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August 29, 2014

Sons of Anarchy: Albification (season premiere)

by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 8th 2009 11:26PM
Clay and Jax on Sons of Anarchy(S02E01) - "I'm not going to swap one outlaw for another one."

How do you turn a group of gruff biker outlaws who deal potent drugs to street trash and hardcore hardware to ruthless killers into a likable group of huggable stud muffins?

That's easy. You make a group of radical white supremacists into their enemies. It's the old "lovable by association" tactic of TV writing. Is the audience not buying your childhood version of Darth Vader? Then throw in a wise-cracking alien that sounds like Pee Wee Herman with Down's Syndrome.

However, in the case of the second season of Sons of Anarchy, it's a pretty sweet power play for a show that already packed more punch than an Absinthe smoothie.

The characters have had a whole season to develop and make their mark, both within the club and with the audience. Now that the viewers know the pieces and the moves that have to make, the game can begin. Except, Kurt Sutter and his gang of scribble jockeys throw in a few more pieces that we haven't seen before, turning this chess game into a bitching round of Operation with a gas powered chainsaw.

The unlikely duo of Adam Arkin and Henry Rollins as Ethan Zobelle and A.J. Weston, the extremely white leaders of a white supremacist movement, make perfect villains for SANCRO. Especially Rollins, who is a scary enough presence when he isn't acting. And this assumption isn't just based on my gut reactions to his freeze-throwing stares and brick wall stances. It's also based on an interview he did with author and journalist Marty Beckerman. The interview lasted 30 seconds and ended with "a wonderfully cheerful comment about #@*&ing my mother." So expect nothing from me but heaps of praise on Rollins and his performance.

Arkin also makes a great villain as the brains to A.J.'s beefheaded braun. He's equally cold and calculating, but in a less callous and confrontational way. He kills Clay with kindness as they make their presence known in Charming, but also keeps no secret about his intentions and beliefs.

He seems almost to be hiding something else, not just from SANCRO and the cops with whom he offers his help to Deputy Chief Hale, but even from A.J. I have a feeling the two might turn on each other and A.J. will probably win since beating a man's head in with the nearest heavy object is more than just a way of life to him. It's his Thursday cardio workout.

Of course, the real focus of the show remains on the club and the bonds between them. Katey Sagal was right. Behind all the bar room brawls and biker beatings lies the heart of a true family with some willing to die to keep it together and others who do what they can to please everyone while trying to worm their way out on their own.

That's probably what makes Gemma's rape scene all the more horrific to watch. It's nowhere near the most graphic thing I've seen on a dramatic series, but it's emotionally hard thanks to A.J.'s indifferent attitude towards the harm he inflicts on her and knowing that Gemma must either tell someone and admit she's weak or keep it bottled up inside her. She also just finished telling Tara not to keep any secrets between her and the club if she wants to stay with Jax, but Gemma knows she can't tell Clay because it would disintegrate the club, their relationship and even their lives.

She has to keep it to herself, but for how long and at what cost? Nothing that dark can stay inside something or someone forever without destroying the thing that's holding it.

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teena

~oops on the misspells above ~ kinda chillin in the dark checkin the incoming on SOA and getting ready to crash.
L8trs all

September 11 2009 at 4:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teena

whoops on the misspells but you get the point. Just sittin in the dark checking the incoming on SOA and gettin ready to crash. L8ters

September 11 2009 at 4:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teena

if you are talking about the end of the first series song at the cemetary ~ its called " John the Revelator" by Gov'mt
Mule. You can get it on Itune..~ observation Opie reinforced to jax he didnt want to kill an innocent man and he trusted Jax. I think there are three direction that are gonna go BANG in this season! Honor your brother is an oath~waiting to watch it spin our
live to ride~ ride to live

September 11 2009 at 4:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
butch

What is the song at the end of the episode called?

September 10 2009 at 6:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to butch's comment
SOA4ever

no butch means the song that is playing while Gemma is getting raped. What is that song? I am also looking for it.

September 11 2009 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anne

"Girl from the North country" by The Lions. It's a Bob Dylan Cover.

September 14 2009 at 3:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fancastfan

Henry Rollins is gong to be online chatting live and taking your questions on Tues. Sept 15 at 3 pm ET/12 noon PT to discuss all things "Sons of Anarchy."

http://www.fancast.com/blogs/tv-news/sons-of-anarchys-henry-rollins-live-chat/

You can set an email reminder for yourself at the chat page right now if you want. Then get your questions ready for Henry - you know he won't hold anything back.

(We did a Fancast chat last year, btw, with Charlie Hunnam and SOA executive producer/creator Kurt Sutter and it was great.)

Cheers,

Jim (for Fancast)

September 10 2009 at 3:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
keri5374

I understand why Jax is keeping his secret from Opie, but I think Opie will turn on Jax for not telling him the truth. And I also think that Gemma is going to go ballistic this season and kill those bastards that raped her.

September 10 2009 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ric Kaysen

Ma'am got her attention, but she focused twice on his distinctive tat. That was the tell.

September 09 2009 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daune Calovini

I was glad that Jackson let Clay know that he knows what went down with Donna, and why he was willing to keep Opie in the dark. His rationalization of that is going to come back around with Clay having to deal with how he responds to what happens to Gemma.

They made a big deal out of him saying he'd be lost without her. We already knew he felt that way, but having him say it and repeat it and having a much more successful session than the last time they fooled around, that we witnessed, cemented that they're good with each other, right before the sheet hits the fan, as it were. (And how funny was Project thinking he might be able to go in there with Clay and Gemma, just for a second? Hilarious.)

The reason the season started with the wrapping up of loose ends, I think, is that it showed a man getting vengeance for wrong done to his woman. Juxtapose that against what much of this season is going to be about, I have to believe. It might be worse that Gemma is alive in the aftermath, to watch her man unravel.

On a side note, while I thought this was a powerful episode, and I'm glad to spend some time in Charming again, I had a real problem with the continuity of Gemma being at the party to see Ethan and AJ, and then still at the house, feeding the baby and kissing Tara on the lips. I wonder if they added her interchange to give her an opportunity to identify the rapist through his "Ma'am."

September 09 2009 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Daune Calovini's comment
Steve

You mean Prospect, although he is a project.

September 10 2009 at 8:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mb

Excellent review, I must say.

Nicely put.

September 09 2009 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gina

She wont be able to keep it to her self. If you listened carefully the last rapist gave up his identity. He called her ma'am just like he did in the parking lot. She will not be able to keep it to her self because I have a feeling that Henry Rollins' character will keep popping up around her (scaring the crap out of her) until she spills. Even a strong tough woman like her will be scared of her rapist after being gang raped. I think the white supremacist are counting on her telling and causing trouble with SAMCRO. I think that was the plan. The preview for next week shows the sheriff finding her and taking her to the hospital and calling Clay.

September 09 2009 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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