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Sons Of Anarchy Shocker: Did You See It Coming?

This season of Sons of Anarchy has pulled no punches. After one of the more horrific moments for the series took place during the season premiere, it seemed like the show would either ease off for a while, or only get worse from there. As of tonight's episode, things got worse. If you haven't seen tonight's episode of Sons of Anarchy ("Laying Pipe"), stop reading - MAJOR spoilers ahead!

Nick should be around tomorrow to weigh in with his weekly breakdown of last night's episode. But given the events that took place in "Laying Pipe," we figured some of you would likely need a place to react, vent, cry and/or unleash a flurry of swear words in response to the major character death. Or maybe that's just me. Opie's dead. He was one of my favorite non-Jax characters on Sons of Anarchy. Maybe it was his kind eyes, or gentle nature. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a tragic character.

Club life wasn't easy on Opie. When the series began, he was reluctant to return to SAMCRO, trying to earn a clean living and provide for his family. His wife Donna was killed in a club-related death in the first season, and it took him a few seasons, but he managed to get over that enough to fall for adult film actress Lyla. The marriage didn't last. And then his father Piney died at the hands of Clay. Losing his wife and father to club-related matters took its toll on him and it seemed like he was almost ready to walk away for good. Maybe he would've been better off if he had. The only thing he had left were his kids, which he left with Lyla before intentionally getting himself arrested with the rest of the guys during last week's episode.

Going into tonight's episode, there were rumors that something big was going to happen. Series creator Kurt Sutter even teased the death via Twitter yesterday. And when Pope told Jax he wanted a Son, death seemed eminent. It was just a matter of who. Jax telling Opie the truth about Piney seemed to be the nail in the coffin. I'm not saying it seemed like he chose Opie to be the one to die. But from an outside perspective, it just felt like it could be the last man-to-man conversation these two had, and if these guys were getting one of those, it should include Opie learning what happened to his father. Of course, the optimist in me hoped that Opie was receiving this information for when he was out and could confront Clay. Apparently not.

The title "Laying Pipe" seems especially brutal, given the way Opie died. Jax didn't choose a Son. When the guard asked him if he was choosing, Jax said "My call…" and it seemed like he was ready to start a fight with the guys (possibly encouraging or assuming Opie, Chibs and Tig would join in and take their chances), but Opie stopped him and head-butted the guard. Was that his way of volunteering? It seems so, though it came off as a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. And when they had him inside the room and ready to fight with the prisoners who would kill him, he went along with it. Opie used the pipe they gave him to get in a few good swings before he was disarmed. And for a second, it almost seemed like he might have a chance. But again, that was probably just my optimism messing with me.

As hard as it was watching the presumably fatal blow to the back of Opie's head, it was just as difficult to watch Jax, Tig and Chibs watch helplessly from the behind the glass. I literally felt sick by the time the commercials (mercifully) arrived to pull us away from the sound of Chibs screaming and the sight of that pipe still swinging beyond the window behind Jax.

A truly brutal episode, and a heartbreaking ending for one of the best characters in this series. What I'm hoping is that Opie's death won't be in vein. I'm not only referring to how it affects the characters in the series, but also how this loss affects the show. I want to believe that he wasn't taken out simply for dramatic purposes, and that this loss is part of the story progression in some big way, because Sons won't be the same without him. We'll have to wait and see where things go from here. In the meantime, weigh in in the comments below to let us know what you think of what happened! And check back in Wednesday morning to read Nick's episode breakdown. I'm sure he'll have much more to say on this topic and everything else that happened in the episode.