The brutal gang rape that Gemma (Katey Sagal) suffered in the Season 2 premiere of Sons of Anarchy caused plenty of pain — and it forged a bond between Gemma and would-be daughter-in-law Tara (Maggie Siff).
"They're really different on the surface, but in some ways they are cut of the same cloth," Siff tells TVGuide.com.
One thing they both have in common: their love for Gemma's son, Jax (Charlie Hunnam). Tara's involvement in Jax's life has led her back to the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of the SAMCRO motorcycle club, something that also brought her closer to Gemma.
See photos of Siff and the rest of the Sons of Anarchy cast
"Gemma has decided to help Tara figure out how to navigate the ropes," Siff says. "What's required is that you know what the code is, and Gemma is helping her with that."
Together, the two have uncovered what Siff (Mad Men, Nip/Tuck) calls Tara's "primal" side. Whether its midday target practice on a porn star's car or just turning a blind eye to the clubs less-than-upstanding ways, Siff says it's been a fun diversion.
"It's a side of her that not's totally unexplored," Siff says. "That aggression and those spontaneous acts of violence or destruction or jealousy or rage are impulses that Gemma has never sat on. She's never done the work of learning how to deal with all those twitchy, aggressive aspects of herself. And so she invites Tara to release her hold on those things in herself. And she does — because in this world, it's necessary for survival."
Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam promises a major Jax-Clay showdown
So far, Tara has only (hilariously) suffered a broken nose at the hands of a still jumpy Gemma. "It just shows the violence comes randomly and out of nowhere, and you're f----- if you're standing in the wrong place at the wrong time," Siff jokes.
But the 35-year-old actress says her injury is a significant reminder of how much Tara's life is changing. "It becomes a physical emblem of the fact that she's gotten back into this world. She can't hide it," Siff says.
Because she's become so involved in and accepting of Jax's lifestyle, Siff says the couple's relationship is stronger than ever. She points to the key Season 2 moment when Jax shares with Tara his father's manuscript as a sign of how much he trusts her.
Ratings: Sons of Anarchy rides high — and over the networks
"The book is the vision of the future — it's the thing that he's heading towards," Siff says. "The book becomes something to hold onto in our minds. The desire to be honest is actually stronger than the ability to be honest a lot of the time. It's a big gesture and a huge step toward honesty when they're living in a world where everyone keeps secrets."
But Tara's secret — her knowledge of Gemma's rape and her willingness to keep it quiet at Gemma's request — is a ticking time bomb. When that bomb goes off, however, Siff says the consequences for her character are minimal.
"The revelation of what happened to Gemma is so big in and of itself that it's kind of distracting from everything else around it," Siff says. "There isn't a ton of blowback. It's something that's dealt with, but at the end of the day it's pretty easy to understand why Tara's kept that secret."
But that doesn't mean Tara — or anyone, really — is safe. In Tuesday's episode, somebody very close the club will die, and he or she probably won't be the last.
"Things get pretty dangerous for everybody associated with the club. No one is safe," Siff says. "The last few episodes really unfold in a pretty bloody and brutal, harrowing way. There end up being a lot of casualties. You don't know where it's going to come from or how bad it's going to be when it does happen. But you know something's going to happen."
Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.