Sons of Anarchy Watch: Season 5, Episode 8 - Ablation

“Everybody at that table’s done something that puts them outside the reaper.”

Man, I fucking love when Sons of Anarchy is in mid-season, coasting at an exhilaratingly high speed of drama and badassery. “Bonds are broken and alliances are tested,” is the foreign-to-spoilers episode description on DirecTV, and it could very well be the description for every episode this season. When the stakes get this high for a TV show’s characters, the latter half of many series’ seasons fail to live up to their potential. Sons is so good, however, that there were at least five minutes in “Ablation” were characters relaying already-known exposition to other characters, but each case was nearly as exciting as finding out the information ourselves. Everybody in SAMCRO knows almost everyone else’s dark secrets at this point. You could cut the tension with a knife recently removed from someone else’s back.

First things first. Abel is alive and will be okay. Bobby said it best: “All right. Abel’s heartbeat went irregular. They got to do a thing to reverse it.” I assumed the drama would be focused on Abel, but it’s entirely thrown at Gemma. A highly upset Jax and Tara visit her in the hospital, and Clay gains their sympathy by lying, saying Gemma was being followed by a van the night before, just like Jax and Chibs were. For a few scenes, viewers are allowed to cheer at the screen while watching the guilt eat Gemma up inside, though it wasn’t enough. Gemma confesses to Nero that she was just stoned when she wrecked. Later, a very pissed off Nero tells this to Jax, who gets pissed himself and later gets Gemma to confess it to Tara, who then punches her and completely disowns her. See how this one bit of information was shared five times in the episode. But the tension increased with each person, culminating in Tara’s mini-episode. I try to put myself in her shoes and I feel Maggie Siff did a good job in this scene, but was terrible in the moment when she found out about the accident. “My children…”

I skipped over some juicy material up there, but my point is to show just how far Gemma has fallen, both as a character and as a pillar of SAMCRO’s elite. Jax is always screaming about people messing with his family. Now that the person he’s loved in his life the longest, the decision to at least temporarily cut her out of his life is a calculated one, rather than an impulsive one.

Jax has a plan to bring Clay down, but it involves Gemma getting back in tight with him, in the lover’s way, in order to get information from him. Of course, Gemma wants nothing to do with this plan, but when it’s the only way she would be allowed back into the boys' lives, she really has little choice. I seriously doubt Tara has anything to do with her, even when everyone is on better terms. By this point, I think Tara is going to be the one that kills Gemma, while blaming it on something else. Maybe she’ll say a black guy did it.

Speaking of, Jax’s approach to identifying the dead shooter from last week is to chop both of his hands off, sending one to Unser and the other to Pope, asking for both to ID the shooter and pass on any known affiliations. Unser is helpful (“Next time, few fingerprints on glass will suffice.”), where Pope is more insulted. Both name the shooter as Charles Turner, a repeat offender just out of prison. His brother-in-law is the only person they know to still associate with Turner. One bass drum-led trip to the hood later, and Jax is in the middle of a gun fight with said brother-in-law. The chase ends on a rooftop, next to a broken fire escape. The guy immediately cops to only being a stooge for hire, and that the person who hired them was Frankie fucking Diamonds. Not a real surprise or anything, but still. And then Jax let the guy go without any repercussions. Just kidding. He shoots him several times in the stomach and lets him fall off the side of the building, where he smashes into a dumpster before hitting the ground. New rule: When Jax is in beast mode, people get shot and fall off of buildings. The rage in his eyes wasn’t convincing for a real person, but for Jax, it was just right.

The contestants for our next game of Chinese whispers are Clay and his back pocket protector Juice. Juice tells Clay about Gemma and the boys at the beginning of the episode. While they’re at the hospital, Sheriff Roosevelt pulls Juice aside and grills him for info about Frankie. Curious, Clay later asks Juice about this meeting, and eventually Juice has no choice but to unload on everything he’s experienced in the last season, from being half-black to killing Miles and being involved with the RICO case against the club. After thinking on it for a few seconds, Clay says, with either trust or hopelessness guiding him, that he purposefully set the Nomads up to die at Unser’s trailer. Now they know each other’s business, so they’re like, blood brothers or something. It kind of makes me sick.

