There are spoilers ahead, but you knew that already.
So, THAT happened during last night's Sons of Anarchy. We have to wait until next week to find out exactly what comes next, now that Opie has unloaded two slugs into Clay's chest. But the fact that Opie pulled the trigger twice—with Jax as a witness—speaks volumes about his state of mind (and show creator Kurt Sutter's ability to push his characters to their breaking point). This sets up a really awkward opening scene for next week's episode, whether Clay is dead or not. Can you believe Jax threatened Opie like that? I know things have gone to the toilet for everyone in the club, but seeing Jax and Opie pull guns on each other at different points in the same episode was THE WORST.
I don't know if Clay is dead, mortally wounded, or if he's just going to be awfully sore in the morning. Giving us the money shot we've all been waiting for in the third-to-last episode of the season is ballsy. If he's dead, how do we spend the next two hours? But there's a plan in place, and the more I think about it, the more I realize there's still plenty of interesting things left to wrap up, and I'm not seven sure two episodes is enough.
Sutter Tweeted today that in Part 1 of the two-part season finale, "we dig into the past," and in Part 2 "we lay track into the future." Sounds like, with Clay potentially out of the way, the truth can come out about John Teller, setting the stage for Jax to stay with SAMCRO and carry out his dad's legacy. It also sets up the possibility that Jax learns the truth about Gemma's involvement with his father's death, and I don't even want to speculate what that could lead to. (Okay, one tiny speculation: Jax ousts Gemma from the club and takes the throne with Tara.)
But all of this relies on whether they can avoid the feds. Otto signed his name on the dotted line, incriminating SAMCRO for a laundry list of felonies. The former member who wrote his own death warrant and gave up vital organs to protect the club finally turned after the truth was twisted against him—yet even in his time of treachery, he couldn't look Bobby in the eye when he bent him and the club over. It was the slightest hint of remorse and shows just how deep SAMCRO runs in its members' hearts. Fantastic scene, and a great reaction from Bobby. Sutter writes scenes where his real-life wife gets gang-raped and beaten to a pulp, then he casts himself as the one type of person that SAMCRO hates the most: a rat. Talk about taking one for the team.
Now we have to wait and see whether Linc will actually hold up his end of the deal he made with Juice, and let SAMCRO off easy while he takes down the cartel and the Irish. All of a sudden Juice's deal with Linc is looking pretty rock solid, isn't it? Of course, that's IF Linc stays with his word, and knowing that he literally likes to turn things upside-down (how perfect was it to find out that he uses an inversion table?), who wouldn't be surprised if he tried to put all three criminal organizations away and celebrate by doing interpretive dance in a bed of rose petals?
All these remaining questions remind us of Sutter's talent for staying several steps ahead of his viewers; we simply do not know where the series is headed, what will happen, or how far things will go. He's one of the best in the business, and he crafts his stories in a way that doesn't feel cheap or contrived, a rare feat accomplished by only the best television.
Interesting and awesome observation:
I watched the advanced press screener of "Burnt and Purged Away," which DEFINITELY didn't show the globs of blood splatter shooting out of Clay's chest after Opie shot him. It only had the faintest amount of blood, which I only saw because I looked for it frame by frame. There's a HUGE difference between showing blood and not showing blood when the murder of a major character is involved. Given the lack of blood, I naturally thought, "bulletproof vest." So did lots of other reviews out there. But blood does not fly out of bodies when one wears a vest. Given Sutter's rocky relationship with the media, it would not surprise me if this was an intentional "F You!" move to the "TV recappers" he loathes so much in an attempt to make them look stupider than we already are.
– Once again, Ryan Hurst acted his ass off, and Opie has become this season's most sympathetic character. That's saying something, as feeling sorry for SAMCRO members has been as regular as opening credits. His opening scene with Gemma was such great calm-before-the-storm that even Gemma didn't suspect anything at the time, instead assuming the blank stare on his face (read: MURDERFACE) was a reaction to the fist prints left on Gemma's mug and not because he's setting out on a revenge ride to end all revenge rides. Flash forward to the crematorium, where Opie watched his father's body burn, the final moment of respite before it's all about spite. Moments later, it's Opie and Jax outside with Opie's mind made up, and then it's that killer scene to close the episode out. Since the last few minutes of last week's episode, Hurst has managed to show all millions stages of anger in just a handful of scenes. Phenomenal work, and I can't mention it enough.
– The scenes with Clay and Tara in the hospital room were tense! How'd you like to wake up helpless and see Clay staring at you? I loved the chess game going on between the two. Those letters from John have to be shown to Jax.
– Will the Irish baby factory have anything to do with the next few episodes? I'm not sure I see how it fits in.
– As Jax suggested, the next potential SAMCRO cabinet is Bobby as president, Chibs as vice president, and Happy as sergeant? That doesn't sound like a strong top three and would weaken the Sons irreparably.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom