ALL BEHOLD SAMTAZ! We meet a new chapter of the Sons this week – Sons of Anarchy, Tucson, AZ, or SAMTAZ, a nickname that sounds like it should belong to a really showy wizard in Dungeons and Dragons , but instead belongs to some really lame crank-slinging bikers. Jax gets all het up over SAMTAZ selling crank, but SAMTAZ member Armando points out, “You mule coke, we sell crank. Same shit.”
Anyway, the conflict of the week centers around the increasingly fatuous argument SAMCRO makes about how their club doesn't deal drugs. (Tangential to that is the suggestion that the other charters are disgruntled over the cartel deal, as SAMCRO's grabbing all the profit, yet distributing the risk.) Because SAMTAZ voted in the crank operation four months ago after the death of one member and the departure of another, Jax immediately suspects someone somewhere pulled some strings to rig the vote. His suspicions are confirmed: SAMTAZ VP Huff pulled a Clay Morrow-worthy move by setting up the crank house first, then “handling” the two brother bikers who discovered his illicit operation. So Clay out-Clays them by bringing in the tweaker who began cooking meth for Huff and forcing ex-member Richie to testify to his former brothers. However, disrupting SAMTAZ's social dynamics fails to get Clay what he wants: SAMTAZ votes a second time, and they're all about dealing crank. This does not make the SAMCRO boys rest any easier when they finally meet up with the cartel and get an eyeful of all the cocaine they're ferrying north.
HOW GREEN WAS MY SUBPLOT: Gemma makes the acquaintance of Rita (aka Mrs. Roosevelt) at the local garden store, and despite the obvious reasons why they shouldn't get along, the two women discover they have a lot in common – a lot of horticulture, a contempt of the mayor, a healthy appreciation for the black art of keeping one's spouse on his toes, and a desire to save a local park. Gemma leaves the shop with some food for thought – then runs into "Nick Stackhouse" (AKA Linc Potter), who gives her more by talking about the possible reversion of eminent domain. The wheels begin turning: If Gemma can save the park, then she can help stall out the eminent domain. Knowing that her name will probably not attract donors, Gemma leans on Tara to join the committee to save the park. Then she signs up Tara without her information and/or consent.
NEEDLING THE OLD-TIMERS: One of the released-only-to-social-media scenes had a pregnant Tara asking Piney what he knew about John Teller's death, only to be smacked down and told to let history live in the past. Only now, Piney wants access to the letters from JT, arguing that he needs them as leverage in steering the club away from the cartel. Tara's all, “Who's dredging up history now, old man?” but after Piney falls into a swoon in her office, she softens her stance and ends up having a heart-to-heart with Piney about his best friend JT.
PLAN B-PLUS: Continuing the strategy of sowing dissent among SAMCRO members, Potter goes to visit Big Otto in prison and tells him two things: First, that Bobby Elvis's semen was found in the underwear Luann had on at the time of her death; second, in nearly 90% of cases, the person doing the banging of the victim is also the person doing the killing of the victim. Thus having suggested to Otto that at least one of his brothers cuckolded then bereaved him, Potter wafts off, presumably to resume listening to the voices in his head.
EXCHANGE OF THE EPISODE:
On noting the armed guards surrounding the Mexican imports truck that will ferry SAMCRO's guns across the border:
Clay: That's some well-guarded salsa.
Romeo: Wait ‘til you taste it.
It's no “Luther! Vandross!” but one takes what one can.
SHOT OF THE EPISODE: It's a toss-up between Gemma jamming a trowel in a potted plant with a cigarette tucked between her fingers, or Piney glaring in disbelief as Chuckie cheerfully waves at SAMCRO as they ride away. Both are great silent jokes.
Another episode, another opening that begins in the morning. This time, Jax is scribbling intently in his journal when Tara comes over and greets him. Naturally, the children are still asleep, as they are TV children and therefore never wake up at the crack of dawn unless it's required for plot-related purposes. Although Jax is hesitant to talk about what he's writing, Tara is tickled: "My badass biker is journaling?" Jax is all, "Gotta go!" Tara asks if Jax is really heading out for a bike show, and he confirms her worst suspicions by asking, "You really want to know?" Tara decides it's too early to stress over whatever idiot scheme the father of her children is about to undertake.
Across town, Gemma is gardening in her greenhouse, glaring with disapproval at a lily that has dared to wilt in a sunny southern window. I'm no master gardener, but I'm thinking that even plants don't do well with secondhand smoke. In fact, given what cigarettes are made of, it might actually be detrimental to them: "She's burning leaves! I could be next! WHAT KIND OF A MONSTER IS SHE?" Not even Clay can jostle her out of her bad mood.
Meanwhile, the boys are busy in Satan's workshop, packing the guns in their conspicuously-labeled "HEAVY AUTO PARTS" crates and loading them into a truck.
While all this is going on, a Spanish-language version of "The Times They Are a-Changin''" is playing, which is a stroke of genius.
Gemma injects Clay with cortisone in their greenhouse/solarium/sunroom. We see the truck leaving the property. Gemma kisses Clay's knuckles right as he gets on his bike, and he exposits as to why we'll see neither Opie nor Kozik this episode (shockingly, the reason is not "Because we have something like thirteen very talented regular actors on this show and it's hard to get them all screen time"), but Gemma's all, "Whatever. I'm not happy about this whole guns-and-coke thing but you've made it clear how welcome my opinion is." Only she has it all with sullen one-word answers to Clay's chit-chat.
The boys pull out and launch into their partnership as gun-and-coke-runners. We zip to the garage, where Chuckie is happily waving goodbye. Piney is standing next to him, and turns to give Chuckie a look of incredulous disdain.
Drive, drive, drive, ride, ride, ride. We get a shot of Jax injecting Clay's knuckles with cortisone, then we keep on driving, driving, driving, riding, riding, riding. The boys hit a truck stop in Arizona after dark. Clay's hands shake as he unwinds his fingers from the handlebars, and then there is a lot of handshaking and hugging as the local chapter of Sons of Anarchy greets the travelers. The chapter president, Armando, is all hugs; the VP, Huff, has a macho handshake-off with Clay.