[WARNING: The following story contains major spoilers from Tuesday's episode of Sons of Anarchy. Read at your own risk.]
"What went down today was us burying the last piece of a very broken past." — Jax Teller
Sons of Anarchy has long been known for late-season switcheroos that get the outlaw motorcycle club out of a tight jam. But Tuesday's episode took that strategy to another level.
Instead of waiting for the finale to reveal this season's master stroke, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) made sure that his plan to get SAMCRO out of the gun-running business sticks for good. After shoring up the details of his plan to deliver Gaalan (Timothy V. Murphy) and a bunch of the Irish Kings' assault weapons to D.A. Patterson (CCH Pounder), Jax & Co. prepared to help Connor (Scott Anderson) bust Clay (Ron Perlman) out of his prison transport as Gaalan requested.
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Although the breakout plan goes off mostly without a hitch — Bobby (Mark Boone Jr.) gets shot, which forces Juice (Theo Rossi) to run over a sheriff in order to make a getaway — it's quickly revealed that Jax's plan to give up Gaalan to the D.A. was all a ruse, perhaps to keep Patterson and the sheriff occupied during the jailbreak.
Instead, moments after Gaalan and Clay are reunited, Jax shoots Gaalan in the head while Tig (Kim Coates) and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) take out Gaalan's men. Shortly thereafter, Clay begins to realize that Jax and the club had also voted — unanimously — to finally take out Clay for his murderous misdeeds in Season 4. As a recently arrived Gemma (Katey Sagal) and Nero (Jimmy Smits) look on, Jax coldly shoots Clay in the throat and then pumps several rounds into his chest.
Just as Tara and Gemma express in the episode, Clay's death was probably overdue. Fans and critics alike seemed miffed that Clay escaped the Grim Reaper back in Season 4. But even though Clay's death has seemed inevitable at times, the show still managed to surprise by dropping it in to the season now, especially when it seemed Clay was primed to once again get some of his power back. Love him or hate him, Clay — and Ron Perlman — was a big part of what made the show work, and I'm sure his death will reverberate through the series' endgame.
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Once Connor arrives to the bloody scene, Jax explains the rest of his plan. Connor will report back to the Irish that Clay and Gaalan had a unknown beef that got out of hand. In the cover story, Clay took out Gaalan and his men while Jax and SAMCRO intervened to stop Clay. For his complicity in the lie, Connor will basically become the leader of the Irish's operation stateside, which will now run through August Marks (Billy Brown). Otherwise, the Irish will lose the gun trade in Northen California to the Chinese. Either way, SAMCRO is clear once and for all, just as Jax wanted, with the added benefit of taking out Clay and sending a strong message to the Irish.
But of course, Jax can't see all the angles. Once Patterson realizes that Jax won't deliver Gaalan as promised, she approaches Tara (Maggie Siff) and asks her to prove the club's involvement in breaking Clay out. Given that Tara was informed earlier in the episode by her lawyer that she can't proceed with her custody battle without jeopardizing her defense in her upcoming criminal trial, Tara seems ready to make a deal. Even better, Tara is on her way to pull a bullet of Bobby's arm, which she can use as evidence to link SAMCRO to the crime scene.
In the episode's final scene, however, Jax makes it hard on Tara. Despite her crazy fake miscarriage plot and all the damage it's caused to their relationship, Jax seems to still carry a flame for Tara. "I understand why you did everything you did," he tells her. "I'm sorry being with me took you to that place." But will it be enough to keep her from ratting out the club in hopes of escaping Charming with her boys, which has been her plan all along?
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And of course, another huge question remains: Will Jax's plan work? He may have finally provided a way out of the gun business, but he's basically squandered any chance to deal with the D.A. to escape the charges she wants to bring down on them for the school shooting. Even worse, now Patterson has a room full of dead bodies she could potentially hang on the club, especially if Tara, who was present when Clay was murdered, spills her guts. And who's to say that Connor will keep his end of the deal, or, even if he does, that the Irish will go along with it?
What did you think of the episode? Were you shocked by Clay's death? Do you think Tara will give up Jax and the club?
Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX. (Programming note: The show will be pre-empted next week for Thanksgiving. The final two episodes of Season 6 will air on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10.)