I always find it harder to deal with the episode of a show that comes after a shocking death, than the initial episode. Sons of Anarchy ended last week, and showed only a few moments after Opie died after he volunteered himself to be killed. That means that this week, after having a week to process it, we now see how it hits and has affected everyone. That was the basis of last night's story in addition to some pretty Gemma heavy stories and developments.
One thing that I liked about Opie's death and wake is that for the first time, in a long time, it really seemed to bring the club together. In fact, it made me realize that since Clay's deception and Jax's takeover, we really haven't seen a lot of the entire club working, or even being together. In fact, it feels like the club has (purposely??) been split in to two different crews. We have Jax mostly appearing with Chibbs, Tig, and Bobby (and previously Opie) and then Clay has taken Juice and the new members. Could this actually be leading to a split in SAMCRO? I certainly hope not, because I very much enjoyed seeing the club all together in last night's episode and hope that trend will stick around. However, it is going to eventually have to be found out that Clay and 'his boys' have been behind the home invasions, so I wonder and worry what will happen when that comes out and if this separation has been some sort of a set up for that to actually happen.
I also have to say that as sad as I was (and still am) about Opie's death, I thought Jax had a pretty interesting perspective about it when he said that he thought he might have been looking for a way out ever since Donna's death. I was so confused why Opie would have just volunteered himself, since he has two kids, but is true that nothing ever did make him happy after she died. Even his relationship with Layla deteriorated because she never was able to make him forget Donna. I'm not saying I am any more content with Opie's demise, but I felt a little more "at peace" with it after this episode. There also was another nice moment in regards to the club, with Layla and Jax, when he reminded her that the Sons are her family now and this, once again, reinforced that community vibe that has been so absent lately.
The rest of the episode really seemed to focus on Gemma and I don't know if I can necessarily say her deterioration, but it is beginning to show the repercussions of all of the manipulating and just general sense of being out of control that she has experienced lately and especially since her break up with Clay. In the first few seasons, Gemma was very much the rock of the club. She brought everyone together and played a very motherly, (albeit controlling mother), role in the member's lives. Even after she was raped and beaten, she held herself together and took care of others, more than she did herself. The most poignant moment might have been the one of her crying in the bathroom and asking herself "what's happening to us?" I thought that was an incredibly important, emotional moment, and really did serve to show that the club is kind of in a mess as a whole. I also appreciated the very sincere moment where she hugged Clay after finding out about OP's death. They might be at odds now, but they shared so much, for so long, I'm happy to see they are still aware of and acknowledging that.
Yet, there was only a very short period of time that Gemma lets her guard down, because moments later, she is beating someone up for the second time in a week. I get that Gemma "needed" to punish Carla for putting Jax in harms way, but I am perplexed by what the point was of bringing Tara in to the fight? Once again, it feels like this tired old battle between Gemma and Tara and no one ever wins…or progresses forward.
On the other hand, I wonder if this is the moment that Tara FINALLY grows some balls and starts to actually run the club, like a good First Old Lady should. We had some indication and were promised that at the end of last season, when she came in and stood by Jax, but ever since then she just smokes pot and complains about Wendy trying to see Abel. Perhaps, once you beat the shit out of a woman, you grow some balls and man up and become a real part of SAMCRO? All I can say, is god, I hope so.
Last night, we also saw the true purpose of Nero as he entered in to a porn/whore partnership with Jax (it's fun when you get to write porn/whore partnership at your job). I like to hear that Jax does have some sort of endgame for getting out of this drug/gun business, and if he does it with Nero, well, then I'm okay with that. However, I always get the sense that somewhere and somehow that Nero is not going to turn out as much of a "nice guy" as he appears. It all just seems to easy, and I wonder if he himself has some other endgame that he is using the Sons for, as it seems very convenient that he has managed to ingratiate himself in to the club fairly easily.
It still feels like SAMCRO and all of its members are on the precipice of some big change as they begin to work with both Pope and Nero, and it will be fascinating to see where it all ends up. I just hope it doesn't end with the club being broken up, because that might be the most heartbreaking change of them all.