Jax: "She's a goddamn trainwreck."
Nero: "She's still your mother ... Women like your mom, they don't do so good without family."

It's been a very Jax-centric season of "Sons of Anarchy" so far, but Clay and Gemma took the reins tonight while Jax was mostly just trying to keep up.

Let's start with Gemma, since that's where the episode ended and left us with the big cliffhanger going into next week: Will Abel survive the car crash? It doesn't look so good for the kid -- and frankly, I still hold him partly responsible for that whole Season 3 mess in Ireland, so I'm not too attached to him -- but even with the "Sons of Anarchy" writers room on a killing spree this season, would they go so far as to kill off a child and make Gemma responsible?

It was a brutal turn, especially after she and Jax finally had a breakthrough. "I made you make up for the love he couldn't give me anymore. I'm sorry that I've always been too much," Gemma said in her confessional/apology, opening up completely about how she's treated Jax since his brother died. "When he died, I felt so bad," Jax admitted. "It wasn't because he was dead, it was because I'd have you all to myself. I knew how wrong that was. I love you mom. We're gonna get through all this, I promise."

Even with all the insane, unforgivable, nonsense Gemma has pulled over the past four and a half seasons, it was hard not to be moved by the scene -- and the performances of both Katey Sagal and Charlie Hunnam. Yes, the appeal of "Sons of Anarchy" boils down to its macho swagger, but it wouldn't mean much if the relationships between these characters weren't deep and complicated enough to move us ... at least on occasion.

But "Sons" is still a adrenaline-fueled soap opera, and Gemma is still a drug-and-alcohol-fueled mess, so that combustible combination leaves no other out than some sort of over-the-top twist like the car crash.

As for Clay, we haven't seen him dominate an episode this much since Season 4. After last week's reveal that he was the mastermind of the home invasions, we got a little more detail about what his (foolish) plan to recapture his throne and saw how he decided to handle the fallout. As soon as Clay told the Nomads to go after and kill Unser for snooping around, I was pretty sure the Nomads were toast. But I appreciated the tense conversation between Clay and Unser in the former sheriff's trailer. The history between these two runs deep, and I'm looking forward to Unser continuing to monitor Clay's actions from his less authoritative position.

It's also intriguing to see signs of Juice starting to realize idolizing Clay isn't the way to go. He overheard Tara's conversation with Clay where she flat out told her father-in-law: "To me, you're already dead. Stay away." He also has to have at least some idea that Clay was playing both sides with the Nomads. And with one of the Nomads -- Frankie Diamonds -- still out there as a loose end, Clay isn't off the hook just yet.

Still, he's doing his best to divert suspicion to Pope, once again telling Jax that Pope must be the man responsible for what the Nomads were doing. I guess we should also assume Clay was involved in the attack on Jax and Chibs in the episode's final minutes? Jax took out one of his assailants and ripped off the ski mask to see the attacker was black. I can't imagine Pope will have much patience with Jax constantly accusing him of coming after SAMCRO.

Odds and ends:

- Joel McHale's guest appearance as Gemma's con man one night stand didn't really amount to much, aside from some particularly unconvincing stunt doubling in that tumble he took down the hill with Jax. But he did get his ass kicked by Jimmy Smits -- who continues to be one of the season's undeniable bright spots -- and that's not a bad addition to any resume.

- Turns out Lyla is Nero's new Carla. So I guess even though Opie's dead, we'll still be seeing her around a bit.

- If you missed what Gemma said Luann's perfume smelled like, I'll tell you half of it was patchouli. We'll call the other half "eau de porn star."

- Obviously, Jax is gonna be pissed at Gemma (to put it mildly). But what about Filthy Phil (Christopher Reed), that big guy always lurking on the sidelines of clubhouse scenes who let Gemma drive even though she was clearly wasted?

What did you think of the episode?