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Sons of Anarchy 5.13: J'ai Obtenu Cette

SPOILER

, I said, “Violence and adrenaline are as big a draw for [the Sons] as the brotherhood, motorcycles, and ‘easy’ money. You don’t live this kind of life, or at least continue to, without a taste for cheap thrills.” Back then I was referring to Jax, Tig, Chibs, and Happy escaping an ambush by going off-roading in a station wagon as bullets flied in every direction. After confirming that they were all alive, the guys laughed and screamed with excitement. Happy spoke for the group when he exclaimed “I am rapturous!”

That was a long winded way of saying these guys are adrenaline junkies. They are addicted to the lives of danger, risk, and crime they lead. Turn to Clay’s actions at the beginning of this season for further proof. Upon realizing that “the life” be taken away from him, he did everything in his power to prevent it—like a caged lion claws and scratches in an attempt to find freedom or, say, . Ironically enough, the SAMCRO clubhouse has a “No Junkies” sign, right by the doorway leading out to the picnic tables.

Regardless of what substance, lifestyle, or what have you an addict is dependent on, if he truly wants to quit, he quits. Right there on the spot. If he really means it, there is no last hurrah, no one last fix or drink, he won’t give himself another month of using, he won’t say Christmas day will be his last. Because when an addict gives himself that time, it's not just time to use, but to reconsider whether he really wants to quit, and, more often than not, rationalize why it’s just not the right time yet.

You may see where I’m going with this. Jax and Tara were never going to get out and live safe, peaceful lives with their boys. They sentenced themselves to life in Charming the second they started making excuses and delaying. Jax was being just as dishonest (with everyone, including himself) when he said he’d get out once he'd “protected the club” as a junkie who promises to quit if he can use for just one more month, day, or hour. It’s “just one more.” Likewise, if the Teller family really wanted to get out of Charming, they would have done so, right the fuck then, the same way an addict or alcoholic who’s quitting needs to really and truly commit right there on the spot. Otherwise, by the time you actually mean it, it’ll be too late. And for Jax and Tara, boy is it too late.

The episode title, "J'ai Obtenu Cette," means "I got this" in French (perhaps as a nod to Chucky's new language of choice). It's a phrase Jax could have spoken in reference to  just about every task he set out to accomplish this season. He now has everything he ever wanted, but it doesn't feel right. There's a reason for that (aside from his wife getting arrested): as we've discussed so often, he had to transform into Clay to get it. The scary thing, both for us as fans of the idealistic Jax of the past and the people around him, is that he's way better at being Clay than Clay ever was. Because while his willingness to do anything is reminiscent of Clay, his intelligence and ability to ensure his own hands appear clean is more in the vein of one Damon Pope. When Marks, Pope's now-elevated number two, implies that the reason the chips fell where they did was because Jax engineered it, Jax responds, “You think I planned this whole thing? Come on, man, you’re giving me way too much credit. I ain’t Pope. I’m just a mechanic looking out for my family.” Yeah, whatever.

, I said that if Jax took Pope's advice about getting revenge indirectly, going behind the club's back despite a vote to let Clay be, purely for his own purposes, it would be a trademark Clay move. Pope said Jax needed to "step back from the need to feel it" because "it’s not about the process, it’s about the result.” Well he did all that and more, and it cements his transformation into a hybrid monstrosity. Half Clay and half Pope might as well be equal parts Godzilla and King Kong for all the destruction it's going to cause. The incredible thing about Jax's plan is that he's likely to get exactly what he wants, but guaranteed to get at least some satisfaction. The best case scenario (for Jax) is one of Marks’s guys will off Clay before he's behind bars. The worst case scenario is they don't, and Clay will still be behind bars.

Bobby knows what Jax did and calls him out on it. Jax suavely brushes off all guilt on a technicality, didn't lay a hand on Clay. Bobby responds to the quip, and Jax's attitude, by saying, "It wasn't about being smart enough to hurt him, it was about being smart enough to hurt him. You had a chance to be different." Jax's response is "Maybe I'm not so different." I'll say. Jax has forgotten why he wanted to be president in the first place. It wasn't so he could get revenge on Clay and do what he pleased without consequence. It was so he could fulfill he and his father's lofty ambitions for both himself and the club, it was for his sons (small "s"). Jax is the perfect leader for Clay's Sons of Anarchy, but he wanted to be that leader for his father's. As a result, part of the ending montage was Bobby slicing off his VP patch. But he won't be leaving the club. Given that this is a show about transformations, and more often than not, transformations from one character into another, my prediction is that Bobby will be for Jax what Piney was for Clay. That is, the (relatively) old member, an artifact of another time, powerless to stop Jax's treachery but still constantly yammering in his ear about it.

So Jax got what he wanted, but contrary to what Pope said, the realities of the process make you wonder whether the result was worth it. That's just how things go in this show. For example, Roosevelt got some measure of vengeance on the man whose plotting led to his wife's death. The sheriff didn't have any proof that Clay was responsible for the break-ins, even though Eli knew he was responsible. Contrarily, he knew Clay wasn't responsible for Pope's murder, but that's the crime he had evidence for.

The best example (outside of Jax), however, is Gemma. Despite everything that Clay's done to her, and done in general, the cold manner in which his arrest went down made it feel somehow wrong. That's partly because Clay has been getting slightly sympathetic of late, but more because his downfall was sealed by his wife and Juice, the two people he trusted most. But back to Gemma. She finally gets Nero, but at this point neither of them is the one the other fell in love with. Nero used to be an actual junkie, but as an OG he was addicted to the same lifestyle as Jax and company. The Nero Gemma’s getting has relapsed, he's back to being a gangster. And Jax poked him with the metaphorical needle, just like he poked Wendy with a real one—completely out of self-interest.

Last of all, there's Tara. I was really blown away by her arrest, it's just a road I never saw the show taking. It's possible that Toric got angry when Otto, you know, bit off his own tongue and tried to get some satisfaction another way, evidence be damned. But the evidence strongly suggests that Gemma is behind it (although Clay's arrest is proof that in Charming, evidence doesn't mean shit), and I'm not just talking about the fact that she threatened to dime. Tara's talk about leaving likely made Gemma panic, then overhearing Jax and Nero talking about getting out was the last straw. Plus, she has a history of lying to law enforcement to get to her grandchildren in this very episode. Showing up to comfort Jax right at the moment of his wife’s arrest is a bold move, like an arsonist returning to watch the fire she started. And, of course, they ended with another play on "the shot," where the resident old lady puts her arm around the president. Gemma and JT turned into Tara and Jax turned into Gemma and Jax.

A few more things:

-Now that I know Joel McHale won’t be coming back, his appearance sort of seems like a waste. It could be argued that it (potentially) distracted from the show ("Oooo, that's Joel Mchale, wait what were they saying?") more than his acting talents added over the average guy they'd get from an audition

-Stuff like Tig and the dog reminds us why we love these guys, who’d be villains in literally any other show.

-Can Juice stay loyal to a plan for either side just once? Right before Roosevelt shows up at Clay’s place, Juice tells him to take his bike and run. He’s lucky that didn’t happen, as it would’ve meant a best case scenario of Jax bringing his snitching to the table and a worst case of Jax having him killed.

-It doesn’t seem like Jax forcing Wendy to get high has messed with her recovery (so far), which is lucky considering how painfully obvious it is that a sober Wendy is the best parent Abel and Thomas can possibly hope to have. Although just because we haven’t seen her using doesn’t mean she isn’t. Even if she’s still clean, if that shot was going to bring her back to her old ways, it wouldn’t necessarily be instantly. Just having that experience in the back of her mind could be a trigger and bring on another relapse in time, this one voluntary.

-I can’t not gloat about calling the way things would go down with Tig/Pope.

-Sometimes, Chekhov’s gun refers to an actual gun.

That's it for the fifth season. "Sons of Anarchy" will be back to make both its audience and characters miserable next year. To make the time go faster we'll have "Justified," the next show I'll be analyzing, premiering on 1/8/13. Be sure to check back then and don't forget to follow me on Twitter .

Sons of Anarchy 5.12: Darthy

Sons of Anarchy 5.11: To Thine Own Self

SPOILER

"To Thine Own Self" opened with Tara telling Jax about the offer she got from the practice in Providence. She followed the news up by insisting Jax had accomplished what he set out to and that it's time to get out of Dodge. "I know why you couldn't walk away a few months ago. The club’s been your whole life, you couldn't let it die... But ending RICO saves SAMCRO, and whatever happens with Clay you have put the MC on the right track, you've done everything you've wanted to do. It’s your turn now, we can move on." On the surface, she's right. Especially considering all the shrewd (and more importantly, successful) moves Jax made as the episode moved forward. And yet, we all know there's a zero percent chance the Teller family will be taking their talents to Providence. And it's not just because a show called "Sons of Anarchy" would be a lot less interesting absent, you know, the Sons of Anarchy.