Going back a step before we get to the bombshell. Nero is visiting Gemma at the hospital when Clay gets there, and the two share a tense moment in the hallway. “Make no mistake. You get in my way with Gemma, I’ll kill you.”

“Don’t worry, mano. I don’t make mistakes. Not like you.”

I would pay PPV prices to watch these two square off against one another. Anyway, Nero calls Jax to Diosa, but it’s a set-up. Frankie is there, holding a gun in Lyla’s mouth while Nero is tied to a chair. Nero appeases Frankie’s demands for money and travel, by giving him $130,000 and some expensive watches, as well as the keys to his truck. Frankie makes Chibs drive him far from Diosa, where someone else is picking him up. I was no nervous at this point, as Frankie has no more use for Chibs, and makes him get on his knees. As he puts the gun against the back of Chibs’ head, there are two whole seconds that go by where fate teeters on its edge. And then a car horn breaks the silence and Chibs is spared, though hit pretty hard on the head.

Frankie’s actions do more than just put a bullet in Lyla’s leg, which he does before leaving the brothel. He admits to Jax and Chibs that Clay is the one responsible for the home invasions, with the president’s chair as his goal. Jax later tells Tara and Gemma this information, saying that he needs proof in order to put Clay’s life in the club’s hands, but that this is his intention.

Remember those “broken ties” discussed? Well Nero calls Jax out on not holding up on his promise of not bringing club business to Nero’s feet. Jax apologizes and makes more promises, but Nero doesn’t want to hear it. He wants out of the agreement. This is when he tells Jax the truth about Gemma’s wreck. Jax says that Nero can have Gemma if he wants her. Nero references familial abuse within the Teller family, and Jax nearly loses his shit, but Bobby steps in and stops the fight.

Jax and Clay’s conversation at the end of the episode initially seems like it will contain a lot of cursing and punching. But it’s Jax putting his plan into place, telling Clay that because Gemma has been disowned, she will be a mess without her family. Jax tells Clay to be there for her. Expect many weird and uncomfortable faces from Gemma in the coming weeks.

Pope’s presence was limited this week, only popping in to warn Jax not to test him again by sending severed hands as messages. When Jax mentions getting himself a good squad entourage, Pope says, “Stay close. You won’t need ‘em.” Which is a strange thing to say. Since Pope isn’t hands-on, I don’t see him accepting Jax in any way beyond what deals they currently have going. If he ever has to come to Jax’s aide, the payment will be steep. I still can’t gauge this guy properly.

Finally, Roosevelt takes Jax aside and says he knows all about the RICO case and Jax’s involvement. His point still isn’t to bring the club down. He’s looking for Frankie Diamonds, and will inform Jax who the rat is at the table. Considering Juice already came clean tonight, I’m guessing he’s going to die before he can explain himself to Jax. I’m fine with this.

Will somebody tell me how any of these characters are going to live until next season? How will anyone be able to look Clay in the eye again? Unser should have already blown his head off long ago, for the home invasion beating he took. The prospect of Clay dying fills me with a certain amount of glee that can only come from a non-sensible hatred for fictional characters. It’s almost bad enough to where I want to put his picture on a dartboard, but not just yet. See you next week guys.

Stuff That Fell Off the Back of the Bike

“How do you want to do this boss? Pieces? Wrap him for a hole?” Tig nearly sounded jubilant while asking this question. And he never got an answer.

How does St. Thomas hospital not have a Biker Wing yet? At the very least, an insurance company should infiltrate the club community.

“You’re gonna get me killed.”

“ That concern left me when I watched my wife die.”

Uh oh. I think I find myself liking Roosevelt a little more with each threat he delivers. Sorry his pregnant wife had to die for it to happen, but she isn’t real anyway. I hope he steps up to Clay and Nero in a triangle cage match.

Funniest moment this week is when Nero finds out the story behind Chucky’s hands. Hearing Gemma say it so matter of factly was awesome. “I should have put that together.”

I think I might be able to get completely sober before Gemma does. First though, I should probably drink all the alcohol and smoke all the weed in the house/neighborhood/galaxy.

“I want you to be with him. Sleep with him. Make him feel like a king.” I’m not Gemma, but those words still make me feel nauseous. I hope he’s wearing a crown of thorns. And that his jester is Whitney Cummings. Ew.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.