“Sons of Anarchy” recap: “Authority Vested”

Jimmy Smits and Charlie Hunnam share a scene in FX's drama "Sons of Anarchy."

It’s hard to imagine topping the emotional peak from last week’s season premiere, when Tig saw his troubled daughter Dawn burned alive right in front of him. Never was there a more literal embodiment of the sins of the father being visited upon his child. This blood feud between Tig and Pope, two men who had never before met but were now responsible for killing each other’s daughters, made all that Jax and Clay business seem like a couple of pikers fighting over scraps.

So consider “Vested Authority” a bit of a breather, letting the audience calm down after enduring what was one of the series’ most brutal moments — and that’s saying something, right? — and even experiencing some unadulterated joy.

With Jax, Tig and Chibs having a warrant out on them, Sheriff Roosevelt comes to Opie to find out where they are. While he’s on the outs with the club, Opie stays mum. The guys are hiding out at Nero’s high-class brothel, with Jax wondering why the heck this new guy is helping out SAMCRO. “Networking,” is Nero’s satisfactory reply. But Jax has bigger concerns as he tries to figure out how to best handle the charges, which appear solid thanks to some of the best witnesses Pope’s money can buy. They decide to turn themselves in, but to talk to Romeo and his CIA goons to provide protection, in exchange for their RICO case not falling apart. Romeo eventually spits out an “I’ll see what we can do,” but after Jax walks away, he says he’s perfectly ready to pursue a Plan B. As soon as he thinks of one.

In more personal matters, the guys go in search of Tig’s other daughter, Faun, and find her at a house full of black guys. Now, I don’t mention this to make race a big deal, but when there’s a race war brewing between the main characters on the show, it is an important detail. Tig is not one for details, especially after what he’s been through lately, so when he hears his daughter screaming in pain and then being rammed from behind by a big guy with the wrong skin color, he freaks. He’s got his gun out about to shoot when Faun informs him that that’s her boyfriend. Yeah, not the best way to meet the girlfriend’s dad. Tig then has to tell Faun how much danger she’s in and what happened to her sister. This leads to yet another painful moment for Tig, as Faun starts hitting him and repeatedly screaming, “I hate you!”

Elsewhere, Clay decides to throw himself at Opie’s mercy — although he and just about everyone else know by this point that Opie isn’t much of a killer — and talks to him about what led to Piney’s death. Opie doesn’t want to hear it, though, and Clay quickly switches gears to tell him that Opie shouldn’t let his hatred of Clay keep him from the club. “I’m almost done. I’m half dead,” he says, looking unmistakably like Piney with the oxygen tubes helping him breathe.

Clay also darkens Gemma’s door, as they both head to their house after the break-in. He tries to explain himself, but Gemma isn’t having it, breaking him off with an icy “Don’t touch me.”

Jax takes a ride with Nero, and discovers that the former gangbanger has a son with spina bifida. The two fathers bond over stories about their sons, and Nero explains how he spent his 30s in prison before eventually seeing the light. They also get closer as Nero shows some spirit by losing some Niners that are tailing them. He leads them on a high-speed chase before playing a game of chicken that gets Jax a little uptight before the Niners bail.

If he was nervous during his ride with Nero, Jax had good reason to be. Amid all the chaos of the previous morning, he impulsively asked Tara to marry him. Well, he said, “Let’s get married” anyway, so I guess that’s not technically asking. And Tara technically never says yes, but they nevertheless make plans to get hitched later that day. It was supposed to be a complete secret, but Gemma stumbles upon the club’s lawyer dropping off the marriage license and confronts Tara. While she’s expecting a fight, Gemma instead comes with the rings she and John Teller wore for their wedding. No one could possibly know what Tara is going through at that moment more than she does, Gemma says. Hey, when she’s right she’s right. So America’s sweethearts do indeed get married in front of the most disinterested Justice of the Peace in TV history. At least Chibs steps in to say a few poetic words to help make it official.

As the clock is ticking for the trio to turn themselves in, Opie is obviously hatching a plan. He visits Lyla on set, where she’s acting in some kind of naughty nurses scenario with Ima, who in just a few seconds of screen time still manages to be delightfully bitchy. He asks her if she can take the kids for a while, because he’s going to be going away. She eventually agrees, then asks Opie if he ever loved her. His heartbreaking response: “I don’t know if I love anything.”

The next time we see Opie, he’s crashing the party as the law shows up to collect Jax, Tig and Chibs. Everyone is shocked when Opie all of a sudden clocks Roosevelt, making sure the paddy wagon has at least one more occupant. Sitting together on their way to jail, Opie and Jax seem to make peace with their new stations in life, as the future of the club. After seeing her son go to jail, Gemma seeks comfort in the only place she knows how now, the arms of Nero.

Stray observations

— Peter Weller returns to direct his third episode of Sons of Anarchy, having previously helmed two Season 4 episodes. Hey, whatever keeps him busy enough not to have to think about that upcoming Robocop remake.

— Unser has a great moment, explaining to an incredulous Roosevelt the difference between a “black” break-in and “white” break-in: White feels “sloppy, clumsy. The beatdown was obligatory. Not angry.” I’ll try to remember that.

Photo: Credit: Prashant Gupta