Exhibit A is Jax, Tig, Chibs, and Happy's escape from the members of Nero's old crew who decided that while they'd like a cache of the club's guns, they'd prefer not to pay for them. The guys went off-roading in a station wagon, fired some automatic weapons, and narrowly escaped with their lives. Happy even had a bullet graze his head, and his response? "I am rapturous!" He was speaking for the group.

Violence and adrenaline are as big a draw for these guys as the brotherhood, motorcycles, and "easy" money. You don't live this kind of life, or at least continue to, without a taste for cheap thrills. It doesn't matter that the club no longer has RICO hanging over his head. It doesn't matter that both Galindo and the Chinese are on board for the new weapons deal. It wouldn't even matter if Clay finally got his comeuppance. There are only two places Jax can end up post-SAMCRO: in a cage or in a box. Sorry Tara, your husband  is never going to be a peaceful mechanic in motherfucking Rhode Island.

It's become clear that Jax's little rage trip is not a temporary result of Opie's death. This is something that's been building. A big part of it stems from his ongoing quest to kill Clay, which as Bobby points out is turning Jax into the very thing he despises. But one of this season's major points  is that the gavel is what's changing our protagonist—that angry and vengeful are necessary characteristics of the man at the head of the table, the man with all the power, the man in control. Maybe Clay became the man we all love to hate because he was under the same pressures Jax is now.

As Jax turns into Clay, Clay turns into something else. These last few episodes, in his talks with Juice and Tig and Jax, those words were genuine and heartfelt. Don't get me wrong, Clay's still a snake, as evidenced by the way he slithered those legal documents away just as they (sort of) fell into his former stepson's hands, but he's not the same snake. He had the opportunity to eliminate Jax and return to the presidency, instead he gave advice which he believed both good and necessary, that the club shouldn't just walk away from Galindo. Clay's not going to give in, let the truth come out, and die in disgrace, but he no longer seems to be motivated purely by self interest. Bobby's decision to go to Clay at the end of the episode was driven by fear of the new Jax, sure, but it seemed to come from recognition of the new Clay as well.

The new direction of Clay's character is something I did not see coming. The same can be said of Nero Padilla. When Nero was first introduced, he seemed too good to be true—loyal to Jax, loving to Gemma, a smart and safe business partner—I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I thought the show would wring drama and suspense out of Nero by having him turn on the club, in some way becoming yet another enemy. Instead, Nero was everything he seemed to be and more. And just look at how that's worked out for him.

I mentioned that Jax's arc has demonstrated the way being in charge changes people. Likewise, Nero's arc is meant to show that just being close to the boss brings tumult and turmoil, anger and vengeance, by proxy. His life's gone to shit not because he's an enemy of SAMCRO, but because he's a friend. When Nero believes his former crew kidnapped Jax, he goes out and does a bit of murder, returning to the life of violent crime he'd sworn was behind him. All because the club was quick to call him when they (thought they) needed his help, and sort of forgot to let him know when they didn't. The Nero we saw at the end of the episode seemed like he'd just stepped out of a warzone, like he'd been truly traumatized, and he has. He's messed up, but he's a former OG, it's something he'll get over—or would, if he had Gemma there to comfort him. But he doesn't. And why's that again? Because Jax has put his mom to work, throwing both her and Nero under the bus in his efforts to eliminate Clay.

Meanwhile, this episode introduced a new character, Lee Toric, played by Donal Logue, whose sole mission is to make the last few months of Otto's life a little more miserable, if that's even possible. We know very little about the character so far, other than that he's got the pull to get into a maximum security prison and beat the shit out of a dude in solitary confinement. His motivations remain unknown. All we have to go on is his desire to torture Otto and his following Tara at the end of the episode. A good guess would be that his actions have something to do with that nurse Otto murdered. Maybe she was a family member and he's out for vengeance. All that might be a bit too convenient, considering she was played by Karina Logue, the actor's real life sister, but Toric is sure to be a major player moving forward.

A few more things:

-“This Kenny G shit’s gonna give my cancer cancer.”

-The club’s lawyer is played by Robin Weigert. I knew I recognized her from something but couldn’t figure out what (looking it up is cheating). Last night it hit me, Weigert played Calamity Jane in "Deadwood."

