While the rest of SAMCRO is ready to begin the mourning process, ‘Stolen Huffy’ shows how problematic Gemma (Katey Sagal) can be when pursuing her own interests under the veil of what’s good for the club. So far during this young season of Sons of Anarchy, Gemma’s actions have become increasingly volatile; putting a strain on the already tenuous relationship she has with Tara (Maggie Siff), as well as her budding romance with Nero (Jimmy Smits). One has to wonder if this behavior is a sign Gemma is headed down a darker path, or if it’s just a means by which the writers are hoping to keep the character relevant.

On one hand, Gemma’s actions stand as a testament to the manipulative nature of the character, and the way she’s been using the club to meet her own needs since J.T. was at the head of the table. On the other hand, she’s on the outs with Clay (Ron Perlman) and her daughter-in-law is the first old lady, so Gemma’s likely to feel a bit marginalized; so, as she’s done before, Gemma decides to take action in the least helpful way possible – on a day nobody in the MC needs to hear any of her guff. At least Jax (Charlie Hunnam) has the presence of mind to call her on it.

Much of ‘Stolen Huffy’ has to do with preparation for Opie’s (Ryan Hurst) wake. The club is processing his death the only way they know how: deciding who needs to be killed in retribution. For their part, the SAMCRO newbies seem eager to take the fight directly to Pope (Harold Perrineau) – but, as Jax warns them, it’s not a fight the club is prepared to take on, let alone win. Again, Sons of Anarchy goes to great lengths to establish Pope as the most fearsome adversary the club has ever been up against, and, as Jax sees it, a $50k payoff to the guy who can have everyone killed with a phone call sounds like a pretty sweet deal – at least until he can figure out a way to even the score.

Meanwhile, the raid on Diosa International has left Nero (Jimmy Smits) without his business and one of his best girls, Emma Jean (Ashley Tisdale) – who has begun turning tricks at a hotel as a means of avoiding Nero’s gang. The gang, meanwhile, wants vengeance for the cops being called, and with Emma Jean the most likely culprit, they’ve got a pretty specific shopping list of things to take from her as payment. Before they can get to her, though, Nero asks Jax and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) if they’ll get the young woman out of town safely. Since Gemma’s ridiculous outburst and assault on Emma Jean can pretty much be seen as the beginning of the end for Diosa International, Jax agrees, while his mother looks on, showing little sign of remorse.

Although Emma Jean quickly consents to leave town at the request of a couple of bikers (hey, maybe she like motorcycles), things naturally get all screwy when two guys in Nero’s gang show up and a chase ensues. In the aftermath, Jax is somehow able to convince the men that SAMCRO wants Emma Jean dead and pinky swears to send them her body parts as evidence. She’s then delivered to Nero, who supposedly gets her out of town. Of course, we don’t see Emma Jean leaving, and considering Nero thought of her as a top earner, it seems unlikely this is the last Sons of Anarchy will see of the young woman.

With the preliminaries taken care of, and favors having been paid both ways, Jax sits Nero down with his plan to finance a new Diosa International, run out of a super-sexy Elks Lodge and partially staffed with the women from the adult entertainment biz SAMCRO is affiliated with. The deal seems pretty sweet, and Nero’s all for it, but Jax’s caveat is that Nero has to stay away from Gemma – it’s not a “mommy thing,” Jax tells him; it’s that there’s just too much garbage running between Gemma, Clay, Tara and himself, and Jax doesn’t want those issues jeopardizing what he sees as the future of SAMCRO.

Jax is right; despite his reprimand, Gemma spends the majority of ‘Stolen Huffy’ once again managing to rope Wendy (Drea de Matteo) and Tara (Maggie Siff) into the same tired argument over Abel, and then assaulting and manipulating her way into getting what she wants. It’s the same old Gemma over and over again, and one can’t help but think the ultimate old lady has begun circling the drain. Perhaps that’s why she reenlists Tara into her rigorous old lady training program, and wrangles up a good old-fashioned brouhaha between her daughter-in-law and Carla (Wanda De Jesus). Gemma’s certainly not wrong in wanting to see Carla punished for alerting Nero’s gang to the whereabouts of Jax and Chibs, but getting Tara to do her bidding simply illustrates how green Jax’s wife is, and how badly the show could use a new direction for both Gemma and Tara.

As a testament to what does work, Gemma and Clay have a somewhat poignant scene together, suggesting extreme domestic violence or not, the two agents of chaos will always gravitate toward one another. Clay’s diminished role puts him as the bearer of bad news, and despite all the lingering hate Gemma has, she’s compelled to seek comfort in his embrace upon hearing the news of Opie’s demise. While much of what transpires in ‘Stolen Huffy’ seems to work against the more affecting elements of the episode, the nod to Gemma and Clay’s bloody, ill-gotten romance feels like it landed in the right place.

In that regard, Opie’s death and send off seems to have worked to bring some temporary stability to the increasingly fractured relationships amongst the men and women of SAMCRO. Even Lyla (Winter Ave Zoli) is welcomed back into the arms of the MC. As a surrogate family, the Sons often operate better than the real thing. (Well, as long as you’re not related to Opie.) And in death at least, the club is always reminded of that.

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