Sons Of Anarchy

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Tuesday's episode of Sons of Anarchy. Read at your own risk.]

Sons of Anarchy's Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) has always been a "take action now, ask questions later" kind of guy.

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And so he remained in Tuesday's episode, when founding SAMCRO member Piney (William Lucking) threatened to reveal the letters that implicated Clay in John Teller's murder if Clay didn't get the club out of running cocaine for the Galindo Cartel. But as rival cartel Lobo Sonora rained bullets down on the SAMCRO clubhouse, Clay put a couple of bullets into Piney to keep him quiet.

Perlman tells TVGuide.com that Clay had no other choice. "Clay is the president," he says. "What he says ultimately goes. ... If some guy tells me I'm taking you out, how does he expect me to let him live? He's got to know that there's going to be some pushback.

"Is Clay happy that Piney has put him in this situation? No," Perlman continues. "These are two guys who have a real history together, but they parted ways philosophically long ago. And it just gets to the point of: Clay can't afford to have him around. He's backed into a corner, and he's at his most dangerous. You back a big cat into a corner and somebody is going to get bloody."

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Even though Clay took measures to hang the murder on the Lobo Sonora Cartel, how long will be able to avoid suspicion? Given that both Unser (Dayton Callie) and Tara (Maggie Siff) have both read the same letters that Piney did, it's almost certain that more death is ahead. In fact, Clay has already ordered the cartel to take out Tara, the future bride and mother of his stepson Jax's (Charlie Hunnam) child.

So, how far will Clay take this thing? "He's thinking that Jax can't find out that Clay killed his father," Perlman says. "Clay absolutely knows once that information is out, all bets are off. He loses creditability. He loses respect. He loses any ability that he has to lead [the club] and he cannot afford for that to take place. The amount of things that he's willing to sacrifice in order to avoid that reality is what we're seeing play out throughout the season."

Although Perlman admits he has been shocked by his character's evolution this season, he doesn't want to simply make him a super villain. "I am trying to show that he's a guy who feels the weight of these things," he says. "But he has this other gear, where he's able to feel it and then say, 'I can't afford to wallow in this emotion right now because there's too much at stake.' Great leaders all do that. I think Clay considers himself to be a great leader.

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"I love trying to find deep in my soul where the justifications for these horrific actions are," Perlman continues. "Because only in that way will the audience know whose side to take. It's not just black and white. There's a sinew behind it and blood and sweat and DNA. ... I think that if we did our job right, the audience will say, 'Holy s--- man, I'm not sure this guy had any choice.'"

And even though Clay doesn't like to dwell on the consequences of his actions, there's one unavoidable question: How does Clay find himself still breathing at the end of the season?

"We don't know whether he gets out of it alive," Perlman says. "He's got a lot of people gunning for him, and every one of them is a badass. This stuff is not going to be suppressed for very long and it comes out like a poison. ... The train has left the station. It's gathering a speed, and it's going to crash and burn at the very end of the season."

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So much so that series creator and executive producer Kurt Sutter says the Season 4 finale may feel like a series-ender. (Fear not: FX renewed the show for a fifth season last week.) Perlman agrees with Sutter's assessment.

"I'm actually blown away by the fact that we are in Season 4 and we're doing s--- that I only imagined would be dealt with when we were winding everything up," Perlman says. "I can't believe that [Sutter] has the chutzpah to deal with this now and feels that's there plenty of room to top this. He's reshuffling the deck and changing the dynamic of everything. We have the best of all possible worlds here: We have something incredibly climatic, and then we have room for the reinvention of the saga."

Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX. What do you think of Clay's latest actions?