The Sons’ prison time was always going to be short. They had an exit plan, but that plan didn’t involve Damon Pope’s sadistic ways. The One-Niner ringleader came in and offered Jax an ultimatum: kill either Opie, Tig or Chibs. Or else.
“Laying Pipe” isn’t one of those episodes you’re likely to forget. It’s the episode that will leave a lump in your throat for days after you finish it. It’s the episode that outdoes all previous episodes and really turns Sons of Anarchy on its head.
The build-up to the eventual murder of one of the SAMCRO crew is slow-burning. It’s intersected by some Gemma drama involving Tara and, of course Clay. Seeing Tara stand up to Gemma was a long time coming, and Clay’s inability to leave Gemma alone must come to the forefront at some point and this will definitely be the tipping point. Jimmy Smits’ Nero’s story has flown under the radar, but the raid of his brothel (featuring a guest appearance from former Disney queen Ashley Tisdale) was a perfect way to end the episode. While all of this was important to the show, it is nothing compared to the other storyline.
Jax is weighed down with a decision that will haunt him. He can’t do it. The majority of the episode plays out in solitary after a staged fight. Jax and Opie are in a room together, and Tig and Chibs are in another. It looks like it has to be Chibs; Pope wants Tig to rot in jail, and Jax isn’t going to choose himself or his best friend Opie.
Early in the episode there’s a scene where Opie asks Jax, “Aren’t you getting tired of this?” Since his father’s death last season, Opie grew weary of living life the SAMCRO way. He wanted out. But he couldn’t get out. He was loyal to Jax and the rest of the Sons. He was always an important character and his gut-wrenching decision to step up and send himself to his death was an unforgettable moment.
Opie’s death certainly sent shockwaves through anybody who watched the episode. Even as he was fighting a gang—the guards’ way of sentencing him to death—there was hope that he’d make his way out of it. The impact of the scene was one of the most powerful I have ever witnessed. The lighting of the room, Jax screaming out in agony behind a bulletproof window and the other to unable to watch, all climaxed to one final blow of a pipe to the back of the head.
Watching it, I couldn’t even scream out for Opie or make any noise. Pure shock. This is what other shows would do as their season finale to leave viewers in a hazy state until the next season picks up again. Sons of Anarchy doesn’t play by any other rules. This death is going to be a catalyst for not only the rest of the season, but the rest of the series. Jax is turning into something he never wanted to be. He’s about to go off the edge, and we may not like where he ends up.
To quote Damon Pope: “Finding the hidden advantage in an unfortunate circumstance. Using pain to take it to the next level. Those are the things that turn players into kings.”
Jax may very well turn into a king of anarchy.