Episode Title: "Call of Duty"
Writers: Liz Sagal & Gladys Rodriguez
Director: Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Previously on "Sons of Anarchy":
Having already killed Piney (William Lucking) to protect the secrets in John Teller's Irish letters, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) paid his allies in the Galindos cartel a hefty sum to eliminate Dr. Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff), the fiancee of his step-son, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) and the mother of Jax's children. While accompanying Tara on a trip to Oregon, Jax was present when the hitmen tried to grab Tara and he narrowly managed to save her, but Tara's hand was seriously injured in the process. Jax and SAMCRO assumed that the attempted hit was the work of the Lobos Sonora cartel, but Clay's wife, Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal) suspected the truth.
Gemma confronted Clay about his hit on Tara and the two came to blows. Gemma got at least one good punch in, but Clay got the upper hand and beat her senseless. Clay also got a refund of his money from Romeo (Danny Trejo), but he was told that Tara still had to die because Clay had told the Galindos cartel that she was a threat to expose them. At the hospital, Tara and Jax were told that the damage to her hand was extensive and that it may cost Tara her medical career. Tara broke down in despair and she sent Jax away. Later, former Sheriff Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) came across Gemma and saw how badly bruised her face was.
Unser wanted to turn Clay into Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) and the local police, but Gemma had a better idea: She said that Clay should die at "the hands of the son."
In the hospital, Tara wakes up to find Jax at her bedside. She apologizes for losing it the day before, but she doesn't believe any hospital will want her if she can't perform surgery. Jax tells her that the plan to get out of Charming and SAMCRO is still in place, she just has to believe in him. At Clay's home, Unser has stayed the night with Gemma and he asks her what they should do next. She tells Unser to continue shaping Piney's murder scene to blow back on the Lobos and she'll deal with Clay. At the SAMCRO clubhouse, Tig (Kim Coates) notes the bruises on Clay's face and Clay refuses to discuss them.
Tig pushes back and tells Clay that the reason he's losing the club is because he has shut everyone out. At the hospital, Gemma tries to cover up her injuries, but the administrator, Margaret (McNally Sagal) takes sympathy on Gemma and she tells her that's why Jax and Tara have to get out of SAMCRO. Margaret reveals that there is still one hospital that wants Tara in spite of her injury and she urges Gemma to let them go. When Jax sees his mom, he's ready to kill Clay. But she tells him that she'll handle her husband. Shortly thereafter, Jax's ex-love, Wendy (Drea De Mateo) visits Tara and reveals that she's moved back to Charming and she wants to spend time with her son, Abel.
Tara angrily reminds Wendy that she gave up her parental rights before she disappeared into rehab, but Wendy seems eager to challenge that. After she leaves, Tara goes berserk and smashes her injured hand against the table again and again. Elsewhere, Kozik (Kenny Johnson) returns to the Sons with new heavy ordinance from their Irish connections. 50 caliber guns, grenade launchers… it's impressive and even the dejected Jean Carlos "Juice" Ortiz (Theo Rossi) seems to enjoy seeing the "Call of Duty" weapons. At the same time, Jax takes Clay aside and lets him know that he won't let what happened to Gemma slide.
At the hospital, Gemma is horrified to see Tara wheeled back into surgery and she soon learns that Tara was upset by Wendy's visit. Elsewhere, the Galindos show Jax the bodies of two Lobos fighters and say that these were the men who attacked Tara. Jax says that there was a third man and he wants to be with them when they take out the Lobos. In a private meeting, Jax tells his SAMCRO brothers that they don't have to come with him, but to a man they are all in. But before they can meet the Galindos, Oswald arrives and tells Clay that Mayor Hale has secured the Charming Heights funding from the Asian investors who were supposed to just string him along.
Incensed, Clay sends Opie (Ryan Hurst), Bobby (Mark Boone Jr.) and Tig to find Georgie (Tom Arnold) and eliminate him if he's reneged on his promise. In prison, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon) meets with Big Otto Delaney (Kurt Sutter), who demands some answers before they continue to speak. Lincoln tells him about the RICO case against the Real IRA and the Galindos, using SAMCRO as a way in. Otto then lays out several demands, including an execution for himself as soon as possible and in return he'll give Bobby to Lincoln. But Otto won't start talking without the agreement in writing.
SAMCRO and their Galindos associates arrive at the Lobos encampment and they easily dispatch the first group of fighters that they find. Unfortunately, it was just an outpost for the main camp. When SAMCRO and the Galindos advance towards the woods, Clay, Romeo, Juice and others are pined down in a minefield. Kozik is among the first to die. With few options, Jax sends word to bring the heavy ordinance to them against the wishes of the Irish. At the adult film studio, Bobby and his guys learn where to find Georgie and Opie coldly breaks things off with his wife, Lyla (Winter Ave Zoli) after she ran out on him.
Bobby and the guys locate Georgie and they learn that the Asian investors acted without his knowledge. As they prepare to kill Georgie, Bobby gets him to confess to his part in Luanne's murder. Then Opie and Tig kill him. Back in the woods, Jax and the rest of the club use the rocket propelled grenade launchers to blast the hell out of the Lobos and wipe them out. While trying to get Clay and the others out of the mine field safely, both Jax and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) are alarmed by how careless Juice is about leaving the place in one piece.
