‘Sons of Anarchy’ Season 5, Episode 3: ‘Laying Pipe’ Recap

Published 3 years ago by

Charlie Hunnam Tommy Flanagan Ryan Hurst Kim Coats Sons of Anarchy Laying Pipe FX Sons of Anarchy Season 5, Episode 3: Laying Pipe Recap

[This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS!!!]

In ‘Laying Pipe,’ Sons of Anarchy eliminates not only a major character, but also one who was arguably the long-suffering moral compass of SAMCRO.

After heading into county lock-up, where Pope (Harold Perrineau) apparently holds considerable sway, the four members of SAMCRO know full well their time inside is going to be unpleasant. In order to make things right, Pope delivers his demands, which include: half of what the MC is getting from the Galindo Cartel for transporting its drugs; Tig (Kim Coates) in prison for the rest of his life; and either Chibs (Tommy Flanagan), Opie (Ryan Hurst), or Jax (Charlie Hunnam) must die. It’s a horrific choice, with an equally horrific outcome that illustrates the breadth of Pope’s power quite well.

Regrettably, this seemingly unworkable situation eliminates much of its own drama by first spelling out the ending far too soon, and then placing Jax in a position where he’ll inevitably be forced to make a horrific choice. The thing is, it all plays out remarkably similar to what happened at the end of season 4. Like before, Jax finds himself in a bad situation, but is never required to make a choice of any kind; it’s all done for him by elements supposedly beyond his control. And just incase someone hadn’t already guessed the one guy who’d already lost his wife and father because of SAMCRO would also be the one to lose his life for the club, Jax and Opie spend several minutes of the episode basically going over the events of season 4, just like they did during the season 5 premiere.

Tommy Flanagan Ryan Hurst Sons of Anarchy Laying Pipe FX Sons of Anarchy Season 5, Episode 3: Laying Pipe Recap

It’s true that the choices characters make are what ultimately define them, and when they are asked to make an incredibly difficult decision, that is where most rise or fall. But all that intended drama becomes inherently less interesting when it’s revealed the characters are prevented from actually making a choice, or are consistently relieved of the burden of such a monumental decision altogether.

This once more exposes a troublesome spot for Sons of Anarchy: If Jax, as the series’ main protagonist, never truly has to carry the burden of choice, never has to make a massive decision one way or another, then he’s only reacting, and that makes him an incredibly passive character. It’s not that Jax needed to have the men draw straws, or step up himself, it’s that the show had Jax do what he’s done several times before: Wait until the event was happening around him and rely on circumstances to justify his inaction. In the end, that passivity makes the loss of a major character feel like just another event Jax would have to react to.

It’s not that Opie’s death doesn’t or won’t carry any weight – it likely will. The problem is that while the final moment is filled with significant emotion, the episode as a whole is tempered with a series of unrelated character disputes that have essentially been around since the series began. Further distancing ‘Laying Pipe’ from its core event is how quickly things settle back into being business as usual for the Sons. By the end, Jax, Chibs and even Tig are mere hours away from being released from jail – although what the future holds for Tig may prove to be an interesting avenue to explore.

Drea de Matteo Maggie Siff Sons of Anarchy Laying Pipe FX Sons of Anarchy Season 5, Episode 3: Laying Pipe Recap

Meanwhile, the aforementioned disputes see Tara (Maggie Siff) and Gemma (Katey Sagal) once more at each other’s throats. This time, Gemma is still reeling from not being invited to her son’s wedding and is further irritated by the fact that Tara has taken her grandkids and placed them in the hospital’s daycare facility – which means she requires Tara’s permission in order to spend time with them. Gemma’s response is to send Wendy (Drea de Matteo) after Tara in an attempt to scare her regarding the custody of Abel, but that effort only seems to reinforce Tara’s decision to limit Gemma’s interaction with her family.

As is the case several times a season, Tara and Gemma face off against one another, making threats the other pooh-poohs until one of them plays the trump card. This time, Tara threatens to tell Jax about Gemma’s involvement in J.T.’s death – which just manages to feel like a leftover from last season. On a slightly lighter note, Clay (Ron Perlman) makes matters worse by getting caught with a young prostitute (Ashley Tisdale), which results in Gemma assaulting the young woman and costing Nero (Jimmy Smits) a good earner.

Somehow, all of this feels like unsuitable storylines to pursue in an episode that could have provided a more focused departure for such a long-time character.

While it’s sad to see Ryan Hurst go, perhaps the end result will change things for the good when it comes to a certain someone’s decision-making ability. How this will affect SAMCRO as a whole may not be truly known for some time, but hopefully, it will eventually feel like something more than a simple call to action for Jax.


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

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  1. OMW this was the most hectic episode of all! Kurt Sutter is a genius, each episode leaves you wanting more

  2. I don’t think it’s fair to say he never makes decisions. I think it was very clear that Jax made a choice in that episode; he was going to sacrifice himself. However, Opie ended up making the choice for him.

    • Jax was not going to give up himself..he is Pope’s biker babe right now..Clay would of never of let it go this far1

      • Yes he was if you watch the final scene where the 4 imprisoned sons are together you can see jax is clearly about to do what opie ultimately does before opie steps in. The reviewers idea that jax not being forced to choose took away from the episodes momentum is ridiculous, that was the whole point of what opie did; he was protecting jax from having to make that choice. The fact that jax didnt order the death of a son preserves his leadership within the club. I suppose you could make that arguement for season 4 but its certainly not a recurring theme for jax.. remember jax’s choice in season 3 to leave abel with the young couple?

        • I agree that it was pretty obvious that Jax was about to sacrifice himself. He spent the previous scene laying everything on the table for Opie, which is what we have all been wanting him to do for a long time. This was not the move of a guilty conscience. This was Jax attempting to mend his relationship with his best friend and getting Opie up to speed on what was going on behind the scenes and giving him the knowledge necessary to take over if Jax does not make it. Then when they meet with Tig and Chibbs Jax tells them that he is not going to late outsiders determine the fate of their club. And that this is “our decision”. And when confronted by the guards he may have even said “this is my decision” right before making a move to attack, but Opie who may have sensed this coming stepped in to make the ultimate sacrifice.

          • It could never happen…If you lose Jax…You lose the show…

          • Jax: “Pope doesn’t make that call. We decide out fate”
            Guard: “Am I choosing, or are you”
            Jax: “My call”

            then Opie steps in

  3. I’ll miss Opie – he was always, as the article said, the semi moral compass in an otherwise almost morally bankrupt group.

    Sutter has once again shown the ability to make a group (SAMCRO) who from just the outside looking in, are just a bunch of bad people, seem like they do indeed deserve our sympathy and understading. They are the antihero in all of this and now Pope, and the guards, are the people we truly hate.

    • Don’t agree with that. I see it as SOA losing one of the few characters people had to root for. There’s not really anyone left now.

  4. The best episode yet! I loved opies character but I can see how this departure will add to the story line. Can’t wait until next Tuesday.

  5. I hate that they killed of Opie. It was hard to watch!


    • I loved Opie’s character too and that scene was horrible to watch! I was hoping he would be around longer :( Personally I could do without Tig, I thought it should have been him!

      • I thought it should have been Tig too…….but I really see the bigger picture now. Jax now has the hard cold shell that he needs to take his leadership to the next level.

    • I don’t disagree with them killing opie off the show, I think it was to early in the season I mean killing him off on show 3 that’s what made me mad! That should have been the season finally. Opie was do good of a character to kill off that early!

  6. Damn it, why did Opie have to die, i loved that character. Though and hoped he would play a bigger role in this season than he did in the previous one. Rly disapointing.

