Ready or not, it’s here – the season finale of Sons of Anarchy. It was so huge that Kurt Sutter asked for an extra hour! Right now let’s break down Act 1 (the one where Hamlet, I mean Jax, learns all about the doings of Clay) and then we can form a prayer circle and mentally prepare ourselves for the final hour airing next Tuesday.

Sons of Anarchy “To Be, Act 1” Recap

A small lie, a big war
Well kids, Clay ain’t dead. If you watch back the shooting, you can tell Opie wouldn’t have killed him with those shots. As Clay starts to murmur something Opie goes to shoot again, but Jax shoots Op’s hand. Rat and Unser come in and go right into action. They take Clay to the garage and everyone leaves except Wayne. The story they give the cops – Wayne was there to have Clay fix something after hours. A big black SUV, possibly with a couple African-American guys in it came up and shot Clay. In other words – they pinned it on the Niners.

Opie meanwhile is sent off to an off-site emergency center and told to lay low. Jax is going to get to the bottom of all of this – Opie told Jax about Piney. Jax, once again, promises to make it right. Opie has had it up to here with Jax and his promises. But he’s out of the way for the rest of the episode. When Tig hears Unser tell Roosevelt the story, well, he’s more than a little torn up. He ignored Clay when he asked Tig to stay, afraid something may be going down. How does he make up for it? He hunts down LaRoy and nearly drives into him at a sidewalk cafe. But he doesn’t kill LaRoy – he kills LaRoy’s old lady who went through a plate glass window.

The boys help Tig escape the Niners (killing a few more of LaRoy’s crew in the process) but this is not over by any means. And Jax is realizing just how big a mess this whole thing has created. They are now in a very violent war with a crew that have no reason be at war with. (The Mayans do, but that’s another story)  Jax is SO not happy. Tig goes and apologizes to Clay when he’s out of surgery – one of the bullets pierced a lung, but he should live. Tig breaks down in Gemma’s arms. Gemma… well she’s not so broken up. But we’ll get to her plans later.

Missing: Half the members of SAMCRO
In times of trouble, SAMCRO takes to doing head counts often. They like to make sure all the brothers are doing fine. Well this week the headcount is off. By a lot. First of all, Happy and Chibs (who are both handling all this craziness like pros) notice that Piney’s still not back and Opie’s gone now too. That one is easy to explain for Jax – Piney’s on a bender at the cabin (dead) and Opie’s gone to check up on him (tried to kill Clay). But there are two more, both of which cause a bit of worry.

Juice and Bobby are MIA. Chibs assumes that Juice has gone on another one of his joy rides, but given Juice’s recent affection for trying to kill himself, he’s still worried. (He’s actually in lock up.) Bobby, on the other hand, hasn’t been seen since he went to go see Otto in Stockton – something they realize is not good. Jax heads to Stockton and Lenny says that signs point to Otto flipping (thanks to all of Lenny’s new privleges) and Bobby never signed out after seeing Otto. Bad stuff. Jax takes it to Romeo and Luis, thinking that maybe they should put this meeting between the Cartel and Irish on hold. Romeo says he will find out if Otto flipped and get back to Jax. And when he does, he says absolutely no, Otto didn’t flip. What? What game is he playing, because something tells me Romeo knows the truth.

Oh and how’s Potter doing with all of these developments? He’s cool as a cucumber. He figures with Clay out Jax will still facilitate the meet and he’ll get what he wants. He doesn’t care about any of it. That guy is awful.

Tell me you love me
After Jax deals with Opie and Clay he goes home and takes a shower. The entire female audience thanks you, Kurt Sutter, for inevitably having a “Jax takes a shower scene” in every season. Tara comes in and watches him (who wouldn’t? Okay, sorry. I’m done) and then looks at his bloody clothes. Jax just says that Clay was shot (doesn’t say by whom) and that it doesn’t matter – they are still getting out of Charming. She asks Jax to tell her he loves her and he does emphatically and without hesitation. He then asks the same of her and she says that she does, but prefaces it with the thought, “if I could stop, I would.” Tragic.

Later Gemma comes to see Tara. She lays it all out there for Tara – Piney’s dead. Clay shot him because of the letters. Gemma had told Clay Tara has the letters and that Clay was the one who tried to kill her. Tara realizes that vague threat Clay made towards her at the hospital wasn’t as vague as she thought. So she gives Gemma the key to the storage unit to go get the letters and give them to Clay. But she makes clear that no matter what, she and Jax are still getting out. Then she asks Gemma the same thing – “Tell me you love me.” And Gemma says she does, but it is obvious her love is not as clear cut as Jax’s.

So Gemma goes and gets the letters, but while she is there she also finds some old pics of JT’s, including one of her and JT at the head of the table. She reads the letters and takes a few of them out of the file. Where does she take them? Not to Clay, of course. But to Jax. Once again, she lays it all out there. Well most of it. She tells Jax about Clay – killing JT (but leaves out her and Unser’s involvement) about how Clay tried to have Tara killed because she had the letters. Her reason for doing this – because she wants Jax to kill Clay and take his rightful spot as King. I mean President of SAMCRO. As Tara would say – that duplicitous bitch. But at the same time, I get it… Gemma is the most amazing, yet infuriating character.

As Jax reads the letters, Tara shows up at the clubhouse. She knew Gemma was going to give the letters to Jax. And she also knew Gemma was going to take a few out. Jax comes out and tells Tara she should have told him, but he forgives her – this lie wasn’t to hurt him and he knows it. But he also tells her that he has to kill Clay now. Tara’s reaction: she knows. And she takes out a syringe with blood thinner to do it. The looks on Jax and Gemma’s faces are the highlight of the episode for me. The pure shock and awe of the moment. Tara is so calm. Efficient. She knows what has to be done. So she sends her man to do it (but first he has some MC business to attend to) and then come back and get their family the hell out of Charming. Gemma is both horrified and a little impressed. But not impressed enough to keep her from being super pissed.

And Clay…. well he just lies in wait in a hospital bed left to think about all the things he did that led him to this moment. I don’t feel bad for him.

Favorite Quotes:

Happy: He’s gotta die. Like a lot.

Gemma: Clay has to die. Read them. See them in your father’s own hand. Then you kill him. You kill Clay before he’s on his feet and strikes first. And when it’s done, you take your place at the head of this table. Where a Teller belongs. Where you belong.

Gemma: If you knew… why’d you tell me where they were?
Tara: Because I’m smarter than you are, Gemma. And I know Jax better than you do.

Gemma: What are you doing?
Tara: Everything you taught me. He’s mine.

I am so beyond impressed with the entire cast this season, but I have to give a special shout out to Charlie Hunnam, Maggie Siff and Katey Sagal. They brought their best week after week and somehow topped it all with this episode. Pure brilliance from each other them. I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table next week and in Season 5!

Now let’s all hold hands and ready ourselves for To Be, Act 2.

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter: @serrae

Sons of Anarchy airs on FX.