After watching this episode, a depression has set in. Not because it wasn't good -- it was. But because things are imploding, and if you're invested in these characters, you feel the weight of the rubble. That promo of Jax and the boys riding by exploding, crumbling wall portraits of Tara, Clay, and Gemma is beginning to make sense. Though I suppose I'm still not sure if they are bombs going off to hurt Jax, or if he is detonating them.
We opened with Jax riding his bike and a nice shot of his spotless white sneakers when the song on the soundtrack got to the word "clean." A knock at the door interrupted Gemma and her "tired" tubes having a very good morning with Nero in bed. "It's not my gardener, it must be for you," she told Nero before he let in Arcadio (Dave Navarro), his cousin. Arcadio told Nero and Gemma that the shooter in yesterday's school shooting was his old lady's son, Matthew, and the weapon was his KG-9. Darvany told the cops she'd never seen the gun before, but as Gemma pointed out, her boy just got killed, so they're not pressing her -- yet.
Toric was at the jail bright and early to give Clay his deal. Clay wanted to know what Toric's end game is. "You know why I was such a good lawman? I never gave a s-- about justice, it was always about retribution for me. Hurting people who hurt people, that's always my end game," he told Clay. Otto crushed the RICO case, so Toric needs another way to make the club hurt -- and a former president turning rat will do it. In exchange for agreeing to cooperate, Clay would get a legal team to fight the murder charge, immunity from his club-related crimes, and a spot in the witness protection program. Before Clay would sign, he wanted to see Gemma and Jax. Why? "'Cause I want to hurt people, too," he said.
After Gemma helped Nero put on his cross necklace -- was it always that prominent? -- she told him the club could help get Darvany out of Arcadio's house, which the cops are watching. They agreed to meet at Jax's, where Gemma was heading because Tara was coming home today. Cut to Tara and her bandaged hand being escorted out by Lowen. After she saw Jax waiting outside the doors, Tara handed Lowen the notepads we'd seen her writing on in jail. She said everything she could remember was on them. She asked if Lowen had started "the other paperwork." At this point, even though Tara had told Toric she'd never turn on Jax because of their boys, I didn't know what to think. She walked out, Jax handed her a helmet and sunglasses, and she hopped on the back of his bike -- in silence. I loved that. We were all waiting to see what they'd say to each other; I bet none of us thought the answer would be nothing. I liked the hint of a smile she gave at one moment. It was probably directed at a passerby -- Tara rising to the challenge of pretending her marriage is fine when it's not. Something she'd also be doing with Jax. It also set the tone for this slightly calmer, more reflective episode.
The kids were happy to have Tara home, and for a second, Jax smiled as he saw her hold Abel. There was the nurturing, maternal Tara he fell in love with. But then the smile was gone, as he remembered it's the kids that they're essentially fighting over. Gemma took Jax into the kitchen to tell him Nero was coming over to talk about the shooting. You saw the look of horror on his face, and you almost felt guilty smiling then as an ATF agent played by C. Thomas Howell (!) updated Toric at the crime scene: Toric was right about it being a street-converted automatic KG-9 with no marks. We learned four people were dead, three of them kids. Nine more are injured, two critically. The security guard put two bullets in the shooter's head when he was switching clips. The shooter was 11. We got our first look at District Attorney Tyne Patterson, played by CCH Pounder.
NEXT: "It's trashy money, but it ain't dirty... or bloody"