Sideline plots that were relevant and thus will be brought up this season: Opie and Lyla are a thing, which -- whatever. He had a problem with her day job; she had a problem with an unwanted pregnancy. Guess which problem was gone by the end of season three? Tara was pregnant by Jax. SAMCRO and the Mayans were now friends with benefits, in a totally hetero, drug-trade kind of way. In the season opener, some idiot conducted a "spray and pray" during Halfsack's funeral that managed to take out the good Deputy Hale, thus arousing the town's ire and opening the door for his sleazebag brother to get elected mayor, and boy, did Hale the Lesser have plans for Charming. At the top of his to-do list: eliminating Charming's local police department and placing the town under the San Joaquin County sheriffs.
Now that we're all caught up on last season, let's get into this one.
The episode opens with one of Charlie Hunnam's contractually obligated beefcake shots. He's sitting on his bunk in a jail cell, writing, shirtless. As one does. He's got a few scars under his ribs that he didn't used to have. (Those of you who are following the Sons of Anarchy social media streams know that Jax was shivved by some Russians mere weeks after beginning to serve time.) A guard comes up and tells Jax that it's time to go.
The music kicks into higher gear -- it's a lovely song about how people will soon go free -- and we kick into montage mode. We see Abel, much taller, standing at a coffee table and coloring; Tara's sitting nearby in an armchair and re-reading the letters between noted cut-and-run artist John Teller and the lovely Maureen. As the lyrics repeat "I ain't open my eyes 'til we all are free," we see a shot of Tara's face. She looks troubled. (I should just program a keyboard macro to type that sentence. It will probably save me time this season.) Anyway, upon a knock on her office door, Tara stuffs the letters in her satchel; Abel promptly pulls out Maureen's cover note and begins coloring on it.
"It's a cold war," the song continues, and we see Clay lurch down the row of cells. Then quick cut to Gemma, who is tending to the adorable Thomas Teller (Jax and Tara's son; again, you social-media types probably already saw the clip where she brought the newborn to the prison to meet his daddy). Then we see all the guys who went down for the gun charges -- Happy, Tig, Bobby Elvis, Juice, Clay and Jax -- all ushered into a holding cell, where they are reunited with the items they brought with them on the day they were admitted. Then the door opens and the light bathes Jax's face, and then he has to duck because the symbolism's traveling right behind it, nearly as fast.