Sons of Anarchy recap: 'The Separation of Crows'
It’s always nice when an episode of Sons can be remembered for the beauty as much as the brutality. In the former category, you have those rooftop shots of Jax and Chibs, which were particularly gorgeous at night; in the latter, there’s dead birds in Gemma’s bed, Jax shooting Jury, and, of course, Bobby losing the fingers on his clutch hand. In many ways, that was more upsetting than the loss of his eye—because we know from Clay’s battle with arthritis that if a Son can’t ride, he’s out of the club. (That said, if Jax is considering changing the bylaws to patch in the Grim Bastards, couldn’t he also make an amendment to allow a guy maimed on club business to keep his cut?) Let’s dig in.
• The opening montage: A mournful violin takes the lead on an instrumental cover of “All Along the Watchtower” as Jax and his prison white sneakers sit alone on the Red Woody roof at sunrise. Gemma and Nero are still up at the cabin helping the junkie mother. Abel is out of bed early coloring quietly when Wendy comes into the boys’ room. Juice gets served breakfast in his cell (yes, with juice) and says he’s ready to talk, while Bobby is served his meal with a pack of smokes and tells Moses the club won’t give him s–t, so he might as well kill him now. “Due process,” Moses responds. Unser, the man who’s been looking death in the eye a lot longer than Bobby, has a smoke at his Airstream while staring at the charred clubhouse.
• The pep talk: Chibs finally joins Jax on the roof, and it’s an important scene to keep fans on Jax’s side. Now he’s the underdog. He admits he didn’t see this coming—that he underestimated August, who is smarter than he is because he has no family or vulnerabilities to be exploited. Jax is ready to throw in the towel, and Chibs reminds him that Bobby knew the risks—they all do—and that if he caves now, everything they’ve done over the past few weeks will be for nothing. It already is for nothing, we think at home, because of Gemma’s lie. I remember Tommy Flanagan (Chibs) saying he wondered how the club members, who also love Gem, would react when they find out she killed Tara and set this body count in motion. Now that Bobby has been hurt, I think they’ll want her punished severely. As much as they honor the matriarch, they value their brothers more. It’s the first moment I truly believed Gemma will have to die; banishing her to live without her family or the guys won’t be enough.
Nothing has changed, Chibs tells Jax: They started this mission for Tara, and dealing with Marks has just become a part of it. That’s how he needs Jax to think about it because they need their leader. With that, the two exchange “I love you”s using their real names (because again, that’s when people really mean it on this show), and Jax steels himself for battle. Tyler arrives at Red Woody to deliver intel on Moses: He’s ex-special ops, a Blackwater graduate just like his team. Serious business. Marks wants the pastor’s body and his family, and every 24 hours he has to wait, Moses will cut off another part of Bobby. Jittery Tyler is getting extra nervous now with the Kill Squad around. He’s worried they’ll soon put together that he’s helping SAMCRO. Why does Jax trust Tyler? At this point, if Tyler were to come clean to Moses or Marks, would they kill him anyway? He agrees to have the Niners look for where Moses is holding Bobby, and you can’t help but think, FOR WHAT? Does Jax really believe the other clubs and the Niners are going to go up against a special ops team? That’s Jax’s only hope, right—beating Marks with numbers?
NEXT: The verdict on Jury
• RIP, Jury: Since there’s nothing SAMCRO can do for Bobby at the moment (why can’t they look for the location as well?), Happy insists they follow the lead on Gibby’s missing body. Precious’s new man tells them Gibby was an Iraqi Freedom vet whose mother remarried a militia member. They think they live off the grid, but Google Earth pinpoints the location of their compound. Don’t you let out a sigh of relief when Jax accepts help from someone and doesn’t kill him? Since this guy is helping to support Bobby’s kids, you’re especially grateful. They get to the ranch house, which sports an upside down American flag, and immediately think everything is too quiet. Shots ring out from a window, and though they try saying there’s no beef, the bullets keep coming until a boy rides up on a (lame) motorcycle. The guys point their guns at him, and the mother, Renee (Dale Dickey), tells the firing husband, Carl (Don Swayze), that she’ll cut him in his sleep if he doesn’t put down his shotgun. So you instantly like her. She sweetly tells the boy to go inside, but the husband roughs him up. Tig fires at the door frame and dares him to hit the boy again. Papa Tig needs a son (like Venus’s, sigh). Tig and Jax share momentarily amused looks, but then the conversation turns serious.
She tells them Carl is Gibby’s stepdad. His real dad is Jury, who called her a week ago and said Gibby had been killed on a job and that he had to get rid of the body and keep it quiet. She didn’t get to say goodbye or give him a proper burial. She’d threatened to call the cops, which she’d never do, and figured Jax and the guys were there to keep her quiet. If they weren’t, why did they want to know about Gibby? Rat stepped up and said he was looking for Gibby since they were in boot together. Hearing Jax say he’s sorry for her loss, you almost want to hate him. But he lets this family live. The guys decide Jury must have ratted to Lin for retaliation and call for a meet—halfway between them, someplace quiet, just Jury and his VP. “What are you gonna do, Jax?” Chibs asks. “I’m gonna find out if our rat’s wearing a Reaper.” (Side note: I was on set this day for EW’s recent cover story, so if you want to know what the vibe between takes of a gunfight is like, or what weapons SAMCRO carries, read this.)
At the meet, there’s hugs and handshakes all around, which only adds to the tension. Jax tells Jury he knows he’s the rat, and Jury explains that he only saw Gibby twice in 20 years—they were just getting to know each other after his tour in Iraq. So did he want Jax dead for having Gibby killed? Yes. But he insists he never told Lin anything. Vote!
Jax moves away from Jury, standing paces apart from him as though the two are in a Western and it’s high noon. Jury feels it, too, and is worried that Jax is going to shoot him without a vote. Is that what Jax is thinking—the reason why he moved farther apart? Now Jax has a reason to yell when he tells Jury he betrayed the patch—and the guys, standing far away, can hear him. Jury says Jax has become everything JT hated about the club, the reasons JT had “checked out.” Jury wasn’t a member back then, so JT felt safe to confide in him. He knew about JT’s manuscript and said JT couldn’t live with what the club had become but couldn’t bear to take it down. JT worried his manuscript would ruin SAMCRO and tear apart his family if it got into the wrong hands. Here’s the bombshell: Jury says John would’ve known if anything was wrong with his bike the second he got on it. He thinks maybe JT ran into that semi on purpose. Maybe it was his sacrifice—a way to let his club and family survive.
Jax walks toward him. “My old man didn’t kill himself,” he says. “It doesn’t matter,” Jury admits. “As long as he ain’t here to see what SAMCRO did to you.” Jax punches him, and Jury falls. Jury reaches for his gun and Jax fires his. One shot to the head; Jury’s dead. Jury’s VP understandably goes crazy. Jax lies and says Jury admitted he ratted to Lin. Again, it’s convenient that Jax kept the guys at a distance that whole time. Jury’s VP isn’t satisfied and says it will vibrate throughout the organization. He threatens to take out-of-control Jax down, and Chibby does not like that: “My boy ain’t going anywhere, understand?” Fortunately for that VP, the boys get called back to Gemma’s (more on that later) even though there’s no way in hell they’d have reception at that location. That VP gets to live, for now.
Let’s break this down: Jury’s assertion that JT would’ve felt something off with his Panhead is a good point. We know from his letter to Maureen that JT also believed Clay and Gemma were going to kill him, so maybe he didn’t see a way out. Perhaps he was tired of fighting, accepted his fate, and rode his bike anyway. Only problem with that theory: We also know JT fought his injuries for two days. So either he had second thoughts, or dying was never his intent. It’s also interesting because Jax did a version of that sacrifice in the season 6 finale: It didn’t involve death, but he was willing to sacrifice his freedom so his family (Tara and the boys) could live and the club would stay intact (because only he’d be blamed for the gun that was used in the school shooting).
