After the RPGs, landmines, attempted abductions, and the Hasselhoff, it was surprising to have such a quiet final hour to this fourth season of Sons of Anarchy. But hidden in all that quiet were shifts of such massive proportions they are sure to lead to an explosive season 5. But before we get to that – let’s talk about what we all just witnessed.

Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Finale Recap

Surprise! They’ve got badges!
As the episode opens, we see just how big this RICO operation is. Dozens of Feds and Sheriffs are pulled around tents and computers and travelling versions of all the diagrams from the RICO room. They have a video feed of Jax and Chibs at the warehouse loading up the guns for the Irish/Cartel meet. And then an SUV pulls up. Inside – Romeo, Luis and the guy who Clay paid to kill Tara. Turns out he’s not so much of a hitman as he is, oh, a CIA agent. The Galindo Cartel has been working with the CIA for years and their mission – take down the Irish and they need this deal to happen for that to work. The fine people of the US Government have decided that the RICO case is dead and Romeo and Luis are to still do their thing.

First of all, I think the fact that Romeo and Luis have been with the CIA the whole time makes the casting of Danny Trejo and Benito Martinez especially brilliant. It also suddenly makes you look back at the entire season and want to watch it again. And so will Jax in a second… He introduces Galen and Romeo, but Galen is not happy. He made very clear he only wants to deal with Clay. He doesn’t trust Jax and the only person he trusts less than Jax, is Romeo. Jax tries to explain to Romeo and Luis that the Sons are just in over their head, maybe it’s just time to cut their losses. But then Romeo and Luis whip out some badges and explain who they are and what they are doing to a understandably shocked Jax.

They tell him Clay needs to live to broker the deal with Galen because if that doesn’t go through, they are going to let Potter have his RICO case back. The told him Otto did flip, and if Jax does as they say, they can work on getting Bobby out. Jax needs to take the head of the table, broker the deal and keep SAMCRO in line. Oh – and that whole Tara abduction – turns out they were just going to take her and debrief her. She was never really in danger. Epically tragic! So Jax heads to JT’s grave, or what I like to call “his thinking spot” and put back on the SO & NS rings. He’s made his choice.

And what becomes of Potter and Roosevelt….
Potter has to let the RICO case go, and I’ve got to say, I almost feel bad for the guy. It’s got to suck to work so hard on something and have it taken away in the blink of an eye. Roosevelt is just annoyed that all the guns and drugs are still going to be on his streets. Potter tells Roosevelt that he’s wiped Juice’s past clean, and Roosevelt can let him go free. Roosevelt goes to the prison, where Juice is busy watching reruns of The Shield, naturally (too funny!). He gives Juice the file on his dad, and let’s Juice go. Roosevelt just wants to go back to being the cop. Juice… well he just wants to go back to being a Son.

Potter decides to take his frustrations out on the other guy in town he hates – Jacob Hale. As Hale tries to finish up his deal for Charming Heights with City Council, Potter comes in with a duffel bag and a sex doll. He tells the board members alllll about those Japanese investors, including the fact that they make a sex doll of a young boy. Gross. Looks like Charming Heights isn’t happening! I never liked Potter more than I did in that moment.

Rita Roosevelt was there and she loved it too. She couldn’t wait to head back to hubby, Eli, and let him know. But their enjoyment was interrupted by one of his officers with a report about a hit and run in Oakland. But not just any hit and run – that certain one involving LaRoy’s girlfriend, Veronica Pope. And turns out Ms. Pope wasn’t just girlfriend to the president of the Niners, she’s also daughter to one of the most notorious gangsters in Old Town Oakland. Thus, we’ve set up what is sure to be a major storyline come season 5.

The Fallen King
Jax heads over to see Clay in the hospital. Tig, feeling guilty, is still sitting with him. Jax tells him they are going to have Church at 8 that night, so Tig heads off to gather the boys. I can’t really describe the array of emotions that Charlie Hunnam displays as Jax in those quiet moments in the room as he weighs whether or not to kill Clay. Truly, some of his finest acting to date – and yes, I have been saying that every week. All the awards for Charlie, please. Ultimately, Jax puts the syringe from Tara away and pulls out his knife as Clay wakes up and holds it to his throat.

The confrontation between the two is both exhilarating and sad. Clay is pathetic as he tries to talk his way out of all he’s done – killing JT, killing Piney, trying to kill Tara – but Jax is strongest he’s ever been as he tells Clay how it’s going to be. Jax is President now. Clay is only being kept alive to deal with the Irish. He is not to touch Gemma or Tara. And then, in the move that clearly hurts Clay the most, even more than the knife to his neck, Jax cuts off the “president” patch from Clay’s cut.

Gemma finds Jax as he exits the room. She assumes he’s killed Clay because Jax says “he won’t be bothering you anymore.” He also assures her he isn’t leaving. Gemma sees that Clay is still alive pathetically clinging to his cut, and while disappointed, she seems to trust Jax and is glad to see she’s winning. But she really isn’t…

The New Plan
So here it goes…. the new plan for Jax Teller. First he goes to Opie. He tells him that yes, Clay killed Piney, and a lot more. But for now Clay’s still alive and needs to make this Galindo deal happen. Opie is not happy.  Jax begs Opie to trust him and to come be his VP now that Clay “stepped down.” Opie just wants the truth, but Jax is sticking with what Romeo told him – no one can know about the CIA deal.

Except… Jax goes home and tells Tara. And I love him forever for that one moment. I can’t even begin to describe it. She is shocked, and then slowly gets to the realization that this all means he has to stay and lead. Jax tells her he loves her, but knows she and the boys need to go to Oregon. He is so sad he can’t even let Tara touch him. My heart breaks into a million little pieces, as does Tara’s. She just sits with Thomas on the floor and repeats her last line of the previous week… “He’s mine.” But this time she seems to try to be both questioning what’s happening and reassuring herself it is true.

Then we get the inevitably music montage. Bobby provides us with the tunes from his jail cell – a take on “The House of the Rising Sun,” but the lyrics are a little changed – Charming Town, instead of New Orleans, for example. Juice tears up the file on his dad. Gemma burns the letters she kept from Jax. Jax locks up the letters in the garage. Unser sits at the head of one of Clay’s tables – the one at home. As for the other table, Jax heads into the clubhouse, looks at the guys gathered and waiting, and then goes and sits at the head of the table in the chapel. Tig goes to sit at his right, but Jax asks for Chibs to sit there. Tig had to have seen that coming, no? He still asks Tig to sit in the next seat. Then Happy and Juice come in as well. The table is very empty, and Opie is not there.

The door opens, and for a moment you think, Opie! But it’s Tara. She tells him she is staying. That she is there for him. Then the door opens again and this time it is Gemma. There to support her boy perhaps? But Gemma miscalculated a bit. She figured having a Teller at the head would mean she is still in charge, but she’s not –  it’s Tara now, who gives Gemma a look as she stands behind Jax with her arm around him – just like the old picture of Gemma and JT.

Favorite Quotes

Roosevelt: You’re a really odd dude, man. You know that’s really hard to get past, right?
Potter: I do. It serves a purpose. I don’t really like people all that much.

Roosevelt (to Juice): You’re a criminal. You do bad shit. I’m a cop. I stop you. I just want to get back to that.

Hale: Why are you doing this?
Potter: Because I don’t like you. And the good guys needed a win.

Clay: You may as well kill me.
Jax: You’re already dead.

What’s to come….
So now we are left to sit through the horrifically long hiatus and ponder what season 5 will bring us. This finale may have been quiet, but I love what it set up. Will Bobby get out of prison soon? How will Tig handle his new position and the new President? How will Gemma handle her new place? Will Opie come back to the table and sit to Jax’s left? And what sort of hell will killing Veronica Pope bring down on SAMCRO? How will Roosevelt handle it? Will Potter stick around? Will Hale still be mayor, or will Elliot step up? And what about Wendy? Maybe Jax’s new CIA buddies can help him get rid of her as a way of thanking him for his cooperation?

So many questions. Biggest of all (let’s face it) – will Sons get the love it deserves come awards season for that fantastic season? It was a master class for Katey, Charlie and Maggie especially.

Hit the comments and let me know what you thought of the finale, of the season and what’s to come!

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae