SAMCRO finds the wife, who has power of attorney, August may not go looking for the pastor Jax killed in the season premiere.
Jax and Tig decide to make Rat, Quinn, and Happy dig up the body in Chigger Woods. Rat, of course, gets the job of retrieving the pastor’s phone out of his pocket, and his reward is a “This is probably gettin’ you hard” jab at Tig—a nice throwback to Tig’s necrophilia conversation with Clay in the season 1 episode “Old Bones.” They get the phone, which, frankly, they should’ve destroyed before burying him, and discover a video of the pastor licking Venus’ boot. Jax wants to find Venus—Tig already knows where she is. They’ve stayed in touch. Cue the reaction shots.
Eventually, the club gathers around Venus outside her building, and that’s something special: A lot of times, you see just Jax or a couple of guys go off to extract information from someone. It’s sweet how non-threatening the group of them are around her. And did you notice that Venus’ neckline is a bit higher this episode? You can focus on her, not it. They show her the video of the pastor, and it seems Charlie Hunnam is trying not to smile because he knows the response is going to be her saying, “Oh, well, I do love those boots,” followed by Tig adding, “Oh yeah, me, too,” enthusiastically and unironically. In my mind, Tig helped Venus shop for them on one of their platonic outings while Jax was inside for those 10 days after Tara’s death. (Update: Read what Walton Goggins thinks went down off-screen.)
Venus is smart enough to ask Jax why he has the preacher’s phone. Tig jumps in to tell her they need to find his family in case they’re in danger. It’s pretty amazing how with just a couple of reaction shots, they can build an offscreen history between Tig and Venus. From the expression on Tig’s face as she explains where the pastor used to take her, you know he’s listened to her tell many stories. I’m picturing them running into one of her friends while shopping and Tig having to stand there and wait as they catch up. He’s holding her shopping bags for her. And her purse.
Anyway, she tells them he took her to a lake house once and she has the address, which she’s willing to give them. “I will help you because I am fond of you,” she tells Tig. “I am fond of you all. I feel we are connected on a deeper vibration. Do you feel that?” Again, best reaction shots, because absolutely, they do (not). She tells them to send Alex (that’s Tig) up to her place in five minutes to fetch it because the client waiting for her is quick. So clearly Tig’s been to her home before. He watches her leave and again, the guys give him grief. He says they’re friends, they’ve got things in common. When Bobby says he can think of one thing, Tig answers, “Don’t be disrespectful.” Tig went straight up to her place because he knows Venus has a tendency to “dilly-dally.” Now Jax is worried. How would/will the guys feel if/when they find out Tig and Venus are more than friends by the end of this hour? I’m choosing to believe their reactions are more of surprise than intolerance. The fact is Chibs called Venus when Tig asked for her later. But let’s not skip over the lake house.
NEXT: More complications
Breaking and Entering: The club heads to the lake house, breaks in (why does everyone else on a street magically leave when SAMCRO arrives?), and Tig gets shot in the gut through a door. Jax kicks in said door, which is pretty damn brave/reckless considering the person could have fired another shot, no? A car flees the house, and Rat runs it into the lake. Obviously, Jax takes off his sneakers before he dives into the water to help the shotgun-bearing stepson rescue his mother, because there is nothing that sucks more than soggy sneakers. You’re probably thinking, “Yes! Finally, Jax is the good guy!” But really, he just knows he needs that woman alive and delivered to August so August doesn’t find out what SAMCRO’s been up to. Note: Chibs doesn’t take off his boots before he dives in to make sure Jackie is okay because Chibs is awesome. They rescue the relapsed-junkie mother, and breaking news: Lake water does not look as good in Jax’s hair as shower water does. That said, the wet buttoned-up shirt is totally acceptable. Bobby has the line of the episode: “Jesus, remember when our biggest problem was which Mayan to kill?” “Simpler times,” Jax says. “Simpler men,” Bobby answers.
We find out that Damon Pope helped create a zoning loophole so the pantyhose preacher could buy neighboring blocks and build additions to the church. August wants to use the same loophole to build low-income housing on the rest of the church property. Only once the wife signs off on making him a partner, his company gets the Fed kickback, and he’ll use the project to launder money. Translation: The houses never get built. Real estate dealings, whether Charming Heights or this Piedmont project, are not the show’s strong suit, but you can feel they’re building toward a Jax-August showdown, so fine, go ahead. The wife sees that Jax is right: They’ll die unless she signs. Tyler’s supposed to come pick them up, take them to Oakland, keep mom even, and make sure they’re safe.
Chibs says Tig suffered no major damage but he’s worried about infection since the bandages have to be changed every few hours. Chibby can’t take a timeout. Tig says to call Venus. Next we see those two, they’re back at the clubhouse and Tig tells Venus she should get out of there. (That better not be foreshadowing!) She won’t go because she swore an oath to the care and nurturing of a dear friend. She playfully pokes his chin with a finger. HERE’S why Venus is around: You have a man who’s been as twisted and wounded as Tig, and yet, he can find peace with a person who truly understands him—and appreciate it. “Where did you come from?” Tig asks with genuine wonder in his voice. “Well, my sweet Alex,” she explains, “I was born a man, but I believe my true genesis happened a bit later when I was stiirrrred by the gods of love and beauty and transformed into an angel whose sole purpose is to bring light to the shadows and a little bit of joy to all those lost souls who can no longer find it.” Tig practically has tears in his eyes as he shakes his head, perhaps in disbelief of how much he’s fallen for her. He tries to touch her face like she’d done to him, but stops himself. Maybe Venus is thinking he can’t bring himself to do that, but then, he takes her face in both of his hands and draws her to him. In the close-up, you can see a tear had fallen from Tig’s eye. (And then you get angry at yourself for letting the notion that he could turn violent with his hands so close to her neck enter your mind.) As Venus moans—she doesn’t kiss her clients like this—it’s just pure love and need.
RIP Cop(s): So Marilyn Manson, who returns as Aryan shotcaller Ron Tully in this episode, nails it again. He has Jax speaking in code about the heroin SAMCRO stole from Lin not because they need to—he’s bought the prison interrogation room—but because he misses his dogs. “I’m guessin’ German Shepherds,” Jax quips. Tully sets Jax up with some boys who may be able to help him move the heroin. Jax, Chibs, and Bobby go to Oswald’s timber trail for the meet straight from the lake house, and oops, they have no idea Sheriff Althea Jarry has asked her two deputies, Cane and The Woman, to find Chibs and to keep it off the radio. That means they don’t call it in when they follow the guys and see them cagily meeting with some Aryan Brotherhood members. The Woman realizes they’ve gotten themselves into a bad situation right before an Aryan sees the cops and Cane gets shot in the head through the glass. He’s gone, just like that, pieces of brain everywhere, including on The Woman. She gets out of the car, runs, and takes four bullets to the back. With Cane’s collapsed body lying on the horn, SAMCRO convinces the Aryans they all need to get out of there. Was there a scenario in which the cops didn’t have to get shot? Couldn’t they all just have been meeting in the field to talk? The way Jax protested, he seemed to think so. But he just leaves The Woman there to die, only she somehow survives. NOW, Jarry is pissed. When both she and Unser are at the scene, she tells him, “Charming. Our name says it all… This is a bad place, isn’t it, Wayne?” He doesn’t answer.
The Chinese strike back: Jarry heads to Scoops to talk to Jax and Chibs, and they assure her they know nothing about the officers down. Jax plays it smart and builds trust by admitting to her that he kicked the escort father’s ass. Well, until the Chinese roll up and throw two hand grenades into the shop. Bobby’s call to Jury last episode was enough salt in the wound of losing Gibby, and he must have ratted SAMCRO out to Lin. Scoops goes kaboom and how sweet, Chibs shields Jarry with his body. Miraculously, no one is hurt.
The damage looks worse at night. Chibs checks on Jarry, who now believes Unser when he says the Chinese killed Tara. Proving she’s not all about the take, she tells Chibs she wants to know if there’s a war because the next time, the ice cream shop could be filled with kids. That starts to break down his “I know nothing” defenses. But for now, he offers to drive her home because her arm looks a bit achy.
Happy and Bobby put it together: The grenade thrower saw them in Scoops—this wasn’t a warning, this was retaliation. Lin knows they hit the shipment. They can’t reach West, because he’s stuffed in a crate, bleeding out at their storage location. Nero arrives and can’t believe it’s the Chinese… until he gets a call from Lin’s No. 2, who’s sitting at Diosa and tells him, “Mr. Lin appreciates all your efforts in getting everyone together. What happens at Diosa will impact you, but it’s meant for the Sons of Anarchy.” Poor Colette, who was helping out because no one else at that branch is smart enough to know calculators don’t lie now that Lyla is off producing porn. She saw it coming, the men opening up their bags to get out their guns. Nero, Jax, Bobby, and Happy race to Diosa but just find dead bodies everywhere, blood on the walls. No one is left alive. Colette is dead with a gunshot wound to the head. Bobby is horrified. Jax just snarls. This is just fuel for him. Now he has another reason to believe Gemma—if the Chinese are capable of this… And he has another reason to rage. (Update: Read what Kurt Sutter, Charlie Hunnam, and Jimmy Smits have to say about the massacre.)
