Sons of Anarchy Season 5, Episode 3: “Laying Pipe”
Written by Kurt Sutter
Directed by Adam Arkin
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm (ET) on FX
Guess last week truly was the calm before the storm. Right when Sutter has you thinking that he doesn‘t have it in him to send one of his leads down the final road we get hit with this… If you liked it or not, this episode is one for the books, as Opie’s death (unexpected at least to me, who ignored all Twitter and Facebook warnings posted in advance) hits right in the heart. Whether it’s beneficial for the show‘s development, which remains to be seen, it is most certainly a ballsy move on the writers’ end. Maybe that is why Sutter has shown such mercy to his SAMCRO members in the past, to wait it out and make this one count. Because let’s face it, as sad as it was to see Half Sack and Piney go, Opie eventually offering himself up as the sacrificial lamb, “Those are the things that turn players into kings”, as Pope rightfully comments during Jax’s and his talk right after Opie‘s death, proving once again he’s a villain with cool logic and very little sympathy.
But let’s see how this gruesome scenario unfolded during what has only been the third episode of season five yet. A few minutes in and Sutter already gets right to the nitty gritty; Shortly after the SAMCRO boys arrive in jail, Jax faces Damon Pope, who doesn‘t hold back in his demands: half of the money of each drug mule, Tig in jail for the rest of his life, and a son’s life as retaliation; in short, one bloody freaking moral mess for Jax to figure out. And while it’s clear from that moment that it has to be either Opie or Chibs to go, one wonders what Jax’s smart way out will be- the solution for everyone to remain alive. But the air at the gavel is thin and Jax is not running on the sidelines any longer, he’s the one having to make the decisions, despite the fact that it’s not his mess to clean up.
Backed into a corner, Jax still chooses to somewhat play with open cards, at least in regards to Opie, who gets the whole story of Pope’s demands and past cover-ups concerning Clay once they are stuck in solitary confinement. And while it’s a little hard to grasp that Opie voluntarily steps up, not even mentioning his kids once, it is also clear that his time with the MC has slowly come to an end (only too understandable considering the suffering this character had to go through, losing his wife, losing his father, to mention just a few). Opie himself wraps it up in a nutshell when he tells Jax he’s made the wrong choice in letting Clay live in order to keep the club running.
Nonetheless, seeing him go, especially struck out by this iron pipe, is a bloody image that won‘t be forgotten fast. It’s difficult and unnerving to watch, as we get to see his whole fight to the death in the unbelievably dirty basement of the jail against four of Pope’s men. It will surely prompt a loathsome revenge and the solitary deputy (Jack Conley) in Pope’s pocket should enjoy the little life he has left, as Jax’s pain over losing his best friend will most certainly have wide repercussions.
Meanwhile, on the outside there are two main developments: the slowly growing conflict between Tara, Gemma, and Jax’s ex Wendy and, surprisingly entertainingly, a one-lunged Clay stirring up whatever he can. While the women amongst each other choose the verbal route of conniving (especially Gemma, who admittedly is much more short-sighted these days), getting in each other’s faces over various serious (questions of custody over Abel) and slightly ridiculous (questions of wearing a scarf over hickeys) topics, Clay as usual chooses to lean back and watch as the house of cards collapses. His move of sleeping with one of Padillo’s girls, setting off the jealousy enraged Gemma, is quite funny and shows just how much he still can do, one lung or two.
But what did you all think of this? Is Opie’s death genius or just too cruel, to both audience and character? Anyone speculating to whom the house attacks lead back? Preferably with substantial clues on who they can be tied back to and why. Any major plot-lines I skipped over in the shock of losing one of the good ones?