-As I predicted , Jax isn't going to just hand Tig over, and that's going to make Pope mad. A confrontation is brewing.

Check out the preview for next week’s episode below and follow the writer on Twitter 

Sons of Anarchy 5.10: Crucifixed

Sons of Anarchy 5.09: Andare Pescare

SPOILER

I began with a bit of analysis on the episode's title. Given the newest episode's intriguing name, "Andare Pescare," I'd be foolish not to follow that formula again here. The title is a (grammatically incorrect, apparently) take on an Italian phrase meaning "gone fishing." Just like last week, that could refer to a number of things. None of them involve actual fish.

One possible interpretation is as a reference to Frankie Diamonds hiding out in a Tahoe fishing cabin. Another, given the involvement of the Italian mob in the plot, is that it alludes to the famous "" quote, "." After that, we have to get metaphorical up in this bitch. Jax continues to fish for tangible evidence that Clay was behind the break-ins, as well as information about the "rat at the table" Roosevelt spoke of.

The list goes on, but let's get into the Frankie plot. The meat and potatoes of the episode came from the club's search for the last of the trio of ex-Nomad traitors. After leaving Chibs with a nasty bump on the head, Frankie met up with some mobsters he paid for protection. The club finds the mob boss at a restaurant and, after a bit of a scuffle, they're able to get the information they need thanks to some trademark Jax ingenuity. Apparently, Frankie's deal stipulated he give his guardians the money he stole from the club. But Jax tells the Don Frankie stole half a mil rather than the $150 thousand he actually took. It's a smart play, better to appeal to Mafia greed than rely on honor among thieves.

Meanwhile, Clay's still on a mission to silence anyone who can prove he was involved with the Nomads, and Juice is still his butt boy. Clay gets a tip on the fugitive Nomad's whereabouts from some (other) mobsters and uses it in the hopes he can find and kill Frankie before Jax and company show up. He doesn't get that opportunity, as the guys show up just in time to stop him. Fortunately for Clay, the mob boss kills Frankie before Jax gets a chance to talk to him. However, perhaps fortunately for Jax (and by extension, the rest of us), Frankie tells Juice, "Clay put this whole Nomad shit storm in motion... We stole a safe, gave him back all that legal shit."

Which brings us to Juice, whose initial reaction is to call Frankie a liar. But given the way the episode ended, with Jax following Juice home after figuring out he’s the rat, being privy to Frankie’s last words might be what saves Juice’s life. We still don’t know exactly why Clay is trying so hard to protect the documents in the safe, but the fact that he’s trying tells us all we need to know: they contain the information Jax needs to put Clay out commission with the club’s consent. As was the case with Frankie, Jax will need a unanimous vote in order for Clay to “meet Mr. Mayhem,” and whatever's in that safe is how he's going to get it.

The remaining question then is whether Juice is smart enough to realize that a man in Frankie's situation, with a gun to his head, about to be executed for betraying his brothers, has no reason to lie. It didn't look like it at the end of the episode, as Juice was still playing Clay's bitch. Here's my prediction: things will click for Juice when he's the one looking down a barrel. He'll tell Jax the truth, all of it. This episode seemed to be a turning point for our young president, for a while there, Opie's death turned him into a bloodthirsty revenge addict, but the wisdom and leadership he displayed this week indicates a return to form. As such, Jax will let Juice live, but use him the same way he's using Gemma. At least that's what I'm hoping for anyway. If this season ends with Opie and Juice in the ground, but not Clay, well, that'd suck.

Speaking of Gemma, she took a whole episode to make essentially the same decision she made last week. More often than not in "Sons of Anarchy," all that time she spent "thinking" and hanging out with Nero to reach that same conclusion would've seemed liked filler (when it comes to Gemma's storylines in particular). But this time, this one time, it worked. This episode made Gemma (and us) realize just how well she and Nero work together. Although I think he was right when he said the whole "lovebirds" thing was "too on the nose," if not for Gemma, than for the audience. Anyway, what it all goes to show is despite how happy Nero makes Gemma, her family, her son and grandchildren, are things she simply cannot live without. By putting some distance between the final decision and the car accident, it makes both Jax and the audience understand just what she's risking, but more importantly giving up, to spy on Clay, and without all the anger that was clouding our judgment after she put Abel and Thomas in danger. Hopefully, Gemma will have Juice on her side next week, both in terms of getting dirt on Clay and in case her old man decides to bounce her around like a basketball again.