NEXT: Bye, fingers
• Moses makes an offer: Moses enters Bobby’s dark cell and sits down to bum a cigarette. He knows Bobby is a soldier—never deployed but served 10 years in the reserves. If he has to kill him, Moses wants Bobby to know it’s not personal—he’s just following his commander’s orders. Bobby calls bull. Moses isn’t a soldier; he’s a scumbag with a few paid skills—a thug like the rest of them. That just makes Moses respect him more: That’s why they grabbed Bobby. He’s the brains and the voice of reason. Jax needs him. It’s a beautifully filmed conversation, the camera shooting Moses from slightly below to catch the smoke rising from his cigarette. Like August, he’s losing his patience. He says they know how this will play out: Jax won’t be able to find him today. He’ll receive the next body part, cave, and tell them what Marks wants to know. They’ve narrowed the preacher’s grave down to four possible construction sites, which he has listed on a sheet of paper. Since they don’t want to draw attention digging needlessly on city land, he suggests Bobby put his cigarette out on the right spot and go home. Bobby isn’t moved by the “twinkie-dinkie heart-to-heart,” but Moses tells him he should be—he’ll lose his clutch hand next. Bobby says someday, someone wearing a Reaper will cut Moses heart out. (Foreshadowing?) If Bobby talks, it could be him holding the knife, Moses says. When Moses leaves the room, Bobby throws the paper down and just laughs. There’s some power in turning down the negotiation, however powerless you are. But at what cost?
• Grandma is crazy again: Meanwhile, while all this is going on, Gemma is at the cabin trying to be supportive of the junkie mother but also kinda wanting to kill her. (I mean that figuratively. With her, you have to clarify.) The mother says the hardest thing is knowing that her weakness has driven her good son to violence. Gemma says that’s what you do when family needs you—things you wouldn’t do otherwise. Sometimes, those things are a mistake, an impulse that just causes more chaos, the mother says. That’s the story of this show: Mistakes that just breed more chaos. “It doesn’t matter what happens; it’s why we did it. That’s what counts,” Gemma insists. Getting well is how the woman helps her son now (just like keeping it together is how Gemma helps Jax).
Everything changes when Gemma is called back from the cabin because Abel gets in trouble at school again. Gemma is annoyed that the teacher dared to suggest that Abel get psychologically evaluated after he hit another kid with a metal lunchbox and gashed his head, totally unprovoked. Gemma says she wants teachers, shrinks, and pompous assholes to stop judging her grandson (read: her). If you needed another reason to dislike Gemma, you got it when Ms. Harrison points out Gemma’s aggression is what Abel learns to imitate, and Grandma says, “Good. Next time I’ll make sure you’re the one he slams with a lunchbox.” Do not threaten a teacher, Gemma. Something the director of this episode, Charles Murray, reminded me is that Jax had to get his GED: Gemma has never liked school getting into her family’s head. (Update: Read our full postmortem with Murray.)
When they arrive home at Gemma’s, Nero pours Abel a glass of milk while Gemma goes to her room to change. She finds all her birds slaughtered in her bed. You’re thinking it might have been Abel, who could have done it that morning when he got up—before Wendy and Gemma were at the cabin. But someone would have heard something. Then Wendy finds writing in the boys’ room: “No Son is Safe” on the wall, written in blue crayon, with a knife stuck through a stuffed animal nearby. We can probably rule Abel out, since this is very reminiscent of what Marks had told Jax at the beginning of the season, when he said he wouldn’t hesitate to kill him or any of the Sons. Someone must have been watching the house and came in when Brooke took Thomas somewhere and Wendy went to the school with Gemma and Nero. Two questions: Why doesn’t Gemma have a better security system, and when was the last time you rewound to see a baby’s hair on TV? Thomas’s mane is wild. Amazing.
• Jax bends, but not enough: As the club goes speeding through the streets with Jury’s blood splattered on Jax’s white kicks, Abel is coloring again at the table. Is that just a child being a child, or is it supposed to make us think of the older boy scribbling before the school shooting? Gemma tries to ask Abel what happened with the boy and the lunchbox, and he says it was an accident. “Do you understand what an accident is?” she asks. “Do you?” he counters. ABEL!
The guys arrive, and Abel doesn’t want to talk to Jax. The guys see the writing in the kids’ room, and Jax tells Chibs to tell Tyler to set up a meet with Moses—they’ll give him the preacher’s body and the statement but not the mother and son to kill. You’re proud of Jax for not breaking his word to the mom and son, for caring about collateral damage. He sits alone in the room with his head in his hands, the SO-NS rings ever-present.
The minute Moses opens the cell door, your stomach turns. He sees Bobby hasn’t cooperated and won’t (“Suck my big white dick”). Moses respects Bobby for not caving. When Moses says they haven’t heard from Jax, you’re worried that this will be another case of Tig not learning in time that the hit on Opie/Donna has been called off. But then he gets word that Jax has reached out. Unfortunately, the terms aren’t negotiable. The men hold Bobby down on his stomach on the floor while Moses cuts off his fingers with a large knife. Was it Bobby’s own knife? How sick would that be? The crunching was worse than the eye. We had a much better view of this.
