It's a busy episode of Sons of Anarchy, which is in keeping with the monologue from Jax (Charlie Hunnam) that starts the show off. In it, Jax talks about how he spends each day cleaning up the mess that's been made from the day before, and how its all become an endless cycle of pain, anguish and violence that was intended to correct previous instances of the same. Ironically, while Jax is clearly aware of the mountain of garbage the MC is under – enough to write about it, anyway – that doesn't stop him from throwing what will likely be more garbage right on top.
That, of course, is in reference to Jax's blackmail scheme, intended to get Mayor Hale (Jeff Kober) in bed with the club in exchange for a lease on the property that will become the new Diosa International. This leads to the resurrection of the tepid season 4 subplot concerning Charming Heights. As the finale left it, the last act of the questionably stable Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon) looked to have unraveled Hale's development plans, and possibly damaged the mayor's reputation beyond repair. But as it stands now, it seems every action Mr. Potter put into play during season 4 has fallen flat.
It turns out the Charming Heights development is still viable, but at the mercy of the city council –or, really, just one morbidly obese guy named Alan. The Sons manage to drug Alan with some special fudge, strip him and take photos of him in compromising positions with a transgender prostitute named Venus Van Damme – which proves that there isn't a show on television that couldn't benefit from the presence of the great Walton Goggins. And while the gag of seeing Boyd Crowder in some S&M gear is initially pretty funny, the scene drags on so long it becomes like watching a bad SNL skit go completely off the rails. To make matters worse, the club gets Alan's stepson involved (with Van Damme), and Tig (Kim Coates) finds out the hard way that Alan can bite clean through denim.
The whole thing is played for laughs – and there'll likely be a division between viewers who think it's hilarious and those who don't – but perhaps there's some insight to be taken away from the event that has to do with Jax's monologue from the show's opening. There is no doubt that the character is an outlaw who is drawing a line in the sand, but now we get a clearer picture of just where that line is. Running guns and drugs is bad. Running pricey escorts and molesting strangers with the help of Southern Dr. Frank-N-Furter, is totally fine. This isn't a moral judgment on Jax or anything; it's merely clarification of the kinds of things that don't keep him up at night, and an observation of where the club's new president thinks the safer money is at.
The episode is also intent on keeping the relationship between Gemma (Katey Sagal) and Nero (Jimmy Smits) dramatic by means of Jax forbidding it for the sake of the club. It's understandable that, in his nascent presidency, Jax is looking to keep SAMCRO's moneymaking endeavors from becoming entangled in the general mess of everything that Gemma makes, but it causes one to wonder how well Jax actually pays attention to his mother. She's like a small child who, when told not to do something goes directly for it. While keeping Nero around could be interesting for the sake of the MC's new direction, the inevitable fireworks that are going to erupt from Gemma lashing out because she wants something she can't have are about as uninteresting a prospect as this show is capable of producing.
While that drama is being sorted out, SAMCRO still has to deal with the whole Irish guns and Galindo thing. Since neither Galen (Timothy V. Murphy) nor Romeo (Danny Trejo) has been seen in a while, 'Orca Shrugged' gives them some face time to remind everyone they're still around, and reinforces why Clay (Ron Perlman) is integral to the whole Galindo deal. It turns out Galen doesn't much like Jax because of events stemming from season 3, so the two work out their aggression by trading punches while they wait for Romeo to show up. After successfully making the sale with Romeo, Galen blows up a couple of the club's bikes with a high-powered machine gun. The demonstration works to give Clay an edge in a situation that's clearly out of Jax's control, and perhaps serves as a little bit of foreshadowing to just how dicey things with the CIA can get when Clay finally makes his move.
Since he's been relatively low-key for much of season 5, it looks as though things are finally going to start heating up regarding the string of home invasions and whatever Clay's connection to them is. For one reason or another, the trio breaks into the house of Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) and they briefly terrorize his wife Rita (Merle Dandridge), which results in her being not only being shot, but also clawing the neck of one of the intruders.
The extreme violence of the home invaders, and the fact that they've possibly claimed the life of Roosevelt's wife and unborn child, stands in stark contrast to the cringe-worthy assault on Alan that took place earlier – which was likely the idea. But considering how disillusioned Jax is when he opens a cooler containing some body parts, at the episode's end, it raises the question: Is Jax merely aware the sheer amount of garbage the club is buried under, or is he planning on doing something to pull SAMCRO out from beneath it?
Sons of Anarchy continues next Tuesday with 'Small World' @10pm on FX. Check out a preview of the episode below: