“Sons of Anarchy” recap: “To Thine Own Self”

After sitting out last week’s episode, Nero is back in something fierce this week. On what is supposed to a happy occasion — the opening of his high-class escort/porn operation with the Sons — he finds his old crew paying him a visit. And it’s not to congratulate him on a new venture. They don’t like the idea of their old compadre moving on to bigger and better things, and they want a little taste, in the form of some guns to help defend themselves in their neverending turf wars. Nero is dead-set against it, but Jax talks him into it, saying if they just sell them some guns, they can make a little profit and send these guys on their way.

Jimmy Smits as Nero in FX's "Sons of Anarchy"Sounds simple, but of course it doesn’t turn out that way. The meetup is set at an out-of-the-way access road, with Jax, Tig, Chibs and Happy showing up not on their bikes, but all packing into a big gas guzzler that Clark Griswald might have driven in the ’70s. Pretty funny visual. But things turn serious when the prospective buyers arrive in not one but two cars, and immediately start outflanking the Sons, obviously with bad intentions.

Here’s where I question the wisdom of picking a gunbattle with people who are there to sell you guns, you know, before you buy the guns. So the guys take off in the car, with an arsenal of automatic weapons to fight off their attackers. They take out a few of them, and then Jax takes them on a joyride off the side of the hill, even flipping the car over. Everybody survives, and instead of being scared or even mad, they all act as juiced up as if they had just gone bungee jumping. “Anyone dead?” Jax asks. When no one is — Happy even describes himself as feeling “rapturous” — they go whooping off into the hot California sun, filled with victory.

Maybe it was a nice release for Jax, as Tara’s pending legal trouble is weighing heavily on him. He explodes at the SAMCRO lawyer when she warns that Tara could be facing some serious jail time. The official story is that she volunteered to work at the prison infirmary after the shoddy care she saw Jax get there. Yeah, Tara doesn’t sound too convinced either. But she’s planning to accept the job offer from Providence, much to the delight of the lady in town to recruit her. But she doesn’t want Jax to know about it just yet. Probably would be best to start the new job before any accessory-to-murder indictment comes down.

For his part, Otto doesn’t fare too well in this episode, receiving a couple of visits from a random, pony-tailed stranger played by Donal Logue. The first visit just involves the guy walking into Otto’s holding cell and clubbing him for a while. The next time he sheds a little more light on the subject, saying that he’s not a cop, he’s just an ordinary citizen, and he thanks “Mr. Delaney” for helping him remember who he is, and his true purpose. He then promises Otto that the next few months will be the worst of his life, that he’s not going to get his wish of dying, not yet. There’s more suffering to be done. Near the end of the episode, the mysterious man follows Tara out of the hospital as she’s walking with her children. Anyone care to wager that this might be a friend of the nurse Otto killed?

FX has scheduled a conference call with Logue next week, so I’ll see what details he’s up for sharing.

But there’s other blood to be shed this episode, and in classic Sons of Anarchy fashion, it all stems from a misunderstanding. To explain it all requires a bit of backstory. Remember how Clay went to Romeo and the cartel to tell them he knew something was up, and that they then essentially confessed and told him he was free to stand aside as they took Jax out and put him back at the front of the table? Even though Clay had decided he wasn’t interested in that, Romeo has a different idea and tells him he has one more chance to try to convince Jax to keep the business open with the cartel. When that doesn’t work out, they arrange for Jax to get taken cartel-style as Bobby sits and watches helplessly. Although they just wanted to scare him and remind him of how easy it is to disappear, the club understandably panics and goes into crisis mode. Nero gets wind of it and assumes his old crew is responsible. So he breaks into a house where they’re staying, points a gun at them and asks them where Jax is. They deny knowing, but also question Nero’s manhood — again — and say he’s forgotten where he came from. Nero proceeds to gun nearly all of them down and not doing the best job of trying to look like he didn’t enjoy it.

Next time we see him, Nero shows up very distraught at Gemma’s house, only to find Clay answering the door. They almost get into it before Gemma steps in and takes Nero aside and tells him things are pretty complicated right now. Don’t go away, she says. But what she can’t know is how devastating it is for Nero to hear from her that Jax is all right, that it turns out it wasn’t his old crew who took him after all.

Bumps in the road aside, on the whole it’s a landmark episode for Jax, who is able to seemingly find a way out of being tied to the cartel, as well as getting the CIA off their backs. Even Clay is impressed as the club unanimously votes to hand the coke muling to the Mayans, and setting the Irish guns up through the Chinese, leaving the CIA happy and the Sons free to enjoy the fruits of their new legit enterprise they’ve set up with Nero. After all the chaos, it’s an amazing turn of events for everyone at that table, and they can barely contain their excitement. He even accepts Clay’s offer for a handshake afterward, even though they both know their conflict is far from settled.

To that end, Jax presses Gemma and Juice to get him what he needs now, those legal documents that will prove he put the Nomads in motion. Juice finds them, but Clay is able to move them before Jax can get his hands on them and move forward. Bobby urges Jax to let it go, to savor his victories that day and not let his hatred for Clay spoil it. That’s when Jax lets him know all about the papers, all about how Clay had Jax’s father killed and how he tried to have Tara killed.

Bobby heads over to Clay’s, prompting Clay to ask if the VP is there to kill him. Bobby says no. In fact, he’s there to keep him alive. How far will Bobby go to save his old friend? If and when it comes down to it, will he be able to stand by and watch Clay go down?

Photo: Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX