SONS OF ANARCHY 5.08 ‘Ablation’

Juice gets squeezed by Clay and Roosevelt as Jax learns more about the attempt on his life.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Ablation"

Writer: Mike Daniels

Director: Karen Gaviola

Previously on "Sons of Anarchy"

Episode 5.07 "Toad's Wild Ride"

Sons of Anarchy” fans, I have question for you: Is Gemma (Katey Sagal) worth all of this misery?

Look, people make mistakes all the time. It happens. But rarely does anyone continuously bring a s***storm down on her family like Gemma Teller Morrow. Nearly getting her grandchildren killed is just the latest example of her epic screw-ups.

Full spoilers are ahead for "Ablation," so stop reading now if you’re not current on the series.

It was a little cheap for the writers to imply that Abel had been horribly injured and possibly killed in the accident last week only to then come back this week and imply that he wasn’t that badly hurt. Not that it excuses Gemma driving while high with Abel and Thomas in the backseat.

Although, it is good that Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) and his wife, Tara (Maggie Siff) don’t have yet another tragedy to contend with in their lives. Jax rightly points out that Abel has already suffered enough in his short life and he’s all too willing to cut Gemma out of his life before her estranged husband, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) comes to the rescue and says that Gemma was forced off the road by the same van that took a shot at Jax and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) last week.

It’s almost a shame that the lie wasn’t real, because it brought the family closer together. But the lie just wasn’t enough to keep it together and everything unraveled once the truth came out. Tara punched Gemma with her bad right hand and both Jax and his wife disowned her and cast Gemma out of their lives.

The only reason that Jax isn’t completely throwing his mother out is that he thinks he can use her against Clay. He’s basically telling Gemma to get back together with Clay in all ways just to spy on him. It’s pretty sick and it once again brings up Jax’s “twisted mommy” issues. And that was how Jax himself described it a few episodes back.

Until this point, Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits) has been way too forgiving of Jax and Gemma for the chaos that they’ve brought into his life. Gemma’s other major screwup of the season cost Nero his old place of business and the life of his twisted half sister. But when the last Nomad, Frankie Diamonds (Chuck Zito) shoots one of Nero’s girls and escapes with over a hundred grand stolen from Nero (while using Chibs as his hostage), Nero finally has enough.

One of the reasons that Nero has been such a great addition to the cast of characters is that he is by far the most level headed person around. Nero turns out to have been correct when he warned Gemma to get in front of the lie, even though he was the one who exposed her deception to Jax. Likewise, Nero’s warning to Jax about accelerating his endgame is exactly the right move to make. But given Jax’s history, it’s advice that will probably not be heeded. After all, there are still at least two more seasons of “Sons of Anarchy” to go.

Nero’s confrontation with Jax was probably the most intense moment of the episode, followed by Tara punching Gemma. By the way, Tara should really start learning how to punch with her left hand. She acted like she broke her right hand after popping Gemma.

Even though Frankie Diamonds openly admitted that Clay was behind the home invasion attacks to undermine Jax’s rule, the previous seasons of “Sons of Anarchy” lead me to believe that Clay will slither away again. It just feels like Kurt Sutter and company will bend over backwards to find a reason to keep Clay alive until the end of the series. To a certain extent, it’s understandable why they don’t want to lose Ron Perlman. But they are starting to repeat themselves.

Chibs was also inexplicably lucky when Frankie Diamonds didn’t execute him on the secluded part of the road. That actually made less sense than anything else and stretched the credibility of the moment. But I am curious about the identities of the other two men with Frankie in that scene. Do we have new players in this conflict?

While Clay and Chibs have been lucky so far, Jean Carlos "Juice" Ortiz (Theo Rossi) is running out of luck. Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) is so angry about losing his wife and unborn child that he no longer cares if he makes it obvious that Juice betrayed the club. Clay can’t have been the only member to have found it highly suspicious that Roosevelt ordered Juice to speak with him privately in front of all of them.

Rossi has become adept at playing Juice’s desperation, particularly when he opens up to Clay about everything. His racial identity, stealing from the club for the RICO investigation, killing Miles… it’s a long list of crimes against SAMCRO, any of which could get him killed. Surprisingly, Clay offers up a few of his own crimes to Juice to make them feel bonded. But does anyone have any doubt that if Juice ever brings them up to save himself that Clay will simply dismiss his words as a last attempt for leniency?

Weirdly enough, Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) has been a fairly steady ally for Jax since the club was forced into business with him. Pope seems to be amused by Jax, but I think his primary motivation is simply to use SAMCRO to make him richer. Pope already had his vengeance against Tig (Kim Coates); but that will probably end with either Tig or Pope dying at some point. And as much as I like having Pope around, Tig is the most likely of the two to survive.

There were some small and even humorous moments that illustrated how hard Jax and Tara have become to their world. The unhappy expression on Tara’s face was hilarious as Jax and his men loaded the shooter’s body into the back of her car. Likewise, Jax’s impromptu hand chopping was also darkly funny. But it was still a little disturbing how easily Jax shot the man driving the van that took a shot at him.

On a whole, I really liked this episode. However, I don’t know if Sutter and the other writers will see these plotlines through to a natural conclusion. This is a story that should go forward, not in circles.