By Stacey Harrison
Ah, it’s been awhile, SAMCRO. Nice to catch back up with you after the hell on wheels that was Season 1. Jax looked to be headed for war with the club after its botched attempt on Opie’s life — instead they accidentally killed his innocent wife, Donna, leaving two kids without a mom and Opie with a thirst for vengeance. They’re trying to sell the story that it was a rival gang (black, Hispanic, take your pick) that did the deed, but Jax knows better. He stays quiet, though, gritting his teeth as Clay and Tig deflect Opie’s rage in a different direction.
Internal problems aren’t the only kind that plague the club. Despite the ATF case against them losing steam, there’s still plenty of heat surrounding the Sons, enough so that their gun-running business is taking a hit. They make arrangements to keep it going, albeit with a lower profile. There’s also the little matter of the proprietors of a new cigar shop in town. In addition to selling stogies, they’re also big into white supremacy — er, separatism. The League of American Nationalists want to stop the selling of guns among scumbags, so their interests conflict with those of the Sons. Adam Arkin plays Ethan Zobelle, the smooth-talking, steely eyed leader of the group, and rocker Henry Rollins is interestingly cast as A.J., his muscle.
The separatists are having a nice dinner with a local real estate developer, who just happens to be big brother to Deputy Hale. Hale joins their little tete-a-tete, not aware he’s sitting with some neo-Nazi-types. When he finds out, he storms off in a self-righteous huff. Nevertheless, the League says they are at his disposal.
Opie is understandably mopey as a new widower. He’s avoiding his kids and spending time keeping busy fixing bikes and plotting revenge. Clay concocts a scheme to pin Donna’s death on a rival Mayan gang member that they’ve pegged for easy pickings. Opie insists on doing the killing himself and having Jax there. It all goes very swimmingly, until Opie decides to carve the club’s initials into the guy’s chest, making sure the Mayans know it’s the Sons of Anarchy who did it. When Jax disposes of the body, he alters the remains, removing the symbol and making it look like the Niners did it. How? By slicing off one of his fingers, leaving him with only nine.
The League pays a visit to SAMCRO on its own turf. Very bold indeed, but it’s nothing compared to what comes later. Ethan and Clay exchange some hard words, and Tig pulls a gun, but it’s basically a pissing contest. It’s established, though, new enemies have been made.
Tara decides she needs to make a move in her relationship with Jax if it’s going to last. After talking with Gemma about how this all works, the grand dame has some advice for her: Don’t keep any secrets. Have him tell you everything, even the blood and guts stuff. So she tries the anti-Carmela Soprano route that night after Jax gets back from offing the Mayan and disposing of the body. She seems relatively OK with it. Not sure why, really. This story line, frankly, makes me nervous. I’m not really rooting for them as a couple, even though the show seems to be wanting to take us that way. How can this be good for either of them? For her to leave Charming, then come back and resume her destructive lifestyle after making something of herself, she’s got to have serious problems. Someone who makes those decisions is not really worth rooting for. Time will tell, eh?
The most horrific part, however, comes later as Gemma is driving home and stops to help a frantic mother who says her baby isn’t breathing. It’s a trap, though, and Gemma wakes up tied to a fence. A group of masked men from the League are around her and they proceed to assault her. Let’s not use euphemisms. They gang rape her. When they finally let her go, it’s with the message that she tell Clay to stop dealing guns, or else they find her and they do this again.
It sets up an intense season to come. What will Gemma do? And what will Clay do when he finds out?
BTW, the episode’s title means to make white. Clever.
Photo: Prashant Gupta / FX