The season opens with SAMCRO’s homecoming, which is a bittersweet occasion.
The bitter: Mayor Hale used eminent domain to take Osborn’s land and dragoon him into doing construction on the new yuppie settlement Charming Heights. The bitter: The new sheriff in town, Roosevelt, is an incorruptible man of the law and he is going to be on SAMCRO like John Madden on turkducken. The bitter: Prison demonstrated to Clay that he has maybe two years left before he has to step down. The bitter: A purposeless Unser is a hot, forest-dwelling mess.
The sweet: Most of the club is no longer in jail. The sweet: Opie and Lyla are getting hitched. The sweet: Jax and Tara are engaged.
So how does SAMCRO commemorate the occasion? The club uses their first day of freedom/full strength to address two things that are vexing them, i.e. Russians and real estate. By murdering all their Russian business partners (in a sequence not unlike the end of The Godfather), SAMCRO is able to rejigger their arms-distribution deal so they take a bigger cut. And by dumping the bodies on the Charming Heights land, they’re able to scare off would-be investors in the hopes of stalling, if not outright killing, the project.
So you're finished? Here's what happened last season: Jax and the rest of the club attempted to find Abel, a task made considerably more difficult by two factors: the club's Irish charter was actively hindering the search, and the search was being carried out by men who had clearly never read a Hardy Boys book in their lives and thus had no clue how one runs down leads. But the boys eventually blundered their way into figuring out that young Abel was in Ireland, and leaned on Osborne to get them over to the Emerald Isle. At the last minute, Gemma -- who had, over the course of the first few episodes, reunited with her dementia-addled father, managed to kill his caretaker, turned herself in for the murder charges Agent Stahl had jimmied up against her and had a major cardiac event -- decided to join them.
This made the trip to Ireland especially awkward, as Gemma's first husband had a second old lady stashed over there, which led to him having a second family (this time, a daughter) in Ireland as well. Things were not warm between Gemma and Maureen, despite the fact that it was Mo who dropped the dime on where Abel was. Anyway, SAMCRO chased leads all over Ireland and eventually, the club found the Catholic black market orphanarium where Abel was deposited. Gemma then waved around a gun at some babies; a terrified nun divulged Abel's whereabouts and a terrified Hollywood Foreign Press body found a Golden Globe in the "clean britches" drawer and promptly handed it over to Katey Sagal.
Anyway, Abel and Jax were reunited, and once everyone was stateside, the club turned its energies to figuring out how on earth the majority of members were not going to go up the river for the next twenty years on account of waving a bunch of guns at a bunch of churchgoers back in season two. Jax hatched a complicated deal with Stahl, which involved handing Jimmy O over to the Feds in exchange for a) most of the charges being dropped for the club, b) Gemma being cleared of all charges, and c) the boys going to jail for a mere 14 months. Stahl attempted to double-cross Jax by outing him to the club as a rat, but it turns out Jax was playing both sides and had somehow constructed a plan that managed to: A) buy Jimmy O off the Russians who were protecting him, thanks to a truckload of fake money; B) Hand Jimmy O over to Chibs for some icy, refreshing revenge; C) Hand Stahl over to Opie for some not-quite-so-icy but definitely entertaining revenge, and D) keep in place the deals that kept Gemma a free woman and SAMCRO in prison for a scant 60 weeks.