Another gruesome and heartbreaking week, ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 5 rides again with its third episode of the year, as Jax struggles with a life-or-death decision of which Son has to die in prison, while Gemma makes a power play to get access to her grandchildren, and Clay pays a visit to Nero's brothel.

Last week’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ episode “Authority Vested” saw Jax fighting to keep the club together and protected before turning themselves in and making an honest woman out of Tara, while Clay brazenly confronted Opie to remind him of his importance to the club. So how does “Laying Pipe”  keep things running?  What more deaths will season 5 of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 5 episode 3, “Laying Pipe!”

Opie, Jax, Chibs and Tig enter their prison quarters, finding themselves immediately approached by the black element of the inmates, but the Spanish under Galindo’s orders swoop in to protect the Sons, and welcome them to their new accommodations.  Meanwhile back at Diosa,  Gemma awakens once more in Nero’s bed, only to find their nice morning interrupted by a still-bitter Carla, whisking Nero away to meet one of the newer import girls.

While the boys reason that Pope will find a way to hurt them inside, a guard pulls Jax away for a private meeting…with none other than Damon Pope!  While the crew back at the club, Clay included , head off to a meeting with Romeo, Jax sits down with the coolly menacing Pope.  Pope applauds their pull in protecting themselves in prison, but lays out his own terms for cooling the feud: not only will he take half of their coke profits, but Tig will remain in prison to be tortured for as long as Pope sees fit, and another of the Sons must die for the cop Tig killed!  Jax protests, noting that he doesn’t want a war, but Pope fires back that he’s already in one.

Gemma arrives at the hospital daycare to find her visitation to Thomas and Abel denied without consent from the mother, and immediately interrupts Tara upstairs demanding an explanation.  Tara insists she won't be bullied by Gemma, and points out the juvenile hickeys on her neck, forcing Gemma to back down for the moment.  Back at the prison, Opie and the others question Jax what he learned from the meeting with Pope, but Jax only mentions the man’s terms as far as Tig and the drug money.

At a local junkyard, Romeo’s man brings Clay and Bobby up to speed on Pope’s visitation, assuring the Galindos that the Niners beef won’t effect any of their drug shipments going forward.  After the meeting, Clay begs Juice to tell him what’s been going on with Gemma, and where she’s been going, as she’s about the only thing he has left anymore.  Meanwhile, Gemma pays a visit to Wendy at her counseling sessions, offering a chance to get the ex-druggie access to her son Abel if she accuses Tara of abusing Oxycontin in her recovery.

In the prison yard, an imminent changing of the guard means that Jax has only minutes to get the Sons thrown into solitary confinement, as per the plan.  Jax starts a fight, nearly inciting a riot before the guards quickly quell it, and throw the lot of them into confinement.  Meanwhile, Wendy visits Tara in her office, though Tara quickly sees Gemma’s involvement in the matter of bringing up Abel, and assures Wendy that they’ll face any custody charges she wants to throw at the family head on.

With Jax and Opie alone in a cell, a mysterious guard Sergeant enters to lay out the deal for Jax: whichever SAMCRO member of the four he chooses to die will be led into a room, and attacked by inmates until he loses.  With Jax unable to decide, the guard offers him a few more minutes, as he turns to Opie to show the horrific choice placed before him.  Noting how he misses Piney, Jax lays out the whole truth to Opie regarding Clay, John Teller's death, and the true reason he prevented Opie from seeking revenge.  When Opie lashes out, Jax explains that Clay’s deal with the Irish is all that prevents RICO and the CIA from coming down on them.  Jax had a choice between killing Clay or saving the club, and Opie responds that he made the wrong one.

Back at the hospital, Tara meets with Gemma, who briefly denies any knowledge of Wendy’s visit, assuring her mother-in-law that she isn’t trying to push her out of the family.  However, if Gemma ever tries to hurt their family again, Tara won’t kill her, but Jax might.  After Tara leaves, Gemma gets a call from Carla letting her know that Clay and Juice are poking around Diosa International.

While Clay and Juice look around, Nero comes out and introduces himself, looking to avoid any trouble from Clay.  Instead of picking a fight however, Clay sets his eyes on a girl (Ashley Tisdale) and against doctor’s orders, sets off with her to another room.  Looking for a little payback of her own, Carla drags Juice off for equally naughty purposes.

Back in prison, the Sergeant demands Jax’s choice, assuring that he’ll make the choice if necessary, and after he departs Jax gets an idea.  Meanwhile at Diosa, Gemma arrives looking for Clay, and storms into one of the rooms to find him completely dressed, though the when the companion enters the room, Gemma immediately attacks her.  Nero manages to pull them apart, as she storms away leaving Clay smiling.

Reunited with Chibs and Tig, Jax explains the dire situation before bravely asserting that Pope doesn’t have control over their lives.  When the Sergeant arrives demanding a name, Jax goes to attack him, but Opie beats him to it, and against Jax’s screams, the guard chooses Opie to be the one to die.  Opie is led into the adjacent room and given a lead pipe, but Jax, Tig and Chibs can only watch in horror as Opie valiantly struggles against three fellow inmates.  After a good effort, the men get the better of Opie, and leave Jax screaming as they land the final blow to the back of Opie’s head.  Pour one out, y’all.

Afterward, Jax is once more called to meet with Pope, telling the Sergeant on the way that he’ll find out who he is, and kill him.  While Nero consoles Gemma and reaffirms their bond, Pope notes that their plan went exactly as intended.  Only…having watched his best friend beaten to death, Jax changes the terms of their agreement.  He’ll get the club to sign off on the drug money, but Tig will leave prison with them, as Jax needs the internal support to make everything run smoothly.  Once the vote is done, Tig will be Popes’ to burn as he pleases.  Pope congratulates Jax on making a kingly move rather than being played, and leaves the inmate alone in the office to call his wife.

Back at Diosa international, Gemma wakes to the sound of a shot, and finds the entire club being raided by police, men and call girls arrested left and right, herself included.  Jax returns to speak with Tig and Chibs, but menacingly asks to see each of them in succession.  He tells Tig to learn of any favors they’re owed in prison and get all information on the mysterious Seargeant, but tells Tig that the price for leaving prison with them is that he must support every decision and vote Jax makes as the head of SAMCRO.  Tig agrees, and leaves the world-weary king to his grief.

Poor Opie.  Four seasons of getting the short end of the stick, only to get the short end of the pipe to the back of his skull.  Given that we knew someone was to die by the end of the hour, it wasn't exactly a tremendous surprise to see Opie take the fall, what with the way the show's narrative clearly left him with very little to do.  Far less interesting were Gemma's struggles to get access to her grandchildren, which need some kind of real development people are to invest in it.  "Laying Pipe" made for a particularly memorable, and heart-breaking episode, just not all that organized.

Did you get your thrill of piping hot ‘Sons of Anarchy’ action?  Will you miss Opie?  What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for another all-new ‘Sons of Anarchy’ episode recap of “Stolen Huffy” on FX!