'Sons of Anarchy': A Major Death Shakes Up SAMCRO

In the third episode of season five, a member of the California motorcycle club loses his life.

News leaked a few days before the third episode of season five of Sons of Anarchy that there would be a major death. Granted, the FX drama is known for killing off more than one character per episode, but it’s usually someone who just showed up and no one really cares all that much about.

Over the past four seasons there have been some major deaths, of course, including Piney – a founding member of the California motorcycle club. But these deaths are rare, and often extremely pivotal to the show.

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So for creator Kurt Sutter to kill off a major character this early into the season is a big move.

[Warning: Stop reading if you have not watched the third episode of season five. Major spoilers ahead.]

The character who is killed off – in a violent and emotional scene – is Opie (Ryan Hurst).

At the end of the second episode, Opie heads to jail with Jax (Charlie Hunnam), Tig (Kim Coates) and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan). Inside, Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) meets with Jax, and says he wants 50 percent of SAMCRO’s profits from running drugs. He also wants Tig in jail forever, and he needs one member of SAMCRO to die because of the deaths on the highway. Jax can pick which of the four will die in prison.

Jax tells Opie all of this while they’re alone in their cell. He goes one step further and tells Opie about Clay’s (Ron Perlman) real reason for killing Piney – the letters from Jax’s father that reveal that Clay killed Jax’s dad. He also tells Opie that he hasn’t killed Clay because of the Feds' secret case against them.

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Jax, Opie, Tig and Chibs are called into “the box” by the gaurds and told it’s time to choose who will be beaten to death. Jax is about to punch the guard -- which would mean he’s the one to die -- when Opie gets in the way and hits him first.

Opie is then dragged into the box by the guards. Jax is forced to watch on as a group of prisoners is allowed to beat Opie – who tries to fight them off as long as he can --until he dies with a final blow to the back of the head.

Opie’s story has been tragic from the beginning of the show. Jax’s best friend, Opie wanted to leave the club after getting out of jail in the first season, pressured by his wife Donna. However, he went back to the club, and after a federal agent tricked Clay into thinking that Opie had turned on them, Tig accidentally kills Donna while trying to kill Opie.

Then, last season, Opie’s father Piney is killed by Clay, who fears that Piney will reveal that Clay killed Jax’s father.

It’s a tragic end for a character that led an extremely tragic life from the very first season. He lost his entire family – and now his own life – because of the actions of the club, but his last act was a completely selfless one to protect his best friend.

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Other events from the third episode:

1. Gemma (Katey Sagal) is pissed because Tara (Maggie Siff) won’t let her see the kids, so she enlists Jax’s ex, Wendy (Drea de Matteo) to help. Wendy visits Tara to talk about visitation with Abel. But Tara isn’t having it, and says she’s not afraid of Wendy’s “custody threat.”

2. Clay gets Juice to tell him about who Gemma is spending her time with, and they show up at Nero’s (Jimmy Smits) place of business. Clay spots a hooker named Emma (Ashley Tisdale!) and asks if she’s available. Gemma barges in to find Clay in one of the “massage rooms” with Emma. And she beats the crap out of Emma.

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3. After Opie’s death, Jax is forced to meet with Damon Pope again. He tells Pope that he just lost his best friend, and that he needs Tig on the outside, not rotting in jail. He’ll convince the club to give Pope half of their profits. Jax also asks for the home invasions to stop, but Pope says he isn't part of that.

4. At the very end of the episode, Nero’s whorehouse is raided by cops. Gemma, who was sleeping there, is handcuffed.

What did you think of Tuesday’s powerful episode? How do you think Opie’s death will affect Jax and the club?

Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford