I always get nervous when things work out. Something about a resolved conflict, about people with every reason to hate each other finding some common ground--well, it's nifty, don't get me wrong, but it's almost like everybody walks away from the group hug with a target on their backs. Unless it's the end of the story (or, in this case, the end of the season), no peace can last unchallenged. And even beyond the dictates of drama, there's the simple fact that it's hard to live up to the satisfaction that comes after a buried hatchet. I get nervous because I think, "Okay, here's where the stumbling starts. It can't get any better, so it has to get worse."
"Service" isn't as strong an episode as "Balm," but it's not a huge mis-step, either. It deals with the big, ugly secret at the heart of most of SAMCRO's troubles in a fairly satisfying way, and the occasional bumps in the road seem like the inevitable outcome of trying to get the pieces in place after last week's grace note. Characters have to get brought up to speed, so we get a lot of "this is what happened" scenes, some better than others. And then there are all these aftermaths lying around, needing to be handled somehow--again, some better than others.
Now that Gemma as told Jax and Clay what happened to her, their rift is, if not healed, then at least suspended. Clay even comes to Jax to ask him what he wants to do next. But just because they're united against a common enemy doesn't mean that Gemma's suddenly okay with the sexual assault. She's got some deep-seated issues, and somehow she's combined her shame from the rape with her own guilt over past choices. She tells Tara that Clay won't want her anymore--"Men need to own their pussy."--and it's the kind of bullshit defeatism that a less bruised old lady would've laughed at. (Tara doesn't quite have the chops. Instead, she ends up freaking out around Jax about her suspension, and her sudden need for babies. Given the time left in the season, I don't think we'll be seeing her resolve these issues before next year, but man, she needs to make some kind of peace with herself.) In her desperation, she makes a pass at Tig, and then goes to talk about a man of God. I've gone back and forth about Gemma's plotline, but while the conversation with the Father was a little on the nose, I liked that it gave her some kind of purpose to deal with Chibs. But really, after the way she used the rape the bring her husband and son together, I would've thought she'd already known she was good at this.
The biggest event of the night was that Opie finally find out who murdered Donna--and surprisingly, it was the killer himself who confessed. After the awkward near-sex with Gemma, Tig comes back to the club and basically leads Opie by the nose into understanding what really happened with Donna's death. Opie goes after Stahl, and gives her a nasty scare, before coming back to the club and bringing everyone together. Much as I like having the whole murder out in the open, and having Opie get a chance to shine, this whole thing seemed rushed--not horrendously so, but Opie's trip from rage to some kind of understanding was too easy by a hair. I'm also getting tired of seeing Stahl get broken. So far, there's only one person in town who's managed to be a decent guy and not oppose SAMCRO, and reminding us again that Stahl puts up a good show but cries when confronted, made her too easy to be dismissed.
The best thing to come out of Opie's discovery is that he and Jax are finally on the same team again. And even more interesting, Jax is bringing him in on the plans for a change down the road. Jax saying, ""Clay is Clay because of us. We made him," is better proof than we've had in a while that he's actually got the brains to do what needs to be done. Getting rid of Clay won't fix anything if the club stays as it is--if Piney had succeeded in his dumb-ass suicide mission, and left Jax in the President's seat, sooner or later, Jax would've wound up making some of the same bad calls. The system is designed to keep working as it's currently working, and Jax alone can't change that. But now that he's got Opie with him (and give Opie a copy of The Book), who knows what could happen?
We also had the Chibs' situation resolved--having Opie use his own tragedy to save Chibs' ass was a nice touch, but again, there's an abruptness to having the moral complexities of that situation clarified so quickly. It was interesting watching both Opie and Jax tracking various people around town, and having them learning information that we've known for a while--it made more literal the general feeling of things coming to light. And man, it's satisfying that Jax found out about Zobelle's Mayan connection only a few hours after he and Clay told the club they needed to find a weak spot. For the first time all season, people are starting to think before they act, and that means some serious payback is getting lined up down the road.
- Not much to say about Piney's abortive attempt to off Clay. A little build up, no real pay off. Guy's a terrible shot, too.
- Half-Sack's testicle problems... I don't think I'm finding this subplot as funny as I should be.
- I got serious chills on: "She wasn't supposed to be in the truck, Ope."