I am going to go on record and say that this is one of the most pivotal episodes of the entire series (probably only second to the death of Opie in season 5). Not only was there a death of a major character, but we are now set up for some serious shit that is about to transpire. This episode also managed to be one of the most beautifully crafted ones I’ve seen, at least in recent memory. It was like a symphony, starting with the lighter tones, almost happy, in its way, then a crescendo to a loud, chaotic, uncomfortable middle, ending in sadness and pain.
Our story this week begins not with a montage (!), but instead with Tara and her boys. The audience is constantly reminded that she’s doing everything for those kids, as though somehow we’d forget. Or maybe Kurt is doing it to try to convince us she’s still one of the good ones. Not sure why exactly, she did lose that credibility with the whole fake miscarriage. She heads to see her new lawyer who lays it all out for her in more honest terms then we ever heard from Lawyer Lowen. Basically, despite all she did to try to get her boys out of Charming, it was all for nothing. If they present her case, Jax will have the opportunity to question everything, including the forged medical paperwork. This is why you always need to go the simple route: the more complicated it becomes, the harder you’ll fall.
Unbeknownst to Tara, Jax is signing all of the deals with Patterson, which includes her not getting any jail time. He tells her where she and her men should be, and when they should arrive, for the gun drop with Gaalan. Of course the deals won’t be executed until he delivers… little does she know, she’s going to end up with a stack of dead bodies at her feet when this is all over. After a beautifully poetic ride through the boonies, the boys land at the Irish hideout. Connor lays out the directions for the Clay heist and they suit up to head out on their mission.
The boys go hit their marks, and Juice and Jax have a moment to catch up. He swears he’s not having a breakdown, but just feels different after coming to terms with everything he’s done. Well, ok, that’s kind of a breakdown, but sure Juice, we believe you. For now. After all, he wants to be “one of the good guys” again, to feel right about the choices he’s making. Of course he’s having this discussion all while sitting in wait to go bust a guy out of a prison convoy, but that’s SOA for you.
The guys begin their choreographed attack on the prison transport in a way that I didn’t think they’d be able to pull off with only about 2 minutes of instruction. We’ve got Tig and Bobby crashing into the back up car, Chibs and Quinn blocking the path of the front car, and suddenly the police truck carrying Clay is surrounded. It almost feels like they’ve done this before. If they weren’t trying to go legit, they could make a killing ripping off those armored trucks. But this time that’s not the case. Keep in mind that while all of this is happening, Patterson and Eli are at the docks expecting the Irish to show. Until they are interrupted with the news that Clay’s transport has been attacked. Patterson realizes that Jax has played her to get her and her men far away from their activity for the day. Uh oh…
Clay, duh, is shocked to see his former club coming to his aid. They shuffle him off to one of the vans and all seems well, until one of the Sheriff’s lets 2 rounds off into Bobby’s shoulder. All this before Juice takes out the threat by busting him like a crash test dummy. They know Bobby is in serious trouble but taking him to a hospital is out of the question, so they have to do what they’ve always done in this situation, call Tara!
Talk about confusing. Suddenly Gemma and Tara can be in the same room and now Tara is willing to help! Of course, it really helps that it’s Bobby who is injured, because he’s always been good to her. He also is the only character this season who hasn’t been dealt a major blow, so it’s only fitting that he’s the one who gets a bullet or two. But Bobby isn’t the only one that’s got a bullet with his name on it. When Gaalan attempts to thank Jax for his expert extraction of Clay, Jax, Tig and Chibs take him and his two cronies out in style. Clay is shocked by the show of force, and becomes fully aware of the fact that things are no longer proceeding according to plan.
Gemma, Tara, and Nero show up to help Bobby, and Gemma is caught off guard by the presence of Clay. They get to have their one last goodbye talk, and at this point, Clay is very aware of how the rest of his life will be spent. “I’m glad you’re not alone, Gem,” he says, and kisses her on the cheek. Jax tells Clay about their last vote; that one was totally unanimous. (For those of you who might be new to the series, at the end of Season 4, when Jax nearly ended Clay’s run, they had a vote about his death, but it wasn’t all men in.)
I could spend these next few sentences telling you about what happened, but if you watched the show, you already know. I prefer to give Clay Morrow a little more of a send off. I really appreciate Kurt’s choice to have Clay go out like this. Prison would have been the cheap way, having him get on the plane to Ireland would have been even cheaper. He not only got to die surrounded by those he loves (and those who once loved him), but he also got to truly accept his fate. The whole time, from the moment Gaalan took a bullet to the head, to the group talking in the office, Clay knew what was about to transpire. And he was finally at peace. Clay did a lot of terrible things to a lot of people – Tara, Gemma, John Teller, Piney, and I’m already losing count – but I feel this was the most honorable way for him to go out. I think Clay deserved the honor despite his past discretions. Clay Morrow might be gone, but he will never be forgotten.
Clay’s death was not only a turning point for the club, but it also took an emotional toll on Gemma. Since Nero is about up to his eyeballs in regret for hooking up with SAMCRO, he tries to get to the bottom of everything with Gemma. She had no idea he was going to go out that way. Moreover, she’s completely at a loss for why she’s so broken up about it. Her sadness comes as a surprise to her and everyone else. Tara fills Nero in on Clay’s past – also known as: the reason he ended up with a bullet in the neck in an airport hangar – and says Clay deserved to die a long time ago.
Tara goes to grab her stuff at the hospital and talk to Patterson and Eli. Since she was double crossed by Jax, she now takes Tara up on her offer of her wanting the offer from the previous episode. All she has to do is give them proof that the Sons committed a federal crime and she and her boys are off to WitSec and away from the club. If it were only that easy (emotionally, technically she’s about to go pull a bullet out of someone that would serve as the proof).
Back in the hangar, Jax gives Connor the story of a lifetime. He’s got to go back to the Kings and tell them that not only did Clay kill the Irishmen over a fight about a side deal and that the Sons had to swoop in to kill Clay before he got any of them. He’s also got to relay the message that the beautiful August Marks is the only option in Northern California. The Chinese won’t be happy about that, but I’m sure that will be solved in the next 2 episodes.
Over at the cabin, Tara manages to successfully save Bobby and the slug without anyone the wiser. The gang is relieved they don’t have to deal with yet another dead body tonight. She heads off to one of the rooms and finds Jax there. After a moment of incredibly tense silence, Jax readily admits to Tara that he understood why she did everything and the best quote of the night “I’m sorry being with me, took you to that place.” UGH MY OVARIES. Despite everything that has happened, there is still so much love between them, even if that love is buried by fear, hate, and animosity. Like their little hand holding moment in the hangar?! #alloftheconflictingemotions.
Our story ends with an incredibly distraught Tara with a bloody slug in her hand. Will she do it? Will she burn the club to the ground? Or will her old lady mentality win out? At this point it’s very hard to tell. It is really her only option to get out of Charming alive with her boys, but the one thing she never wanted to do was destroy Jax. She just wants to get away and leave as little of a mess as possible. Sorry Tara, things just don’t work out that way in Charming.
It was interesting to see the Unser dynamic in this episode. Sure we’ve all known all along how deep his feelings run for Gemma, and how jealous he is of Nero, but I’m wondering why Kurt chose this episode to shove it into the light. I’m sure it’ll be important in one of the next episodes, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet. He’s always been there to save Gemma and the kids… so was that his version of telling her that he’ll stay loyal to her? That he’ll always be there? Or maybe he was saying he’d had enough, and won’t continue to be her rock now that she’s got Nero. It was great to see how he schooled her about the kids. Someone needs to be a voice of reason in this place.