NEXT: Now what?
• The Come to Jesus Moment: Charlie Hunnam has said that eventually, there’d come a time when the club would finally tell him to be more careful about what he’s doing, and this night scene on the Red Woody roof must be it. The lights and water in the background—beautiful, peaceful, and untouchable. They can take this time out to have another real conversation: Chibs says Tyler hasn’t heard from Moses, so Tyler’s going to look for Marks himself. Good luck, Tyler. Chibs tells him they need to be more careful about this war affecting their relationships with the other charters. But wasn’t staying focused what Chibs told him to do that morning?
Jury is now part of the Tara Revenge Plan, just like Marks is. But it’s the way the Jury thing went down, Chibs says—without a vote or hearing both sides—that’s going to raise questions. Jax says it was self-defense, but to Indian Hills, it’ll look more like murder. (There is no guarantee that Jury was going to fire his gun, just that he wanted to threaten Jax to keep him off of him. Then again, how would Jax read Jury’s mind?) To Chibs, it looked like “a very complicated situation.” He just wants Jax to prepare for the backlash. Jax is ready for yet another battle that he does not need. The two share a smoke in comfortable silence, because that’s all there is to do at this point… until the other guys come up to the roof during the end montage, which is set to a Billy Valentine cover of “All Along the Watchtower.” Tig has another box from Moses. It’s a horrible moment, but man, those city lights make you want to rewind it. I want to see that roof more at night, please.
• Juice wants a deal: So never fear, the club knows exactly what Juice is doing when he talks to Unser and Jarry. (They get a call from Tully’s guy while Tig and Rat are taking a leak via “the Pisserator”—I was there for that scene, too.) Juice’s hearing is the next day, and he knows he’ll end up in Stockton on a parole violation. He wants put in Ad-Seg, meaning protection. He’ll trade the names and the murder weapon for who killed Tara and Roosevelt. In good faith, he names Chris Dun, the man Gemma fingered, now. He’ll give the other name and the location of the weapon when he has his deal.
Jarry is perplexed that isolation is all Juice asked for. Unser figures it out—the club is using him to get to Lin at Stockton. Jarry says she’ll give the DOC a heads-up, but they have to put Charming first and make the deal if Juice really knows who killed Tara and Roosevelt. Unser says he believes Juice does. Later, Jarry says that DA Patterson will put Juice in Ad-Seg for 48 hours. When Gemma corroborates the names, she’ll give him his deal and protection for the length of his sentence. Unser knows there’s a piece of the puzzle missing with Gemma and Juice. My thought: How would Juice know where the murder weapon is? How will he explain that?
Jarry says the DA will also give the DOC a heads-up about Juice possibly targeting Lin, but a tiny part of you wonders if Jarry even told the DA about it: Would she withhold that information for Chibs’ sake, knowing it means something to the club? Jarry wants Unser to stay on after the case is solved because he’s a good cop. Sounds like he will because, in his words, he doesn’t have many hobbies other than waiting to die. (OMINOUS.) Oh, and playing Scrabble with Eglee. Juice, meanwhile, is in his cell crushing a CGI cockroach with his bare hands. Does that mean Juice will outlast even a cockroach, or that Cockroach Juice knows his time could be up? Update from Theo Rossi: “FYI the cockroach was real and replaced with a dummy one for squeeze. Climbed on my arm for a while. Pretty cool. Fun fact.”
• Nero’s farm is huge: While Gemma buries her birds, Nero and Wendy have their own heart-to-heart inside: He tells her about wanting to sell his shares of Diosa (Jax still doesn’t know that, right?) and being ready to go to the farm whenever he gets his ducks in a row. He wants Wendy and the boys to come along with Gemma. Wendy’s not sure if Jax and Gemma would ever let the boys leave Charming. “After today,” Nero says, “how could they let ’em stay?” That’s the question, isn’t it? At this point, would Nero’s love for Gemma lessen if she didn’t want to protect her grandkids and take them away? Remember when Gemma said in the season premiere, while she was “talking to Tara,” that she trusts Wendy—for now? What if Wendy starts pressuring her to leave with the boys, and Gemma sees her as a threat?
Kurt Sutter’s original series, starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, and Katey Sagal.