“Sons of Anarchy” recap: “Small World”

Clay, you dirty bastard.

Kurt Sutter and Maggie Siff share a scene in "Small World," the latest episode of FX's "Sons of Anarchy"Been awhile since I’ve been able to say that. Feels kinda good, in a weird way that only Sons of Anarchy can produce. Yes, tonight we saw that Clay indeed has been playing possum, using that oxygen tube in his nose to great effect, making everyone think the old wolf had turned into a harmless cub. But he may be hatching his most horrible plan yet. More on that later.

After last week’s relatively lighthearted jaunt, we’re back in the dumps right away as Sheriff Roosevelt is in the hospital attending to his injured wife. Now, usually in TV when someone is shot in a not-immediately-fatal area — such as the stomach — if they make it as far as the hospital, as viewers we’re led to believe they’re going to pull through. But Mrs. Roosevelt isn’t so lucky. As Roosevelt and Unser are having a heart-to-heart, debating who is responsible for the home invasions, the doctor comes with a grim look on his face. Roosevelt’s wife has died.

“Riding through this world, all alone …”

But that’s just the start of the body count for this episode. Remember Carla, Nero’s ladyfriend who was last seen on the receiving end of Tara’s cast? She’s back and hiding out in Gemma’s house with a gun. Heckuva way to start the morning for Gemma, having a gun pointed at you by a woman you’ve horribly wronged. Carla leads Gemma into the bedroom, talking to someone on the phone on the way. Turns out it’s Nero, who she has come over and … well, that’s when it gets weird. She has them both strip naked and lie together in bed. Then she asks Gemma to, um, provide Nero with oral satisfaction. Obviously, they can’t quite perform under those conditions, so Nero gets fed up and dares Carla to shoot him. Instead, she turns the gun on herself, making a horrible mess on the floor. Later, as he and Gemma sit and wonder what to do, Nero reveals that Carla is actually his half-sister, and that she always had a thing for him and, oh, had stopped taking her meds. Gemma asserts herself, saying she’ll handle the removal of the body, no police, of course.

(Note: This all takes on an extra dimension of strangeness once you learn that Jimmy Smits and Wanda DeJesus, who plays Carla, are a real-life couple.)

Gemma tries to call Unser to come help clean up, but he won’t take her call, apparently sick of being her errand boy. She has to settle for Clay instead (Where’s Bachman when you need him!!!), and the two make nice while he’s helping her out, on his best behavior of course. He does use the occasion to invite himself over again later, you know, just to check up on her. She relents, knowing exactly what he’s up to. Later on, Nero walks in as Clay is tidying up and instead of the bleep storm you think might ensue, Clay calmly — one could even say respectfully — informs Nero that Carla has been cremated and asks Nero what’s going on with him and Gemma. Is there a future? Nero answers, perhaps unwisely, that he doesn’t know. From my safe vantage points, I can’t see how this experience would change things, but I suppose you can’t expect a guy to think clearly in that situation.

In other club business, Jax meets with Pope, who has a proposition for him that involves upping their coke haul in exchange for not having to give any kickbacks to Pope. Plus, he’ll up their pay. Jax is suspicious, of course, but takes the idea to the club, who pass it by the slimmest of margins. Clay leads the opposition, which is really funny when you think about it. Who got them in bed with the cartel to begin with? Jax sells it as a short-term fix while they come up with a long-term solution. Bobby warns Jax that this is splitting the club, a fact of which Jax is all too aware. Jax also has to sell the idea to his rivals, which he does in a rooftop meeting between himself, Alvarez representing the Mayans, as well as a Niner and a Triad. They all agree that it makes good business sense. This is SOA‘s version of the head of the Five Families, and it works wonderfully.

Tara is doing her own bit for the club, sneaking in to see Otto by volunteering at the prison. She tells Otto that the RICO case has stalled, and thusly so has his execution. SAMCRO needs him to recant his testimony, she says, and they’re willing to give him anything he wants. Otto then proceeds to say, “Anything?” then tells Tara to get on her knees. She refuses, saying, “I’m not going to do that.” His awesome reply, “Me either.” Leave it to Kurt Sutter to write all the good lines for himself.

At the hospital, Gemma bumps into Unser and asks him why he didn’t answer his phone earlier. He then proceeds to blow up at her, unleashing his rage that has built up over years of pining after her unsuccessfully. Then when she kissed him awhile back — might’ve helped to have that clip in the “previously on Sons of Anarchy” part, people — it was too much for him. He tells her off, big time, declaring that she has no friends, only “people who will do shit for you,” and that she’s going to die alone. Just like him. Does he still have cancer? I never can remember. Gemma is shaken and, surprise surprise, heads to a bar where she is hit upon by a charming stranger played by Joel McHale. It’ll be fun seeing where that goes, although I’m sorta fearing for Mr. McHale’s safety over the next couple episodes.

RELATED: Sons of Anarchy continues its streak of unlikely guest stars in Season 5.

So, there’s more death this episode, one we’ve been waiting for, like the bloodthirsty savages we are. Pope slips Jax the address of the sadistic prison guard that arranged Opie’s death. Perhaps a little bit of time would have mellowed Jax, eh? Uh, no. Turned him into hell’s personal avenger is more like it. He, Chibs, Tig and Bobby break into the guy’s house, only to be interrupted by his wife — who wasn’t supposed to be home. She’s wielding a shotgun and blasts away randomly, but ultimately, harmlessly. Moments later she’s casually executed by Tig in front of her husband. Jax doesn’t miss a beat, calling her “collateral damage” in the quest for vengeance for Opie’s murder. Is this Jax’s Michael Corleone moment?

He proceeds to prolong the proceedings, making the guard whine and say how sorry he is, begging for his life. He asks Tig to go fetch a pipe, but the best he can come up with is a snow globe that supposedly evokes Disney World. Jax makes a comment about it being a small world (after all), then turns the music on and bashes the guy’s head in. (Note: The actual tune of “It’s A Small World” never actually plays during this episode. Can’t imagine why Disney would have had trouble licensing that one out for this.)

Before episode’s end, we get a view of how Roosevelt is going to play his grief. That would be as a missile directed at destroying SAMCRO. He drives up on Jax, Chibs and Bobby on their bikes, yells at them to pull over and eventually steers Bobby off the road. They sort it all out, kinda, as Jax expresses his sympathies while Roosevelt says he blames the club for the home invasions, and his wife’s murder. He doesn’t seem quite ready to listen to Jax’s explanation that he wants the invasions to stop as much as anyone, that it hurts SAMCRO more than anyone else. Jax is sympathetic, but also chillingly says, “Don’t do this again.” Comes off a bit, “I like you, man. I sure hope I don’t have to kill you.”

Pope had planted a bug in Jax’s ear to maybe look inside the club for the source of the attacks. Unser seems to have come to the same conclusion, dancing around the topic in a thoroughly uncomfortable chat with Clay at the hospital. Sure enough, the episode ends with Clay walking forcefully into his place — no oxygen tube needed — and proceeding to knock out one of the Sons camped out there. It’s all new guys, whose names I haven’t bothered to learn yet. But Chuck Zito was there, which was cool. “You weren’t supposed to kill her!” he says, signaling that this season is about to go somewhere crazy, awful, intense … probably amazing.

Photo: Credit: Prashant Gupta

1 Comment

  1. I’ve been saying it since last season: Clay is not going to quietly sit by while Jax takes over. Clay sees Jax as a weak link and he thinks that the best way to do things is his way. The idea that Clay might be faking to be more ill than he really is doesn’t surprise me in the least. I’ve got my Hopper timers set each week so I can watch the show after I get home from work. The scene between Gemma and Unser was intense but needed to happen. Everything he said was the truth and it hurt Gemma in a way that really made her realize that she has pushed everyone away. My DISH co-worker pointed out that Unser also knew that the Sons were responsible for the home invasions but that he hadn’t quite worked out who was behind it just yet. I’m not surprised at all that it turns out to be Clay.

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