I think it’s safe to assume that Season 5 of Sons of Anarchy is going to be no joke. Only 3 episodes in and a series regular has already met a heartwrenchingly awful demise. This week’s episode, “Laying Pipe,” (ugh… really Sutter??) did not take it easy on the viewers, and based on my Twitter feed last night and this morning, y’all are having a hard time of it.

With four of the boys inside, things started to go to hell in a hand basket (as if they weren’t already there…) in Charming. The focus this week was tight, so let’s just get to my review. Per usual – spoilers inside. Beware.


So if you don’t mind, I’m going to hold off on the big thing. I’m just not ready to talk about it yet. Maybe if we get through some beating up of Disney Teen Queens I’ll be okay. (I actually enjoy her… but damn, that was funny) I seem to find a theme for each week’s review, and this week it is “Obvious can still be awful.”

With Jax (Charlie Hunnam) inside, Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) is in charge and deals with Luis (Benito Martinez) where they both agree that everything is cool inside, and things will go on as normal. It seemed like such a throw away scene that it made me nervous given that Luis and Romeo seem to want to get rid of Jax and SAMCRO, but I’ll just put that aside for now. Like several things this week, it seemed more like set up for something next week.

Meanwhile Clay (Ron Perlman) and his new personal assistant, Juice (Theo Rossi) had a heart to heart. And by that I mean Clay guilts Juice into telling him where Gemma has been every night. Oh dear. Obviously this was going to go poorly. Juice takes him to the brothel, just to see it, but things go down hill. Carla (Wanda de Jesus) calls Gemma to let her know Clay is there, and then she beds Juice because that poor guy needs to get laid, am I right? Plus, he is adorable.

Clay? Well he beds High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale, I mean adorable whore Emma. Emma? Really? He picks the whore that has a name only one letter off from his estranged wife? Nicely done, Clay. Gemma doesn’t react well and beats the crap out of Emma. Is it wrong that I laughed a bit? Sigh… Here’s the thing – like everything Gemma does in this episode, it isn’t surprising. Gemma isn’t known for her ability to take a breath, count to ten and assess the situation. It doesn’t matter that she does’t love Clay and they are done (which she assures Nero (Jimmy Smits) of later) it only matters that Clay is an ass and he did it to piss her off. Clay of course loved it. Dude, you need to let it go.

This whole situation was only lit further by the fact that Gemma was in the midst of a custody battle with Tara (Maggie Siff) over the kids. Gemma doesn’t like Tara keeping them from her, so to retaliate who does she go to? Wendy (Drea de Matteo), who to her credit at least knows Gemma was playing her. Of course, Tara, smarter than both of them, knew Wendy showing up was just a play of Gemma’s. The spiral of Tara turning into Gemma (her Frankenstein’s Monster, as Gemma so perfectly put it) has been both terrifying and magical to watch. Of course she is going to turn into Gemma. But as Jax turns into JT, what will that mean for them? I don’t know if I like where the resurfacing of Wendy is going – a custody battle is just going to be horrible to watch – but when Jax gets home, I look forward to the fireworks.

Which leads us to Jax, I suppose. Let’s start with the good – his one on one with Damon Pope (Harrold Perrineau) was electric. As they navigated the waters of their new deal I don’t think I took a breath. Perrineau is effortlessly frightening as Pope, and Hunnam radiates a mix of a terror, frustration and power as the new leader of SAMCRO. As Jax goes off left to deal with the new rules of his sort-of-alliance with Pope (Tig must stay in jail, and one of the others must die) he roller coasters through emotions. Reluctance, anger, fear, anger again, and then a solid stand to possibly sacrifice himself.

Going into the episode I knew someone was going to die. And I was 97% sure that person would be Opie (Ryan Hurst). His character has run a long and devastating course that seems impossible to pull him up out of now. How can he ever survive everything the club has taken from him? And he now knows just exactly how much that is after Jax came clean about JT’s letters and Piney’s knowledge of them and the Cartel/CIA connection that required Clay lived. To have Opie’s last act not just be giving the club the ultimate sacrifice but saving his best friend – well poetic doesn’t quite fully express that move. I don’t think anyone has played a tragic character with such bravado as Hurst. I will miss his face every week. It broke my heart and it won’t be the same without him.

And yet it has set up quite the arc for our leader. Jax will never unsee that final moment of his best friend (none of us will!). Pope caused that. Tig (Kim Coates) caused that. The Guard caused the brutality of it. So now, revenge. (Quick someone get him a red Sharpie and a picture that conveniently has all the people he hates in it!) Revenge on the guard who treated them like animals – I look forward to that. Revenge on Pope, I assume, for being evil. Although, their alliance will be helpful in some ways. And when Jax realizes via Pope that the break-ins are not One-Niner related, things should get interesting. But what struck me was Tig. Tig was supposed to stay in jail and rot, but Jax got him out, with the assurance that when their deal was done, Pope could have him. Why? Because Tig is a vote or back-up. And now because of this he will always be a vote against Clay or anyone else who stands in Jax’s way. It was one of Jax’s best power moves to date.

This episode… it was one of the most difficult to watch. These characters, these violent, frustrating, magnificently flawed characters have become a part of our world and to lose one – especially Opie – seemed like losing a part of the heart of the show. But is it ruined? Of course not. There is still so much more to explore with all of these characters. Am I mad at Kurt Sutter? A little. But it’s that sort of “I hate you because I love you” thing. The show is nowhere near done.

It’s not over til Jax dies. (What? This is Hamlet. If you aren’t prepared for Jax to die in the series finale… well, we’ll have that discussion at another time.)

What did you think? Are you recovering? Do you need a hug?

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Photo courtesy of FX.