'Sons of Anarchy' Catch-Up Guide
by Kim Potts, posted Sep 5th 2010 6:00PM
'Sons of Anarchy' season 3 debuts on Sept. 7 (10PM ET), and if you haven't delved into the FX drama yet, 1) you're missing out on one of the best series on TV, and 2) our handy dandy A to Z guide will get you up to speed in time to become one of the 'SOA' devoted for the motorcycle gang drama's season three.
And for those already tuned in to the Emmy-worthy drama, we've included a few hints on what to expect in the new season, too.
A is for Abel Teller, the infant son of Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) and his estranged meth addict wife Wendy (Drea de Matteo). Abel was born with digestive and cardiac problems because Wendy used drugs during her pregnancy, but he recovered and has been a healthy baby. With Wendy gone to reside in a sober living facility, Jax, his mom Gemma and his girlfriend Tara have cared for Abel ... until he was kidnapped in the season 2 finale, a storyline that continues in season 3.
B is for Blowtorch, which former Sons of Anarchy club member Kyle Hobart (Brian Van Holt) got to experience up close and personal in season 1. Sons are members for life, and have large tattoos on their backs to prove it; if they're no longer part of the club, they're supposed to have the tattoos removed. Kyle, who was thrown out of the club when he abandoned fellow SOA member Opie during a planned arson, hadn't done that when he met up with his fellow cohorts, so they removed it for him, by burning it off with a torch.
C is for Chapel, a room inside the Sons of Anarchy clubhouse. The chapel is where club members meet every week (the meetings are called "church"), and discuss business and any problems members have with each other. They gather around a long, elaborate wood table that has their logo -- a reaper -- hand carved into the middle. The wood artist: Doug Rowell, who has also sculpted wooden pieces for 'The Golden Girls,' 'Numb3rs' and 'Birds of Prey.'
D is for David Hale, the Deputy Chief of Police in Charming, where the Sons of Anarchy live. Hale (Taylor Sheridan) has lived in Charming his whole life, and, unlike his boss, Chief Unser, Hale isn't happy that the Sons of Anarchy hold such power over the town. He's a stickler for the law, though he has, on occasion, worked with the Sons when what he perceives as an even bigger group of baddies is threatening Charming and its citizens. Hale, um, hails from a wealthy, powerful Charming family, and his older brother Jacob (Jeff Kober), an aspiring politician, has a big storyline in season three.
E is for Ernest Darby (Mitch Pileggi), the leader of the Nordics, a White supremacist drug-dealing gang in Charming, and a Sons of Anarchy enemy. The Sons have banned Darby and his crew from dealing drugs in their town (especially since he's the one who sold them to Jax's wife), but when a new group of white supremacists led by businessman Ethan Zobelle came to town and tried to use Darby to rile the Sons, Darby became his pawn and nearly died in a fire.
F is for Floyd, the town barber. And just like that other Floyd the barber (on 'The Andy Griffith Show'), Charming's Floyd (James Carraway) also has a shop on the town's main street, and it is often a meeting place, especially for the Sons and the local police staff.
G is guest stars. Tom Arnold popped in last season as porn king Georgie Caruso; Tom Everett Scott appears occasionally as Rosen, the Sons' attorney; Adam Arkin and Henry Rollins were a big part of the season 2 storyline as white supremacists (and Sons enemies) Ethan Zobelle and A.J. Weston; and in season 3, Hal Holbrook appears in several episodes, including the premiere, as Gemma's dad, Nate. Also on tap: a guest appearance by author Stephen King. The details on his character are too delicious to spoil, but he appears in the season's third episode ('Caregiver,' airing Sept. 21), and his character, Bachman, is brought into the mix by outrageous Sons members Tig.
H is for Half-Sack (Johnny Lewis), aka Kip Epps, aka The Prospect (as in prospective member), the Sons member-in-training. Why Half-Sack? He's a Marine who fought in the Iraq War, and lost one of his testicles during his deployment. Because he wasn't yet a full-fledged member of the club, Half-Sack wasn't allowed to attend "church," and he was often charged with the most frustrating/embarrassing/menial SOA tasks. In the season 2 finale, he was keeping an eye on Gemma and Tara, and while trying to protect Jax's baby, was stabbed and killed by Irish gunrunner Cameron.
