So this episode starts off with a bizarre accidental killing of a hooker, and spirals from there.
Seriously: Patterson comes to visit Toric at his motel room the morning after his celebratory romp with the Diosa Norte gal and this kind of surprise – being sprung as it is upon a revenge-crazed drug addict who happens to lounge about in a speedo and accessorize with a silencer-equipped gun – ends with Toric gut-shooting the escort by mistake and then head-shooting her because she won't stop complaining about being gutshot. Fortunately, dead escorts come in handy when you decide to frame an innocent man for murder, as Toric does to Nero by the end of the episode. (He really believes in using all parts of the hooker.)
Jax tries to lean on Roosevelt to remind him that hey, Clay's in jail only because Roosevelt went along with the "Look! A gun that is Clay's! Surely it is the same one used to kill Pope!" ruse from last season, but Roosevelt's all, "I fail to see how not bringing in the Las Vegas CSIs to whizz about with special effects and find the real killer makes Clay Morrow's ongoing existence my problem." And Jax realizes that when it comes to manipulating law enforcement officials, there's actually precious little he can do here because "Well, Clay Morrow set up his wife's murder and the sheriff got sloppy with an investigation later" is not that easily provable, especially if the witnesses who can support that allegation are documented informant Juice and aggrieved ex Gemma.
Then Jax goes to talk to Clay who is still, in Gemma's words, puking sorrow everywhere. Jax is unmoved by Clay's apologies and by Clay's matter-of-fact pronouncement that this is his way of settling things before he's killed in gen-pop. After Clay's done talking, Jax addresses the one-way mirror and monologues at Toric about the wrath that will rain down if Toric continues to mess with Tara. Toric appears unmoved, mostly because Jax preening and strutting about vengeance is a lot less impressive than being a dope-addled revenge fiend with a temporary law enforcement badge.
(As if to reinforce this, Toric leaves the jail and talks to Nero's crew, if by "talks," you mean "uses their mouths as bottle openers in a truly horrifying scene." Surprisingly, taking out someone's teeth with a bottle of Tecate does not make them more inclined to tell you things like, "We let Darveny and Arcadio out the back door last week and they still haven't come back.")
In "plotlines to keep an eye on, part one," Tara is apparently pregnant, and has told Jax (whom she plans on divorcing, remember?) and Gemma (whom she is hoping to legally bar from guardianship of her children, remember?). I am hoping that this is a ruse meant to make both Gemma and Jax assume that the pregnancy will prompt Tara to reconsider her family commitments and drop the legal shenanigans.
And in "plotlines to keep an eye on, part two," Wendy comes to the club ostensibly seeking Jax, but gets diverted by Gemma and spins to her former mother-in-law a story about getting attacked by a fellow recovering addict at a meeting. Wendy says she's worried about being stalked by this guy, so Gemma gives her a gun with the registration number filed off. But! At the end of the episode, we see Wendy wiping off the "bruise" she showed Gemma, so who knows what her long con is. All I can figure is that it involves setting herself up as something Gemma can find valuable later.
Other plots being set in motion this season: Jax and Robocop team up in the weekly caper to wipe out the Gehnazi brothers' presence in Stockton for once and for all; there's some tension there, however. When Jax goes to visit Colette at the end of the episode for any one of a number of reasons, he walks in on Colette pistoning away atop Robocop, which bums him out to no end.
Also, Clay ends up alive. And how, you ask, did this happen? He makes a deal with the Pope Squad: start a brawl in the yard and shiv a white supremacist, and live to rat another day. While I have no great love for this character, I do enjoy that his continued existence gives Jax and Gemma headaches.
Finally: Jax hands Tig over to the Pope organization, presumably so he can be flame-broiled in a circle-of-death callback to how his daughter was murdered. Since The Great Juice Fakeout of '11 taught me that nobody on this show is dead until you see them being dumped in an unmarked grave, I'm saving my "Noooooooooooooo!" until the next episode opens with Tig's head in a box (and even then, that's no guarantee of death). But I am perfectly comfortable coming to the conclusion that Jax handing over a brother is something that nobody in SAMCRO would ever be cool with. He better hope nobody ever finds out, hmmm?
As the episode begins, District Attorney Patterson is giving a voice-over about school shooter Matthew Jennings’ journal and how a year ago, people were warning that he needed help. This is relevant because she’s saying this as Jax writes in his journal while snuggling Thomas. This show’s always been about how sons struggle to escape their father’s darker legacies, so what better way to point out how high the stakes are for wee Thomas than by underlining what kind of world his father is making for him?
Tara’s in the kitchen, wearing another outfit that does nothing for her -- awful black suede tall boots, poorly fitting jeans, a poorly fitting hoodie -- and brooding as Abel eats his Fruit Loops without making a mess.
Then we transition to a very nice, mostly empty basilica. Gemma’s sitting in the back, clearly waiting to be burned by a stray drop of holy water, and rolling her eyes as Nero goes into confession.
We go to the motel where Toric is staying and see that his outcall date has lasted all night. I sincerely hope there’s an extra fee tacked on for that; one of the perks of having a customer service job is usually that you can go home afterward. Toric, on the other hand, is wide awake. Of course he is, on account of being a nutcase.
Let us dispense with the Bobby Elvis business up front. He is still on a quest to find a fourth member for his little side project: Operation Screw You, I’m Going Nomad, and he’s going to succeed. I will care about this plot line only when it finally gets to the point where it looks like Bobby actually challenges Jax’s leadership, or when it gets to the point where it looks like everyone who had "Bobby Elvis = Fortinbras" in the Sons of Hamletarchy pool is in danger of collecting.
Once the opening montage is done, Patterson gets down to business. She is not pleased with the Stockton PD for misplacing both Darveny and Arcadio, and barely refrains from rolling her eyes after the policeman she’s grilling says he had to release the two Byz-Lats who were hanging around the premises claiming they have no idea where Darveny and Arcadio went. But she does get an idea for how to use Toric.
Gemma and Nero leave the basilica, with Gemma making it abundantly clear she doesn’t represent the seal of the confessional. Nero explains, "Look, I don’t know if it works. I guess I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m afraid of how bad it gets if I stop." Gemma can respect that reasoning much more than "I believe in the Baltimore Catechism and I find personal and societal value in the institution of organized religion," and now that she no longer fears Nero attempting to baptize her while she does the dishes, she can apologize for making fun of Nero’s meaningful personal ritual. "You’re a good man," she says, and it’s not clear whether the unease beneath those words is because she doesn’t think Nero believes her. Or because she has no idea how to act around someone whose moral code isn’t written in invisible ink.