It's a night for dead ladies. Let us count the ways:
RIP, Rita: She's dead before the credits roll. This is devastating to Sheriff Roosevelt, of course, and by the end of the episode, he's vowed to destroy SAMCRO. And given what the club gets up to, it's hard not to root for him. The significant side effect of the Roosevelt plotline: We confirm that the falsely-infirm Clay is indeed masterminding the home invasions. He is shocked -- shocked! -- to discover that his plans have gone gaft agley. But I challenge you, the reader, to tell me: When do any of Clay's plans ever work out? I mean, none of them are ever labeled "Let's shoot some innocent people then pretend to feel bad while we feel sorry for ourselves because nothing ever breaks our way." (Also: Unser lets Clay know that he totally knows what's going on. It is a wonderful scene and I can't wait to recap it.)
RIP, Carla: Some of you may have been privy to my horrified capslock tweet about the Flowers in the Attic turn this plot took. If not, get your eyeball bleach prepped and lock in. It turns out Carla is Nero's half-sister, crazy in love with him, and ready to introduce some gunplay into their (one-sided) relationship. She ambushes Gemma at gunpoint and calls Nero over to Gemma's place, persuades the two to undress -- a gun can be very persuasive -- then orders Gemma to perform oral sex on Nero. Gemma flashes back to her rape in Season Two and loses it, which spurs Nero on to new heights of companionator gallantry; he refuses to continue these sordid naked monkeyshines, and when he demands that Carla just shoot him already, she turns the gun on herself. Gemma promises Nero she'll handle the cleanup, and her idea of handling it turns out to be "let's have Clay clean this up." Clay is on it like a sunbonnet because he can use this as an excuse to check up on Gemma constantly, and keep Carla's body around for Nero-framing purposes later, no doubt. (Also: Unser goes two for two in ass-kicking scenes tonight when he tells Gemma he's really sick of her playing the damsel in distress to get him to do things for her.)
RIP, woman who had the misfortune to be married to a jackball of the first water: So Jax and Damon have a little tête-à-tête in the interests of fraternity, business transactions and wringing as much juice out of Harold Perrineau's marvelous banked-coals-of -evil performance. Pope makes Jax an offer he doesn't want to refuse: Since the club is already ferrying massive amounts of cocaine for the cartel, what's another 30 keys or so on top of that? It's $100K worth of business per run, is what it is. Jax decides this is a smart play, (barely) gets the club to sign off on it, gets his veritable United Nations of criminal compadres in Oakland in line, then tells Pope the good news. So Pope's lieutenant tosses him the address of the guard that set up Opie's death. It's not unlike going to a sales meeting and getting a free pen, right? ANYWAY. Jax heads over to the house with Chibs, Tig and Bobby to kill Captain Jackball while his wife's at work. Unfortunately, she happens to be home, so guess who Tig kills? Jax calls it "collateral damage," then beats the guard to death with a snow globe.
At least Tara maintained some small shred of dignity: To the surprise of approximately zero viewers, it turns out that Tara's volunteer gig at the pen -- which apparently was not vetted in the slightest, or else someone would have noticed that notorious criminal Jax Teller's old lady was suddenly trying to get into the joint -- was a ploy to get to Otto and plead with him to recant his testimony. Otto tells Tara to blow him. Tara, thank God, refuses. But she lies like a rug about the whole thing to Jax, a move that will doubtlessly not come back to haunt her at all.
Morning has broken, like Tara's ulna. Gemma stumbles into the Teller-Knowles kitchen and sheepishly smiles at Tara, who's already up and feeding Thomas. Gemma and Tara exchange some chit-chat about how Jax put them all to bed, and Tara exposits that Jax is already up and out the door; he's in Oakland on club business. As Gemma sits down at the table with a cup of coffee, Tara says casually, "I have some meetings off-site today. Want to stop by and check on them?" Gemma looks at Tara over the coffee cup all, If I had known all it would take to earn your trust was giving you the opportunity to pimp-slap a madam around your husband's garage, I'd have pulled that out four episodes ago.
Then she sees the paper. Somehow, Rita's assault in the home invasion has already made the front page of the daily, but in a move that demonstrates why print is a dying medium, the editor of the Charming Chump Change has stuck the story below the fold. If you'll forgive me my indulging in one of the media industry's worst habits -- i.e. its workers gassing on about how the media operates -- let me tell you this: If Charming really is that small and there really is a pattern of home invasions, the sheriff's wife getting gut-shot is going to lead the front page. Probably in bold, Christ-is-risen-sized type. The lower left hand corner is where you stick meat-and-potatoes crap like "Realtor commissions being used to fund correctional facility for home flippers."
ANYWAY. Gemma's horrified by this happening to Rita, and asks, "What is happening to us?" (I love how Rita is an "us" to Gemma.) We zip to Oakland, where Jax is showing the same paper to Pope and outlining why this is now a very big problem, and Pope points out that nobody in his employ -- direct or otherwise -- is linked to these. Jax asks for his help in finding out about these attacks, because he needs to shut them down before the sheriff decides to appoint a gang task force (location: the Teller-Knowles living room), and Pope promises to see what he can find out.
Jax then pulls out a big wad of cash and hands over the $50,000 from the last drug-muling job. Pope picks up the bag, casually tucks it away, then says, "You're an impressive young man." "Yeah, I get that a lot," Jax deadpans. Pope says, "I got a proposal for you and SAMCRO." Jax replies, "Does it involve children and bonfires?" Pope takes a moment to collect himself -- after all, he can afford to be patient with this idiot, since he is the one with the vast network of authority figures on his payroll and SAMCRO has ... a companionator -- and then says, "You are currently hauling back 20, 30 keys, yes? If you were to double your haul-back, say, 60 keys, I could move that in a day." Jax would like to know where, and Pope assures him that the cocaine would go to Reno and Vegas, courtesy of the Niners. Pope shrugs, "No bigger risk for you. Thirty, 40, 100 keys, it's all the same trafficking charge." Pope has a point. If you're going to go to jail for distribution, why not go big before you go inside?