Episode Title: "Small World"
Writer: Roberto Patino
Director: Adam Arkin
Remember earlier this season on “Sons of Anarchy” when Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) told Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) that he was “all out of play.”
It turns out that Clay was lying. What a shock.
Full spoilers are ahead for “Small World.” Stop reading now if you’re not up to date with the series.
The first sign that Clay was pulling something came early this week, when he got good news from his doctor and proceeded to hide the extent of his recovery from Jean Carlos "Juice" Ortiz (Theo Rossi) and the other members of SAMCRO. To a certain extent, it’s a play for sympathy on Clay’s part. But more importantly, it means that Jax won’t take Clay as a serious threat if he thinks that Clay can barely walk or breathe.
Looking back, we should have known that the Nomads just didn’t have the brains to pull off the home invasion robberies by themselves. Do Frankie Diamonds (Chuck Zito), Go Go (Chris Browning) and Greg the Peg (Kurt Yaeger) strike anyone as deep thinkers who could come up with a workable plan for anything?
Of course it was Clay who was really pulling the strings. It’s so obvious in hindsight, but I was fooled until the reveal. This goes a long way towards explaining why the Nomads have so vocally challenged Jax’s initiatives. They’re only parroting the views of Clay.
It’s a classic strategy. One of the most effective ways to destabilize any regime is to make the people feel like their rulers aren’t protecting them. The home invasions were less about robberies and more about making the club believe that Jax just can’t cut it as President. With Opie dead and Jax potentially being set up for a fall, there isn’t anyone who could stand in Clay’s way and keep him from reclaiming control of SAMCRO.
However, Clay miscalculated by relying on the Nomads. These morons managed to fatally wound Rita Roosevelt (Merle Dandridge), the wife of Charming Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar). Even Gemma (Katey Sagal) liked Rita; which should illustrate how well regarded she was in the community. Rita was also pregnant when she died, robbing Roosevelt of his child as well.
There seems to be an odd bond developing between Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) and Roosevelt. Unser now agrees with Roosevelt’s theory about the club’s connection to the attacks and he seems to be genuinely offering his support to Roosevelt while pulling away from SAMCRO. Part of that stems from Unser’s lingering bitterness towards Gemma; whom he describes as someone who only uses people… to her face!
Every word that Unser said to Gemma was true. She doesn’t have friends, just people who do things for her. Now that we know that Clay is behind the robberies, there’s a more sinister undercurrent to the scene in which he asks Unser how much he knows about the attacks and what the police may gain from DNA evidence left behind in the attack on Rita.
Clay also uses Gemma’s most recent misfortune as a way to worm his way back into her life by taking care of a problem for her… which she probably would have pawned off on Unser if she could have. It was a particularly bad day for Gemma as her rival, Carla (Wanda De Jesus) showed up at her home with a gun in hand. When Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits) arrives, Carla orders both Gemma and Nero to strip, get into bed and engage in sexual relations at gunpoint.
Gemma’s uncontrollable sobbing was her most sympathetic moment in a long time. Keep in mind, this is a woman who has been raped before and she was once again being forced into a sexual encounter against her will. That would be devastating for anyone. At least Nero took that as his cue to stand up to Carla; who decided to kill herself rather than shoot him.
For the second straight week, Kurt Sutter and company take us to some really dark and twisted places. The revelation that Carla was in love with Nero despite being his half-sister was cringe worthy, but I guess I can see it. I’m just glad that plotline is over with. But it wasn’t the only disturbing moment of the episode. In prison, Jax’s wife, Tara (Maggie Siff) manages to get face time with Big Otto Delaney (Sutter) and she asks him to recant his RICO testimony against the club. In return, Otto tells Tara to get on her knees and implies that he wants her to perform oral sex on him. When she refuses, Otto implies that he will attack her if she ever tries to see him again.
As an aside, does no one run background checks in the “Sons of Anarchy” universe? The prison officials won’t let the SAMCRO lawyer get to Otto, but they’ll let in the wife of SAMCRO’s President? Good job, good job.
And apparently Otto’s threat of violence isn’t enough to deter Tara from trying again in the future. Nor does she choose to share the encounter with Jax. For his part, Jax is also less than truthful about how he spent his day with Tig (Kim Coates) and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) killing the prison guard who sent Opie to his death.
The brutal deaths of the prison guard and his wife served as another reminder that Jax and his friends are not good guys. As an audience, we’ve grown to like them. But they are capable of a level of violence that can be truly frightening. Tig kills the wife like it was nothing while Jax beats the man to death with a snow globe.
Bizarrely, Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) seems to actually like Jax. Or perhaps Pope realizes that Jax and SAMCRO are more competent than the usual gangs working for him. Either way, Pope draws the club further into his web by offering an extreme bump in their drug running money in exchange for muling a larger amount of product.
In this, Clay correctly realized that this was simply Pope’s way of putting SAMCRO more firmly under his control. How screwed up are things when Clay is the voice of reason? And the vote came down to Tig, who looked like he wanted to vote against the new deal until he remembered that he owes Jax his life and has to vote with him from now on.
No matter how much Jax might like to deny it, there’s only destruction ahead on this road. Opie may have only been the first to die this season, unless the club manages to pull themselves back from this proverbial ledge.
But what fun would that be?