What happens when the Scumbag Outlaw meets the Pillar of Justice?
You end up with the best episode of Sons of Anarchy Season 6.
Of course, what made "John 8:32" stand out was not necessarily the tense confrontation between Jax and ADA Patterson, nor the plan it put in motion of Jax setting up the Irish to earn gun-related immunity for SAMCRO.
It was the meaning behind the episode-titled bible verse: Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Of course, Jax doesn't seem especially free at the moment, despite the many hard truths he discovered on Sons of Anarchy Season 6 Episode 9 .
Gemma slept with Clay in the most humiliating way possible. Nero was willing to give himself up to protect the club. Oh... and Tara faked her pregnancy, conjured up a miscarriage/assault story and is planning to divorce him.
Ouch. Ouch. And triple ouch.
It was a painful, enlightening hour for the SAMCRO President and that's what made it so engrossing to watch.
For most of this season, Jax hasn't been especially likable. He's been taking extreme measures on his own, believing he knows what's best to push the club into legitimate businesses... only he's ended up crossing the Irish in the process, getting clubhouses blown to bits and actual members killed.
He's also been ignoring troubles at home, of course, while causing plenty more by sleeping around. In short: the guy has been a self-centered jerk.
And it all came crashing down around Jax this week. The know-it-all realized he didn't know it all. He was in the dark about Nero, in the dark about Gemma and in the pitch black about Tara. He was hit harder by these truths than by any punches Nero threw, visibly startled and shaken as each figurative blow landed.
Where will it all go from here? It's tempting to say someplace very, very bad, with Tara rightfully holding both a baby and a gun on her lap, petrified of what will happen when her husband walks in the door.
But the Jax who sat down at the ice cream shop table with that troubled teenage girl didn't seem like someone with revenge on his mind.
It was someone who personally knows what it's like to grow up without a father and with a rather effed up mother. It was someone who saw first hand this week the effects that the club, even indirectly, can have on a child.
Jax admitted in his chat with Patterson that he doesn't like looking in a mirror, but the presence of Brooke forced him to hold up a mirror to his own family life - and he didn't rage in response. He lit a cigarette and sat pensively.
Might Tara not need that weapon after all? Might Jax actually now realize the impossible corner his wife has been placed in and her desperation to get out of it by any means necessary? Might the truth actually set him free? Yes. But Tara should probably keep the safety off just in case.
- My affection for Nero knows no bounds. The guy is honest, straightforward, unafraid of confrontation and able to throwdown one minute and then wrap his arms around his enemy the next. He oozes empathy.
- Clay going all pussy crazy at bible study was one of the funniest scenes in SOA history. It's so rare that Ron Perlman is given a chance to smile, let alone go bat $hit crazy, and he clearly reveled in every second of it.
- But considering all Clay has gone through just to stay alive in prison, it now must be asked: Do you have any sympathy for him?
- Gemma gave her blessing for JT to be killed because he was a "weak link." Nothing we didn't really know already, but more evidence of how different Gemma's relationship is with Nero from nearly every single one on the series. It's actually based on - gulp! - honesty.
- Many viewers will be analyzing the latest sighting of the homeless women. But I don't have much to say about her. She's clearly some kind of ghostly entity, popping up when Jax struggles with his conscious, seemingly meant in this case to be Brooke's mother. But it's very abstract and I don't envision Kurt Sutter ever giving a real answer. I prefer to focus on what we know and what we can discuss among the actual characters.
- Not much from other SAMCRO members this week, but a kazoo and Tig realizing that every teenage girl hates him were a couple funny side notes.
Overall, a terrific, emotional, tight episode. It moved the narrative forward via the deal with Patterson, but it mostly took us inside Jax Teller's head and heart.
Those are confusing places to be right now. But they are also incredibly entertaining.