  7. Wow…what an episode. I am not happy to be losing Opie from the show. My husband wants to boycott the rest of the season…I am trying to talk him down lol! That being said, if Opie didn’t step up and do that, it would have been out of character for him. We unfortunately, in that situation, had to lose him. Now…to get my hubby on board so I can watch next week!

    • Completely agree.

    • Opie’s sacrifice, will Jax’s true power and resolve out to the open. I sure wouldn’t want to be the Prison Sargent. Jax’s never forgets……

  8. This review made me cringe , could the reviewer completely miss the mark with Jax s whole dilemma and character wich has remained consistent from season 1 anymore , Jax always plays the long game and the intelligent game he does not go off the deep end making rash decisions that cost life’s ( see Tig and Clay for examples of that ) But this situation wich was completely brought on Jax by Clay and Tig there was no way out unfortunately but even in that situation a no win situation he was still trying to find a solution , he couldn’t and it cost Opie , this review gave me the impression the reviewer had never watched an episode of SOA .

    • Yeah, I felt that the reviewer was not a regular watcher and totally missed the point of the episode. The slow burn to the 11th hour save was part of the tension and showed that nothing was going to save the SOA from having to make a difficult decision. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but having to choose one of three people who grew up with raised you, and guided you through life could never be an easy decision, or in Jax’s case, not a choice he was willing to make.

      By Jax’s choosing not to sacrifice one of his own men is the biggest decision that he could have made overall.

      The death of Opie will probably be one of the greatest and most emotional episodes of SOA ever, if you follow the show and have watched everything that Opie has gone through for the Sons.

      • Yeah i was honestly going to write damn near the exact same thing, amen man, the reviewer was completely oblivious to the episode, and what this mean sin the future, i almost NEVER look at Jax as “passive” and simply reacts” and doesn’t just “do” or whatever he was trying to imply.

        I really will miss Opie, but Sutter, like many others have said before me, just showed how much of a genius he really is, people threatening to not watch, well they’re just kidding themselves, they’ll be back next week. This is something Jax needed as a character, something to just turn his perspective on it’s head.

  9. Keep jax in the heart of it all and let him find out about his mothers involvement in his father’s death. I love that Tara is able to stand up to gamma and jax backs her in all she does. It is time to pay the piper.

    • No, actually the review is spot on. The problem is that the show is nothing but a series of 11th hour saves. Because of that, there is no intensity. It’s all just a bunch of fake tension.

  10. Opie wanted to die. It fianally dawned on hime that is life was crap and will get worst. It became obvious when Clay talked to him and Opie saw that Clay was at the top and now just a battered wreck.

    Also is it me but are they making all the characters look like beaten humans and getting ugly quick.

    Great show with plenty of action

  11. I think it seemed clear when Jax said that they were choosing their own fate, that the four of them were going to fight the guards or he was going to sacriface himself. I don’t think he wasn’t making a decision. I hate that Opie is gone! He was my favorite. And if they had to make that happen, I hope they really use it to fuel the story, unlike how Clay totally got away with killing Piney and JT and Donna.

    • I don’t think he got away with it..Jax just needs him for now. He will get what’s coming to him!

  12. Super sad that Opie had to go. What’s even worse is thatwe never even got to see him take the seat as VP. Bobby isn’t going to be half the VP Opie would have been. I’ve never been more disappointed with this show, but Kurt Sutter is always good about rewarding us viewers after putting us through so much pain (like when half sack died)

  13. You are not alone, I’m SOOOOOO PISSED they killed Opie. He was the reason I was watching, how dare they kill the best person on the show. While I was watching I was yelling out “No No not my Opie” I was in shock for like 5 mins, it was so raw how they took him out. So what if Chibs was the logical choice they should have took him out. Opie need to kill Clay for all of the things he did to his family and now we will never see Opie get justice. I’m only going to watch so I can see Jax get revenge for his death, then I’m done. I know that sounds bad and I’m sure that was a risk they were willing to take losing viewers. R.I.P Opie, The best Son there was :)

    • Wow, way to be a drama queen. Opie was not the best Son there was. He had everything taken from him by Clay and Tigs. He should have killed them both when he had the chance.

