Sure, Clay and Gemma are back together, but let's break down the plotlines one-by-one for the sake of filling y'all in on what happened.
"We're the good guys." Happy's mom is in hospice, and while he's able to keep up with the cost of her care, the meds are killing him. So Piney offers to hook Piney up with a lady he knows in Oregon who traffics in black-market prescription meds. But she supplies clinics, hospices, widows and orphans, so she's a good drug dealer. Sensing an opportunity to appease Precious with burnt offerings and cases of Albuterol for their kid's inhaler, Bobby Elvis rides along with Happy and Piney to the lady's house, where they discover her being terrorized by a gang of meth-addled hill people who want her drugs for their own profit. After Happy calls for backup, the SAMCRO boys manage to shoot up the place, save the drug inventory and teach us all an important lesson about distinguishing between people who deal drugs for profit and those who do so as some sort guerilla action against insurance companies. Or something. The point is, we're supposed to be rooting for this lady and her cases of Oxycontin.
"You two are killing me." SAMCRO rides up to reunite with Gemma. While Clay and Gemma's reunion is very sweet, Jax and Tara's is less so, and he succeeds in getting on Tara's last, fragile nerve. That's when she reveals the whole murdering-the-caretaker thing (at the top of her lungs). Neither Jax nor Clay are too thrilled with their old ladies -- and they're not too happy with Tig, either.
"A child is not a bargaining chip." Despite Father Ashby's pious insistence on this sentiment, we find out he has no problem using Abel as a bargaining chip at all -- and he's using Abel to keep Jimmy O in a state of simmering, impotent fury, as opposed to letting Jimmy O make nice with the SAMCRO boys and consolidate a stronger power base in America. Abel's been packed off to the Irish Catholic black market, where he's hanging out with a lot of adorable babies until Father Ashby decides to deploy him strategically to make nice with SAMCRO. Jimmy O, however, is still lying to Jax about where Abel is, and he's conscripted the VP of the Belfast chapter to help corroborate the lie. He is, however, also searching for Abel on his own.
"Don't let your family slip away." However, that lie is blown right open when Maureen finally succeeds in contacting Gemma and telling her of the baby's whereabouts. Gemma, who was already in a fraught state over having to drop off her father at the long-term care facility, and who was already panicking over not being able find Abel anywhere in Charming, responds to the phone call by clutching her chest and keeling over. Man, if she pulls through this cardiac event, something tells me she'll be taking one well-manicured hand and inserting it into someone's chest cavity to pull out their still-beating heart. I look forward to seeing whom she goes after first.
The exchange of the evening:
GEMMA: [Looking at her wanted poster.] Bitch aged me two years. What's that going to look like? Me, in Canada?
CLAY: We get you settled up in Canada, someplace off the grid. Get you good papers.
TIG: Maybe you go redhead for a bit …
GEMMA: Oh, Christ! I'd rather shave my head.
Another episode, another opening where Jax is smoking and brooding. This time, he's looking over the photos that O'Neill emailed to Juice, and trying to figure out how to connect the dots from Jimmy O to Vancouver to Belfast to death to ... Abel. Since Jax has not yet displayed any flair for deductive reasoning puzzles in two seasons of Sons of Anarchy, let's just assume he'll be starting at all the data points for a while.
Zip! We're in Father Ashby's church in Belfast, where Jimmy O is holding up a newspaper that's got Cammy's murder (and the Real IRA credit) splashed all over the front page. He pointedly tells Father Ashby, "I needed Cammy to go away, not to be splayed out for public consumption." Father Ashby elegantly smacks Jimmy O down with, "The council sanctioned it. They felt the NorCal operation had been ... compromised. By Cameron and Eddy. A message was needed. They put that ... mismanagement on you." Translation: You failed to keep your men in line, and therefore screwed this pooch on your own, boy-o. Don't whinge about it now. Jimmy O rolls his eyes at this and seethes as he says he's righting the circumstances now. "When I return the baby to Jax Teller, it's finished. We all move on." Father Ashby begs to differ: "I think it's best we keep the child here for now. He'll be in loving arms until we know how this all plays out." Jimmy O snorts, "I tell you how it all plays out: A half-mad father and his MC posse rolls into Belfast, kicks up a shitstorm, and alerts every peeler on each side of the wall." Father Ashby piously says, "A child is not a bargaining chip." "My point! This is not about my agenda with the Sons, it's about protecting the progress we've made." And Father Ashby's real issue comes to light: Jimmy O's made some tidy profits while serving the cause. Jimmy O's unrepentant: "It's my bloody efforts that pump cash into our dying fight. You remember that." Father Ashby lies about how keeping Abel in Belfast wasn't his call. Amazingly, a divine bolt of lightning does not cleave the roof in twain and render the lying priest unto a grease stain on the floor. Jimmy O, who is a seasoned liar, knows another one when he sees it. And he threatens to call SAMCRO and give them an accurate Abel Alert for a change. Emboldened by the fact that he can lie in church without facing divine wrath, Father Ashby decides to invoke the Man Upstairs by pointing out God -- and his followers in the Real IRA -- hates people who tell the truth to motorcycle gangs. He stalks off, leaving Jimmy O to wonder why he doesn't just become an atheist already.