Elsewhere in the end montage, Rat drives Venus and Tig someplace. The two of them hold hands with her head on his shoulder. Chibs drives Jarry home and puts his hand on hers. She doesn’t know how to react, but she chooses to hold on to it. Man, does her new job suck. Oh, and Juice and Gemma each put silencers on their guns—which is never a good sign. (Though yay to Gemma still keeping her gun in a hatbox.)
NEXT: Juice cries
Juice has a breakdown: We should back up. Juice is now talking to himself, too. I mean, how lonely do you have to be to turn the shower on so you can pretend someone is in the bathroom? He’s telling himself that it doesn’t seem fair for a club to hate and hurt a guy if the guy’s heart is still in it. Unser and Wendy arrive and find Juice’s carefully aligned guns and ammo (and hand sanitizers) alarming. As Juice drops his boxer briefs to give us a pre-shower shot, I’m reminded that Theo Rossi says he knows it’s never good if Juice is naked in a scene.
Eventually, Jax tells Gemma to let Nero know Juice is around, so Gemma makes her way to the hotel room. Now that the APB has gone out, she’s not taking any chances: She wants to go home, pack a bag, and drive Juice to her father’s place in Oregon herself. If he stays, the MC or the cops get to him, and either way, he’s dead. Juice says he doesn’t want to die. “I just… I don’t like bein’ alone. I’m not good on my own,” he says, crying his Juicey tears. “My head gets so loud. And s— doesn’t make [sense]. Nothing syncs up. I start thinking about my thinking. And getting lost in the details of nothing. Nothing can pull me out of it.” That is operatic Sons dialogue. Juice collapses into a puddle with his head in Wendy’s lap as she assures him he won’t be alone. It’s fascinating to watch a visibly shaken Gemma. I’d say 25 percent of her feels sad to see Juice broken. But the other 75 percent of her is realizing that a man this broken knowing your secret may need to be permanently silenced so he can’t rat—on purpose or accidentally. If he’s desperate for someone to talk to, who knows what will come out. Hence the two of them packing loaded guns….
Courtney Love makes her entrance: Finally, we get our first look at Courtney Love as one of Abel’s teachers. Gemma’s first drop-off does not go well. She gets out of the car and is honked at. “If you beep at me again, mom, I’m gonna shove that cup so far up your ass, you’re gonna be s—tin’ moccahino for a month,” she tells one woman, in front of her son. To quote Ms. Harrison, “Damn, grandma’s kinda crazy.” True, because when she drives off, she talks to Tara. “Maybe Thomas will be a doctor like you. But Abel, I can see it in his eyes. He is his daddy’s son, knows his tribe,” she says. Abel does have crazy eyes.
Gemma’s new career: Why is Gemma the one decorating the massage room at Diosa? Who knows! But she’s there, pre-massacre obviously, to refer to Colette as Jax’s “blonde mommy fetish.” As Jax says, “First of all, if I had a mommy fetish, I’d be hookin’ up with some psycho dominatrix… Second, the phrase ‘mommy fetish’ comin’ out of my own mother should never happen again.” Jax thanks Colette for helping out, and she asks him if she’s gonna see him later. He doesn’t know. (No.) As much as I want to see Jax’s back tattoo on full display again before the show’s end, I don’t know if I’m ready for him to have a sex scene. In Sons‘ world, didn’t he just lose his wife, like, two weeks ago? Gemma seems to think he needs the release, giving Colette her stamp of approval because he needs more than a friend—as long as Colette wouldn’t make him think too hard. (Gemma also liked that Colette was willing to distract “the littlest outlaw” so she could sneak out to see Juice without her escort, of course.) Let’s take this to a vote:
Nero realizes honesty has its limits: After Jarry comes to Diosa to tell Nero the charges against him were dropped, Nero confronts Gemma, who tries to say Jax did it for him. Nero doesn’t buy it: Jax did it because he’s unchained. “The problem is, it gets to a point, Gem, where it ain’t about revenge anymore. You’re doin’ it because it just feels good.” That’s the snarl and smirk we’ve been seeing on Jax’s face.
Gemma delivers the news about Juice being around, and Nero won’t tell her why that matters to him. (Why won’t he tell her? Because he doesn’t want her to know Jax ordered Darvany’s death? Because he doesn’t want to confirm that Juice told him the truth?) There are some things it’s best they don’t share, Gemma says. Welcome to the relationship, Nero.
So, where do we go from here?
And bonus this week: Enjoy Theo Rossi taking the EW Pop Culture Personality Test and feel guilty for wishing Juice ill.