Episode Title: "Burnt and Purged Away"
Writers: Kurt Sutter & Dave Erickson
Director: Paris Barclay
Previously on "Sons of Anarchy":
Piney (William Lucking) tried to blackmail Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) into pulling SAMCRO out of the drug deal with the Galindos cartel using the secrets contained in John Teller's Irish letters. To protect himself, Clay personally murdered Piney and told the Galindos that Dr. Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff) was a threat to their deal. During a botched hit on Tara, her fiancee, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) saved her life, but her hand was badly injured. Already unstable because of her wounds, Tara became even more unhinged when Jax's ex-wife, Wendy (Drea De Mateo) told her that she wanted to be involved in Abel's life after giving up custody to Tara and Jax years ago.
Jax and the rest of SAMCRO joined the Galindos as they took the war to the Lobos Sonora cartel; whom Jax blamed for the assault on Tara. Although their forces were initially outgunned, SAMCRO prevailed by using the heavy ordinance provided by the Irish Kings. But Kozik (Kenny Johnson) was killed during the battle and Jean Carlos "Juice" Ortiz (Theo Rossi) seemed even more suicidal during the aftermath. Hours later, Tig (Kim Coates) learned that Clay had savagely beaten his wife, Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal). Disgusted, Tig resigned as SAMCRO's Sargent-at-arms.
Meanwhile, Opie (Ryan Hurst) finally discovered that his father, Piney was dead. Former Sheriff Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) followed Opie to his father's cabin to reveal that Clay had murdered Piney. And he urged Opie to take Clay out before he could hurt anyone else that he loves.
In the morning, Gemma finds Opie pounding on her door. He's surprised by her facial bruises, but Gemma refuses to elaborate on why Clay beat her. Opie leaves, although he is clearly angry and hiding his intent for Clay. Elsewhere, Jax arrives late for a meeting with Irish Kings about the upcoming face-to-face with the cartel. Galen (Timothy V. Murphy) is unsure about their new customers and he is also profoundly displeased about their RPGs being used by SAMCRO against the Lobos. But Clay insists that the violence won't blow back on the Irish and that they will be impressed with what Romeo (Danny Trejo) and the Galindos have to offer them.
In his office, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon) gets a progress report on his deal with Big Otto Delaney (Kurt Sutter) before he receives a message from Juice informing him of when the meeting between the Irish and the Galindos will take place. Gemma visits Tara in the hospital and assures her that she will take care of Wendy. Outside of Tara's room, Gemma runs into Jax, who tells her Opie went to check on his father the night before. Alarmed that Opie knows about his dead father, Gemma orders Filthy Phil (Christopher Reed) to find Opie for her. At the same time, Tara ignores Gemma's advice and she alerts Jax to the return of Wendy.
At Piney's cabin, Unser pays off a crematory employee to take Piney's body and burn it after hours. At the clubhouse, Juice takes off citing a need to go to the weed store. After he leaves, Jax takes a private meeting with Bobby and Clay to formally let Bobby know that he should be the one to take over the Presidency once both Jax and Clay are gone. Jax also insists that he's out as soon as he takes his piece of the deal. Clay then fields a call from Galen requesting back-up, so he sends Jax, Tig and Happy (David LaBrava) to meet him. At the Sheriff's office, Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) seems disappointed to hear that Juice came through for Lincoln… and that Mayor Hale's Charming Heights project will be going forward.
In a private meeting with Romeo, Clay assures the Galindos that he will take care of Tara personally. Later, Gemma arrives at Piney's cabin and Unser admits that he told Opie the truth to get him to kill Clay. But now Gemma doesn't want Clay dead, so she tells Unser to find Opie and tell him that he made a mistake. Outside of the weed store, Juice is picked up by Lincoln's men. Meanwhile, Bobby Muson (Mark Boone Junior) arrives at the prison to meet with Otto, unaware that his brother-in-arms is finalizing his deal with Lincoln to implicate Bobby on dozens of charges.
