"Just father-son s--t, you know." -JaxEthan and his buddies in the League spend a lot of "Fix" hatching various schemes to bring down Samcro, but they almost don't need to bother. Thanks in part to the emotional trauma they already inflicted on Gemma (and Gemma's refusal to share this with Clay), and in part to events that happened long before the League rolled into Charming, Samcro seems to be doing a bang-up job of trying to destroy itself.
"Nobody likes seeing Mommy and Daddy fight." -Tig
Clay and Jax are still pushing at each other, trying to establish both authority within the club and moral superiority over the other. And Gemma's increasing, unexplained coldness to Clay finally pushes him over the brink and leads to a nasty scene outside of Luanne's studio. Opie's still looking to go out in a blaze of glory, and now Bobby is getting sexual favors from Luanne (the wife of another club member) in exchange for keeping secrets from Clay.
As the two lines quoted above suggest, the Sons treat the club as a family - Clay's the dad, Gemma's the mom, Jax is the favorite son, Piney the crotchety grandpa, Tig the dirtbag cousin, etc. - so when the three people who really are family start going at it, the ripple effects are much stronger than if, say, Half-Sack and Chibs had a beef going. And making matters worse, only a few people know what the Clay/Jax feud is about, and nobody who's actually a club member has any idea why Clay and Gemma aren't getting along, Clay included.
In the middle of a surprising amount of action this week is Bobby Elvis, who I suppose in this family metaphor would be the guy who's not related to anybody but is called "Uncle" because everyone's known him so long and likes him so much. (That he does a mean "Hava Nagila" helps in the latter portion.) Bobby was in jail when the hit on Donna went down. Given the way Clay leans on him for counsel (he's the angel on the shoulder to Tig's devil), it's entirely possible Bobby could have prevented the tragedy had he been out on the street at the time, and now he's trying his best to shut down this current problem before it boils over. But if it comes out that he's screwing Luanne to cover for her skimming - "prison clause" or no - the club's internal strife is only going to get worse, no?
While the club members are fighting with each other, Tara gets stuck in a metaphorical catfight with Ima the porn starlet, who wants Jax for herself. Because Gemma is such a force of nature on the show (and so well-played by the creator's wife, particularly during this current rape arc), there's always a danger that she'll start to be right about everything. So I was glad to see Tara resist the advice to brawl with Ima, and that she instead found a more emotionally satisfying way to mark her territory, even if that's not what she intended when she ripped Jax's shirt open in the bathroom. (The "I won" look on Maggie Siff's face when Ima walks into the room is priceless.)
With the club still in business with Luanne, the problem with Ima likely isn't going to go away anytime soon. Nor are the issues between Jax and Clay, Clay and Gemma, and, of course, Samcro and the League. We've got a whole lot of season left to go, and knowing the way Kurt Sutter rolls, things are going to get a lot uglier before they get prettier.
A few other thoughts:
• Usually, "Sons of Anarchy" pre-credits sequences tend to run so long that they're more or less regular acts, with the credits thrown on 10 minutes in for the heck of it. But tonight's teaser was extremely short.
• While Unser is still taking a barrel-ful of cancer meds, Hale lets himself be talked into siding with the League. I wonder if his conversations with Ethan are what Wayne's talks with Clay were like a few hundred years ago.
• This is the episode where I first noticed Adam Arkin's shifting accent - specifically, the way he says "vig-i-LAWN-tee" when Hale's at the cigar shop - but several of you said that it was in the first two episodes, as well, so I must have just missed it.
• With the talk of the prison clause, and with Clay getting serviced by a groupie during his quasi-split with Gemma, it may be time for the show to revisit exactly what the rules are concerning fidelity in this world. Last year, it seemed like Gemma was suggesting you can fool around on the road so long as it doesn't follow you home.
What did everybody else think?