Boo! Boooooooooooooo! There is nobody in this episode who did not disappoint me with their idiocy in some way. Let us begin with the pointing of fingers and the naming of names!
Nero Padilla, Whatever Survival Instincts Are, You Have Their Exact Opposite Number: Proving that jail time did nothing to help him clear his head, Nero runs back to Gemma's arms, then runs all around town attempting to make things right between Gemma and Jax, Gemma and Tara, then Gemma and Jax AGAIN. The Tara/Nero business is noteworthy for several reasons. First, because the scene makes a big point of showing Abel taking his heart meds, so you know that's coming back into play later. Second, because Tara points out that Gemma's breakups tend to be messy and plants the suggestion that she is not above making herself a widow when it's convenient. And third, because Tara overplays her hand later by calling Jax and alleging that Nero called her all sorts of names, which gets refuted after many punches.
However, while Nero helps Jax internalize the value that Mother Is Always Right – by pointing out that Gemma put on a prison sex show to keep this damned Irish plot going – he does end up thinking on what Tara said, and he has a heart-to-heart with Gemma about John Teller. Gemma admits that she figured John had to die and she gave her blessing for the killing. That the scene does not end in a puff of Nero-shaped smoke beggars belief. He does leave for the night, but you know he'll remain entangled, because the show wants us to believe she's irresistible to all who succumb to her charms.
Gemma Teller, Your Ability to Find a New Low, Then Keep Tunneling, Is Remarkable: She spends most of the episode winding Nero up and aiming him where she wants him to go, or wagging a finger at Jax, or generally being a stand-in for the worst excesses of the writers' room. Yep, another episode where the all-powerful puppetmaster Gemma gets her way in everything.
(I am consoling myself by thinking that we are at the end of Act II in the seasonal arc, and everything should go to shit for nearly everyone from here.)
Margaret Murphy, You Need to Learn the Direct Dial Number for Hospital Security. Because the Gemma of this week's episode is a deductive genius, it is no problem for her to lure Margaret into Tara's office on false pretenses and catch her in a lie about medical records. And the whole thing could have been prevented if Margaret had gone to the head of security, flashed a picture of Gemma, and said, “This woman assaulted me and brutalized one of our doctors to the point where she needed a restraining order. She's not allowed in our hospital.” WHY WAS THAT NOT PART OF OPERATION FREE TARA?
Clay Morrow, You Need to Maybe Re-examine Whether Death Wouldn't be the Kinder Option at This Point. After disrupting the church Bible study a monologue about the miracle qualities of the female anatomy – truly epic work, that – causing a riot and busting a guard or two, Clay lands in the infirmary for the sole purpose of talking to the Irish on a phone. (The doctor's on their payroll.) Then, because the doctor will take money from anyone, he keeps Clay strapped to a gurney so the screws can beat him. Clay ends the episode in a straitjacket, in a padded cell.
Tyne Patterson, Why Are You Even Thinking About Making a Deal with Jax? Colette and Barofsky pull the plug on the Diosa Del Sur collaboration, having come to the belated realization that criminal bikers who have attracted the attention of the DA don't make great business partners. Since this threatens Jax's dream of going legit, he goes to Patterson with an offer he hopes she won't refuse: Legal Christmas for him and his, and in return he'll deliver the Irish to her. That this screws both Clay and August doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest.
Jax Teller, You are Your Mother's Puppet. The plot-of-the-week has Jax hunting down a mentally ill teenager who bashed Tig's bike and smashed the front of the store. It turns out she was motivated by revenge, as her mom died in the traffic pileup that resulted from John Teller's trip underneath the 18-wheeler. Jax finds this out from the girl's father, does a double take at the picture of the dead mother, then pressures Oswald into helping out the poor guy. But the week's adventures trigger his ongoing parental guilt over how SAMCRO has a long history of destroying families and now Jax has feelings about his dad all over again. He is then putty in his mother's hands, and it takes only a few more scenes before he's identified Tara as Teller Enemy Number One.
Wayne Unser, You're an Enabling Sneak: So remember how last week, Unser gave Gemma the straight talk and pointed out that she had two possible roads, and the harder one was the one likely to lead back to the boys? And how Gemma was basically like, "Screw you, the scenery on this one is better?" We may as well pretend that little moral examination never took place, because this week, Unser lured Lowen to his trailer and trapped her there with a weapon-wielding Jax. And that is how Jax terrifies Lowen into spilling all the deets on Tara's legal maneuvers.
Tara Knowles, What the Hell are You Still Doing in Charming? Are you serious that the lady who engineered an elaborate medical hoax and airtight legal case did not have "Make reservation at Extended Stay in Contra Costa County; go there ASAP" on her to-do list? She knows Gemma is relentless and a big fan of killing whatever gets in her way. She knows Jax is going to flip his lid when she drops the divorce bomb. She knows Jax has an entire murderous biker club at his disposal. So why …? I can't even with this one. That peashooter she has tucked underneath the baby will do nothing for her.
Homeless lady, be a Little Less Oblique with Your Obligatory Seasonal Appearance. Because after six seasons, it's time for you to mean something.
THE QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "It's the wife!" – Tara, responding to Nero's feeble shrug that the foul fates which befall his old lady's previous guys was just "the life."
We have reached the point in the TV season where the "Previously on" segment is longer than many actual sitcom's running times. Which, given the epic length of most Sons of Anarchy episodes is, should not surprise anyone. I do wonder why the show is launching ever-longer "previously" segments, because anyone who is nine episodes into the sixth season of this show is obviously someone who’s already committed.
Anyway, Jax is up for the day and splashes some water over his face and hair. It will surprise none of you to know that his hair is so shellacked that the water just beads and runs off. He spares a gaze in the mirror as if to confirm that his pecs can indeed be confused for beef Chiclets, then he runs off to tend to the crying Thomas.
We cut to Gemma attempting to pray by the side of her bed, but someone is clearly distracted or else we’d see the lightning bolt come down and incinerate her. Or perhaps she’s praying to a dark, evil force, which would explain why everything always works out for her in the Charming universe.
Jax is feeding Thomas in the kitchen and Tara comes over to take the baby, which seems like a jerk move, if you ask me. Then we cut to Gemma and Nero having coffee while she tells him what she’s been up to while he was in the pokey. Then back to Jax telling Tara all manner of club business while she asks, "Are you sure you want to tell me this." "Yeah, I do," says Jax, explaining for the same viewers that need the "Previously on" segment why Clay is still alive and not once uttering the words, "Also, Ron Perlman is a series regular and despite this show’s high body count, it is amazingly hard to die on Sons of Anarchy once you’re in the opening credits."
Tara gets up and says "I don’t think you should tell me anything else" and Jax calls out, "I know you think you’re doing what you’ve got to do. Putting distance between us. I get it. I spent all night trying to figure out how to help you with these charges, Tara." Tara rolls her eyes and acidly points out, "You can’t." Jax gets up and turns on the puppy dog eyes with, "But I can keep my promise as a husband." Oh, why start now? Jax continues, "To be honest. Which I haven’t. I’ve been trying to protect you from everything, which clearly hasn’t worked. At all." When he kisses her and says, "I love you," Tara replies only, "Me too." Jax notes, "You know, since you got out of Stockton, you haven’t been able to say, 'I love you.' I know that must be hard for you. I’m sorry. I’ll stop telling you. Just know it’s what I feel."