At Galen's meeting with the American Irish, Jax is incensed to discover that they are running a black market baby operation and he starts a fist fight with some of the pushy Irish goons there. Clay has to come down personally to help settle the matter. Although Galen is satisfied that the fight intimidated his business partners, he warns Clay to keep Jax away from the Galindos deal. Later, Jax tracks down Wendy and he tells her to stay away from his family. When Wendy doesn't back down, Jax simply says it doesn't matter because he's leaving. At the hospital, Clay relieves Phil and enters Tara's room. When Tara wakes up, Clay says that she and Jax can leave Charming for good if she gives him John Teller's letters.
On the other hand, Clay also lightly threatens Tara if she refuses. Alarmed that Clay is alone with Tara, Gemma is relieved that Clay didn't hurt her. She kisses her husband and warns him that Opie is looking for him and that he knows that Clay killed Piney. After Clay leaves, Jax arrives to help Tara leave the hospital and he announces to his mother that they are both leaving Charming for good in a few days. This enrages Gemma, who berates Tara before they are told by Phil that Jax had to take off unexpectedly. Back in prison, Bobby is finally allowed to see Otto, who tells him that he gave him up because SAMCRO couldn't protect his wife.
Bobby is led away kicking and screaming before he is eventually locked up next to Juice. Unser catches up with Opie at the crematorium as Piney's body starts to burn. Unser tries to follow Gemma's orders, but Opie doesn't want to talk. Jax arrives and Unser steps outside as Jax and Opie pay their last respects to Piney. But when they get outside, Opie draws a gun on Jax and asks if he knew that Clay killed Piney. Jax denies it and tells Opie to bring the issue to the club. But Opie scoffs at that and shoots out the tire on Jax's cycle before speeding off. Jax is forced to commandeer the hearse and later a bike while pursuing Opie across town.
Clay hears Opie arrive at the clubhouse, but Opie manages to disarm him anyway. As Clay unconvincingly tries to tell Opie that he's been lied to, Jax arrives and begs Opie not to make him kill him. Opie ignores Jax and fires twice into Clay's chest, sending the older man slumping to the floor.
It feels like the entire fourth season of "Sons of Anarchy" has been building up to the death of Clay Morrow. And yet I can't shake the suspicion that Clay will survive his encounter with Opie. There are a few reasons for that. First, it would completely undercut the narrative of the entire series if Opie was the one to finally put Clay down. After all, would we still have fond memories of "Hamlet" if Horatio had suddenly killed Hamlet's Uncle out of left field in the final act?
I just hope that Kurt Sutter and company lose their nerve and allow Clay to remain on the show past the season finale. As it is, Gemma's turn back towards her husband seems suspiciously timed as the only way that Clay could have been warned about what was coming from Opie. Maybe Gemma is just trying to play both sides or shore up her future with her husband of twenty years. Either way, it seems like a major step back for her as a character after telling Unser that Clay had to die just two episodes ago.
One thing that is clear is that the writers for this series have set up an elaborate trap for Jax. With Bobby now imprisoned and Opie too unstable and unwilling to lead, Jax is the only viable leader to keep SAMCRO alive. Jax can still try to reject that, but since I doubt the fifth season is going to be about Jax and Tara embarking on a new life in Portland, it seems likely that he'll be sticking around in Charming whether he wants to or not.
At the same time, Lincoln's plan seems to be coming along without any major hitches. That's going to change eventually and I can't wait to see SAMCRO react to the news that both Juice and Big Otto have betrayed them. It seems like Kurt Sutter is perfectly willing to write his own character off of the show in as permanent a fashion as he can. Without Big Otto running favors on the inside, maybe Bobby will be used for that role next season. As for Juice, there's no way that this can end well for him. There was a very telling moment early in the episode when Roosevelt seemed very disappointed and concerned that Juice went through with the deal. Strange as it sounds, Roosevelt may actually care about what happens to Juice. So if by some miracle, Juice makes it out of this season alive, I expect that Roosevelt will play a big part in that.
The Irish black market baby operation felt like it was just marking time in this episode while more important events took place elsewhere. Regardless, this was another tremendously entertaining and intense episode. "Sons of Anarchy" has been on an incredible roll this season and I'm eager to see the events finally come to a head in the next two weeks.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.