A review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I tell you to be the badge...

"Don't go setting fires where there's nothing to burn." -Clay

"Booster" ends with the SAMCRO clubhouse trashed and the club itself on the verge of falling to pieces over Clay's plan for them to become drug mules for the cartel. The guys begin cleaning up the place, and Tara briefly lightens the mood by announcing that she and Jax are engaged, but the wounds inside the club seem like they'll be much harder to repair than the damage Roosevelt(*) and his men did.

(*) Rockmond Dunbar had a terrific introduction last week, but boy does he really announce his presence with authority in this one. I like how Roosevelt gets a little too into the whole performance. He's a by-the-book kind of guy, but he's perhaps too tightly wound, and being around the Sons has a bad effect on people like that.

And it's here that I want to bring back Jax and Tara's conversation from the premiere. Again, I understand the culture Jax was raised in, and I also recognize that for all he talks about wanting to get out of SAMCRO because of the violence, he had no problem being part of that violence last week. I get where he's coming from; this world is more a part of him than he wants to admit. But at the same time, Jax knows just how reckless and stupid this plan is, on top of taking the club further and further away from its original ideals. He told Tara last week that he'd stick around for a while because the gun deal with the IRA was smart and low-profile - a way to make a lot of money without exposing himself to a lot of risk. This is not that. This is the exact kind of thing that could put take Jax away from Tara and the boys for a very long time, and while in theory it could allow him a cleaner exit from the club (this time with Clay's approval), the downside just seems way too huge.

I wouldn't say it's exactly out of character for Jax (he's done dumb, short-sighted things before), but it does feel like a case where the needs of the plot - the writers want the Mexican deal to happen, and they also need an excuse to have Jax stick around Charming for many hypothetical seasons to come - wind up making me think significantly less of our hero.

On the plus side, though, the deal allows the show to bring in both Danny Trejo and Benito Martinez(**) as the cartel's representatives, and the presence of both gentlemen is welcome. And I did like seeing some of the other club members like Opie, Tig and Bobby all reacting to both the deal and the dawning realization that they're all on the outside looking in. Tensions within the club are always good for the show, even if the source of those tensions have to be contrived sometimes.



(**) Anyone care to predict which "Shield" alum will next follow Martinez, Kenny Johnson, David Rees Snell, etc., etc. onto this show? If/when Lincoln Potter fails to put the Sons away, is it time to give CCH Pounder a call?

Meanwhile one character acting entirely in character - but in a way that can be trying to watch sometimes - was Gemma, who does her whole damn-the-torpedoes thing in rifling through Tara's office in search of John's letters. This is who Gemma is and what she does, but I was definitely much less interested in seeing her relentlessly dig for those letters than I was with her later conversation with Unser. Once again, we're getting a very strong hint that something other than an accident killed John Teller - and for the first time, there's a suggestion that Clay might not have been involved in what happened. (That, or he was entirely responsible and they don't want him to know that anyone else knows; we'll see.)

Overall, some positives and some negatives here, one terrific scene involving Roosevelt at the clubhouse, and we'll see if the ends (whatever happens within and without the club) justifies the means (characters making really bad business decisions).

What did everybody else think?