Episode Title: "To Be… Part 1"
Writers: Kurt Sutter & Chris Collins
Director: Kurt Sutter
Previously on "Sons of Anarchy":
In the SAMCRO club house, Opie (Ryan Hurst) fires two bullets into Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) to avenge his dead father and wife, but Clay survives. And as Opie goes for the kill shot, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) shoots Opie's hand to save Clay. Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) arrives moments later as Clay gasps in pain. Jax orders Unser and one of the prospects to help him move Clay and clean up the blood. They also fabricate a story about two black shooters hitting Clay instead of Opie. Before the cops and the paramedics arrive, Jax drives the injured Opie away.
Jax promises his friend that he will find out if Clay murdered Piney, but Opie scoffs at Jax's promises. In the hospital, doctors operate on Clay while Unser feeds Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) the fake story. Of the assembled SAMCRO members, Tig (Kim Coates) takes Clay's shooting particularly hard because he didn't back Clay up when he asked for it. Back at his home, Jax washes the blood off of himself before he tells Tara what happened to Clay. Regardless, Jax reiterates his desire to leave town with her and their children. Tara icily asks him if he loves her and Jax says that he does. When Jax asks the same question, Tara replies that she would stop loving him if she could.
As the Sons regroup at the hospital, they realize that Bobby Muson (Mark Boone Junior) and Jean Carlos "Juice" Ortiz (Theo Rossi) are also MIA. The club assumes that the Niners are responsible for Clay's shooting and they aren't the only ones. Meanwhile, Tig is out in Oakland stalking the Niners' leader, Laroy (Tory Kittles). At Jax's home, Gemma finds Tara packing and getting ready to leave town. Gemma reveals that Opie shot Clay and that Clay was behind the attempt on Tara's life that badly damaged her hand. Gemma urges Tara to give her the letters from John Teller as protection against Clay.
Tara tells Gemma where the letters are hidden and then asks if she loves her. Gemma flatly says that she does. In prison, Jax meets with Lenny the Pimp (Sonny Barger), who suddenly has visitation rights again. Lenny tells Jax that Big Otto Delaney (Kurt Sutter) must have cut a deal to turn rat, with Lenny's restored privileges as part of the package. Back in Oakland, Tig watches Laroy sitting with his girlfriend at an outdoor cafe. Losing patience, Tig guns his car for them as people dive out of the way. Laroy escapes relatively uninjured, but his girl is killed after being thrown through a window.
Back in Charming, Gemma obtains the letters and holds one back for herself. In Oakland, Tig ditches the car for his bike, but Laroy and his Niners are gaining on him. During a meeting with the Galindos cartel, Jax warns Romeo (Danny Trejo) that Otto may have flipped on them. Romeo says that he will look into it. Jax then fields an emergency call from Tig, who has several Niners following him back to Charming. Jax and the rest of the available SAMCRO members ride out to meet them and they successfully kill one of Laroy's drivers and keep the Niners from getting any closer.
Back at the Teller-Morrow compound, Jax berates Tig for starting a war, but Tig clearly doesn't care. Happy (David LaBrava) also chimes in that Laroy has to die for shooting Clay. Tig visits Clay in the hospital and pours his heart out to the unconscious man. Gemma arrives and offers some comfort for Tig. But for Clay, she has only a single "Sorry." Gemma then finds Jax at the clubhouse where she confirms that Clay shot and killed Piney. Then Gemma gives Jax the letters from John Teller and claims that Clay betrayed the family and the club by having JT killed, by murdering Piney and putting the hit out on Tara.
Gemma urges Jax to kill Clay and assume his rightful place as the new President of SAMCRO. Gemma goes outside while Jax reads the letters. Tara arrives and to Gemma's surprise, Tara says that she knew that Gemma would give the letters to Jax because she's smarter than Gemma. When Jax staggers out, he tells Tara that he has to kill Clay. Tara not only says that she knows, she pulls out a syringe of blood thinner and says to use it to make Clay's death appear to be accidental. And when Clay is dead, Tara wants Jax to take her and their children away from "this poisonous town."
Stunned, Gemma can only ask what Tara is doing. In response, Tara says that she is only doing what Gemma taught her and that Jax is hers. Jax fields a call from Romeo assuring him that Big Otto hasn't talked. And so he gets ready to fill in for Clay in the big Irish and Galindos meeting while the trap set by Assistant U.S. District Attorney Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon) finally enters its endgame.
In "Sons of Anarchy," if even Tara wants you dead then you have seriously f***ed up. Clay's wild plan to cash out of SAMCRO with enough money to retire has long since failed. And everything that he did, from forcing the drug deal with the Galindos, to killing Piney and setting up Tara has only tightened the noose around his neck.
I think I understand Gemma's flipflop last week regarding her renewed affection for Clay. It's not that she still loves the man who brutally beat her. Instead Gemma is desperately trying to hold on to her power as well. If Clay hadn't been shot by Opie and and Gemma had been able to suppress the other secrets, she could have lived on comfortably alongside Clay. When that seemed less likely, Gemma turned in the other direction and finally set Jax on the road towards murdering his step-father. And Gemma did this while insisting that Jax remain with SAMCRO as the new President; which would ensure her own comfort and future.
Unfortunately for Gemma, Tara has proven to be a fairly adept student in the art of manipulating Jax. Tara isn't the next version of Gemma, but recent events have clearly given Tara a ruthless streak of her own. Tara's "do you love me?" inquiries to Jax and Gemma weren't feeble requests for reassurance. I think they were Tara's way of making sure where she stood with both of them and how much that would allow her to maneuver around their respective agendas. For the record, I think that both Jax and Gemma love Tara. But it sure seems like Tara's feelings towards them have cooled considerably.
The look on Jax's face was darkly hilarious when he realized that Tara was giving him the means and the permission to kill Clay. Tara isn't an idiot, she had to have known that Jax has killed before. But this was Tara's tacit approval for one last murder before supposedly putting it all behind them. No matter how hard Tara may deny it, she's well suited to being a SAMCRO old lady now.
Tig's reaction to Clay's injuries was also interesting after the way he rejected Clay's failed leadership in the last two episodes. Tig obviously has a lot of brotherly love for Clay and his rash actions in this episode are bound to start a new conflict with the Niners. Although, I have to wonder what the point was about trying to elude the Niners on the freeway. Laroy had to have recognized that SAMCRO was responsible for the death of his girlfriend and its not exactly a secret where SAMCRO calls home. Regardless, the freeway chase and shootout were both great action sequences.
So far, "Sons of Anarchy" hasn't stumbled with its current storyline. And if the second part of the finale lives up to the 13 episodes that proceeded it, then Kurt Sutter and company may have just finished one of the most epic seasons of television in recent memory.
Crave Online Rating: 9.5 out of 10.