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October 7, 2015

'Sons of Anarchy' Season 4, Episode 6 Recap

by Maureen Ryan, posted Oct 12th 2011 10:00AM
['Sons of Anarchy' - 'With an X']

Wow, there was a lot going on in this episode. Early in 'With an X,' we had a porn star pulling a gun on some bikers' old ladies, and it only got crazier from there.

Ima didn't die in the episode, even though, toward the end of the episode, I half thought she might. Sadly, we did have to say goodbye to a member of the SAMCRO crew -- and not the one I was expecting.

You'd think, given how many mystery novels I read, I would have been wise to the misdirect ran through this episode, but I wasn't, and I'm fine with that.

I was expecting either Filthy Phil or Rat to die over the missing coke (and I didn't rule out the idea that both might bite the dust). So Miles' death came as a shock, and another confirmation of how deep the betrayals cut this season -- which isn't even half over.

Now Juice literally has Miles' blood on his hands (and face), and has to live with the fact that he's not only feeding intel to the authorities, he's also lied to the rest of the club about who stole the coke. Poor Miles is posthumously stripped of his patch and buried in an unmarked grave, all so that Lincoln Potter can find out which cartel the club is working for. Despite Miles taking the blame for the theft, Juice's problems are far from over, given that Roosevelt and Potter will surely want more information from him, and Chibs clearly suspects that something isn't quite right with Juice.

It was a generally suspenseful hour, with the question of what Juice was going to do about the missing coke hanging over it. Still, making the terrified prospects play Russian roulette only took up so much time, and there were several other subplots of varying intensity. Let's take them one by one:

* Tig's daughter, Dawn/Margaux turned up to con daddy out of some cash. Though I'll never say no to more screen time for Kim Coates, this encounter seemed to be more about setting up a return visit and further complications on the Tig family front. At least I'm guessing that's the case.

* Lyla found out about Opie's betrayal with Ima. I wish the show had been able to spend a little more time on this, because Winter Ave Zoli and Ryan Hurst are very good together and their rooftop scene, despite its brevity, had real power. It was romantic when these hurt, broken kids got together, and it's equally painful now that they both feel utterly betrayed. All the cards are on the table now: Opie knows that Lyla had an abortion (and I'm glad the show didn't drag out the process of Opie finding out about that) and Lyla knows that he cheated on her in a manner designed to hurt her grievously. Whether their marriage can survive is very much an open question, but I think Ima is fairly clear on the fact that she's no longer welcome at the SOA clubhouse.

* There's a plot afoot to kill Tara. Say what? I have to say that, for me, this element of the season strikes me as somewhat rickety. To review: Letters from John Teller have surfaced, and they've indicated that Clay made two attempts on J.T.'s life and that he feared that a third attempt would be successful. He wrote in the letters that he planned to get the club out of the gun-running business and that he suspected Clay and Gemma of having an affair. Tara also found a police report on J.T.'s death and talked to Piney about what went down back in the day.

Of course, Clay has confirmed that he did arrange J.T.'s death, but, in terms of evidence that would be considered by others, I'm not sure any of the above would convict Clay of murder in a court of law. Of course, in this case, the most important judge and jury would be the rest of the club, and here's my question for you: Do you think, based on the letters and Piney's recollections, that the rest of the club would be absolutely sure that Clay was guilty of murdering J.T.? Do you think that the club and Jax would be OK with taking out both Clay and Unser over those allegations? And do you think that Clay killing Tara is the ideal way out of this problem? I guess I waver a bit on the first two questions, and I am even more unsure when it comes to the third.

Clay, Gemma and Unser know Tara has these damaging letters, but Tara hasn't done anything with them. Certainly Tara knows how dangerous it would be to make allegations against Clay and Gemma, so she has kept quiet. Why do they think Tara will come forward with these accusations? Why not just move heaven and earth to get back the missives to Maureen, perhaps using some of the drug money to have Unser and some additional muscle to follow Tara around and locate the letters?

I guess I'm having a bit of trouble buying into the idea that Clay would have the cartel murder Jax's old lady. That's a big step to take, and though we've seen Clay do a lot of very bad stuff this season, the plan he cooked up with Romeo is clearly the worst. And he's doing it all just to hang on to the presidency a little longer -- a presidency he wants to give up as soon as it's feasible. Tara is a lot to sacrifice just to hang on to the job just a little longer, and I guess I feel like the reasoning to take her out should be watertight.

It's not as though the letters subplot is proving to be a huge problem for me this season, it's just something I think is not quite as solid as everything else. But it might just be me; I can actually see how it might strike others as fairly credible within the 'SOA' universe. Maybe my problem is that I still want to like Clay and, on some level, there's a big part of me that still wants to root for him. I certainly can't root for what he's planning now.

In any event, I find it truly tragic that Clay has drawn Unser into this mess. All Unser has ever wanted to do is back Clay and the club, and he's reduced to leaving nasty anonymous notes in the car of an innocent woman. Poor Unser. Well, at least, unlike Miles, he's not in an unmarked grave quite yet.

A few final notes and favorite lines:

* Update: Alan Sepinwall indicated in his review that he thinks Unser is trying to undermine Clay's plan to off Tara. I guess I read Unser's actions as being part of Clay's plan -- possibly part of an effort to throw the authorities off the scent of the cartel and indicate that some random crazy person wanted Tara dead. But Alan is of the opinion that Unser is trying to thwart Clay's plan, and I think that interpretation makes sense. I'd rather think of Unser as trying to prevent this awful action than meekly going along with it. Which scenario do you think is the case -- Unser's only pretending to help Clay or actually helping him plan this hit?

* Gemma on Tara's new babysitter: "Just keep her away from Tig."

* I loved Tara's crazy eyes when she stepped to Ima. Am I wrong for kind of hoping a hair-pulling catfight was about to break out?

* Speaking of babysitters, drunk Piney as Thomas' short-term nanny was mildly amusing.

* Damn, Clay is callous this season. I mean, I know he's always been a tough guy, but if he were played by anyone but Ron Perlman, he'd be really off-putting at this stage. Betraying Bobby and others, getting the club deep in the drug business, admitting to the murder of J.T. -- it's a lot, am I right? And regarding the prospects -- neither of whom was guilty of theft -- all Clay had to say was, "Sometimes the herd needs thinning." Man, that's cold.

* Drowning baby girls? Speaking of hard cases, Gemma was doing her best Lady Macbeth as Dawn/Margaux left the clubhouse.

* The photo of Theo Rossi on this post is from the 'SOA' premiere party. We already knew Juice was a handsome man, but he cleans up real good, eh?

* Maybe we'd seen him around before, but I had no memory of the prospect named Rat before this episode.

* My colleague Jason Hughes shared a few thoughts about this episode of 'SOA' here.

'Sons of Anarchy' airs 10PM ET Tuesdays on FX.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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Unser is definitely undermining Clay. He thinks this has gone way too far already. Remember how pissed he was after reading the letters? Clay essentially conned him into covering up John's death. And didn't Clay catch Unser sleeping outside the clubhouse in his pickup? Wasn't Unser waiting for Tara then, so he could follow and watch over and possibly warn her?

October 12 2011 at 7:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
O Nikos

Time out. Are you saying you don't think the Tara/JT's letters drama should be a part of the show? If that's the case that might be the most ridiculous thing you've written, and that's saying a lot!

October 12 2011 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to O Nikos's comment
Mo Ryan

Sure, it can be part of the show. But taking out Tara is a huge step for Clay, I would like his reasoning and motivation to be rock solid. I guess I can see theoretically why he'd think Tara was a threat but I still can't quite square the season 1/2 Clay with who I'm seeing here.

October 12 2011 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
miss juice

Good comments,
Clay is gambling that IF he takes out Tara, that Jax will turn into Opie. Donna wanted him out of SAMCRO before she got killed. What happened? Opie turned into to the "best soldier" Clay could have wanted. As illustrated last night by Piney decking Opie. That was more about the "cartel vote" than anything else.
Jax is not Opie. Not even close. They are similar characters but Opie felt like he had nothing left to lose, going all in with the club after Donna died. For Jax, I doubt that's the route he takes. If anything when he told Tara "Gemma's just another Old Lady" there was a lot more to it than that. Would he cash out? Hell yeah not for himself, but for his kids.
His mother has lied to him about just about everything, including his sister. That Maureen in Ireland (beside Piney in season 1) has treated Jax as anything other than a means to an end says a lot. Jax knows it too. He has a lot of doubt about the club and it seems to be coming to a head this season. 14 months in jail gives you a lot of time to think.

Something else overlooked, but worth remembering. TIg is on the outside looking in. What is he going to do when he finds out that Clay took out the hit and told NO ONE in the club? That is going to make Juice's "racial identity" look like a joke compared to Clay taking out a VP's old lady (and his stepson's wife). Killing Donna almost killed Tig (LSD episode anyone?) and Happy will have a fit wondering why Clay didn't ask him.
You can use this story (Clay and Tara) and see the similarities with the Juice story line. Juice's allegiance to the club is intake, regardless of his DNA. Clay on the other hand has zero allegiance to the club now, it's all about him.

The threat to Unser is more along the lines of him losing his pension and benefits as a retired cop. And let's not forget there is no statue of limitations on a murder. So if those letters got to the Sheriff, neither Clay nor Unser can do anything to stop the blowback, and it would be the perfect fuel for Potter to take the club down.

October 12 2011 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm surprised you didn't mention the scene where Piney walloped Opie upside the head bringing Ima into the club. Who knew the old guy still had it in him? Clay should take note.

