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It's so great to be angry, isn't it? Somebody gets up in your face, starts slagging off, and it's like the fist in your hand forms itself, like the fingers are joined as a conscious entity separate from rational thought, and if you aren't careful, if you aren't really careful, that fist goes to work. Being happy is good, but being angry, feeling that rage all through you, that's being protected; that's not having to worry about feeling guilty or scared or ashamed. When you're mad, you don't have to think anymore. All you have to do is swing, and whatever happens next, well, that's just in some other universe.

Charming has its share of pissed off people, and by the end of "Smite," it doesn't look like anybody will be calming down soon. Gemma's still suffering the effects of her gang rape, and it's not helping that she keeps seeing the creeps who did the deed walking around town. This time it's the woman who tricked her into leaving her car—a young lady named Polly who happens to be Zobelle's daughter. Gemma catches Polly leaving a van in the hospital parking lot, and while she gives chase, she doesn't accomplish anything besides hitting Tara in the face hard enough to bloody Tara's nose. The problem is, Gemma hasn't been thinking clearly since the event, and while it's not her fault that the van Polly leaves behind goes largely unheeded till it blows up at the end of the episode, the fact that she's too distracted by her own vulnerability and fury to pay attention to what's going on means that Zobelle's plan is actually kind of working.

That van explosion was amazing, wasn't it? Beautifully set-up, too; you see Polly futzing with it, it gets a casual mention between Zobelle and Weston, and then it's largely forgotten till a tow truck dumps it off at the Sons' garage. And then it's an agonizing three or four minutes before it blows up. A well-paced, wonderfully subtle piece of suspense, and another part of why this show is just so damn good.

We'll have to wait till next week to see the fall-out from this (and what happens to poor Chibs), but Clay and Jax were already pissed enough as it was, doubtful this will ease tensions. Clay is all for retribution after Otto gets an eye poked out by some of Zobelle's prison buddies, but Jax, as always, wants to take things slow. The lines are getting drawn up through the club, with Opie and Tig still firmly on Clay's side, and Bobby surprisingly siding with Jax. The problem here is a fundamental difference in philosophy, and while it's easiest to see Clay as the wrong-headed one, I'm thinking it's Jax who needs to get his head on straight. Not to come around to Clay's way of thinking, exactly, but to pin down exactly what changes he actually wants for the club, and how expects those changes to come about.

John Teller's thesis gets dragged out again here, first as Jax figures out that Gemma swiped the original, and then as Jax gives it to Tara as proof that she does have a place with the club, and that he does want change. But saying isn't the same as doing. When Tara's boss at the hospital wrongly assumes that Tara's busted nose came from Jax hitting her, it's obviously the boss just making snap assumptions based on the jacket Jax wears. And yet, Clay is halfway cross town shaking Zobelle down for protection money, and while Zobelle deserves some shaking, we're reminded that the Sons get protection money from most of the businesses in Charming. They're thugs, and while they seem like basically decent guys, that doesn't change the fact that a lot of the stuff they pull down isn't just good-natured, thumbing your nose at the law foolishness. If Jax wants to bring the club back into line with his dad's dreams, he's going to have to make some drastic choices, and there's no certainty anyone will stick around to see what happens next.

There were some pleasant surprises tonight, thankfully. Jax and Tara having an honest conversation (half-honest, really, as Tara still hasn't told him what happened to Gemma) was one, and the other was Hale and Unser having a frank discussion that led to Hale finally stepping back from the White Power team-up he'd been contemplating. This was a relief, really. Like Unser says, Halle is supposed to be the good guy; while I can imagine him compromising himself a little, I don't buy that he'd be willing to get into bad with hate-mongers just to get rid of the Sons. This meant Jacob's land scheme petered out abruptly, but it also felt truer to the character.

"Smite" was generally all around excellent. The throw-down on Main Street between SAMCRO and Weston and his boys was appropriately chaotic, with Jax trying to keep the peace right up till the moment when Weston knocks his bike over. I'm curious as to what Zobelle's intentions were with the van-bomb; I doubt it was to seriously damage the club property (or personnel) wise, which means that this might've been just another goad to make the Sons act irrationally, and Jax's need for caution may be well-advised. Zobelle's end-game has yet to come clear. In the final moments before the van exploded, Clay looked heart-broken. He just wants everything to be fine, he tells Gemma, he just wants Jax back in his corner and SAMCRO to be whole again. I don't think he'll be thinking that clearly again for a while. I see a lot of swinging fists in the weeks ahead.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

-Every episode that passes without Gemma finally talking to somebody about the rape, I get a little more worried.

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