Ron Perlman Ron Perlman

The timing couldn't be better for this week's announcement by FX that the current — and best to date — season of Sons of Anarchy is being expanded by an extra episode (No. 14 will now air Dec. 6). It's a gift to fans and represents an even bigger thank-you to series creator Kurt Sutter, whose show has been racking up record ratings. With more conflict within and outside the motorcycle club this season, and SAMCRO no longer invincibly running the town of Charming (something I always found more pandering than credible), the tension has been building to a breaking point. Tonight, things break wide open.

The season's extra climactic hour will give Sutter some necessary breathing room to wrap up all the tangled elements of this explosive season — but it's hard to imagine the season finale topping tonight's harrowing and pivotal blockbuster (10/9c), which puts its central "old ladies," Katey Sagal as Gemma and Maggie Siff as Tara, through the wringer, emotionally and in some instances physically. The suspense is electric from the start, as Jax and Tara (and their young 'uns) embark on a road trip to Tara's medical conference, unaware that Clay has put a deadly hit in motion, defying Gemma's pleas on her daughter-in-law's behalf. The consequences and subsequent confrontations are blistering in impact and portend major dramatic fallout in the weeks to come. That extra hour FX is providing is a welcome but hardly unexpected vote of confidence for a season that truly deserves it.

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