Kurt Sutter, you clever bastard.
Right when the networks are in the midst of launching and returning their big guns, "Sons of Anarchy" unleashes an episode designed to dominate TV chatter. Whether you loved, hated or were simply heartbroken by "Laying Pipe," it's not an episode you're going to forget. Or stop talking about for weeks to come.
If the amount of times someone says "Did you see 'Sons of Anarchy' last night?! Holy crap!" is one valid way to judge a showrunner's success, Sutter should be feeling pretty damn accomplished tomorrow.
Sutter has taken his knocks for not letting us properly feel the life and death stakes of SAMCRO's criminal activity. We've had a few casualties here and there (last season's murder of Piney the most significant), but for the most part the club has always managed to keep on ticking even when their rivals on both sides of the law aren't so lucky. Last season felt like a 14-episode arc inevitably building to the death of Clay Morrow until that deus ex CIA in the finale saved his skin.
Tonight, SAMCRO wasn't so lucky.
If you went into the episode blissfully unaware of the Twitter declarations that something seriously majorly crazy big was gonna go down, I don't know how you ever would've seen it coming. Even when Damon Pope told Jax that one of the Sons needed to die as payback for the dead cop and One-Niner, anyone familiar with how "Sons" works would probably expect Jax to find some clever way out of the situation. Sure, Pope had the solitary guard on his side (and what a marvelously sleazy portrayal of soulless corruption character actor Jack Conley brought to that role), but there had to be another twist coming. Right