Tonight's Sons of Anarchy is intended only for mature audiences. Fantastic: that's us to a tee. And away we go...
The episode begins with the two ladies in Jax's life, Tara and Gemma, discussing Gemma's slow recovery from her rape. Jax enters the kitchen asking after a missing box of laundry from the garage - the box that contained his father's notes on his vision for SAMCRO. Gemma says she threw the box out and plays dumb as to its contents. Jax, grinning, seems to know what his mother has done. Chibs enters and reveals that Half-Sack is becoming a full sack today (spoiler alert: thankfully, we won't have to see that).
Lyla, an attractive blonde driving a busted car carrying her son, pulls into the garage looking for a quick repair. She hands the car off to Opie, who notices empty drug vials next to a toy in the front seat. Just great; now that toy is going to be up for hours.
In Ethan Zobelle's store, Zobelle meets with Jacob Hale to discuss pending real estate deals. Zobelle says that it is difficult to get support for someone who is "not affiliated", and hands Hale a card with the group's membership director's information on it. As they speak, SAMCRO pulls up. Zobelle tells Hale that this particular problem is on its way to becoming "a footnote." With the rest of the group standing guard outside, Clay walks past AJ Weston and enters the smoke shop. Hale leaves the two alone. Clay says that he feels it was time to introduce himself, and attempts to charge Zobelle protection money.
"You pay or you go away. Your choice, Adolph," Clay warns Zobelle. "Welcome to Charming," he adds as he leaves, after helping himself to a few free boxes of cigars. Weston tells Zobelle that "Stockton called. The inside's a go." Zobelle says that they need to "Humble Mr. Morrow."
Up at Stockton, three skinheads attack Otto as he mops a deserted area of the prison. Otto puts up a good fight, but in the end the skinheads outnumber him. Using a broken mop handle, the skinheads gouge out Otto's eye. (Perhaps SAMCRO will want an eye in return, you know, for that one)
In Charming, Zobelle and Weston meet with Deputy Nathan Hale. Zobelle reports Clay's extortion attempt and Weston gives Hale a DVD (how high-tech these Aryans are) of SAMCRO torching Darby's meth lab. Hale is hesitant to take the tainted evidence to the DA, but Zobelle stresses teamwork, saying that they all want the same thing: SAMCRO run out of town. Weston gives Hale another DVD.
Tara and Gemma are picking up a prescription to help in her recovery when Gemma spies a woman loading something into a van. It's the same woman who pretended to have the choking baby in her car, leading to Gemma's kidnapping and rape. Gun drawn, Gemma chases the woman through town, but loses her when Weston pulls up and picks up the decoy. Obviously shaken by the encounter, Gemma is surprised by Tara and elbows her in the face, drawing blood.
Deputy Hale watches the second DVD Weston gave him. It is from the surveillance camera at Darby's meth lab and shows Darby handing Hale the coupon to Zobelle's store. Of course, from the angle of the camera, it looks like Hale is taking a bribe from Darby. Jax bursts in and tells Hale about the attack on Otto, claiming that Zobelle has a reach into the Aryan higher-ups. He warns Hale that they do not know what they're dealing with, and says that he's getting in bed with the devil and that people will get hurt and people will die. Hale throws Jax out of his office and takes a look at the other DVD Weston gave him. "Oh shit," he says as he watches a clear shot of Opie fleeing the meth lab just before it explodes.
As if defying Jax's claim that he is, in fact, the devil, Ethan Zobelle stands on the street with a chorus of church bells in the background. Weston and the decoy pull up; she greets Zobelle with a "Hey Daddy." Weston tells Zobelle that "it's all set" and his daughter cryptically adds, "The van's in place."
Tara finds Gemma sitting in the hospital's chapel. Trying to reach Gemma, Tara confides in her that she took care of her stalker from last season. Tara tells her that she needs to deal with her trauma before she kills someone. Tara gives Gemma the name of a shrink to talk to and jokingly adds that she doesn't see her, Tara will press assault charges against her for the errant elbow. In her tough girl way, Gemma thanks Tara for her support.
Don't ever accuse SAMCRO of not being classy. Clay, Chibs and Opie go to Oswald's horse farm to discuss an eminent domain squeeze the county's putting on his land, apparently tied in with Jacob Hale's land grab. As Oswald heads off to fetch the county letter for Clay, Clay blames himself for the attack on Otto and says he should have gone after Zobelle right away. Opie says that if things go the way they've been going, Clay will face opposition from Jax in his plan to go after Zobelle.
They count their votes and Clay determines that they will need Juice's vote for the majority. He tells Tig to talk to Juice. Back at the clubhouse, Jax is already campaigning. Separately, he meets with Juice, Chibs and Bobby - trying to get their votes to hold off on the attack on Zobelle until they get more information, afraid that an attack now could be playing into Zobelle's hands. Bobby pushes back, saying that the divide between him and Clay affects the whole club. Jax tells Bobby that he cannot tell him what's going on between the two, and stresses that he think about what he told him about Zobelle.
At the hospital, Jax catches up with Tara to check on her bruise. After he leaves, the hospital administrator talks to Tara, assuming that Jax is beating her. Gemma goes to meet with Tara's friend, only to find a despondent-looking woman in the waiting room. Another leaves the shrink's office, crying. Gemma decides this is not for her and leaves, running into Jax on the way out. He makes a joke about the assault on Tara and walks her out.
Clay, Tig and Opie are in the barber shop discussing the Oswald land deal with Chief Unser. He says that he'll look into it, but Clay tells him to keep it clear of his deputy, claiming that Zobelle is "pulling the strings on both of the Hale brothers." Clay looks up to see Weston and two Aryans across the street. The three SAMCRO members walk out onto the sidewalk as the Aryans aggressively cross the street. Clay holds Tig back, telling him "watch this." Opie stalks towards the three Aryans, intent on fighting them, until Jax roars up, placing his bike between Opie and the Aryans (dibs on that band name!). Opie is furious, but Jax tells him that a street brawl isn't the answer. Of course, when Weston knocks over his bike, a street brawl becomes the only answer. Jax lays into Weston while Opie and Tig take care of the other two.
Chief Unser, Clay and Gemma watch, with Clay and Unser looking amused and Gemma looking upset. Gemma returns home and takes out her copy of Jax's father's journal, which she had secreted away. The journal reads, "When relationships become a ledger of profit and loss, you have no friends. No loved ones. Just plusses and minuses. You are absolutely alone." After reading this, Gemma, obviously touched, has never looked more alone, sitting in her darkened bedroom.
At the police station, Chief Unser confronts Deputy Hale about his possible involvement with Ethan Zobelle. Deputy Hale calls Unser a hypocrite; after all, he's in SAMCRO's pocket. Unser tells Hale that he chose him to be his deputy because he's the "good guy, the clean one" and that he needs him to stay that way lest the entire department become a joke. Unser confides in Hale about the attack on Gemma, and reveals that it was Zobelle's men. He tells him this because he needs him to know who Zobelle is, so that he can make his own choice about "what's best for Charming." Unser gives Hale the county letter and tells him that his brother Jacob is making a land grab.
Hale decides to cut loose SAMCRO and the Aryans for their street brawl. Hale grabs Clay and Jax before they leave. He shows them the surveillance Zobelle has on them. Hale tells them that he's not on anybody's payroll. He then lets them know that several years ago, Jacob Hale had a county zoning commission official on the take, threatening land owners with eminent domain to sell on the cheap. It's the same scam that Jacob is trying to run on Oswald now.
Clay and Oswald interrupt a meeting in Jacob Hale's office. They tell Hale's business partners about the scam, causing Jacob to cut the meeting short. As he retreats from his office, Clay and Oswald look quite pleased with themselves.
Tara, on the other hand, looks far from pleased as she sits and watches Jax's son. Tara is trying to get her head around the club life, with the violence, the other women. She is terrified that something bad will happen and tells Jax that she's trying to find her place. Jax shows her his father's journal, his vision for the club (am I the only one who doesn't have a copy of this thing?). He promises that he's going to get them out of trouble and promises that, if she stays with him, Jax will help her find her place. With Jax looking on, she begins to read.
At the clubhouse, SAMCRO's executive committee is gathered to discuss the Zobelle situation. Clay says that he would never put a member of the club at risk, but that they underestimated Zobelle. He says that Zobelle harmed a member of the club and that if they do not act now, it will be a sign of weakness. He says that for the sake of the club and the town, "retaliation must be harsh and immediate." Jax agrees that they need to retaliate, but if they do it now, they're doing it "half-blind." He says Zobelle expects them to retaliate, and that he wants them to. Jax stresses that they wait and do their due diligence. Tig, Opie, and Juice vote with Clay, but Chibs, Piney and the surprising Bobby side with Jax. The club will wait on retaliation. The club clears out, leaving Bobby and Clay alone in the room. Bobby breaks the silence, saying that when Clay wants blind action, he goes to Tig, but when he wants the truth, he has always come to Bobby. Bobby says that he does not know what's going on between Clay and Jax, but that somebody needs to start making decisions that protect the club, adding, "So I did."
At the garage, Lyla comes to pick up her car...and drop off her phone number! She tells Opie to call her. We watch as the tow truck ominously delivers the Aryan van. Inside the clubhouse, Gemma greets the defeated Clay with a kiss to his withered hand. Clay confides that Jax is drifting from him, becoming more like his father. Clay leaves Gemma and greets Bobby with a hug. Gemma enters and turns the whole thing into a hugfest: hugging Clay, then Bobby, then Bobby and Clay. Clay puts his arm around her and the three walk out to the garage. As the crew sits around, Chibs goes to start the van, which stalls. He tries again and then, being an Irishman, recognizes the telltale signs of a carbomb. He tries to escape, but the van blows seconds after he exits, sending him flying. As the episode ends, Tara tends to Chibs as SAMCRO stands around him, watching his blood seep out and spread across the garage pavement.