      He gave up his life, what little shell he had left, to protect Jax Chibs and Tig.

      Jax is the best, he is the main character. He has to suffer more like Opie has. He will slowly but surely turn into a monster, not exactly like Clay. But he will be cold-hearted. Just wait and see.

  14. I’m sad to see Opie go mainly because Ryan Hurst was the best and most believable actor on the show.
    When I heard a character was going to die this week I was hoping for someone like Chibs but from the second the previously on recap started it was pretty obvious it was going to be Opie. And if there was any doubt left it lessened even more when the 4 Sons were put in “Solitary” but had 2 people per cell.
    It’s still a bummer though because like I said I liked the actor and like someone else said above Opie was a character you could root for.

  15. opie was the most real guy out of samcro & killing him like that was a bad move on the writers part

    • KillIng opie was a bad move? It’s not a soap opera, by killing him it adds to the intesity of the show.
      Killing chibbs would of been a bad move, his death, while it would of rocked the club, it wouldn’t of done as much emotional damage as opie’s death.
      Perfect episode IMO.

  16. Opie was my favorite character. I was very upset to see him killed off. That doesn’t change my love for the show but I will truly miss the character.

  17. I think Opie had to go one way or other. There was too mjuch bad blood between him and Clay, and since Clay needed to be kept alive Opie either had to leave for a while or be written off….In the end it’s one more nail Jax has to go into Clay’s coffen when the time comes.

    As for Tara….Jax ex prety much hit it on the head when she called here Gemma……She used to be this logical doctor person who was involved with this ruff crowed, but one the edges….Man has she turned hard core over the years…..She seems to have a meaner streak than most of the guys anymore….

  18. Opie knew what he was doing he had nothing else to lose I think in my opinion he gained by give his life it showed that he was still loyal to the club and to jaxs! Ok yes it was very harsh the way he died but thats why i watch sons because its real and unpredictable. I just hope that jaxs will get mad and smart and find a way to f*** them all that is hurting the clup and get some revenge and i would like to see them all die 10x times worst then opie. (ryan hurst) you played your part very well and thanks to Kurt Sutter for another great episode.

  19. Awesome episode! I agree with many who have said that Jax intended to go after the guard, and by doing so, sacrifice himself. Opie beat him to the punch. It was brutal seeing Opie go out like that, but the pay off will be the effect that Opie’s death has on Jax. It will be interesting to see how that plays out going forward.

    One scene that I think may have been overlooked, but will come into play later on, is when Pope said he would look into the Charming home invasions. Based on the amount of intel that Pope was able to put together about the MC’s gun running, Pope is going to find out who is really behind the home invasions, and I think that someone is Clay.

  20. I’m surprised no one said anything about the raid on the Brothel at the end of the episode. Anyone else see this as Tara moving to ruin everything in Gema’s life?

    • Nah. It’s Clay trying to ruin everything in Gemma’s life.

      • Nope – it was the whore that Gemma beat up called the law methinks.

  21. I think some people have forgotten that SOA is a story. It isn’t meant to be a happily ever after. Its about a biker club, they fight, they kill, they die. Opie was a great character, but his part to the story had to end. I really believed back during the first, 2nd or 3rd seasons Opie and Jax would run the club in the long run. During last season when Clay killed Piney it was obvious to me Opie wasn’t coming back to the table and that killed his place in the story.When Sutter announced in an interview in August(google it) he said we would lose 2 or 3 main characters this season, I knew Opie would be one of them. I also think we will lose Juice next and prolly Auto. We know Tig is around til at least ep10. All that said I think it’s hard not to be emotionally invested, but I’m prepared to finish the story wherever Sutter decides to take it. I see alot of angry people online cause of the brutality of Opie’s death but it’s SOA would we really want Opie going out with a gun shot or suicide..no he went out defending Jax and he was fearless and it seemed proper to me for Opie to go out the way he did.

    • Love you comments, i totally agree

  22. So if Sutter kills all the characters , he will have a great show?

  23. It always seemed like it was always going this way for Opie. He never seemed fully in, I guess that was his arc way from the beginning. Donna’s death, Piney’s, just kept pushing him. He went to Lyla because he knew he wasn’t coming back for a long time, if never. I think they had to resolve the Opie arc because otherwise it would have just been another thing to test his devotion to the club. I think he already set the path by punching out the sheriff. He intentionally wanted to go in. He knew it would not lead to good things, but I guess he had nothing left, except for his kids. But maybe in a weird way, he knew he could never raise them the way he wanted to. Is that cowardly then to go out that way, or brave because he sacrificed himself for the rest of the club? Also, you know it couldn’t be Tig because they more plans for him. I’m sure he’s going to end up in a situation where he might end up going against Jax, even he swore to always back him. Chibs is too interesting a character, so he can’t go. I’m still curious to see where this home invasion/Nomads storyline goes.

  24. yep this review couldn’t be any more wrong. Jax was just about to headbutt the guard when opie came in and headbutted him.
    and the raid was the whore ratting after the beatdown

  25. The one interesting thing (among many in the show, but if it was otherwise, there wouldn’t be a story) is why Pope, if he’s so powerful, doesn’t have the Feds, or the police breathing down his neck like they are with the cartels, and SoA. I suppose his time is coming as well. It just seems like he operates with way too little impunity and power. He can get people to rat on the Sons. He has a detective on his payroll who has no problem watching an innocent girl get burned alive. He has access to law enforcement files. Sounds like the Feds should be making a RICO case against him.
    Also the show definitely doesn’t paint the San Joaquin county law enforcement community in a very good light. Course, if I was a prison guard there, I’m not exactly doing it for a sense of fulfillment, you know? Pay can’t be great, you probably get a pension, but really, I’d be on the take too. The way the guards and the commander operated with regard to the Opie death, it seems like they’ve done this before.

  26. Opie had talent & personality & from the start I said he was destened for bigger roles. I would of liked it to of happened later.

  27. Fact is Opie’s death is the only one that really made sense. He’s the fan favorite. The club had taken everything from him…his wife, his dad, his sanity. He was a broken man. A shell. As he told Lyla, he couldn’t love anyone anymore except Jax. Jax was the only one that he really cared about. Tig’s death wouldn’t have made sense. He and Pope are on a collision path. Chibs is just there. He’s going nothing to do with nothing. He’s not poignant to this plot line so if he got killed, I don’t think we would have been too upset or at least up in arms. Opie’s death means we finally see Jax losing someone that he truly cares about. So far, he’s remained relatively untouched. This will progress Jax’s character and the direction of the club and obviously the show.

  28. it made me mad but the show must go on opie was a man with not much to lose i wish the fight would have whent a little bit longer to see opie like he was wining the fight but it is what it is pope will get his.

  29. how can you guys think that a man with small children has nothing to lose. Plus the fact that his wife is dead. So first mommy dies (Because of the club) now daddy makes a choice to leave us by laying down his life for the jax and the club. anybody else notice the fact that opies kids were rarely shown in the entire show? i think they did this so we wont see this flaw in opie’s decision. he lost his father and his wife. now his kids lost their mother, grandfather and father. now theyre living with a porn star. opie was my second fav character (jax being my first (naturally i guess))but this decision he made shows that his priorities are completely screwed

    • It’s just like in Spartacus first season when Spartacus had to kill Varro his best friend and a great character in that season. I’m sad to see Opie go, he was one of my favorites too. Maybe he’s working on a new series or movie and had to go that s*** happens a lot. I hope that’s the case.