The only remaining plot thread then is Tara and Otto's. Not much to say on that account, the show did a good job of putting it all out there. Although while I understand why the perfume made Otto cry and masturbate, I'm not so sure what it meant for Tara.

Anyway, things keep getting better and better in the fifth season of "Sons of Anarchy," and 90-minute episodes start next week.

A few more things:

-Regardless of who you voted for yesterday, Jax Teller is the one president we can all support. Sorry, I just couldn't allow a punpportunity like that to pass me by.

-Quinn, the Nomad who tips the club off to Frankie's whereabouts, was played by , the founder of the Orange County chapter of the Hells Angels.

-A theory on Tara diddling herself: Along with not telling Jax about the offer from the hospital in Oregon, it's further representation of her transformation from doctor to old lady, with less middle ground as time passes. Going along with that, as she gets deeper into the nitty gritty, legal gray areas of being queen of bikerville, she hopes that her relationship with Jax will have the same raw emotion, that almost physical dependency, that Otto and Luann's has despite her death and his incarceration. Or maybe I'm way off, that scene was seriously confusing.

Check out the preview for next week’s episode below and follow the writer on Twitter 

Sons of Anarchy 5.08: Ablation

Sons of Anarchy 5.07: Toad's Wild Ride

After the final scene of revealed what everyone already knew, that the Nomads were behind the home invasions and Clay was the one pulling their strings, the opening of "Toad's Wild Ride" filled in some new information: the specifics of Clay's deal with his new lackeys. When Clay tells them to get out of town for a while, Frankie Diamonds (who's played by , the former president of the New York chapter of the Hells Angels) responds, "What about our deal? We get you back at the head of the table and we get a piece of your end."

As Unser put it, "Who has something to gain by making the club weak; turning the town and the sheriffs against them? Suddenly the pretty guy they gave the gavel too, he ain’t looking all that smart." But we've always known it was Clay, and we've always known Clay's only goal since losing the presidency was getting it back. So I suppose that stuff's not really new either. Here's what is: Clay's finally dropped the whole "lion in winter" act.

Clay's been slowly regaining strength (both literal and figurative) for some time, but he's continued playing the weak old man. Last week, his doctor told him things were looking up health-wise and he no longer needed the oxygen tank. Nonetheless, Clay put it back on as soon as he left the office and lied to Juice about his uplifting prognosis. Now, he's ceased putting on airs (pun intended), or at least modified his bullshit. He no longer argues with the people who hate him, he simply agrees that they have every right to. He tells Tara she's "supposed to hate [him], like [she] does," and Jax that "I know you think I'm the devil, son, and you've got every right to assume that I'd be the one setting fire to your table." Although he follows up the latter by proclaiming his innocence, hence bullshit.

But let's pump the breaks on Clay for a moment, with six episodes left there will be plenty of time to talk about his misdeeds. Instead, let's talk about Juice. Last season, Juice was suicidal. Roosevelt blackmailed (hey, another pun) him into snitching and he was forced to kill his "innocent" brother Miles as a result (I put innocent in quotes because let's face it, these guys are a bunch of gun and drug-running thugs, affable though they may be). Chibs noticed something was up with "Juicey boy" and tipped off Clay, who granted him the "Men of Mayhem" patch partly because of the adept way he'd handled the Russians and Mayans, but also as a way to lift his spirits.

Juice was a broken man. That patch, and the honor and respect it represented, as well as Clay's words when he gave it to him ("I love you, son") were exactly what Juice needed at that moment. Clay became the badass, biker father he'd never had, and ever since, he's been loyal to Clay to a fault. Now, Clay's pulled his most devoted apostle into the whirlpool of his deceit, and that loyalty could land Juice on the wrong end of a gun.

Ever since we found out the tragic circumstances of JT's death, there's been no question Clay will lie, cheat, steal, and even kill to save his own skin. We saw that this week, when he set up the plan to eliminate two of the Nomads (including GoGo, whose DNA will implicate  him in the home invasions). In one fell swoop, he attempted to distance himself from his minions and regain some of Unser's trust (although I don't think old Wayne will believe it for a second). Based on the preview for next week's episode, Juice is in for a double whammy. He'll come clean to Clay about the blackmail and killing Miles, and Roosevelt is going to reveal to Jax that he ratted in return for Clay, who's responsible for the death of the sheriff's wife. It's obviously well within Clay's playbook to set up this mess as a distraction from his own misdeeds. The preview ends with a Son on his knees with a gun to his head. Here's hoping it's Frankie and not Juice, (who's always been to SAMCRO as Lem was to the Strike Team .

One last thing on the Jax/Clay situation: At least one of the guys involved in the drive-by was black, which complicates things a bit. It could mean Pope is somehow involved in the Clay/Nomad deal. Alternatively, it was mentioned that Warren, the con man played by Joel McHale, runs with a crew. So it could've been his guys getting revenge. After all, it seems silly to get a name like McHale to play a one (and one-tenth) and done character. If he's just going to disappear now, his familiar face did nothing but detract from the suspension of my disbelief, which is a point in favor of this option. But the far more likely scenario is still that Clay hired a random black gang banger so he could make Pope a scapegoat. After all, Clay's really only ever had one move when he needed to bail himself  out of trouble: blame it on the blacks. Think about it, Donna got shot, blame it on the blacks, Opie shot me, blame it on the blacks, and so on and so forth.

Now, on to the episode's last bit of drama: Gemma falling asleep at the wheel and crashing with the Teller children in tow. Filthy Phil had a concerned look on his face as Gemma buckled the kids in. After all, she'd been smoking pot and maybe drinking just a little bit earlier and had likely been awake for more than 24 hours dealing with her car getting stolen, Unser being attacked, and the rest. The sequence ended with what appeared to be Abel's blood dripping onto his stuffed toad, hence the title "Toad's Wild Ride."

The scene was foreshadowed in Jax and Gemma's earlier conversation, in which mama bear revealed that her overbearing, possessive love of Jax stems from the early death of his older brother Thomas. Said discussion led to Jax advocating for Gemma to watch the kids for the weekend, despite Tara's misgivings, which in turn led to the fateful crash. Is the death of Tara's oldest child (I know, Abel's not technically her child, but still) the final step of her transformation into Gemma? Well...

Here's the thing, I'm still not positive Abel's dead. Jax and Gemma's discussion could have been a . Maybe it was Gemma's blood, or some grape juice. Maybe Abel's alive but seriously injured. Sutter's been known to pull that kind of thing before. Remember when we were all convinced Juice had hung himself? Because I sure do. Maybe it won't be Tara turning into Gemma because of the death of her eldest child, but Jax turning into Nero because his son is now handicapped.

The result could be any of these things, or none of them. Here's what we know for goddamn sure: Tara is going to tear Gemma to shred regardless. Remember when she beat the shit of Carla for getting Jax killed? That was one thing, she knows the kind of life her husband lives. But her children? And after she continually reiterated that she was trusting Gemma in spite of her best instincts? Gemma is in for a (overly due) beatdown. Tara's rage could also land on Jax. After all, it was his idea to trust Gemma with the kids in the first place.

No matter what, this episode moved a whole lot of interesting plot lines forward and set the tables for a few more. I have to admit I was worried about the show falling off after a few of the season's weaker episodes, but after this week I'm sure we're in for the same thing Toad was. Get it? A wild ride.

Check out the preview for next week’s episode below and follow the writer on Twitter 

Sons of Anarchy 5.06: Small World

Sons of Anarchy 5.05: Orca Shrugged

After all the depressing shit that's happened so far in the fifth season of "Sons of Anarchy," this week's episode, "Orca Shrugged," was a welcomed comedic interlude. Ironically, it also included a pregnant woman being shot in the belly. But let's start with the fun stuff.

The centerpiece of the episode was a surprise guest appearance from Walton Goggins as transexual call girl Venus Van Damme. Those of you who watched "The Shield" will recognize the actor as well as his character's name, a reference to Cletus Van Damme, an alias used by Detective Shane Vendrell in that program. If you're interested, Goggins did  with Entertainment Weekly regarding his part in "Sons." There's a lot of insight into how the appearance came to be and how this manly man of an actor prepared for his, ahem, unusual role. In it, Goggins says Kurt Sutter mentioned neither he nor Michael Chiklis could appear on "Sons" because of "how closely relatable they are to their characters on 'The Shield.'" Luckily, Goggins called bullshit on that one, and we can only hope Chiklis will someday do the same. A plethora of actors from "The Shield" have gotten roles in "Sons," but Chiklis is now the only member of the Strike Team who hasn't made an appearance. Recall David Rees Snell (the unbearably cool Ronnie Gardocki) took the role of Federal Agent Grad Nicholas and Kenny Johnson (Curtis "Lem" Lemansky) played club member Kozik.

But let's talk about why Goggins was there. Mayor Hale needed one more vote to get his Charming Heights project approved. Despite the club being against that kind of McReal Estate last year, now they're picking their battles, and they're alright with the development if it means they can use one of Hale's properties to set up their new escort business with Nero. So they decide to blackmail  a city council member to get the mayor his vote.

Goggins scene was nothing short of hilarious, with lines like "didn't your daddy ever tell you not to judge a book by its penis?" When they needed to convince the councilman's step son to take some bait, the rest of the club got in on the humor too. Jax insists "it doesn't mean you're gay man, we've all been there." "Really? All you guys?" the kid responds. Juice then says, "Lot of cock," Chibs interjects with "two dicks," and back to Juice with "slammin' cock." Insert joke here.

All in all, this was probably the funniest episode of "Sons of Anarchy" to date. From the aforementioned scene to Jax's fistfight, or "Irish discussion," with Galen, which Clay insisted would end in nothing but "Guinness and man hugs." And of course, Tig's joke that something that's "pink, wet, and smells like sunshine" could refer either to pussy or Italian ice, and that he was OK with both.

Like I said, we needed some laughs after all the tough events this season. But here's the rub: would it have been so hard to combine the humor with a tad more plot development? It was nice to get some comic relief, but that's really all this episode was, distraction from the story lines we really want to move forward. The fistfight and Galen shooting up the bikes was fun, sure, but in terms of plot it served no purpose. We already know the Irish will back out of the cartel deal if Clay's not involved, we really don't need a reminder.

One more thing, it was nice to see Tig back to his old self, but I can't help but wonder about the logistics of the timeline here. It can't have been that long since his daughter got, oh, I don't know, BURNED ALIVE IN FRONT OF HIM. Not to mention Opie's death, which Tig himself has admitted was his fault to some degree. Sure, laughter can the be the best medicine for those in mourning. But that's generally because the moments in between the laughs are filled with, well, mourning. Perhaps the idea that Tig's still struggling with that stuff could have been played up a bit more. It would only have taken a few lines: Tig's depressed and the guys have to convince him to take a part in the blackmail scheme, which ends up being therapeutic (in a fucked-up Tig sort of way).

There was only one event that offered any significant plot development in this episode, and it involved Lt. Roosevelt's wife getting shot, which no doubt led to the death of their unborn child. The Sheriff was already up the club's ass over the recent home invasions. Now, it's personal. I mean, not only did his wife take a bullet, but in early episodes we learned she was having a difficult time getting pregnant. Everything else aside, who's to say that bullet won't rob the couple of their one chance to ever become parents? Expect to see a good deal of Rockmond Dunbar in the next few episodes.

This ordeal is also going to lead to some movement in Clay's subtle return to prominence. At this point, I don't think there's any question the Nomads are behind the home invasions and Clay is the one calling the shots. We got another argument at the table between Chibs and Tig, Jax's boys, and the Nomads. Plus, Roosevelt's wife was able to get a good scratch on one of the burglars, and the Lieutenant later demanded that the nurses give him a sample of the skin underneath her fingernails. Yes, it's standard police procedure, but it's also no coincidence that line was spoken on screen. Shit, meet fan.

Aside from that, we didn't get a whole lot. Things are moving forward with the escort business.  Tara got some good news from the doctor, but was so nervous she couldn't stop her hand from shaking while sewing up Tig's ass wound. Oh, and Nero and Gemma's break-up isn't going to be free of drama, but we always knew that. Let's be honest, Jax insisting the two stop seeing each other wasn't going to end any other way. It was kind of a cheap way of milking some more conflict out of Gemma, and frankly, the character has been nothing short of boring for a few seasons now. I can't imagine a less interesting relationship fallout.

I, for one, am waiting for Jax to put a bullet in that prison guard's head. Not to mention the club moving away from the cartel and the Irish so he can put one in Clay's cranium while he's at it. And, of course, the war with Pope, which the Sons will inevitably win despite the deaths of another member or two. Luckily, the promo for next week's episode suggests plenty of action. It was nice to get some laughs in this week, but hopefully there will be some forward movement in all those plot areas and more in weeks to come.

Check out the preview for next week’s episode below and follow the writer on Twitter 

Sons of Anarchy 5.04: Stolen Huffy

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