As we quickly hurtle towards what will inevitably be a devasting end to Season 5 of Sons of Anarchy, this week’s episode “Andare Pescare” gave us a sneak peek into just how dark this season will be.

Yet after an emotionally draining night of watching election coverage, this episode kind of seemed a bit zen. No? Just me? Anyway… let’s get to it.

We are leading to several emotional punches as this season goes on, all of which seem to revolve around Jax (Charlie Hunnam) keeping his seat at the end of the table, if only to keep Clay (Ron Perlman) out of it. The cost of this power play seems to be growing exponentially with every passing moment.

The laundry list of deaths this season grew again tonight, with the untimely passing of Frankie (Chuck Zito) who never got to give Jax and Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) the damning evidence they need against Clay. But he did manage to put another worm in Juice’s (Theo Rossi) ear about the evil that is Clay. Will this be what saves Juice in the end? Lord I hope so. Juice is one of my favorites. I think Rossi is an amazing actor and I just love seeing him on the show. But now that Jax knows, thanks to some easy logic he pieced together to figure out Roosevelt’s (Rockmond Dunbar) mole, I’m hoping Juice lasts long enough to use that information to keep a bullet from going in his head. But right now, I’m admittedly nervous. To just write it off as, “Oh they won’t kill him” seems a bit silly in the light of this season, doesn’t it?

Beyond the fate of Juice, this power play is also causing Tara (Maggie Siff) her dignity and possibly her sanity. Watching Tara’s scenes with Otto (series creator, Kurt Sutter) were heartbreaking and not just a little bit uncomfortable. And I don’t just mean that in the sense that Tara was touching Otto’s head while he masturbated and cried. But also, because Maggie was touching her boss’s head while he faked masturbation and crying. I don’t care how professional and comfortable you are with each other – that’s gotta be weird. Anyway… While Tara may have been successful in her mission, what was the emotional cost? Considering her later actions (which left me a bit dumbfounded)… I’d say that emotional cost may be higher than anticipated.

As that damage starts to rear it’s ugly head, it is only going to be met with more issues. Bobby is doing his best to help Jax lead the crew- even telling Clay they know what he did and they will stop him – but Jax is farther away from getting out than he’s ever been. Now Margaret (McNally Sagal) tells Tara that the Oregon deal (from last season) may still be on the table… There was a lot unsaid in Tara’s office upon that announcement  Although the one thing that should have been said was, “Dammit, Margaret, it’s ‘Ore-gen’ not ‘Ore-gone’!” At least that’s what I said to my TV.

Once again, though, the episode really belonged to Katey Sagal as Gemma. Gemma has done some really awful crap over the years. Not the least of which being nearly killing those kids in the car accident. I should really hate her. Yet… I don’t. I want her to be happy, in the end. All of her scenes with Nero (Jimmy Smits) broke my heart, especially when he bought her those damn birds, because you knew that the promise of her family was too great. She would sacrifice her happiness in love for that chance and would go back to Clay, if only temporarily. As she sat at that table in Jax’s house, believing her son and daughter-in-law as they promised her their family, you could watch her heart break into a million little pieces.

But what was perfect about the scene is she didn’t even pretend to lie about it. She made sure Jax knew exactly how much she was giving up to help him and get him back. Finally she had a light, and she wanted Jax to know that this was probably going to put it out. Maybe for good. It was her proof that their family really meant the world to her. But will Jax be able to live with that cost? And while he may give back his kids to his mom, but will she be whole enough to accept them?

The episode was a long road down an increasingly dark tunnel, only to be made worse by what looks like an incredibly tense 90 minute episode next week. But good news: Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) is fine! Thank goodness!

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photo courtesy of FX