Hands up – still attached pleased – to everyone who involuntarily exclaimed, "Oh my GOD!" frequently over the course of this episode. Let's break down all the jolts to the system:
Tig's alive! It turns out that August is a) surprisingly scrupulous about the whole "We'll kill Traeger once Clay's done" thing, b) using the whole hand-over-your-brother thing as a loyalty test for Jax, and c) fond of the long play, as he tells Jax that handing over the gun business will cancel out Tig's "debt" to the Pope organization. Jax goes along with this.
Unser gets attacked! He gets carved up by some masked neo-Nazi types, which provides a handy little caper-of-the-week structure wherein we see that Rat is actually kind of a badass and should really be patched in at this point. The other side effect of the attack: As Tara is busy illegally treating Unser for the swastika that's been carved in his stomach, he worriedly asks Gemma what would have happened if the boys had been there. Gemma snaps back, "Nobody touches my kids! They're fine!" The look Tara gives Gemma right there suggests bad things in the episodes ahead. Speaking of Abel, Thomas and the women who love them …
Wendy's kind of a crafty schemer! She has lunch with Gemma where she spills the news about Tara persisting in guardianship and begins to make the case that Tara's become mentally unstable so Gemma needs to be on her guard. And I was all, "Oh, no, WENDY" until! Until! We see a meeting where it turns out Wendy and Tara are scheming together. And Unser catches them together! And quickly twigs to how Tara doesn't want anyone to know she's talking to Wendy! And even helps Tara divert Gemma from knowing Wendy's in a conference room with her! That. Is. HUGE. Like overuse-of-exclamation-points huge!
But the big shockers …
Filthy Phil and V-Lin are dead! DEAD! Galen does not taking kindly to Jax dictating terms of the gun trade to him, so he decides to teach Jax a lesson by dropping off the KG-9s that Jax has repeatedly said he didn't want, then killing both Filthy Phil and V-Lin. Worse, he has his guys cut them into small pieces, and leaves their hands on their cuts. (To be honest, I was expecting this to be Tig's fate.)
RIP, Otto. Toric tries to scare Clay straight by showing him a shackled, weeping Otto in the infirmary. When Clay asks for a moment to hug his brother, he slips him a shiv and whispers, "No more." Otto nods. Toric comes in later to try to persuade Otto to roll over on Clay, and hands him a pad of paper to write something. Otto obliges with, "Your sister's blood tasted as good as her pussy." This goads Toric into attacking Otto … who then shivs him with the weapon Clay passed him earlier. When guards come in, Otto slits Toric's throat, then dies in a hail of gunfire.
When you think about it, this is really Otto's final F-U to Redwood. Even though Clay wasn't a brother anymore, there's no way the shiv's not going to be traced back to him, and from there, the wrath of the law is going to come down on the club. I can't say the club doesn't deserve it.
Also, Roosevelt is kind of the badass of the episode, because it does not take him more than a minute to figure out that Toric's set up Nero for the murder of Erin-the-escort. Still, after Nero's let go, he has a think about where his recent decisions have led him and he tells Gemma he needs some space from the club. He tells her, "I hope it doesn't come to this, but if I had to cut ties, I want you with me." Although Gemma mouths, "I love you too," it's obvious that she identifies so closely with the club, she now sees Nero as a situation that needs to be managed.
Speaking of managing, I need to calm down and get my pulse out of the red zone. Your discussion question until the recap goes up: We're definitely moving into Act II of the season's story arc. So who is the most screwed in the wake of this episode? Smartasses saying, "Filthy Phil and V-Lin" need not answer.
This episode starts with poor, cancer-riddled Unser waking up in obvious pain and getting ready to face the day with some medicinal marijuana. But his breakfast dank is interrupted by some masked jerk stores breaking open his door and dragging him out by his ankles, the better to punch him in the face.
We then go directly from that ugly sight to a considerably more attractive one: Jax, shirtless, waiting for a bottle to warm up. It’s sweet that he’s taking the morning shift. He hears footsteps approaching the door and when he looks out the peephole, and whoever it is that he sees is enough to give him pause. Jax opens the door, attempts to act casual with his greeting, "You’re up early, brother," and fails miserably. And why, you might ask? Because the guy who’s up with sun is Tig.
Anyway, Tig does not look too pleased to be up and about, and he silently walks in. Jax closes the door behind him and we see him giving Tig a fearful, angry look. Is Tig here because he’s bright enough to realize that piece of paper in Auggie’s hand is one I gave him? Did he just kill August Marks and make another mess to clean up? Is he doing to kill me? But it’s not like Jax can actually ask any of this, so he tries to feign sleepy-father-of-a-baby confusion and listens to Tig’s tale:
”I got quite, quite the surprise at the port, man. Listen. August March showed up with a few of Pope’s guys. Shit, I thought it was all going down.” (Cut to Jax feigning goggle-eyed surprise. He is a terrible reactive liar. It’s interesting that he can only lie convincingly when he’s controlling the narrative). Jax asks, "What happened?" "He was there looking for you. Clay’s in gen pop, I guess he made some kind of deal. August needs to talk to you about it. First thing this morning. Power tower," Tig says.
Thomas has not forgotten he has a bottle coming and begins complaining to the management that there is no bottle in his mouth RIGHT NOW. Management (better known as Tara) comes shuffling in. Tig says apologetically, "Morning," and Tara replies, "Yes, it is." As Tig heads out the door, he stops and says thoughtfully to Jax, "You know, the prospects? They never showed up with that truck last night. I waited, like, three hours." Jax claims that he forgot to tell the prospects and, oh, he’s so sorry. Again, he is a terrible liar when he’s not manipulating the situation. Tig gives Jax an unnervingly sharp look and asks, "Am I good with you, Jax?" Jax lies, unconvincingly, that they are, the two hug is out, and Tig leaves. But he shoots Jax another skeptical look and oh my gosh, I hope this is the beginning of the end and Tig maybe goes back to his bike, rides around the corner and texts Bobby all, "If you are starting a nomad charter and need another warm body, I know someone who might be interested. P.S. Their name rhymes with 'Big Begger.'"