In a preseason EW.com poll, 76 percent of readers expected Bobby to survive the final ride—which made him the member of SAMCRO voted most likely to live. Perhaps that explains why in a poll in our recap of the previous episode, 39 percent of readers still expected Jax to save him. Is that faith in the club president, or in the club’s conscience getting the fate he deserved? The moment Kurt Sutter told EW that he believed just two club members would die this season, you had to know one of them would really hurt. Since Bobby and Chibs are closest to Jax, my money was on one of them. Sutter also told EW that a core cast member would die in episode 9 or 10—and that it wouldn’t be Juice. Even if you were in the majority and guessed it’d be Bobby after he lost an eye and the fingers on his clutch hand, the way it happened probably made you gasp and/or yell at your TV. We’ll take that to a vote later. Let’s dig in. (Update: Read our postmortems with Mark Boone Junior, Annabeth Gish, Billy Brown, and director Peter Weller.)
The opening: Sutter always says he uses songs in opening and closing montages to enhance the storytelling, so not using music this episode must also be purposeful. Even in the darkest of times, music has a soothing effect: Not playing any at the start of this episode keeps the mood raw, real, and depressing. Sleepless Jax lies in bed with Abel while Wendy fetches Thomas. Gemma smokes and fidgets waiting for Nero to rise. Juice is transported to Stockton while bloodied Bobby rests on the floor of his cell. Abel is reminded to say “no thank you” when he doesn’t want breakfast. The silence makes it all feel so mundane, which at this point you need: These characters are feeling as empty as Gemma’s birdcage, and the audience need moments to really relate to them before they go off and again do things that most of us never would.
Jax wants everyone to head up to the cabin, and Wendy balks: Falling behind at school adds to Abel’s frustration, she says. Gemma, as always, insists Abel will be fine, and Jax doesn’t think a 5-year-old should be frustrated. Wendy and Gemma tell Abel he’s not going to school because Jax wants Abel with him, but Abel assumes it’s because someone else has died. Smart kid. Nero overhears Gemma tell Wendy that if she wants to help Jax’s boy, she has to do it Jax’s way. Is it wrong to want Abel to do something fairly heinous so that Gemma and Jax finally see the damage they’re causing? You get the feeling that Nero is going to school them both sooner or later on what it really means to be a caring parent (and it will be a great scene for Jimmy Smits).
Grant on the run: At the cabin, Jax explains to Grant, the son of the pastor’s junkie widow, that August took Bobby, so they have to change their plan: They need to show August the compromising video footage of the pantyhose preacher to make him believe he’s getting leverage to silence the mother and son. Everyone, including Grant, is catching on to the fact that when Jax says, “trust me,” another bad thing happens. Grant goes to the SUV to get the phone, and Tyler and his guys make their entrance. “You guys have gone full redneck,” Tyler observes, looking around at the mounted animal heads. “We used to have a couple of black heads on the wall, but we took ‘em down, you know, out of respect,” Tig jokes. You find humor where you can, guys. Jax asks Tyler to get him a meeting with Moses or Marks. Jax’s colorful description of the video is interrupted by Montez running in to say Grant hit him with a tire iron and took off.
The chase scene gives us another chance to hear those bike engines. Grant wrecks Happy and tries to take out Jax before Tig fires a warning shot through the driver’s side window and gets him to pull over. Grant can’t just sit back and watch Jax get him and his mother killed—he wanted to offer himself to Marks. Jax says the club will end this. Happy takes a swing at Grant to get right with him. Chibs finds the phone.
Gemma’s duty: As Gemma leaves her house for the cabin, Unser stops by to tell her about Juice’s deal. He’s giving her the heads-up that Jarry and the DA will press her to corroborate his story and ID Chris Dun. Gemma’s reluctant until Rat, who’d been eavesdropping, essentially confirms Unser is right: Jax is calling the shots and needs her to do this because they’re setting up Juice to take out Lin. Brooke interrupts this time, and Rat tells her to go back to the kids’ room—he’ll tell her when to come out. You want to reach through the screen to slap him, but Gemma’s got it covered (with words, not a hand): “Don’t buy into the myth [that] to wear the patch, you gotta treat women like s—,” she says. “ ‘Cause when it comes to finding a good old lady, you don’t get what you want, Rat, you get what you are. Don’t be a dick.” With that, she tells Nero she has to make a stop to talk to our “Scot-suckin’ sheriff.”
At Jarry’s office, Gemma looks through a book of mostly jailed or dead Asian thugs. Jarry has a photo of Chris Dun she hands her, and Gemma makes the ID. Jarry asks the logical question: How does Juice know anything about Tara and Eli’s murder if Gemma didn’t share her eye-witness account with him? Gemma says she’ll have to talk to Juice for that answer. Eventually, Gemma shuts the door and the two get into each other’s faces. “Seriously, you’re gonna break out the Dirty Harriet routine? You can’t play both sides, sweetheart. You’re on the club’s dime and Chibs’ dick,” Gemma says. T-shirt worthy! Jarry slaps Gemma hard, and Gemma pushes her down to the floor backward over her desk. The best part is seeing Nero through the blinds throw his hands up. He and Gemma make eye contact and she just shrugs. The scene ends with Jarry threatening to throw Gemma’s “white trash ass” in jail if she ever lays hands on her again. “Well, I guess you’ll have to,” Gemma says, “ ‘cause if you ever slap me again, I’ll shoot you in the throat.” Jarry clears her desk Will Gardner-style, and Nero walks Gemma out: “Glad that went well,” he says. “Yeah, I’m helper,” she deadpans.
NEXT: The first meeting with Marks