Episode Title: "Kiss"
Writers: Regina Corrado & Marco Ramirez
Director: Billy Geirhart
Previously on "Sons of Anarchy":
The new Sheriff of Charming, Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) and Assistant U.S. District Attorney Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon) kept blackmailing Jean Carlos "Juice" Ortiz (Theo Rossi) into betraying the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle club. But when he was pushed to his limit, Juice attempted to commit suicide and he was only saved when the tree branch he was using snapped under his weight. Meanwhile, SAMCRO's situation with the Galindos cartel was deteriorating by the day, so Bobby Munson (Mark Boone Junior) challenged Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) for the Presidency. But right before the critical vote, the club was attacked by the vicious Lobos Sonora cartel, who brought their war with Galindos straight to SAMCRO's door.
As SAMCRO and their allies in the Galindos cartel attempted to lay a trap for the Lobos, the rival cartel simply dumped a van full of their headless victims from the Mayans and SAMTAZ. Tara (Maggie Siff) also reeled at the threat to her life, unaware that it was sent by former Sheriff Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) to protect her from Clay's wraith. Later, Juice returned to the spot where he tried to kill himself and he was caught by Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) while trying to hide the evidence of what he had done. Back at the clubhouse, Gemma was suspicious when Clay lied to her about his whereabouts.
Clay paid a visit to the cabin of Piney (William Lucking) to retrieve the letters from John Teller which Piney had threatened to release to the club. Clay overpowered Piney and discovered that he didn't have the letters. But just as Piney pleaded for Tara's life, Clay killed him and made a sloppy attempt to point the finger at the Lobos.
At the Teller-Morrow garage, Chibs calls Jax over and reveals that Juice tried to commit suicide. Juice tries to play it down as a mistake brought upon by the stress and his first murder. In private, Chibs and Jax realize that Clay would kick him out of the club if he found out that Juice was suicidal. They decide to keep that fact between themselves for now while keeping a closer eye on Juice. In a general meeting, SAMCRO figures out that their allies, the Niners are working with the Lobos Sonora, so Clay sets a meeting with the Niners to get them to switch sides.
At the hospital, Tara tells her boss that she's going to the medical conference in Oregon and she tries to give her the copies of John Teller's letters to her as insurance if anything happens to her. Except the letters are gone. Meanwhile, Gemma (Katy Sagal) discovers Piney's body and weeps when she realizes what happened. She calls Unser to the scene and tells him that Clay must have done it. Unser explains that Clay read the letters from Tara's office and that he burned were only the copies. Unser tells Gemma that they have to call the authorities to stop Clay from killing Tara as well, but Gemma kisses Unser on the lips. Okay... okay... please stop now.
Unser finally relents and offers to do a better frame job on the Lobos than Clay managed to do with his finger painting. Elsewhere, SAMCRO meets with the Niners and quickly deliver them into the hands of Galindos. Under serious threat from the Galindos, the Niners agree to work with them to set a trap for the Lobos. Back at the Teller-Morrow compound, Roosevelt tries to strong arm Juice once again, but he is taken aback when he realizes that Juice is suicidal and already tried to kill himself. However, Lincoln has a new plan. Lincoln goes to Big Otto Delaney (Kurt Sutter) with proof that Bobby lied to him about killing Georgie Caruso, the man who likely killed Otto's wife, Luann. This final betrayal may be the last straw for Otto's loyalty to SAMCRO.
The Lobos arrive to meet the Niners, but the trap is sprung and a fierce firefight breaks out. The Lobos take heavy losses and they escape with the aid of a rocket launcher (!); which they use to blow a hole in the wall of the building. Incensed, the Galindos attempt to line up the Niners for execution, but Jax argues that they are needed in the fight against the Lobos and he convinces the Galindos to spare them. Afterwards, the Niners seem grateful to Jax and Bobby compliments him on his leadership. Back in Charming, Roosevelt brings Juice in to meet Lincoln for the first time, right before he shows Juice the full scale of his RICO investigation.
Juice sees the main room and he flips the f*** out. Juice begins wailing on Roosevelt before he is pulled off of him. Later, Lincoln tells Juice that some members of SAMCRO have to go down for dealing with the cartels, but he promises to let the national organization survive if Juice cooperates. What Lincoln wants more than anything is the members of the Real IRA who are coming to California to meet the Galindos, who may be their newest clients. Lincoln knows the meeting will happen soon, he just needs to know where. At home, Tara confronts Gemma about the stolen letters and Gemma admits that she had Unser steal them from her.
Tara lays out her travel plans and makes it clear that she wants out of the SAMCRO life to protect her family. She also indicates that she has no desire to show Jax the letters from J.T. for fear that he would kill Clay and stay with SAMCRO indefinitely. At the clubhouse, Bobby argues to Jax that he should be the next President of SAMCRO even though Jax just wants to get out of the life. Jax then confronts Clay and lets him know that he will only stay in SAMCRO long enough to get the Sons out of the Galindos deal. Then he's done. Later, Jax tells Tara that he's accompanying her to Oregon with their sons. (Yes, I know Abel isn't technically her son. Just roll with it).
Elsewhere, Gemma talks with Clay and admits that she knows that he killed Piney, but won't tell anyone else. She also says that Tara won't use the letters and stupidly mentions exactly where Tara will be. In exchange for her silence, Gemma asks that Clay promise not to hurt Tara and he agrees. But when Clay is alone, he uses the phone given to him by the Galindos to call down a hit on Tara, especially now that he knows Tara is heading out of state.
If Piney's murder wasn't enough to demonstrate just how far Clay has fallen, consider that he lied to his wife about his plans for Tara and then immediately turned around and placed a hit on her. Clay and Jax may not be blood related, but he's basically been Jax's surrogate father and that makes Tara the mother of Clay's defacto grandchild. And I think at one point Clay really did love Tara like a member of the family. However, there is clearly no one that Clay loves more than himself, as his recent actions demonstrate. Even the whiff of a threat against him from Tara and Piney has led to one murder... and maybe two.
Unser's analogy of Clay as a wounded animal was very apt and his turn on his former friend is long overdue at this point. The kiss with Gemma seemed all kinds of wrong, largely because I always assumed that Unser had more of a fatherly relationship with her rather than any latent romantic attraction, as Clay suggested earlier this season. As noted last week, Clay's attempt to frame the Lobos was pretty pathetic as long as Piney still had his head. I wonder if Unser is willing to take care of that detail as well.
As much as Jax wants out of SAMCRO for the sake of his family, this episode reiterated just how well suited he is to be the next President of the club. Bobby wasn't just blowing smoke up his ass when he was complimenting Jax's leadership abilities. Jax is the guy who stepped up and saved the Niners while Clay sat back and did nothing. Jax is the guy who shut down Bobby's insubordination with just a few harsh words and he may be the only one in the club sharp enough to figure a way out of this mess without literally losing his head or going back into jail for a long stretch.
The Juice storyline got interesting again this week, as Chibs and Jax noted that Clay would have kicked him out if he learned that Juice was suicidal. Ironically, that would have been the best thing for Juice and it would probably have saved his life. Instead, he seems pretty doomed. His reaction to the RICO room was pretty telling. Juice knew that he was essentially signing his own death warrant by going in and he took out his anger for that on Roosevelt. Meanwhile, Lincoln has gone from a sympathetic adversary to a stone cold, calculating son of a b****. Lincoln is clearly a master manipulator, but he doesn't seem to keep his promises... which is more bad news for Juice and Big Otto.
The gunbattle between SAMCRO and the Galindos against the Lobos was one of the best action sequences of the season. The Lobos' rocket launcher was also a pretty big "WTF?!" moment that illustrated just how badly outgunned SAMCRO and its allies are in this fight. Even if Clay was at the top of his game and the club was united, SAMCRO would be hard pressed to extract themselves from this situation while staying relatively intact. But at this point it's every man for himself.
Clay may be right about one thing. Neither Bobby or Opie is fit to lead the club. It has to be Jax. Whether that comes this season or later, Jax is going to get the gavel and step into his real father's role. But there's nothing that says Tara has to be with him, which gives the threat to her life an added sense of jeopardy. If the writers of "Sons of Anarchy" are really trying to imitate the themes of Hamlet, keep in mind that Ophelia doesn't make it all the way through that story and it all ends in bloodshed.
"The rest is silence."
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.