This is what it looks like when things go from bad to worse, and a line is crossed.
There's just less than half of a season left, and already things are coming to a head. Up to this point, we've seen SAMCRO come under pressure from a few different places, and now they're finally crumbling. There's a lot of plot to digest in any given episode, which was true for this show more often than not, but this, things are particularly packed in.
Juice personally was under a lot of pressure, away from everything the club as a whole was stuck in, which is why he was left swinging away from a tree branch at the end of last week's episode. It turns out that those who heard a tree branch snap as the episode went to credits had sharp enough ears, as that's exactly what happened. He isn't able to give it a second try right away, as Chibs and Tig arrive at that moment to notify him about the big vote. He does head back out to the tree and chain later on though, but Chibs finds him and instantly puts it all together in his head. He's been directing some suspicious looks towards Juice lately, but now he knows exactly what's up, or at least why Juice would want to take such an action.
As for that vote, it never does get completed, since the clubhouse gets shot up by the members of Lobas Sontaras, the rival cartel to the Galindos. They manage to capture one (as he drops a duffel bag full of heads off at the doorstep) and interrogate him with the use of truth serum (provided by Luis). The information they get is that LS is getting their info from the Mayans, or at least individual members thereof. Alvarez denies any wrongdoing on his club's part, and Galindo basically recruits both MC's into their war against LS. Jax finally has to admit that the club's business with the cartel has gotten out of control, and that they never saw this kind of danger and violence coming. It has Tara rethinking her life. When another death threat turns up, this one at the hospital (most likely another fake dummied up by Unser), she wonders when this life will end. She wants to take the kids away from the war zone until Jax is able to get out cleanly. "It's just a matter of time before it hurts our kids...Sorry, I have to go. I have to get them out of here." Jax: "I thought I knew what we were getting into. We're in over our head." Simply hearing him say those words out loud is hugely stunning. He says it with great weariness and understanding. Jax is not an idiot, and he will of course be able to identify when things are turning south. The question is, will he be able to correct the course he and the club are on?
Piney isn't so sure. In the first of two consecutive excellent scenes, he and Jax have a major confrontation over the past and future of the club. Jax repeatedly says he's trying to distance himself from his father, while Piney just wants him to embrace the past even more. Jax yells that all he's thinking about now is what's in front of him. He all but admits that he's on his way out (it's about me doing what I gotta do today to keep myself alive tomorrow"). Piney responds by telling Jax how much he sounds like John Teller ("your father was the best man I ever knew. Before you let him die, you should find him, and know that for yourself."). It's a great argument scene that hashes out a lot of issues for both characters. It also encapsulates who Piney has been this season. When Clay comes calling at the end of the episode, Piney stands up to him, telling him that all he's done is line his pockets the entire time he was in charge of the club. He calls Clay greedy, and untrustworthy, unlike when he was first patched in. The two oldest soldiers of the club finally face off over the cartel business, but Clay eventually reveals what he's really there for: the John Teller letters (which Piney earlier told him he's going to deliver to the club if he doesn't pull out of the drug business). Of course, Piney doesn't have them, so Clay knows where to look next: Tara. "Leave her alone," Piney pleads. "Too late," Clay deadpans, before blasting him point blank with a shotgun.
Clay has just killed one of the First Nine, a founding member of the club. There is no turning back for him.
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch
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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch
As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well. You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.
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