If you'd been waiting for the tension that's been mounting over the last few episodes of Sons of Anarchy to explode in your face, you got it last night. "With an X" featured some important moments (Juice!) and drove the story forward, but instead of walking the story hand-in-hand towards the finish line, it bashed its head through the drywall.
If I had to summarize "With an X" in a word, I'd go with "totallyf***ingcrazyholysh*twow!" Much of the episode focused on my boy Juice, who's been squeezed by Sheriff Roosevelt and forced into turning on the club to protect the truth about his race. I spent the bulk of last week's episode screaming "No, Juice! What are you doing!?" as he bungled a half-baked plan to steal a few grams of coke from one of the cartel's kilo bags. We saw the fallout last night, and it made me grind my teeth down to the gums. But I also questioned whether things would actually have played out that way.
I understand that putting Juice in a position where he witnessed SAMCRO psychologically tormenting its prospects was a great way to put us on pins and needles, but shouldn't the club have put a little more pressure on Juice? I'm with Chibs on this one—he's the only one who threw Juice a few suspicious glances. The rest of the club just declared Juice innocent right away. I know that if I was partying with hardcore drugs and something went missing, I'd be pointing the finger at everyone, even my best friend who wasn't even there. After all, it was Juice who proposed a 15-minute period for the coke to magically reappear, no questions asked. The livelihood of the club is at stake here—there's war with the cartel on the line!—and if the prospects and Juice are the only ones who could have taken it, I'd make sure all suspects were properly "questioned." Perhaps with a broken beer bottle.
But let's sweep that nitpicking under the rug so we can get to the moment when Juice SQUEEZED OFF FIVE ROUNDS INTO THAT DUDE'S HEAD. Wow. Awesome. That bit was done beautifully. Juice had a kilo stuffed into his trousers, he got busted, and his only way out was to fight. I loved the look of panic on both the guys' faces as they looked for the gun, knowing one of them was about to die. And on the losing side of the fight was... wait, who was that guy? It's unfortunate that we barely knew Miles; as a result, his murder didn't carry as much emotional weight as it could have. But who cares, because this is really about Juice, who's crossed the point of no return. I love Juice, but if he manages to get away with this, then I'm going to be mad at the show.
Meanwhile, I'm still finding myself completely upset with Opie for sleeping with that cheap floozy last week. Didn't he and Lyla just get married five episodes ago? And then he goes and cheats because she's on a diet of birth control and morning after pills? Maybe I just don't want to see Opie in a negative light or maybe the storyline just isn't that believable (I'm leaning toward the latter), but I need this thing to end soon. It seems dramatic for the sake of being dramatic. And soapy.
Also slightly unbelievable was the porn star whore pulling a gun on SAMCRO at their HQ. What was she thinking? And would anyone really be so quick to try and bed Jax after pulling a gun on his girl and getting mad-dogged by his club? She got what she deserved when Jax tried to put her face through a table, but the whole string of events just didn't come off as believable to me. Or maybe she was just that stupid.
Last week I wondered if Clay would go after Tara once he learned about the damning evidence in the letters. Turns out the answer is yes. And now he's asking the cartel to take care of it for him. I'm not sure why the cartel would agree to get involved in SAMCRO's business like that, beyond the writers thinking it's much cooler to have the cartel go after Tara instead of some random assassin, but whatever. At least Wayne had the decency to alert her that someone is after her with a printed-out note that called her a doctor bitch. That was nice of him. I probably would have gone with Comic Sans for the font, though.
"With an X" saw people make some pretty questionable decisions, but each one culminated in a memorable pay-off, so I'm inclined to let them slide and just soak in the drama. One thing Sons Season 4 has done well is give every character a heavy storyline, and with such a deep roster, that's an impressive accomplishment.
– Interesting to see Clay walk off into the clubhouse room at the end of the episode. That was the clubhouse room, right? Did he just need some "me time" to cope with putting a hit out on his stepson's fiancée? Good luck sleeping well, Clay.
– Tig got a sweet self-contained story when his daughter Dawn (the crazier one) showed up and swindled him out of twelve grand. He knew it was a scam, but he still let her have it. Tig understands he's in no place to judge, and besides, it's his baby girl. REQUEST: Anyone know the name of the actress who played Dawn? I couldn't find it. Update: It's Rachel Miner, who played a Meg on Supernatural. That's how I recognized her.
– How funny is Jax's tough-guy walk? It's like a fat man's waddle mixed with someone who just put Tabasco sauce in his armpits.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom