By Stacey Harrison
The Sons are still reeling from the vicious murder of Luann, and — not surprisingly — failing to turn their energies into positive action. Instead, Clay seizes the opportunity to denounce the club’s involvement in the porn biz, saying their gunrunning business can get back on track with the Chinese. This maneuver has the added bonus of pissing off Jax. Never mind that the ultimate source of the guns is Hamas. Jeez.
Jax has other problems, though, after delivering the bad news to Otto in prison. Otto’s basically blind, but still is mad enough about Jax provoking Georgie that he tells him to bugger off. Georgie and his crew have split, off to Thailand on a “buying trip,” so retaliation will have to wait.
Clay goes ahead with his order to shut down the porn biz after word comes down that several of Luann’s girls, including Ima, were busted for prostitution while seemingly working on contract to Darby. Jax confronts Clay in front of the gang, and just when you think it can’t get any uglier between the two of them, Jax comes out with the line, “You are really going to stand there and lay the guilt of a dead wife on me?” Remembering Clay’s promise to kill Jax if he ever mentioned Donna again, Jax gives Clay a gun and spreads his arm, daring him to shoot. He doesn’t, but he does go so far as to pick up the gun.
Everyone goes off on separate missions, Jax joining Tig, Bobby and Opie on a trip to the Oakland ‘burbs to intimidate a judge for the Chinese, while Clay takes a hot tip from Hale (via Zobelle) to close down Darby’s meth labs. Clay informs Darby that Zobelle has sold him out, then blows up the lab, while the judge proves a bit more difficult to manage. Their plan was to use the guy’s college-age son to threaten him, but it turns out the kid is a junkie and the straight-as-nails judge wouldn’t be sad to see him go. He even calls Opie on his bluff that he’ll kill him, leading to the most intense sequence of the season, with Opie going to the edge, yelling at the judge, shooting the kid’s toe, putting the barrel in his mouth and yelling, “This is how you protect your family!” He doesn’t kill the kid, but he does have to excuse himself, and it’s to the actors’ credit that you actually start to feel sorry for the masked home invaders. Eventually they find a way to break the judge, not with someone who’s alive, but with the memory of his dead wife. They threaten to trash the wife’s room and burn her letters if he doesn’t throw out an immigration case.
Darby runs to Zobelle to complain about being sold out, and ends up joining Weston on a trip to the Sons’ porn studio to burn it. Chuckie’s in there, and he tries to call someone, but that’s kinda tricky with just two fingers. Darby is double-crossed yet again and presumably left to burn with the rest of the building.
The next day, when Jax finds out about it, he mistakenly believes it was Clay’s doing — the old man’s way of circumventing a vote to close down the porn operation. He resolves to quit the chapter and go Nomad. Is he just puffing his chest, or are we in for a strange detour?
— Bobby’s talents go beyond bookkeeping and Elvis impersonating. He bakes a nice loaf of banana bread for everyone to enjoy. If only they weren’t so mad all the time. Bobby’s other big line: “I was tappin’ Luann.”
— We get reminded of Unser’s illness after a dizzy spell, and the revelation to Gemma that his wife hasn’t been living with him the past three months.
— It’s strange hearing Hale say the p word when referring to the prostitution trade. Chalk this up to Taylor Sheridan’s stellar portrayal as a boy scout sheriff’s deputy. Did you know the guy’s also a well-respected acting coach?
— Charlie Hunnam’s British accent seemed to slip through a bit in this episode. Anyone else notice?
— Opie’s kind of a dope, but I am intrigued with his relationship with Lila. Yes, they seem destined to crash and burn, but it’s interesting to see him with a woman who is just involved in the underbelly of life as he is. By the end of this episode, he has jumped into their relationship with both feet.
— It was nice to see Henry Rollins unleash a little badassery with his dispatching of Darby. The man’s been a coil wrapped too tight all season, so it was just inevitable we’d get to see that sneer put to good use.
— Gemma has an all-too-literal come to Jesus moment while dropping Unser off at church. She’s intrigued by a strange woman outside the church, following her in, only to get enraptured in the high-flying gospel singing going on. She starts to cry and you have to think she’s about to tell Clay and everyone else about the attack. Ought to be good.
— The title of the episode, “Fa Guan,” is Chinese for “the judge,” according to series creator Kurt Sutter.
Next week’s episode is 90 minutes. Can’t wait.