For a guy who started off as a Fox Force Five-like one-note character (he’s the tech expert with lightning bolts on his head!), Juice (Theo Rossi) has somehow become the unwitting cog in several different wheels. Sons of Anarchy season 4 saw Juice at the mercy of Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar), and, to a greater extent, Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon), but all of that was quietly swept under the rug until Roosevelt decided Juice could be leverage in exchange for Frankie Diamonds (Chuck Zito). Of course, that didn’t work out, but it did manage to put poor old Juice back in play – at the exact moment Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and Clay (Ron Perlman) have begun to seriously start moving pieces around the board.

‘Crucifixed’ is, like last week’s ‘Andare Pescare,’ mostly concerned with the set-up for this season’s climax, and since there are so many facets to the story, other than Jax and Clay, FX has granted Kurt Sutter 90 minutes with which to work. Juice’s life is once more on the line; Tara (Maggie Siff) becomes an accessory to murder; and Unser (Dayton Callie) is yet again casually making a good case for an Unser and Roosevelt spin-off show. In the end though, it’s looking very messy for SAMCRO; everyone is seemingly out to hurt everyone else, while at the same time ensuring safety (or in the case of Otto (Kurt Sutter), further damnation) for his or her own sake.

What’s surprising is, with just three episodes left, there hasn’t really emerged a sense that the season is headed in one definitive direction. And that’s a good thing. Yes, the arms race that is the Jax and Clay conflict has continued to heat up, with each of them maneuvering and scheming as quickly as they can, considering the amount of lies and information each is required to keep straight. But there’re too many variables still at play. The writers have wisely chosen not to define the endgame to the degree they have in the past, and that seems to be working to the show’s benefit. It’s all propelling itself toward a more uncertain and (hopefully) exciting climax.

But what’s most interesting this episode (and all season, really) is the change in Jax Teller, and how it has begun to affect his standing with some in the club and the club’s standing in the criminal community at large. Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) expresses his concerns over the 20-year relationship with the Grim Bastards that Jax flushed to seek revenge on the man-mountain that clubbed Opie to death. That’s in addition to his schemes involving Gemma (Katey Sagal), Juice, and, of course, Pope (Harold Perrineau), Galindo and Galen. If Jax is as contemplative as he seems, then the question of “Who are you?” is one he’s likely been asking himself a lot lately. Then again, given his recent actions, the answer may not be what anyone wants to hear.

Highlights from the episode:

  • SAMCRO is not above getting a good deal on food and various other miscellaneous items the club may need. They shop at Costco.
  • Romeo Prada (Danny Trejo) is a terrible liar – how’d he become a CIA asset? At any rate, Galindo’s indifference toward working with either Jax or Clay is great. If Filthy Phil were Galen’s new favorite, they’d just as happily work with him.
  • Is Jax really going to give up Tig (Kim Coates)? At first it seemed an easy ploy to draw Pope in closer, but I’m no longer so sure. Jax is clearly running a scheme, but to what end?
  • I bet that job offer in Oregon is looking pretty good to Tara right now.

Sons of Anarchy continues next Tuesday with ‘To Thine Own Self’ @10pm on FX. Check out a preview of the episode below: