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Sons of Anarchy Recap: Everyone Backed the Wrong Horse

SONS OF ANARCHY Los Fantasmas

Tara’s victory was incredibly short-lived, as almost every single one of her allies deserted her this week. Between Unser, Lowen, and Wendy, somebody is going to convince Jax of the truth. I wouldn’t want to be Tara. Gemma spent the bulk of the episode marshaling her forces while Jax and the boys dealt with increasing pressure from D.A. Patterson. If this is what it looks like when everything is just starting to simmer, I’d hate to see what happens when it all boils over. Here’s what we learned on this week's Sons of Anarchy.

Wayne’s World View
Though this episode wasn’t nearly as exciting as the last few (no major character deaths, explosions, or fake miscarriages), I was glad to see Wayne, a solid background character, get some added screen time. They haven’t really known what to do with Unser since he lost his job, and though you need background characters to flesh out a show, I’ve always thought Dayton Callie deserved more attention. He got three solid scenes with Tara, Gemma, and Roosevelt, casting pearls of wisdom before swine. Will Tara listen to him and turn away from the dark path she’s on? He’s not incorrect to compare her to Gemma. Will Roosevelt heed Unser’s warning that Charming will unravel without the MC? I think we already know that his advice to Gemma fell on deaf ears. Even though Unser nailed Gemma with his assessment, she chose not to take the high, difficult road.

Byz Splat
Though no major characters were harmed in the making of this episode, that doesn’t mean it was devoid of gruesome violence. Jax tries to rally the troops and get all the Sons and the Byz Lats on the same page: “Everyone stays even. No one breaks. No one talks.” Why didn’t Tara give her troops that talk? Who’s to say whether the gangs would have kept it together, because along came a bereaved father to make road meat out of one of the Byz Lats. The most appalling part of that scene was not, I’m sorry to say, that aforementioned road meat. We hardly knew anything about that kid except for the fact that his teeth made for an excellent bottle opener. No, the real upsetting bit of business was how Juice stood right in the line of the car and didn’t budge, didn’t flinch as it came barreling toward him. That’s a powerful death wish that I didn’t quite know Juice had.

Reflections
Though Unser had already indicated that Tara was on the wrong path, the show drew a stronger parallel with this scene of an emotional Tara telling herself to “stop it” in front of her bathroom mirror. You’ll recall that Gemma had an identical scene in the prison bathroom after Clay told her he loved her. The show has never shied away from drawing heavy-handed comparisons between the two women, but are we really meant to believe that what Tara did was so wrong? Lying to Jax is wrong, but punishing Gemma? I think she had it coming.

New Counter Girls
This episode takes the time to raise the question of whether the “going legit” angle is actually feasible. Not one to let Unser have all the “old guy wisdom” credit, Bobby Elvis takes Tara aside and lays out her role in all this. The role is one we’ve heard before: “He ain’t got a chance without you.” It’s on Tara to be the good “old lady” and support her husband because he’s too weak to take the moral reins on his own. It’s incredible to think that in this day and age a professional like Tara would swallow that line. But she does seems to feel responsible.

Headlines Did This
It’s very interesting what they’re doing with D.A. Patterson. She’s not a psychopathic representation of law and order like Lee Toric was. She’s willing to bend the rules to trap the Sons, but she’s not willing to break them. When she came upon the crime scene and put the pieces together that it was her actions, her leak to the papers that pushed this man to take his own life, she felt the full weight of her misstep. CCH Pounder is doing a magnificent job with a morally complex character.

The Charlie Threat
I mentioned last week that it’s not good for Jax that Charlie has Alice’s body. I was expecting Charlie to hand that evidence over to the police at the very first sign of trouble. So it was a shock and a surprise to see him still on Jax’s team this week. I guess DA Patterson hasn’t brought nearly enough heat, and I wonder if there will actually be conflict over Collette that causes Charlie to turn Jax in. It’s also interesting that Jax admitted he shouldn’t have killed Alice. That’s growth, right?

Grandma Is Dead
He may have regretted his hasty decision last week, but Jax is far from being in a Zen or happy place in this episode. This scene with Gemma was both rewarding to watch and painful when we stop to think about the fallout. Gemma has deserved this and much worse from Jax over the years, and her corrosive influence on him and his soft spot for her has always been a weak spot in our main character. But as much as I delighted in hearing Jax shun Gemma and nastily spit the word “mother” at her, I know that his remorse over treating her that way will make it much worse for Tara in the long run. This is going to be so messy.

Backing the Wrong Horse
As I mentioned before, Tara could have done a better job rallying her troops and making sure they presented a united front, but the truth of the matter is, she backed the wrong horses. She needed Wendy, Lowen, and Unser to make it all come together, but only Margaret was truly on her side. That surprised me; I thought Lowen knew the whole story. Unser has always been in love with Gemma, so I have to look askance at Tara’s decision to involve him, even though I know some of that was because he accidentally discovered her conspiracy. But Wendy? Oh, Wendy’s been a weak link from the start, and if this episode is any indication, she’s about to get much weaker. The MC corrupts everyone in the end.

Debts Will Be Paid
Speaking of which, Nero, in an attempt to both protect the MC (and Gemma) and provide for his kid, tries to take full credit for the gun scandal. (I had forgotten about his son’s special needs, even though it was mentioned last season and we did see the kid in the season premiere.) In the end, however, D.A. Patterson isn’t having it and she makes a very calculated, risky move. She appealed to Nero’s conscience. And, honestly, if there’s anyone on this show with a conscience to appeal to, it is, weirdly, this former gang member turned pimp. You can see this eating at him.

Five Years Sooner Or Five Years Later
The episode ends with an intimate home scene between Tara and Jax. Though the two are still miles apart from each other (and it’s doubtful they will be able to come back together after Tara’s deception), they still feel closer than that horrifically distant sex scene at the beginning of the season. Jax is the one in this scene begging for forgiveness, begging to be let back in. But we all know it’s Tara who is the betrayer now. The question is, what will Jax do when he finds out?

Photo: Prashant Gupta/FX