Every week while watching Sons of Anarchy this season I think to myself that the moment right before the reaper appears can’t possibly top what happened the week before. The branch snapping, Piney dying, Opie finding out. Each one more intense than the next. Well, this week, they were all put to shame. I’m not even sure I can form coherent thoughts… but let’s go for it!

Sons of Anarchy Burnt and Purged Away Recap

Baby Deja Vu
The Irish Kings are in town to do business with the Galindo cartel. But frankly, Galen, the head Irishman, is not so pleased with what’s been happening. He doesn’t like the drama the Cartel has brought. Especially that said drama created cause for the guys to use his RPGs. But Clay smooths things over and Galen agrees to meet with the Cartel on neutral ground – the Indian Res. Back at the garage, Jax tells Clay and Bobby that this is their opportunity to get out of the drugs. Tell the Mexicans the Irish will only be part of this if they stop muling. And then he says Opie isn’t ready to be president, Jax is out ASAP and he thinks Bobby should be president, Chibs as VP, Happy as Sgt.

But before they get get to the details, Galen asks for some company on an errand, so Jax, Chibs, Tig and Happy come along. They wind up in this beautiful house with lots of crosses and kindly ladies. Jax thinks it’s weird and goes upstairs. He finds that it is just like the house in Belfast where Father Killian took Abel. And on a much bigger scale. There were at least two dozen babies in that house. Insane. The boys beat everyone up. Galen is annoyed that Jax is a hot head, even after Clay explains why he was sensitive about it. But it got whatever point across Galen wanted, so whatever. He still wants Jax off the cartel. Turns out there are bigger problems anyway.

Abel’s Unstable Parental Units
Tara is still in the hospital, but she is a psych eval away from getting out. As she’s hanging around for that, Gemma finally comes and visits her post-beating. They discuss the problem that is Wendy. Gemma says she’s taken care of it and left Jax out of it. Tara said it was none of her business and that she is telling Jax. Honestly, both are probably right on some level. Then Jax comes in and Tara tells him what happened with Wendy and he promises to take care of it. Ever notice people on this show make a lot of promises they have no idea if they can keep or not?

Filthy Phil tracks down Wendy for Jax who goes to see her and make threats not unlike his mother. Thing is, Wendy makes some good points in return. He’s on federal parole and Tara just went through a psych consult after a life-changing injury. If anyone is stable right now it’s Wendy, the ex-junkie with a solid job. Judges love that crap. So she says let her see Abel or it’s going to court. Oh Wendy, you are a real pain in the ass, aren’t you? But kudos to Drea de Matteo for playing that role with such ease. Wendy could totally have been overdone, but she plays it so calmly.

Meanwhile, Clay, knowing Tara will be without Jax at least for a little bit goes to the hospital to see her. He had just gone to see the cartel to try to get out of the drugs – they weren’t happy – and offered to deal with Tara himself. They said they’d do it still. Anyway, he dismisses Filthy Phil on a break. Gemma sees Phil in the lobby of the hospital and when he says Clay is with her, she is understandably panicked and starts running towards the room. But apparently this is the biggest hospital ever because it takes her FOREVER. Clay is standing over Tara as she sleeps (creepy!) and then when she wakes, they discuss the letters. He says he knows Tara has them, and he wants them. Even if he knows, of course, she’d never show Jax. And if she doesn’t give them to him? Well then she can kiss those dreams of her and Jax and the boys ever leaving Charming goodbye. Again – creepy.

Gemma arrives and Clay leaves. Then Tara and Gemma discuss all their secrets and lies and protecting Jax. He comes in and says that the day after tomorrow his family is getting the hell out of Charming. I get nervous because something horrible is going to have to screw that up.

Bobby’s New Digs
After Juice hears about the meet between the Irish and the Mexicans at the cartel he texts Potter the information. Oh Juicey, why?? You poor boy. Potter, very excited, goes to see Roosevelt. Roosevelt is meeting with Hale who is telling him all about his Charming Heights investors and that he wants Roosevelt to come to the City Council meeting the next day – right around when the Cartel meeting is happening. He agrees. Then Potter tells him that Juice talked – Roosevelt is clearly disappointed. Right there with ya, Roos.

Potter then heads to Otto. He finally got all the things he asked for on his list, so Otto signs off on the transcripts and then is taken in to go see Bobby who had shown up to tell him that Georgie is really dead. But when Otto goes in, he just hands Bobby a list. It’s all the things he has done on the inside for the club, including things that first got him life in prison and then got him the death sentence. Bobby is confused, but then two guards come in and arrest him. He realizes Otto ratted him out. It’s so sad. But for a brief moment, I feel good for Otto. That guy got screwed over repeatedly. So Bobby is put in a holding cell – right next to the one Juice was put in after giving up the info.

Burning Down The House
After Opie finds Piney, he heads to Gemma’s. He sees her face and realizes Wayne wasn’t lying, but he asks her questions almost as a test to see what she will say. She doesn’t tell him about Piney, which is awkward when she finds out from Jax that Opie had been to the cabin. She heads up the cabin where she finds Wayne who admits he told Opie that Clay did it. Gemma is not happy – she wants to deal with this her way not just have Opie kill Clay. She is trying to protect what she spent 20 years building. Does she mean the club? Her family? Not totally sure. Gemma’s mind is a mysterious place I can’t even begin to figure out.

Later, as Clay was leaving Tara’s room, Gemma warns him that Opie knows he killed Piney. Then she kisses him and says she loves him. A goodbye just in case? Again – who knows? Gemma is an enigma to me. And I love it. Then we see Opie at the crematorium watching Piney burn. It’s so sad because with that one cardboard box all that was left of Opie’s stability seems to be burning as well. Opie had Jax come too. He sees what is happening and is devastated. He hugs Op who doesn’t hug back.(sad face!)  Wayne leaves and then watches as the two not-so-best friends leave. Opie pulls a gun on Jax and asks if he knew Clay killed Piney. Obviously, he didn’t. It’s so sad seeing this relationship completely crumble. Then Opie shoots Jax’s tire and rides off to get Clay. Jax chases after him (in a hearse!) then crashes and steals some guy’s bike.

Clay is sitting at the table waiting. He hears the bike pull up, goes to the chapel door and then Opie bursts in and knocks the gun out of Clay’s hand. Clay tries to talk his way out of it, saying Opie doesn’t really know what happened with Piney. Opie brings up Donna (whose grave he visited earlier) and Clay tries to write that off as history as he sits back down at the head of the table. Really? History? It was his wife! Jax comes in and points the gun at Opie begging him not to make him shoot – you know he’s trying to protect Opie more than Clay. But then…. Opie fires two shots into Clay’s chest. Boom! Cue the Reaper.

Woah. I have so many thoughts I don’t even know if I can possibly express them all. Mostly I’m just sad. I’m sad that Gemma and Tara are on such shaky ground. I’m sad that my favorite bromances – Jax/Opie, Chibs/Juice – are crumbling, whether or not Chibs knows it. And I’m sad that there are only two more episodes left this season!!

How are you all coping? What do you think the last two episodes will bring us? And did you notice, minus one very specific shot, there was no Clay in the previews? Do you think he’s actually dead? Do you think the show can survive without Clay?

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae