Sons of Anarchy recap: “Huang Wu”

I’m sitting here staring this Sons of Anarchy recap trying to think of any moments more tense than watching Tara (Maggie Siff) at the beginning of this episode walking around her house, unable to find baby Thomas, and fearing what has happened now that her husband, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) has come home. … Nope, can’t think of any right now. She eventually finds her husband and her sons in a scene that on a normal day would be quite serene, Jax holding his baby boy and watching his other son sleep peacefully. But now we don’t know what’s going to happen. How will Jax react after learning Tara is trying to divorce him take the kids away, and that she framed Gemma (Katey Sagal) for the attack that ended her pregnancy, which she faked?

He doesn’t say much. Simply hands over Thomas to his mother, and tells her that someone will be watching her from now on and that he needs to leave or else “someone’s gonna get hurt.” Who knows if he really means it? Or how much he means it anyway, because we know he means it at least a little.

Sons of Anarchy Huang Wu Katey Sagal Drea De Matteo FXWhile Tara may have escaped a huge confrontation in that instance, the rest of the episode is pretty much one big bout of misery after another. In addition to the trauma of being found out, she keeps being reminded over and over of how faulty her plan was from the start. Margaret Murphy (McNally Sagal) lets her know how she inadvertently spilled the beans to Gemma, and that she now has to leave because she fears for her life. Then there’s the bigger blunder, Wendy (Drea De Matteo) who is in the midst of a depressing relapse. It’s hard to call their encounter a fight, since it’s so one-sided. Tara lays into her with all the vitriol of their initial meetings way back when, but Wendy just sits there and takes it, partly because she knows what Tara is saying is true and that she deserves to be yelled at, but also because she’s simply too out of it to offer much resistance. The emotional centerpiece of the episode, though, is when Gemma pays a visit.

She relishes in Tara’s pain and what she interprets as utter defeat, and lays things out brutally clear for her. Abel and Thomas will not be raised by her, and the only choice she has now is to leave or be killed. Yeah, she came out and said that. It’s sickening to see how much of Gemma is enjoying this, how all the years of being threatened by Tara have built up all this rage that she suppressed and even at times convinced herself was actually love. But when it comes down to it, she shows no mercy, and doesn’t seem the least bit conflicted about it. Tara is visibly shaken, not because she minded Gemma so much, I believe, but because she actually starts to think Jax is capable of hurting her.

Tara fights back a bit in whatever ways she can. She marches out of her house and her talk with Gemma and proceeds to back over Juice’s (Theo Rossi) bike when she realizes her vehicle can make pretty short work of a motorcycle. After that, she drives up to Diosa where she finds Collette (Kim Dickens) and Jax in flagrante delicto, and for some reason rather than getting mad at Jax she lashes out at Collette, but I guess that’s consistent with how she’s dealt with Jax’s past hooker dalliances. Although she does call him a name and slap him a little. Jax chases after her and they have a strange, brief talk that ends with Tara wondering what the hell has happened to her life. Well, Tara, you went after the bad boy. She tells Jax to look what he’s turned her into, but she quickly realizes she’s also played a big part in what’s happened, and it’s obviously too much to handle.

The final insult to injury is when Tara goes to Patterson ready to play her final ace, flipping against SAMCRO. She will sell out the club in exchange for immunity and witness protection for her and the boys. But Patterson tells her circumstances have changed, and the deal is no longer viable. She’s left with truly no place to go.

Outside of Tara’s situation, the big news is with the Irish. And guns. And Clay (Ron Perlman). Galen (Timothy V. Murphy) strong-arms the club into securing their help later on for breaking Clay out of prison. But before this they have a meet with the Italians to discuss the new gun distribution network. Galen is showing off some of the weapons to the prospective buyer when the Chinese show up. A little ethnic tension, sure, but nothing horrible, right? Well, yeah, until Galen casually turns the guns at the Chinese and mows down a couple of them in cold blood.

Everybody knows right away that this is really bad … I mean, really, really bad, but from Galen’s perspective it works out well. He secures his new business deal and gets to feed his continual bloodlust in the process.

(BTW, anybody notice that Timothy V. Murphy in that Hyundai Walking Dead commercial? So strange to see him going all Rick Grimes.)

The fallout from the attack is felt quickly, as a large contingent of the Triad surround the Sons and get the drop on them. ** I know I’m using a fair amount of cliches in this recap, but bear with me, it’s late. ** They let Jax and Co. go, however, in exchange for him making arrangements for them to get vengeance on Galen … and the gun trade. Having not many options, Jax agrees, basically setting up a very interesting encounter with the Triads showing up to take out Galen while Patterson (CCH Pounder) will be there to arrest him. So yeah, we’ll see how that plays out. Adding to the tension is that the Chinese insist on taking one of the Sons as collateral, and that ends up being Happy (David LaBrava).

There is some other bits of character development, such as Nero (Jimmy Smits) and Unser (Dayton Callie) bonding a bit as they go check on Wendy, and in the process save her from dying in a fire at her apartment while she’s doped up. This is fine, and it’s good to see these guys get a scene or two together, but it does highlight what’s been one of the show’s weak links, and that is kinda sorta forgetting that they set Unser up as having terminal cancer. That was pretty much his defining characteristic for a season or two there, but then it all just pretty much went away. Every now and then they throw in a reference to it just to remind us, I guess, that the writers haven’t forgotten about it. There’s another one here, which makes a few now lately, so it leads one to believe this plot point will be returning big and bad pretty soon.

Photo: Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX