Recap: ‘Sons of Anarchy’ treads into “Sovereign” territory
It’s been nine long months since Jax Teller and the boys of SAMCRO last graced our televisions and I don’t know about you, but it’s been a long, cold nine months.
I’ve mourned the loss of Piney (William Lucking), I’ve felt the rage of Opie (Ryan Hurst), and I’ve forgiven Kurt Sutter for ever putting my dear, sweet, perfect Juice (Theo Rossi) into such a dire situation that he thought the only way out was to hang himself. Thank God for those dry California weather conditions.
But tonight the show returned for its fifth season, and though the hour-and-a-half episode started out rather slow in ‘SOA’ terms, I think it would be wrong to say that it was in any way, shape or form a lackluster episode.
Kurt Sutter has always been a master storyteller whether you want to believe it or not. And although I criticized him last season for not killing off Clay (Ron Perlman) when he had the perfect opportunity, I do think that he’s set up another fantastic season.
Gemma (Katey Sagal) is still reeling from Clay’s beating and the fallout of their obvious subsequent separation. Opie is still mourning in his own quiet angry way for his dearly departed father. And Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is doing the best he can to run a club that he never really wanted to run in the first place. Add to that a member’s daughter burned alive before his eyes, a very convincing, although out of character, pimp portrayed by Jimmy Smits, and more trouble than the Sons can possibly deal with right now, and you’ve got the makings of yet another drama-filled, adrenaline-fueled season.
The show begins with its signature montage featuring a gun run, Gemma sleeping with Smit’s Nero, and a stone-faced Tara smoking a joint in the tub with a gun nearby. It all ends with the Niners (wearing completely inappropriate clothing for this kind of operation) chasing down and burning the shipment of guns that SAMCRO is transporting, nearly killing Filthy Phil (Christopher Reed) in the process.
What follows is a series of incredibly calculated and cold maneuvers by Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau), the father of the woman Tig killed last season in his attempt to get to Laroy. After dispatching Laroy offscreen, Pope, an impenetrable businessman of uncertain strength and influence, sets up a series of events with the sole purpose of showing Jax and SAMCRO who’s calling the shots.
He dispatches four witnesses who identify Jax, Chibs and Tig as murderers and in what is perhaps the most brutal and hard to watch scene since Gemma’s rape in season two, he makes Tig watch as he burns his daughter, Dawn, alive. If this was the kind of show that Emmy viewers actually knew existed, I’d say that Kim Coates turned in a performance sure to put him on the Emmy radar, but I’ve long since given up hope that the voters would sit up and take notice of this gritty drama and the wonderful performances turned in by its actors.
The rest of the episode is taken up by several plot threads that, at times, seem to be too many too handle.
There’s still the subject of Clay, who’s now relegated himself (however unintentional it may have been) to the Piney role, right down to the oxygen tubes and seat at the end of the table. But what Clay lacks in physical strength he makes up in cunning and skillful manipulation as he admits to the club that he’s responsible for Piney’s death. The catch is that he blames it on self-defense and earns the pity of the rest of the men who still don’t know the truth about their one-time leader. The most hurtful of this betrayal is the blind acceptance by Juice who doesn’t even stop to think for a second before choosing to believe Clay is innocent. But that might be my own fondness for Juice coming through.
There’s also the subject of Gemma’s new pal Nero the pimp – or companionator as he calls himself. It’s startling to see Smits in a role so brazenly different than what he normally plays (and as a diehard ‘West Wing’ fan, it’s downright absurd to see him as anyone but clean and polished politician and President of the United States Matt Santos), but the role seems to mold to him and it’s easy to see why Sutter cast him in the first place. Though in the beginning he seemed to be just a distraction for Gemma, he comes through at the end of the episode when he takes Jax and Chibs in to hiding.
Underlying the entire episode is a current of mistrust and ferocity between old queen Gemma and new queen Tara (Maggie Siff). And although right now it’s a disagreement over whether or not Abel and Thomas should go to the hospital’s daycare or whether they should be raised by their own (meaning Gemma and the likes of SAMCRO), it’s still enough of a problem to further enlarge the rift between the two women in Jax’s life. I foresee this becoming a major plot point that continues through the rest of the season. And though Tara asked Jax not to run from the cops at the end of the episode, he still listens to Gemma and accepts her offer of help by hiding at Nero’s. Gemma: 1 Tara: 0.
Jax still has the shaky-IRA story with which to deal, and he’s still under the thumb of the CIA, but it all has the making of yet another great season of ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ And from the looks of next week’s previews, Sutter has no intention of slowing down.
What did you guys think? Did the episode quench your nine-month long thirst for biker drama or did it leave you a little empty inside?
Note: Photo courtesy of FX.