Is there a lowlier individual on Sons of Anarchy than poor Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie)? As bad as any of the pledges may have had it (including Half Sack and Filthy Phil), Charming’s grim and gritty version of Barney Fife makes it seem as though a pledge’s life is one glorious leather-vested adventure after another.

In fact, the next time someone complains to Unser about anything, they should be forced to clean Opie’s beard like a bunch of preening Macaques in a thermal pool.

Capping off the season premiere was the unprovoked beat down Unser suffered at the hands of the three not-so-mysterious home invaders who weren’t even invading Unser’s home – which is about par for the course for the former lawman. But old habits die hard, it seems, as Unser quickly gets up in arms about this sudden rash of home invasions and decides to look into it on his own, informing Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) that his keen detection skills tell him the specific way he was beaten is an indication of the perpetrators’ race – which…what?

Moving on, Unser explains to Roosevelt that while he may have gotten too comfortable with the Sons during his time in law enforcement, he did so as a means to keep the peace in Charming – basically helping criminals get away with all sorts of illegal activity.

Unser’s perception of himself and SAMCRO raises an interesting point that Sons of Anarchy would do well to investigate further. It’s also a point brought up by Roosevelt when he’s questioning the oxygen-tank-wielding Clay (Ron Perlman) about the invasion. Roosevelt is convinced the break-ins are related to the MC, but so long as no “innocents” are hurt, then it’s not a job for the gang task force.

Despite all the killing, gunrunning and (more recently) cartel involvement, it appears that Unser and the Sons liken themselves to a cross between small town law enforcement and risk-taking entrepreneurs – instead of the criminals that they are. Which is probably why the show has introduced the body-chopping, daughter-burning, evil mastermind that is Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau).

Mostly, ‘Authority Vested’ is concerned with building Pope into another antagonist that will test the Sons during the club’s time of reconfiguration, while clearly presenting himself as nothing but evil, making the MC look like humanitarians in the process. Step one in Pope’s plan illustrates the lengths to which he’ll go for vengeance that can’t be traced back to him. Once Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) are in prison, Pope won’t waste any time having the two killed and then do what he will with the rest of the club. Pope soon finds out, however, that the plot to (mentally) torture and then imprison Tig (Kim Coates) was only partially successful, leaving SAMCRO’s resident lady killer waiting for his buddies to come pick him up, and once more do away with the mess of bodies surrounding the guy.

That means, despite being on the run from the law, Jax and Chibs have to leave the relative comfort of Diosa International, pick up Tig, make sure his other daughter is safe and get her out of town. With all of this on his plate – plus the continuing problems with the CIA, IRA and the deal Otto made after finding out the club (well, Bobby) had more or less betrayed him – Jax decides things just aren’t hectic enough and it’s time for him to make an honest woman out of Tara (Maggie Siff). Foregoing romance and intimacy for pre-jail spontaneity, Jax proposes and then leaves the future Mrs. Jax Teller to work out all of the details while he minimizes the damage to SAMCRO prior to turning himself in.

This leads to what will likely be one of the bigger subplots of season 5: Jax placing a certain amount of trust in – and seeking knowledge/guidance from – his mother’s new nice-guy pimp boyfriend, Nero (Jimmy Smits). After a brief conversation about just how Diosa International works within the nebulous areas of the law, it becomes apparent to Jax that what Nero has going on looks mighty appealing, especially to a guy trying to get out of running dope and guns for the government controlled Galindo Cartel. Nero even shows his softer side by taking time out of driving Jax around and playing chicken with some guys looking to kill Mr. Teller to visit his disabled son and further establish a bond with the young MC president.

Meanwhile, Clay – who’s gone from reckless leader to walking wreck with some as-yet unseen agenda – pays Opie (Ryan Hurst) a visit, and is somehow not immediately met with justice for the deaths of Donna and Piney, despite Opie being armed with a saw. Instead, amazingly, Opie hears Clay out and decides its best he saddles up with SAMCRO once more – he just has to wait until the perfect moment arises to make his move. Opie’s actions have largely been confounding over the course of the series, so it comes as little surprise that the shaggy one would leave his kids and a wad of cash with Lyla (Winter Ave Zoli) to assault a cop as a sign of loyalty to the club that helped wreck his life.

After the club’s overworked lawyer skimps on the delivery of Tara and Jax’s marriage license and the document winds up in the hands of Gemma (Katey Sagal), Tara learns the hard way that control freak moms don’t like to find out they weren’t invited to their son’s spur-of-the-moment nuptials to the woman they mostly despise. Still, perhaps realizing her place is not to judge (even though it totally is), Gemma steps up and presents the soon-to-be separated couple with her and J.T.’s rings – a gesture that seems nice initially, but is really more disconcerting and peculiar given her role in J.T.’s ring no longer being on his finger.

The happy couple makes the ceremony a quick one, so that the boys can be whisked away to a honeymoon courtesy of the San Joaquin County Sheriff Department. On the bright side, it may be a short stay, since Jax plans to milk the CIA for everything it’s worth. Romeo (Danny Trejo), on the other hand, is tired of being thought of as the MC’s magic ticket out of trouble, and suggests the time may have come to implement the CIA’s non-existent Plan B.

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