Back in Charming, Gemma tricks Wendy into meeting with her and warns her to back off from Jax and Tara. In the aftermath of the battle, Juice is shaken to learn that Kozik had family and Jax and Chibs privately share their concern for Juice's mental state. At the Teller Morrow garage, Clay tries to intimidate Unser into leaving, but the former Sheriff warns Clay that he will kill him if he ever hurts Gemma again. In the club house restroom, Chibs finally gets Juice to open up and reveal Roosevelt's blackmail about his black father, but Chibs laughs it off and tells him to remind the Sheriff to "eff off" the next time he sees him. Juice seems reassured, but once Chibs is gone he calls Lincoln to check in.
At the bar, Tig is saddened to hear about Kozik and they drink to his memory. At the prison, Otto is presented with the written guarantee of his demands, except the privileges for his friend, Lenny. Once again, he refuses to sign anything until Lincoln delivers on that. At the compound, Jax and Opie have another argument before Opie leaves to check in on his father, Piney. Unser follows Opie in his own car. Gemma tells Jax what happened to Tara at the hospital and he races to be with her. Tig finally sees Gemma and he is shocked to see how badly hurt she is. Tig then confronts Clay in private.
But instead of throwing a punch, Tig resigns as Sargent and he rides off. Clay actually sheds a tear over what happened and the escalating consequences of his actions. Up on the mountain, Opie comes across Piney's body and he flips out when Unser follows him in the door. Unser explains what happened to Piney and he says that Clay is responsible for Piney's death. He tells Opie that Clay has to be stopped before he kills anyone else that they love.
As the end of the year gets closer, I've been assembling a list of the top ten dramas on TV. And I have to admit that "Sons of Anarchy" didn't make the cut… until this episode.
There are plenty of shows that I enjoy more than "Sons of Anarchy," but when a series is this great on such a consistent basis then it deserves to be recognized. The intensity that is driving the show has almost nothing to do with the shooting war that ended in this episode. It's about the spectacular collapse of SAMCRO as we know it. There's simply no way to sweep these events under a rug and attempt to go on as if nothing has changed. People are going to die before the season wraps up.
It's a little embarrassing that I left Kozik off of the Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Death Pool, because he was basically a recurring guest star and I didn't expect him to be written out of the show so permanently. It couldn't have been a coincidence that Kenny Johnson met his end by explosion on both "The Shield" and "Sons of Anarchy.". Even Kozik's last words were an amusing callback to "The Shield." At least now if Johnson ever guest stars on "Justified" or "American Horror Story" in the future, we'll know how he'll eventually die.
Kozik was actually the perfect character to be killed off in this episode. It had to be someone who wasn't on the main cast that the audience and the characters felt connected to. Even Kozik's long time rival, Tig was affected by his death. Although I suspected that they had mostly patched things up before the end of Kozik's life. This episode was also a gift to Kim Coates, as it allowed Tig to have one of the most powerful moments of the season. By ripping off that patch, Tig did more to hurt Clay than any punch he could have landed. It also seems clear that Tig has some pretty deep feelings for Gemma and I half expected him to beat the crap out of Clay for what he did to her. I'd still kind of like to see that, actually.
Opie is also emerging as an unexpectedly pivotal figure. For all of Unser's bravado to Clay, he must realize that he wouldn't last very long by going up against his former friend. Unser may not be able to kill Clay… but Opie just might be able to. If the collapse of his marriage and Jax's betrayal weren't enough to make Opie a much harder person, Piney's murder is the absolute last straw. Opie may not be the leader that SAMCRO needs, but he could be the next enforcer if his new attitude holds together.
Maggie Siff is still affecting as Tara continues to mentally slip down the drain. The scene in which Tara smashed her hand again made me cringe, not because there was anything wrong with Siff's performance. It was because I had bought into the idea that Tara's hand would be even more damaged when she was through. When a series makes you care about what the characters are doing, that's really good writing.
As for Big Otto, it seems like Kurt Sutter is writing his own character off the show in an unexpectedly dramatic fashion. Lincoln had a point about Otto's suffering for SAMCRO; which was repaid with betrayal and lies. Even so, Otto still held on to the ideal of the brotherhood for his friend, Lenny. And from Lincoln's reaction, I'd guess that if he really did understand what Otto was talking about then Lincoln must have some family in one of the MCs.
Getting back to Clay. I bought that he finally shed a tear, but it's still pretty s***y that out of everything that Clay's done this year it was Tig's resignation that moved him to cry. It could have been a cumulative effect and there is no question that Clay has harmed the club that he professed to love as well as his family. But Clay showed no remorse for killing Piney, setting up Tara or beating Gemma to a pulp. And when a character reaches that kind of emotional dead end, it usually means that their time on a show isn't going to last much longer.
"Sons of Anarchy" has been on an epic roll lately and I can't wait to see how it plays out. If "Sons of Anarchy" manages to stay strong for the remaining three episodes, it may not just be one of the best shows on TV… it could be the best show, PERIOD.
Crave Online Rating: 9.5 out of 10.