[This is a review of Sons of Anarchy season 6, episode 12. There will be SPOILERS.]

It looks as though Sons of Anarchy is going to ride the question of whether or not Tara will risk her life and the lives of her sons in exchange for immunity from the charges being brought up against her – all the way to the end of the season. And when you stop to consider everything that has transpired in season 6, it’s hard not to see how her decision – regardless of which one she makes – will wind up being the catalyst for the seventh (and possibly final) season to come.

However, as penultimate episodes for a season go, ‘You Are My Sunshine’ finds itself in an odd place. Not only is the show coming back from a week off due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but it’s also the first episode that has to deal with the fallout (or lack thereof) from Clay’s death. After playing such a major role in the series from the beginning, the bloody demise of Clay Morrow is seemingly paid little more than cursory lip service, when Juice broaches the subject with a convalescing Bobby, and briefly again – although almost entirely through implication – during a scene that finds alpha females Gemma and D.A. Tyne Patterson sizing one another up at the hospital Tara used to work at.

“This time, it made sense,” is pretty much all Bobby has to say on the matter, though his nod of assurance to Jax before the deed was done pretty much told the audience he’d have been around for Clay’s execution had he not taken a bullet to the shoulder just moments before. Still, whether he intended his words to carry extra weight or not, it seemed there was more to Bobby’s terse statement and seemingly brusque dismissal of the topic than simply stating he was okay with the decision; it was a way of reminding Juice that those who deserve “the mayhem” generally get it sooner or later.

No doubt Juice’s decision to steal and subsequently consume Bobby’s oxy following the conversation suggest he continues to struggle with the burden of his past decisions; namely, betraying the club, betraying Clay, and, as he confesses to Nero, killing Darvany after the school shooting, put too much heat too close to SAMCRO.

On the one hand, ever since he was briefly used against his own club by Roosevelt, only to feel the continual, brutal sting of Jax and Chibs’ (among others) admonition, Juice has become like a raw nerve. He’s just continually exposed to all the pain and anguish and wrongdoing brought on by the club’s dealings, and it has finally taken its toll.

And yet the fact that his concerns are for his crimes, and not those of the group, shows how Sons of Anarchy tends to think when it comes to matters of guilt and conscience. It’s a reflection of the insular, circle-the-wagons and survive-at-all-costs hive mind of the MC. It’s also why the club members (and especially its leaders) value things like vengeance as much as they do; it helps to perpetuate that insularity.

As the show demonstrates quite well, there’s a clearly drawn line in the sand between being with the group, being outside of it, and why. Right now, Tara and Juice are the only two really exhibiting signs of a conscience or concern for others outside of the group – and that makes them outsiders. But it’s clear that Clay’s death has already had some effect, and that must be to provide those two with the notion of how few options they have once they’ve crossed that dividing line.

Sons of Anarchy will conclude season 6 with ‘A Mother’s Work’ next Tuesday @10pm on FX.

Photos: Prashant Gupta/FX