There’s a few ways you can start an episode: A reflective opening montage, A narrative exposition regarding past tragic events, and even accidentally shooting the escort you spent the night with. Episode 03’s “Poenitentia” easily accomplishes all three with a blast of fallout and sneak peak into this season’s hostile managment. There’s an improved element of storytelling that pushes each major character into the next unpredictable arc with some expected to expire, and others we will have to wait to find out.
The DA instructs Toric to find the Matthew Jenning’s mother and Arcadia while they work on connecting the unmarked gun to Samcro. Jax and crew settle retaliation from Amir and the Persians, Tara let’s Gemma in on a secret, and Clay continues to accept his fate in prison as he and Jax finally meet, face to face.
The DA’s describes to the media the examination of the journal from Matthew and identifying the weapon used as illegal. They are working to uncover who was responsible for putting the weapon in the boy’s hands. During this there’s a short montage of shots including Jax with Thoman, Tara with Abel, Gemma at a church watching Nero go in for confession, Bobby riding with Quinn and Hopper on their way to Reno and Jax riding alone.
A cop tells the DA that they can’t locate the mother and her boyfriend, Arcadia, is missing as well. They picked up to Biz Lats who saw them last but had to let them go.
Gemma and Nero leave the church. She asks Nero what he and Nero explains that he’s been going for so long that he won’t know how bad it will get if he stops. Gemma says he’s a good man.
Toric hears a noise outside his hotel window and pulls a gun with a silencer on it. He sees the DA outside. The escort girl startles him and he turns and accidentally shoots her in the gut. He frantically apologizes, positions her on the floor, puts a pillow over her face and shoots her twice in the head. He then hears a knock on the door.
Toric dresses and meets the DA outside in a calm manner. The DA asks him about Tara but Toric says Clay is their best play. She hands him the document they want Clay to sign to turn states evidence. She also wants him to check for the mother and Arcadia as they are missing. Toric points to Nero as knowing where the mother is. She tells him to talk to the Biz Lats that were let go earlier.
At the Sheriff’s station, Jax talks to Eli and asks about Clay. Eli tells him that Toric has been pulling favors to keep him safe from Pope’s kill squad and was responsible for arresting and processing Tara. He tells Jax he’s not involved and Jax leaves.
After Toric takes a pill, he leaves the hotel with the escort lying in the bathtub.
Tara drops both kids at the club as Gemma arrives. She tells her she’s going to get her hand checked out for a few hours.
Jax goes to see Clay in prison. Clay tells him he earned what happened but Jax isn’t buying it. Clay says he said he’d give up the club to see Jax and Gemma and apologizes for everything that happened. Toric is watching behind a one-way mirror. Clay tells Jax he won’t give up the club and realizes what will happen to him when he’s put in gen pop. Jax goes to the mirror and apologizes to Toric about his sister but that Samcro wasn’t responsible and that Otto isn’t a member and acted alone. He then threatens Toric should anything happen to Tara.
After Jax leaves, Toric enters and shows Clay the papers he needs to sign. He tries to bargain with Clay but he won’t sign. Toric mentions the irony that the cause of his death sentence is for a kill he didn’t commit.
Jax arrives at the clubhouse. Gemma mentions Tara is getting her hand checked and asks about Clay. During a meeting Jax tells the crew that Clay didn’t give them anything. They surmise that if Clay is still alive tomorrow he lied, if not, he’ll be dead soon. Jax realizes Toric is connecting the school shooting to the Biz Lats and tells his crew to keep watch and not to arouse any suspicion and to keep clean on the streets. He mentions a meeting with Nero in Stockton. Chibs tells Jax to call Bobby, but Jax candidly remarks that Bobby shouldn’t have left them.
In Reno, Bobby sits down with two other bikers, Montez and West. They agree to join Bobby to reform the Nomads.
At a house, Toric has the two Biz Lats tied up. He asks them about the mother’s whereabouts but neither man knows. Toric tortures each man by shoving an unopened bottle of beer in their mouth and breaks their teeth by trying to pry the cap off. He then wipes the bottle clean and twists the top off and drinks it. (That’s a total Vic move)
Back at the clubhouse, Wendy shows up and tells Gemma she was attacked by a Mexican male at her AA meeting. Gemma tells her to come by her house after work.
At the Italian Bakery, Jax, Nero, Colette and Barosky discuss how her house will be inspected once she receives the license. The bakery is shot up by a car driving by but only one of Barosky’s men is injured. They realize it’s Persian retaliation from interference with Samcro. Barosky says they have a boat at the marina and Jax and crew join him to check it out. Juice stays behind to keep Colette safe.
At the courthouse, Toric stalls the DA about Clay and says he missed him but will see him in Stockton when he gets processed. He also says the Biz Lats didn’t say much and that they’re protecting Nero. He suggests checking Nero’s escorts to see if there’s anything they want to trade. The DA gives him a temporary special investigator’s badge and he signs a waiver so she’ll be covered should he go rogue.
Jax and crew arrive at the marina and find the Persian’s boat the “Dayoos”. Barosky and Jax meet Amir and discuss in the boat why there was relatiation. Amir shows them his brother’s jacket and assumes Samcro killed him. Jax truthfully denies it and Barosky slits a guard’s throat. They attain their weapons and Barosky threatens Amir, telling him to set sail and never come back. Barosky asks Jax about the murder but Jax remains convinced it wasn’t his men. Barosky tells Jax he owes him one. Jax tells his crew that the matter is settled.
Clay arrives in the Stockton gen pop area and as he is being set for his prison clothes, a guard allows several black prisoners into the room. Clay fights them but is beaten to the ground. Clay tells the lead man with a shiv to get it done and the prisoner cryptically responds with “That’s gonna be your choice.”
Meanwhile, at the clubhouse, Tara picks the kids up. Gemma asks if Tara has spoken to Wendy about the guardianship but Tara says no. She then reveals to Gemma that she’s 8 weeks pregnant and that she’ll tell Jax later in the night. Gemma hugs her and tells her they’ll figure things out.
The crew return to the Italian Bakery but Colette has returned to her escort house. Jax tells Chibs to take everyone back to the club and to keep them on notice in case the Persian threat reignites. Jax goes to Tig and tells him to go gather the porn equipment from the Persian’s store it at the warehouse where the prospects will be by to collect it. He then asks Tig about what Amir said with the brother but Tig says he cut the guy loose. Jax hugs Tig and says he loves him.
Clay enters the prison courtyard and approaches one of the prisoners watching over his group. He asks Clay what happened but Clay only tells him it was an internal matter. Though Clay’s told the MC doesn’t mean anything in their prison Clay understands the drill. The man goes to talk to the leader of the group (Carson?)
Toric pulls hair samples from the dead escort in his hotel bathtub and tears a portion of her clothing off telling the body that he’s going to make all of this matter.
Jax goes to Colette’s escort house and walks upstairs, he hears Colette having sex and begins to leave but hears Barosky in the room as well. He opens the door partly and see Colette on top of Barsoky. They eyeball each other and Jax leaves.
Back at the prison. Clay is brought to the leader as a large fight erupts. In the chaos Clay reveals a shiv and stabs the leader repeatedly.
Under a brige, Jax meets with Pope’s second in command, August. He tells Jax that Clay is still alive but he had to earn it. Jax thanks him and explains he wants to distance Samcro from the guns and that he needs Clay because of his ties to the IRA. August says he’ll be compromised but Jax makes a deal to make August a silent partner after he resurrects the club’s old porn studio. When August asks about Tig, Jax hands him a piece of paper. August reads it, tells Jax to send him the business plan for the adult entertainment enterprise, and then leaves.
In Reno, Hopper tells Bobby he’s heading out with Montez and West. Bobby wants them to put in their papers and signed off as soon as possible and be back on the road before the end of the week. He then writes the two new names on his list.
At night, Wendy shows up at Gemma’s house. Gemma gives her a gun and explains it’s untraceable. Wendy is reluctant at first but agrees to take it.
Clay is put in solitary confinement. He’s beaten but alive.
Wendy leaves Gemma’s house as Nero shows up. Toric is seen near the house watching.
After Barosky leaves Colette’s room, she calls Jax. Jax returns home but doesn’t answer the call.
Tig is at the warehouse waiting for the prospects to show up.
A prisoner gives clay a new shiv to protect himself with.
Jax notices a paper of Tara’s pregnancy test result on a table.
Gemma is knitting in bed as Nero brings her a drink.
Toric breaks into Nero’s truck and plants evidence of the escort’s hair and clothing.
Eli and the police comb a field and find the escort’s body.
Wendy is in a bathroom. She wipes off the bruise on her neck and it’s revealed to be nothing but makeup.
August and his men arrive at the warehouse and Tig realizes what’s about to happen to him.
Jax goes into his bedroom and shows Tara the paper. He whispers he loves her and they embrace.
I felt this episode flowed better than the last. I wasn’t expecting the beginning to play out the way it did and for a moment it felt like Toric’s world was going to come crashing down. But he’s resourceful and is now using his accidental murder to his advantage to push the blame on Nero and use that as leverage to bait Samcro. Nero will be undeservingly in hot water soon. Will Eli be easily fooled? I think it’s safe to say for the time being, yes.
Clay’s refusal to truly turn the club in was also a surprising move. I half-heartedly believed his apology to Gemma but with Jax it felt more sincere and his actions proved he’s a man of his word, this time. Jax and Gemma won’t forgive Clay and that’s to be expected. Even as an old, tired villain, I’m glad Clay is still around and has a little fight left in him. Memories of Opie came when Clay was about to die. There was nothing poetic about the scene and it would have been bittersweet had the deed been done. Expect Clay to deal with threats from all sides in prison. His only hope rests in the hands of his enemies.
Not a lot of push from Chibs on this episode but he continues to develop on his VP status, warning Jax where he can and even suggesting Jax be the one to call on Bobby. It’s an honest gesture and it’s good the Sons haven’t forgotten about him even though Jax apparently has.
A bit of Barosky’s true personality is starting to come out and he’s on the mark to let Jax know his territory is his to do what he pleases whether its slitting throats or taking the top escort in the house. He’s Alpha on his turf and Jax is left with the bitter taste of watching the man work. I can see that Jax is somewhat agitated over Colette’s status but in all honesty Jax should know better. He has plenty of love to give Tara and he needs to concentrate on her. I wonder if Colette and Tara will actually meet. It may not be necessary, but I think Tara would likely punch her, if she found out who Jax has been screwing.
So, let’s talk about Tig. Thankfully the episode didn’t end with a barrage of bullets being driven into Tig’s body. Which means August intends either a lengthy torture, or some other means of abuse. I’m not convinced Tig will be used in a “flipping over” capacity, but stranger things have happened. With all that’s happened to Tig, I find he’s a broken man that keeps getting further and further pushed. Now that August has him, should Tig survive, he’s going to piece together that Jax let him go. And I don’t think Tig is in on any super secret plan. Jax threw him away and didn’t look back. I’d like to think there’s something more conspiracy like going on, but there isn’t any evidence to support it. Tig may not live through the next episode…or two.
Now let’s talk about Wendy. Is she a part of Toric’s investigation? Or is she operating on her own agenda? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she received one of Gemma’s unmarked handguns while Toric and the DA are busy trying to connect the guns to Samcro. There’s something oddly sinister going on here and I’m not sure what that is. Wendy expressed she didn’t want the kids, but if that isn’t what’s driving her, what is? There needs to be more, but it’s interesting to see her story may in fact be completely fabricated. Maybe she just wants a gun. Maybe she just wants Jax, who knows. She’s now a threat and it’s a threat that only Gemma may be able to handle.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode more than the previous. Sometimes it takes a step to rev up and sometimes an episode idles. Toric is a genuine season arc villain that suffers from plenty of his own demons which makes him a bigger threat than many of the villains in the past. His revenge is deep and he’s willing to get dirty to take the Sons out of commission. With Bobby wrapping up his quartet, we’ll see where he takes this new crew. Will he shoot straight for the Sons? Or will he ride on, farther away from the anarchy? Make no mistake, someone’s time is running out, and I fear the reaper will collect soon enough.