Bad stuff first:
I'm getting bored with the Gemma/Tara conflict, and while the introduction of Wendy, a third-party with definite ideas about her place in Jax's life, should've made things more interesting, so far, I don't think it has. Maybe I'm missing something, but even with the dead guy between 'em, Tara and Jax's relationship seems mostly a matter of screwing, then Tara asking for some confirmed terms and Jax going all squirrelly. It makes sense that they'd be awkward, just as it makes sense that Gemma would have problems with Tara; she represents a world outside of Charming, and, by extension, outside Gemma's reach. The problem is, the whole thing keeps going in circles. We had some more drama tonight, with Wendy doing her best not to be Gemma's pawn while still getting what she wants, and Tara making a play straight out of high school to mark Jax as her own, but compared to the rest of "The Sleep of Babies," I'm not really giving a damn. Even Tara's big moment, slapping Jax and storming off when he refuses yet again to commit to anything, fell flat. As Maggie Siff plays her, Tara is much too controlled for that kind of explosion; I can believe that anybody would be ready for some violence after a month of Gemma's backbiting, but I needed more build-up to Tara losing her cool.
That's about it. Oh, and the scene with the woman begging for money–what the hell was that about?
Fortunately, the rest of "Sleep" was intense as hell, making up for the slower moments. I'll admit, some of what happened during this particularly miserable day seemed a little contrived, but the end result was a solid sucker punch.
There's nothing more dangerous than a clever man who's not quite as smart as he thinks he is. Nobody's doubting that Clay is a cagey sonofabitch. As president of the Sons, he's been running guns and getting his hands dirty for any number of years, but he's managed to keep the club together and keep his nose clean the whole time, and that's gotta take some skill. Plus, there's whatever the hell it is that happened to Jax's father way back then; Clay and Gemma have managed to keep that buried for a long time. Hell, Clay's still married to Gemma. That's gotta count for something.
Problem is, cleverness only goes so far. After his manipulation of the Mayan situation, Clay looked to be on top of the game; but when the club needs some extra cash, he decides to get all tricky. He offers the Mayans the club's security surplus, a back-up store of automatics and assault weapons that the Sons have a standing policy to never sell. Jax and the others reluctantly go along with the plan–the money is for Bobby's legal fees–but Clay isn't done yet. He makes a side deal with the Niners and Laroy, Sam Crow's original gun buyers; he gives them the location and time of the hand-off with Alvarez, with the promise that if they take out some Mayans, and give Clay a chance for the payback he promised he was going to go for, the Niners can have the guns. The club gets the money, Alvarez gets dead, and everybody wins.
Oh, and the double-cross also provides Tig with a perfect chance to off Opie and blame it on the scary black men. But things don't work out according to plan; the Niners show up early, Jax and Clay nearly get shot, and after Opie saves Tig's life, Tig doesn't have the heart to pull the trigger. (This surprised me a little, but the more I think about it, the more it works; again, the show goes out of its way to make sure that every character gets at least one moment of grace.) Plus, Tig and Opie never get the money, so now the club is without guns and cash.
Abel finally leaves the hospital, and the Sons throw a homecoming party. Clay decides this would be the best chance to finally kill Opie, by having Tig shoot him leaving the get-together, but frame it up to look like a drive-by hit from a disgruntled Niner. There's a clockwork awfulness to what happens next: Opie and Donna leave the party, Donna decides she wants to stay and help clean up so she and Opie switch cars to let Opie bring the kids home. Donna takes the truck to go to the store, and Tig, thinking Opie's driving, follows the truck when he sees it turning off Jax's road. And of course, Unser picks just this moment to track Clay down and tell him what Hale told him a few hours before–the ATF is just screwing around, and Opie isn't a rat at all. Clay tries to call Tig, but Tig's left his cell phone back with his bike; he's driving a black SUV when he pulls up behind Donna in the truck, shoots her in the back of the head, and then drives away, stopping just long enough to see just who he killed.
Yeah, it's a little mechanical, the way everything works out in exactly the worst possible way. I can't help wondering, why did Unser take so long to let Clay know the truth? And the fact that Tig didn't even have a moment's doubt before firing the gun–Donna doesn't look like Opie, not even from the back.
But I was satisfied at how things ended up. Somebody had to die here, and having it be Donna makes sense; if it had been Opie in the truck, there would've been regret for Tig and Clay, but they would've made peace with it. After all, they were just doing what they thought was right for the club. But there's no reconciling this murder. And there's no avoiding the utter shitstorm it's going to rain down on everyone's heads.
Plus, the final scene over Donna's corpse was a beaut. Opie breaking down, Clay just wallowing in his mistake, Jax acting pissed. And man, Hale taking down Agent Smith with one freakin' punch. Hardcore. And how about Unser? That moment when he's talking to Clay while Opie sobs over his wife's corpse, when you realize that Unser knows exactly what happened. The guy may be a weasel, but he's not a stupid weasel.
Can't wait for next week.
—Wendy and Jax, together again. I wonder if Tara's gonna slap her next.
—Gemma continues to hate on religion. Maybe next week, she'll spit on a nun.