Jax's day is pretty much a perfect storm of suck. Let us count the ways:
1. After picking up his old lady – who does not look too thrilled with the door-to-door service – there's a tense little discussion about how Tara would like to get this guardianship business settled. Jax dances all around the words "Hell, no," by serving the same baloney he's been slicing for three seasons now: He'd like to support his family himself, he's getting the club into legitimate money with no bloodshed, they're solid, solid as rock. (Have I put Ashford & Simpson in your head? YOU'RE WELCOME. Happy Wednesday!) It is abundantly clear from the look on Tara's face that she is merely listening to him because it serves some larger purpose.
(Tara's also scheming, which … I am not sure is her strong suit. In this episode, we learn that all those yellow pads she was writing on are filled with "everything I can remember," and their purpose is to help Lowen establish that Jax's violent lifestyle makes him unsuitable to be the boys' guardian if she goes to prison. Then we learn that Tara's planning on filing for divorce immediately before the trial. Then we see Tara asking Margaret to run some "confidential" blood tests, but to what end?)
2. His mom has volunteered him to clean up a mess in Nero's crew. (To be fair, the club is affected by said mess because the guns came from them) As in, Arcadio tells everyone it's his KG-9 that shot up the school or rather, since guns don't kill people and people kill people, it's his KG-9 that his old lady's kid used to shoot up the school. Naturally, everyone's first instinct upon hearing this is, "How can we disappear Arcadio and his old lady Daveny without anyone realizing it's us?"
Well, they figure it out by taking Arcadio and Daveny up to the cabin where Piney was murdered, and Daveny panics, and soon enough Arcadio is sort of accidentally shot to death , and Jax decides to manage two minor headaches at once by having super-secretly-on-probation Juice smother Daveny. Because Juice is all messed up in the head – on account of betraying one father figure and craving the highly conditional love of another one – he goes along with this, even though it's evident that "killing people's old ladies" was not really in whatever recruitment materials he got before joining the club.
Nero is not thrilled that Daveny is dead – on account of how her two older kids are now down both a sibling and a mom – and Jax easily lies about how Daveny just OD'd and he's so sorry it happened.
3. Jax tries to get out of the gun business and Galen's all, "Ha! Good one. You can buy your way out by doubling our business when you pass it along to someone else, or you can reinstate Clay as your business figurehead. Also, we're shipping all our KG-9s out to you. Sell them in the wake of these messy school shooting." Galen also gets off the best line of the night in response to Jax's fretting and muttering about the school shooting having a lasting effect on the club's future: "Some politician pledges vengeance and reform. Six months from now, nobody remembers."
(Speaking of vengeance: Toric appeals to Clay's vengeful instincts, explaining that he isn't about justice so much as he is about hurting people who hurt him, and Clay's all, "I can get behind that. So I'm sure you'll understand that I will let the hurt commence once I dish out some of my own. Bring me my estranged wife and my stepson! I want to twist the knife in person."
When Clay and Gemma do talk, he aims directly for her soft spots: "You were an amazing old lady. You always kept me on task, you always kept me strong … I just want you to know that whatever goes down, none of this lands on you." Gemma plays to the audience behind the one-way glass and spits venom at Clay, but the minute she leaves, she breaks down.
Before Toric can do that, he has to bring the pain to SAMCRO on another front, and he correctly senses that this school shooting is his entrée into the local law enforcement apparatus and soon ingratiates himself to the local D.A. And to Diosa. Uh-oh.)
4. Jax learns that the reason Clay's still alive is the same reason his old lady's facing jail time: Toric. (It is a wonder Jax hasn't put a hit out on Otto yet, just out of spite for how that man's screwed up his life.) Gemma puts a lot of pressure on him to go Deal With This So My Husband Can Die Already. Jax doesn't make any headway on this and so Clay lives another day.
Lisa Schmeiser is a reporter, editor and blogger living Oakland-adjacent. She tweets often at lschmeiser.
So, here is the first thing we learn in this episode of Sons of Anarchy: Gemma and Nero are morning people. But before they can finish making sure it really is a good morning, if you get what I mean, there’s a knock on the back door. Gemma peers out and snaps, "It’s not my gardener. It must be for you." Oh, Gemma: a lady in the drawing room, a whore in the bedroom and a bigot in the kitchen. Anyway, Arcadio (also sometimes called Primo) bursts in all panicky. Gemma, who has a lifetime of observing idiot goons bringing bad news to their alpha gangsters, immediately recognizes that this is an occasion that warrants a pot of coffee.
Then we cut to Bobby Elvis and the mountainous Jury riding on to Nevada. And you know what? I’m going to just sum up his plot line in one sentence: Bobby Elvis is recruiting disgruntled bikers because he wants to start a nomad chapter. We’ll see if this is the beginning of a coup in the club or what, but for now, it’s basically the hairy felons’ equivalent of getting coffee with your coworkers and bitching about upper management.
Okay, so let’s get back to the interesting stuff: Arcadio breaking the news to Gemma and Nero that his old lady’s kid Matthew was the one who shot up the Catholic school the day before. Gemma says, "Jesus Christ," but what really has her and Nero clutching at their sub-par tickers is the news that Matthew had borrowed his stepfather’s KG-9. But they recover and soon begin scheming over how to get Darveny out of the house and out of sight before the cops decide it’s time to stop treating a bereaved mom with kid gloves and start asking how Mommy’s little man happened to get his paws on a semiautomatic.
Meanwhile, Clay and Toric are moving their respective game pieces into position: Toric has handed Clay a plea agreement to sign, and Clay is stonewalling him: "You blame the club for the death of your sister. I get it. It’s personal. But, uh …what’s the endgame here? You’re gonna run down every reaper on a Harley?" Toric replies, "You know why I was such a good lawman? Because I never gave a shit about justice. It was always about retribution for me. Hurting people who hurt people, that’s always my endgame." Okay, we all get it: the Sons go up against an adversary who lives by the same credo they do, and both sides are two blinded by ego to realize that they’re warring against someone who’s just like them.
Anyway, Toric dangles a tempting deal: sign an agreement to cooperate, and he’ll provide Clay with a legal team to fight the murder rap and witness security for "anywhere in the world." This is not really anything Clay wants. He doesn’t want any where in the world. He wants to be king of Charming with Gemma as his queen and all the crazy ex-marshals in America can’t make that happen. So Clay settles for second prize: Messing with people’s heads. He tells Toric he wants to see Gemma and Jax. "Why?" Toric asks. "Because I want to hurt people too," Clay replies. "I ain’t signing shit until I see both of them."