Back in Charming, Jax has just rolled into work (ha! As if!) and Clay hands him the phone; Jimmy O's on the other end. The Real IRA operative is conducting his own form of Pascal's wager: telling Jax things that are technically true (Abel wasn't with Cam when he was grabbed and garroted) while leaving out just enough to ensure that God and Ashby's followers don't peg him for squealing. It's a nice finesse job, right up to the point where Jimmy O lies about how Abel must still be in Vancouver. Jax reins in the shouty-shouty and says, "Every word you've said about my kid has been wrong. I'm not going to trust this ... bullshit." Jimmy O then hands the phone to O'Neill, who testifies that indeed, there was no baby on Cameron's body when he was scooped up. Then O'Neill exposits a bit about the Belfast charter's relationship with the Real IRA: They are, in effect, hired muscle who are nowhere near the Real IRA's inner circle. Jax seethes, but there's not a whole lot he can say to this. He hangs up, fills everyone in on what Jimmy O said, and punches a van a few times in anger. Everyone else just stands around because, really, what are they going to say? "Sorry you didn't lo-jack your kid?"
And now we're at Nate's place. Gemma's packing and Tara's helpfully expositing that she got Nate to sign the admission papers for the assisted-living facility, and she'll have power of attorney so she can watch out for Nate while Gemma's on the lam. Tara reassures Gemma that Nate's not being packed off to some cut-rate raisin ranch but, unsurprisingly, this does not make Gemma feel any better about what she's about to do. She asks if the place has a garden, then says reproachfully, "I can't believe I'm sending him off to a goddamn home." Tara says, "He'll be taken care of." Gemma shakes her head and says grimly, "He'll die alone, just like she did."
Back at Teller Morrow Motors, Clay and the rest of the boys head over to Jax and wait for him to compose himself. Jax thinks they stick with "Plan A" -- road trip to Canada -- and they'll scout beautiful British Columbia for the baby. Opie digs out a wad of cash and hands it over to Jax: "Ten grand for Serge's tracker. I sold the Panhead." Jax is stunned that Opie would do this for him, and as he hugs the big lug, we see Clay nod approvingly in the background. Opie hasn't made up entirely for blowing the deal with Lin, but he's made a start. The guys now have a to-do list: Make a gun run for Jimmy O's crew, pick up Gemma, go to Canada.
As the boys prepare to hit the road, Happy waylays Clay and Piney: "I've got a favor to ask. Mom's in real bad shape. I've been covering the cost of the hospice, but the meds are breaking me." Fortunately, Piney can help: "There's a dealer about 20 minutes outside Rogue River. She's a good gal, supplies all the clinics with scrips. It's the only way I can get my emphysema meds. After we make the [weapons] drop, I'll take Hap and hook him up." Clay's for it. Bobby Elvis sidles up to Piney and asks, "That dealer, she got Albuterol? Tiki's going through three inhalers a week. Precious is up my ass." And that's how Bobby Elvis comes to join Piney and Happy. Everyone rolls off. They will, presumably, meet up at Nate's place after running their respective errands.
Once they're on the road, Clay's having trouble with his knuckles. His arthritis is acting up again.
Zip! We're back in Belfast. We learn that Cherry is earning her keep by servicing O'Neill. Alas, O'Neill is not the most considerate of lovers; the minute his phone goes off, he answers it, despite being mid-thrust. "Shite! It's Jimmy. I've got to go," he quasi-apologizes, and heads off to the bathroom to take a leak. When he's gone, Cherry digs through O'Neill's jacket looking for a light and finds instead a giant wad of cash in an envelope. She puts it back, looking thoughtful.
Clay and Jax peel off from the rest of the crew, and Clay barely gets the bike stopped before he grunts out, "Hands." He hasn't been taking his cortisone shots because Gemma's the only one who gets it right, and he can barely hold the grip of his motorcycle. Jax takes off his bandanna and uses it to tie one of Clay's hands to his grips; then he does the same with Clay's rag. Clay exhales, clearly in pain, while Jax gently asks, "That good?" And thus another link in the chain connecting Jax to Clay as a son to a father is forged. I love how it happens in an episode where Gemma's going to have to step in and act as a parent for her father.
Speaking of which, Gemma and Nate are walking arm-in-arm in the garden and Nate -- who is having a brief lucid period -- is telling Gemma that "I tried to make it right ... you and your mother. You probably don't believe that." Gemma says with resignation, "She swallowed us both up. I don't blame you." Nate forges ahead: "She never recovered from Nathaniel's death. Blamed it on herself. I know that burden landed on you. I prayed for your mother, begged Jesus to take away her pain." Gemma says pointedly, "When you turned to God, Rose turned to Rose." Nate looks back, a little shocked at how bitter Gemma seems. He tells her, "Her biggest regret: Losing you." Gemma tries to keep her defenses up, but it's evident that this is something she's needed to hear for years. Nate continues, "Don't let your family slip away." We hear some motorcycle engines in the background and Tig calls out, "Hey, Gem! The boys are here."
Cut to Jax freeing Clay's hands. No soon