There are a handful of actors who make things better simply through their presence onscreen, and Donal Logue is one of them. In ‘To Thine Own Self,’ Logue makes his Sons of Anarchy debut as Lee Toric, a man who clearly has a beef with Otto (Kurt Sutter). Considering Otto’s actions in last week’s ‘Crucifixed,’ it’s not difficult to put the pieces together as to why Toric is visiting Stockton, and why he’s suddenly interested in Tara (Maggie Siff). And while the last thing season 5 needs right now is a new subplot so close to the finale, this one may prove to have some serious ramifications.

Of course that has to do with the pervasive sense that some bad things are headed toward Tara, Juice (Theo Rossi), and Clay (Ron Perlman), and this is their last chance. This isn’t really anything new for any of these characters, but in the case of Tara, at least she has a chance of seeing her potential misfortune, instead of it taking her completely by surprise. Which is why Tara’s pushing for the move to Oregon, and why she accepts the hospital job without telling Jax (Charlie Hunnam) first, or even letting him finish his SAMCRO business. It is Tara’s last chance at the life she’d wanted for herself, and, in a way, Jax’s last chance to not let personal vendettas swallow his soul.

Last chances also touch Gemma (Katey Sagal) and Nero (Jimmy Smits) – both of whom are forced back into situations they thought they’d given up and moved away from. But Jax’s reach has grown considerably since he took up the gavel, and his influence has become nearly unavoidable. As it stands, Jax has inadvertently set his mother, Nero and Clay on a collision course that probably won’t end well – and that’s not including the two gangbangers Nero shot while searching for young Mr. Teller.

With the RICO case now history, Jax is able to pull off his next trick, which is to set the CIA-backed Galindo up with the Mayans and the Niners for their drugs, and Henry Lin (Kenneth Choi) for their guns. For all intents and purposes, Jax delivered a strategic masterstroke that pulled SAMCRO out from under the oppressive weight of guns and drugs – effectively pulling a fast one (an acceptable one, but a fast one, nonetheless) on Romeo Parada (Danny Trejo) and his buddy Luis Torres (Benito Martinez) that’s not too dissimilar from the one they pulled on him during ‘To Be, Act 2.’

Yes, it’s all very reminiscent of the season 4 set-up – right down to the wheeling and dealing. But this time around, Sons of Anarchy isn’t pushing so hard at an outcome it’s not yet ready to deal with, and that, along with the kind of leader Jax has become, has made all the difference in season 5. There is a real sense of excitement and unpredictability here. Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) goes to Clay at the episode’s end, and that leaves things in a very peculiar place. Is he there to protect Clay from Jax’s wrath, or protect SAMCRO from the man Jax is becoming?

Various other items:

  • The way Toric was tearing into Otto, one might think it had something to do with the nurse he killed – who happens to have been played by Karina Logue, Donal’s real-life sister who shared screen time with him in Terriers. As far as stunt casting goes, that’s right up there with Carla Gugino popping up on Justified.
  • Can we get Toric in a room with Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) for the next trick?
  • Who wouldn’t want to go to dinner with Unser (Dayton Callie)?
  • Was that the kiss of death Jax gave to Tig (Kim Coates)?

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