It's also clear that Unser is doing what he can to force Roosevelt to do something about the threats to Tara. But that would require Tara and Jax to report the threat, which, guessing from the preview for next week, ain't gonna happen. Of course, given the scene at the Clubhouse, the reasonable conclusion is the threatening letter is from Ima. Poor nasty little Ima -- she's going to have a tough time convincing Jax that she's not behind it. It won't surprise me if he has a confrontation with her that leads him to suspect someone tied to the club is the real threat.

The scenes with Tig and his crazy daughter were fun to watch. No doubt she'll be back after blowing through the $12K she scammed. But is it really a scam if Tig knew she was scamming him? You can tell Tig knows he's a complete **** up as a parent, so sharing a bit of his newfound drug wealth has to be some way of making up for it. My guess is Dawn runs through the money, she gets more, blows that, returns in real trouble after screwing over a bad guy, then either Tig steps in to deal with it, or she gets killed and he does a shame spiral (thanks, 12-step phrasebook!) and spins out of control at a critical moment.

But that's just my speculation.

October 12 2011 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Regarding Unser & the note: I was never under the slightest impression that he was trying to help Clay in any way. My only impression was that he put the note there to hopefully get Tara protected so that nothing could potentially happen to her. Deep down, despite what he's done in the past, I think Unser is a good man. I don't think he would ever want to see anything bad happen to her.

October 12 2011 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Isn't possible that the old sheriff is working for the new sheriff? They did have a few private words at the station?

October 12 2011 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think you are missing a key point of what Clay's problem is right now. As he previously stated he killed the club's president while he was carrying on a relationship with his old lady. And as we also learned he didn't kill JT because he was spiraling out of control as he indicated to Unser and perhaps Gemma. He killed him because JT wanted to get out of the gun business. Beyond that how much proof do you think Jax would really need to want to end Clay? He wanted him dead for almost killing Opie. Slaughtering his father to steal his wife and his club? That is a death sentence no matter how you look at it. I don't think Clay is desperate to hang on to the club I think his desperate to not be murdered for his growing list of sins.

I would hate to see Tara go but there is a chance she might. Especially, if Kurt Sutter is leaning of Hamlet for inspiration.

October 12 2011 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to LilyBlue's comment
Mo Ryan

Good points. Thanks!

October 12 2011 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Clay wants to rule it all. Even when he is gone. He wants to do that through Jax. However I don't understand his logic. He wants jax to stay and thinks if Tara is gone that he will stay. Because if he was truly cool with Jax leaving he would know that if she hadn't told him yet that she won't. Because her telling him what happened to his father and what he really wanted to do with the club would compel him to stay and try it. Which would be more difficult given the current situation. So he wants Jax still in, he wants to rule through Jax. But the logic behind it is beyond spurious. Jax knows what he is capable of given what happened to Opie's wife. As soon as Tara would come up dead jax is going to know that lay had a hand in it. Also, the cartel is a lot of things but it is smart. Why would they kill the old lady of whom they think is going to be the next leader of SAMCRO when killing Clay and ending the problem outright would make more sense to them financially.

And secondly I don't understand the threat to Unser that if Clay goes down he goes down kind of thing. If I am not mistaken Unser is still dying from Cancer, though it must be the slowest killing cancer I have never heard of. How can you threaten a dying man with "going down". Why is Unser such a wuss when it comes to standing up to Clay. I would say, well I am dying what is worse than that, by the way kiss my arse. This part of the plot just doesn't make sense to me.

As far as Juice and the rest. I think that these stories are coming along well. It is going to come out against Juice, I think he realizes that. Which is going to be fun to see what he does as he gets more desperate.

Also one more thing I would like to commend the writers on the "villain" this year. It has been 6 episodes and no one knows that it is the DA is behind the scenes pulling the strings and plotting against them. I like this aspect this year. And think that the villain not being in their face is the smarter play.

October 12 2011 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'd say Clay dies, which keeps Jax in Charming to console his mother (not knowing she knew about Clay's betrayals). It would also keep him in the club as he could now lead it the way he wants without interference.

October 12 2011 at 12:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jorgeduardo Phillips

I don’t know, Mo.. i'm pretty sure Unser is trying to save Tara, behind Clay's back.. that's why he first was following her to make sure Clay didn’t send someone to hurt her, and Clay bump into him and ask him if he planned to guard her forever.. then he went to the sheriff, who replied that obviously they couldn’t do much without knowing why she would be in danger, and from who that danger would be coming from.. and finally (i’m assuming) he is leaving an anonymous threat note on Tara's car, so she (and by extension Jax and Gemma) know that she is in danger, maybe guard her more (and thus dissuading Clay to harm her) or even convince Tara (in an improbable last option to leave Charming).. and I guess Alan saw all this more or less in the same light.

ps. I usually just read Alan's reviews on SOA but I loved your podcast, and now I’m following your reviews as well.

October 12 2011 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jorgeduardo Phillips's comment
Mo Ryan

Thanks! Welcome!

October 12 2011 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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