“I inherited this shit.”

“Don’t pass the buck, man. That’s weak.”

Twice tonight Jax used presidential paraphrasing, mincing Obama’s debate words, as well as the motto Harry Truman kept on his desk. Extremely timely? Of course. And the writing is smart enough to play both sides. Is Jax a good club president? Not enough time has passed to really tell yet. He’s obviously better than Clay as of late. But Jax is constantly guilty of compromising his own wishes for a bigger paycheck. The District of Charming is very political in “Small World,” after all.

The bigger paycheck is, to be expected, coming from Damon Pope. Every time Pope is on screen, he turns me just a little further away from believing that he is going to be the devil in a smart suit. I’m pretty sure Clay will hold on to those reins until the season’s end. Pope lays out an offer to Jax where the coke shipment the club brings in is doubled, with Pope’s crew shipping the other half into Vegas and Reno. In return, the payoffs to Pope will cease, they’ll get another $100,000 for the extra shipment, and Pope will discreetly pay Jax 2% of his own personal cut. If the deal wasn’t enough to sway him, Pope coaxes Jax with his own confident persuasion and subtle compliments. Business men who know the right people are never at risk, and Jax is an impressive young man.

The Niners, Triad, Mayans, and Cartel are informed of the deal, and everyone agrees, so long as the trouble is kept at bay. Jax brings it to the club table for a vote. Of course, Clay tries to snuff the motion, with his puppy dog Juice backing him. The rest of the table is split, with the newest additions to SAMCRO obviously siding with Clay, and the bigger boys like Tig and Chibs siding with Jax. (Tig has to anyway.) Motion passed. The boys are deeper into Pope’s pockets. Is this such a bad thing at the moment? Pope’s intentions haven’t changed. He’s a man who gets what he wants while limiting the messes made. And he’s not above offering justice for the tragedies he has caused.

This justice comes in the form of a folded up address. The address of Staff Sergeant Mackey, whose unflinching rigidity during the incarceration and Opie’s death has remained stuck in everyone’s craw. The usual gang bursts in on him, temporarily taken aback when Mackey’s wife waltzes in waving and shooting a shotgun all over. Once the couple are subdued and tied to chairs, Tig attempts no consideration before putting a bullet through the wife’s head, a smart albeit awful thing. Jax wants a pipe to use on Mackey, but has to settle for a snow globe, which he uses to brutally pulpify Mackey’s skull. The actual damage isn’t shown, but the gory brain matter on the snow globe after Jax has been pulled away gets the point across.

Finally, this home invasion shit is moving forward! We hear Pope once again say it’s not his boys. We know this. Again we have Wayne and Roosevelt discussing the club’s role in them, and the sheriff, on a mandated leave, says he sent the skin from his wife’s fingernails to the lab to be DNA tested. Sadly, his wife soon passes away, and Roosevelt goes a little crazy. He takes his bulky station wagon to the road, chasing Jax and the boys down, going so far as to bump Bobby, knocking him off his bike. Jax, like Wayne, offers his condolences and services if need be, but stresses to Roosevelt never to pull that shit again.

But now Jax has to seriously consider who might be behind the invasions. When he tells Pope the new deal will go through, Pope stops him and tells him to look closer to home for the culprits. He says loyalty has contingencies, admitting he has independent security set up in the event of his death, where $5 million will go to the person who kills his killer. “Fear protects me. Greed ensures it…You don’t need money, Jackson. You just need the ability to see the inevitable.” Quotes like this, obviously central to Pope’s personal mindset, are why I trust him more than I should. It doesn’t mean Jax is going to understand the meaning, but still.

To back it up a bit, Clay gets a good report from his doctor about his lungs, taking him off of his breathing machine. However, Clay lies and tells Juice and anyone else who’ll listen that things aren’t looking good, and he still wears the tubes in his nose. He and Wayne have a tense conversation where Wayne tests his local culprit theory out on Clay, seemingly watching his every reaction, especially after he says Roosevelt is running the DNA test. As the episode ends, Juice drops Clay off at home, where Clay immediately rips the tubes from his nose and blasts through the doorway, into the living room where Greg the Peg, Frankie Diamonds and Gogo. He punches one and screams, “You weren’t supposed to kill her!” And there you have it, fans. It was indeed Clay all along. I’d pat myself on the back for being right, but this show isn’t calibrated for super surprises. Or is it?

Yeah, okay, so I was sincerely surprised by Carla’s actions tonight. She breaks into Gemma’s house, holds her at gunpoint, and calls Nero over to the house, later calling him “sweet brother.” In a wacky One Hour Photo-lite scene, she forces Gemma and Nero to disrobe and get into bed together. Her silver tongue demands Gemma get Nero hard and to go down on him. A few cringe-worthy moments later, Nero stands up and decries Carla’s behavior, offering his front and back for her to put a bullet in, if that is what she chooses.( In the back of my mind, I amused myself by picturing Nero setting all of this up just to get a blowjob.)

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