So! The season finale! Which could have actually been an hour-long episode if only there weren't so many gratuitous musical montages. Anyway, here's what happened that mattered:
Remember how Jax made a deal with Stahl to deliver Jimmy O alive? And remember how SAMCRO made a deal with the Real IRA to deliver Jimmy O dead in order to get access to a better gun market? These two goals are not compatible! The club decides to buy Jimmy off the Eastern European mobsters who are allegedly arranging his safe passage, all for the low, low price of $2 million. Fortunately for the perpetually-broke bikers, they don't have to come up with $2 million in real currency -- Chuckie's got $5 million in pretend money he's been sitting on.
So the Russians deliver Jimmy O to SAMCRO in some godforsaken middle-of-nowhere place. SAMCRO hands over a few duffel bags of fake money (with some real ATF funds mixed in, in what is probably the most effective use of taxpayer funds in FY 2010). Because SAMCRO has somehow acquired the kind of logistics mastery that only Lex Luthor can dream of, in addition to getting Jimmy O spirited away, they also manage to lead the pissed-off Russians right into the ATF snare, so SAMCRO gets away with passing along funny money … for now.
Jax and Stahl have one more tense negotiation, in which she attempts to screw him over by withholding her signature on the promised get-out-of-jail-free deal, and then follows it up by really screwing him and outing him to his club as a rat. Stahl tries to grin as SAMCRO loses its collective shit over this revelation, but whatever she's done to her face sort of hampers human expression. Chilling!
Guess who rides to the rescue? Unser! After he turns in his gun and badge -- something nobody at the ATF notices he's missing -- he makes up a reason to separate Stahl and Jimmy O from the rest of the ATF goons, pulls a non-regulation gun on her, then hands her and Jimmy O to the four SAMCRO members who did not get rounded up: Opie, Kozak, Piney and Chibs.
Jimmy O goes to his fate with dignity -- no mean feat, considering he gets turned over to Chibs, who has years of anger-management issues to work out + a few wicked blades. Chibs, brilliantly, frames the Real IRA for the job once he's done.
Stahl, on the other hand, dies as she lived: cravenly and incompetently. Opie's the one who does the job, somehow imagining that this will exorcise the pain of his wife dying thanks to Stahl's season one incompetence. (Insert viewer facepalm here.)
And then -- WHAT A TWIST! -- it turns out that Jax had let everyone in on the whole deal at some point so the scene at the clubhouse was all a put-on and they're all still besties. And now they have no Jimmy O or Stahl bedeviling them! And they have the sweet ATF deal! It's a win-win! No idea when Jax let them in on it, so let's all pretend it came out on the flight back, when the guys had to kill time between Abel's diaper changes somehow.
Anyway, that's the season, all tied up in a neat little bow. Here's hoping season four will not involve any field trips to the auld sod.
Previously on Sons of Anarchy: You know, we're at the season finale. If you don't know what's going on at this point, just sit back and enjoy this seemingly random and incomprehensible sequence of events.
Jax wakes up, visibly disoriented and it takes him a moment to realize he's not in a dingy Belfast bedsit, and he's not alone. Tara's right next to him, and the two of them exchange sweet nothings before Jax puts his hand on Tara's stomach and whispers, "I love you too, son." Tara points out that they don't know for sure the fetus will turn out to be a girl, but Jax shares his mom's inability to conceive of any Teller child as anything other than male. But hey -- good to know Jax and Tara are back together. Unplanned pregnancy can fix any relationship!
Then we kick into a musical montage to indicate that life post-Belfast, post-kidnapping has returned to normal: Jax and Tara get busy in the bedroom; Clay waylays a frantically-baking Gemma (seriously: the entire kitchen is blanketed in baked goods and baking pans) and nuzzles up to her, obviously trying to get all the affection in before one or both of them are behind bars for the foreseeable future; Jax picking the placid little Abel out of his crib and engaging in some father/son bonding time; Stahl looking over at the empty spot where her girlfriend used to be in the bed, then grinning to herself; Abel's welcome-home party at the SAMCRO clubhouse.
Bobby Elvis is holding Abel -- wisely keeping the child out of groping distance of either beard or hair -- and Clay comes over, kisses the top of Abel's head and coos, "I've got something for you. It may be a wee bit small by now." And he puts on the SAMCRO beanie that fell off Abel's head at the end of season two. The whole exchange reminds me of a passage in Betty MacDonald's The Egg and I, where she notes of her rural neighbors: "Even the men, who were frequently brutal to their wives and usually cruel to animals, were not ashamed of loving babies ..."
Anyway, Bobby Elvis dances off with Abel, so we can see Jax and Clay exchange a long embrace. Clay rumbles, "I'm so happy for you," and Jax says, "Thank you." It's pretty clear he's using that as an all-purpose thanks for everything Clay's done in season three in the name of getting Abel back. Then we transition to Jax sitting next to Tara as she dandles Abel and the whole thing is obviously supposed to show how Abel is part of the glue holding those two together.
The celebration and montage continue -- Gemma is sort of bumming, which Bobby Elvis notices because he notices everything -- and Opie announces that he's going to make an honest (i.e. clothed, non-having-sex-for-money) woman out of Lyla. Lyla may want to rethink that offer. Being an old lady for SAMCRO is not for the faint of heart, or for those who enjoy remaining un-gang-raped (Gemma), un-kidnapped (Tara) or alive (LuAnn, Donna).
Everyone then falls to on the fantastic feast -- by the way, nobody in SAMCRO is on a low-carb diet -- and oh, it's all puppies and cupcakes and rainbows and lyrics about living a charming life.
Some time later ... Gemma is cleaning up after the party, and she just rolls on into Jax's room to pick up whatever trash happens to be in there. His cut is on the bed. Naturally, Gemma rifles through it. She notices the ATF folder Jax has stuffed in one pocket, so she pulls it out, reads it and realizes Jax is snitching to the ATF. Clay calls her name and Gemma makes a big show of how she's cleaning and no way is her son talking to the Feds, why whatever would give Clay that idea? Clay is oblivious. He has exposition to deliver: He's off to talk to Big Otto, for there is some sort of prison-specific errand and Otto's the one-eyed guy to do it. Jax sails out of the bathroom on a cloud of nitrogenous fog, gallantly and superfluously warns his mother not to go in there, and delivers his own exposition: He's off to the Indian reservation to pick up something that will come in handy later.
After Jax heads out -- no doubt to continue America's proud history of exploiting its original residents -- Clay sits on the bed and sighs to Gemma, "Today's about to go off the rails, baby. We got to find Jimmy before we go inside ... this is more than retaliation. [sighs] We made a deal with the Irish Kings. Taking out Jimmy gets us access to a much higher level of merchandise." Fearing that Clay is dealing with some bodhran-playing counterpart to the Gipsy Kings, Gemma demands to know exactly who these Irish Kings are (" ... and will I hear their music every time I walk into a Banana Republic?" she asks fearfully. I wish.).
Clay tells her they're the grand high muckety-mucks of the Real IRA, helpfully clarifying, "Red-headed godfathers. You do not say no to these guys." The faces in Jax's dossier fresh in her mind, Gemma refrains from pointing out that not very many of them are redheads, but she can't hide her discomfort. Clay assumes Gemma's concerned about his safety, or perhaps the club's, and reveals that he's not the only member of the Founding Nine with retirement on his mind: "This is good for us, baby. I don't have that many more years at the head of that table. This is an opportunity for us to finish big, set us up for the rest of our lives." Gemma points out that their retirement plans currently include "be incarcerated for an indefinite period," and Clay's all, "Look, we'll worry about that later, okay?" Gemma sits on the bed, miserable and no doubt imagining the horrible things SAMCRO could do to Jax once they find out he's buddy-buddy with Stahl.
After the credits, we go to Jimmy's hideout, where he's trying to impress upon his Russian hosts that the faster he's out of the country, the happier he'll be. The Russians don't seem too concerned about Jimmy's feelings.
Back at Teller/Morrow Motors (and the clubhouse compound), Tig's coming through the front office. He passes a big pile of paper boxes -- the kind meant to store reams of paper, I mean -- and Chuckie says he's got something to show Tig, but Tig's not terribly interested. Well, Chuckie's first mistake was not asking with an opening like, "I might or might not have some Mexican hookers in one of these boxes. Want to see?"
Tig runs into Opie outside; the younger man is carrying two giant rifles -- KG-9s, according to Tig -- that belong to him and Piney. They will apparently be picking up a third giant weapon later. The gun talk ceases as Unser walks over and tells him he'll be at the station if they need him. Tig cheerfully tells him, "You're the best, Chemo-sabe!" Unser does not find this as amusing as Tig does.
Gemma pounds on the hood of Unser's car and dramatically announces that she's turning herself in. Unser's all, "The hell?" but he's clearly having a bad day health-wise and he's in no mood to attempt to reason with Gemma, so off they go.
Meanwhile, Clay is chatting with Big Otto, who is dishing up exposition: Lenny the Pimp (another one of the original nine members of SAMCRO and fellow prisoner) is tight with the Russian crew inside the prison, so if Otto can get Lenny to talk to his pals and find out where Jimmy O's hiding -- and do it ASAP -- that would be swell. Now that business talk is over, Bobby Elvis moves to the small talk, asking the still-fairly-recent widower how he's doing. For a one-eyed guy who's probably going to death row for his most recent murder (of a fellow inmate, as captured on security camera), Otto's doing okay.
In the Charming lockup, Unser lets Stahl visit Gemma, asking, "I need to post a chaperone, or can you ladies chat with some civility?" Stahl stands at the open door of Gemma's cell and says, "We'll be fine." Gemma replies by slamming the door shut and locking herself in away from Stahl. "Good luck," Unser says insincerely to Stahl and limps off. Stahl then hands over a blue dossier, explaining that it contains her statement clearing Gemma of Edmond's murder and that Polly's shooting has been reclassified as self-defense, so Gemma's no longer wa