I is for IRA, the True IRA, an IRA group who works with the Charming Sons, as well as their Belfast branch, in the gunrunning business. Jimmy O (Titus Welliver) is the True IRA leader, but his relationship with the Sons is tension-filled, largely because he kicked SOA member Chibs out of the IRA, banished him from Ireland, married Chibs' wife and adopted his daughter. Cameron Hayes (Jamie McShane) and his son Edmond (Callard Harris) are the Sons' main gunrunner contacts in the IRA, though, in season 2, Cameron and Edmond -- without Jimmy O's permission -- shortchanged the Sons on a gun shipment so they could sell some weaponry to Ethan Zobelle and his crew. When the Sons found out, they told Jimmy, and a mess ensued, with the ATF getting involved. In the finale, ATF agent June Stahl (Ally Walker) shot and killed Edmond and framed Gemma for it; Gemma went on the lam, and Cameron, seeking revenge on the woman he thought killed his son, kidnapped Gemma's grandson Abel, and killed Half-Sack in the process. Season 3 picks up with Jax and the Sons trying to locate Abel.
J is for Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the Sons' vice president, son of Gemma and Sons co-founder John Teller, stepson of current Sons president Clay Morrow, husband to drug addict Wendy, father of Abel and boyfriend to Tara, his high school sweetheart, with whom he reunited in season 1. Jax, who was born in 1978, is very close with his mother, but is often at odds with stepdad Clay over the direction of the club. Like the young Michael Corleone in 'The Godfather,' Jax wants the club to start earning its money in more legal ways -- i.e., not be dependent on dangerous gunrunning activities -- and, when not on an SOA mission, he works as a mechanic at the Teller-Morrow Auto Shop, which is located near the SOA clubhouse.
K is for Kurt Sutter, the creator of 'Sons of Anarchy.' Sutter, a writer and actor on 'The Shield' (he played hit man Margos Dezerian), also writes, produces and acts on 'Sons of Anarchy,' playing incarcerated -- and tortured -- Sons member "Big Otto" Delaney. Sutter, who is married in real life to 'Sons' star Katey Sagal, also posts regularly about the show on his Twitter account and his must-read blog, Sutter Ink.
L is for 'The Life and Death of Sam Crow: How the Sons of Anarchy Lost Their Way,' a manuscript written by the late John Teller, and found by his son Jax in season 1. The book-length document describes how unhappy John Teller, a founding member of the Sons, had become with the way the club operated. The senior Teller, along with his best friend Piney and Clay Morrow, had founded the club after returning from the Vietnam War and being treated badly. The club was their attempt to live free of the rules of a society that had rejected them, despite their service to their country, and was not about profit, but about living self-sufficiently and independently. As Jax began to read the book, it fueled his own unhappiness with the way Clay was leading the Sons in the present, and when Piney gave him another copy of his dad's writings, it sealed his resolve to forge a different future for SOA. Meanwhile, Clay and Gemma are aware that Jax has the manuscript, and are worried that it will lead to the club's downfall, as Jax and Clay continue, on and off, to butt heads.
M is for Marstein, Chuck Marstein (Michael Marisi Ornstein), a nervous bookkeeper and prison friend of Big Otto's, and a character responsible for frequent bits of comic relief in the intense drama. Chuck has been traded back and forth between the Sons and the Chinese-American gang the Triad, depending on who required his services at any given time, but both groups have been annoyed by Chuck's compulsive, ahem, self-pleasuring, habit. The Triads, in fact, cut off all but his middle fingers to try and curb his habit, and passed him back to the Sons, where, in season 2, he helped the Sons operate their porn business. Chuck is also well aware of how much he bothers those around him, and, when insulted, he often responds by saying, "I accept that."
N is for Northern California, where the fictional town of Charming is located. The town is thought to be located near Stockton, California, and, on an official road sign, the Charming population is 14,679, though -- SPOILER ALERT -- it goes down by at least one in season 3.
O is for Oswald, Elliott Oswald (Patrick St. Esprit), one of Charming's wealthier citizens. Oswald is a businessman and ranch owner, and, while not exactly a friend of the Sons, has occasional dealings with them. In season 1, Oswald's 13-year-old daughter Tristen was raped and beaten, and he turned to Clay and the club to help him find her attacker. Clay castrated and killed the man, and has used the info to blackmail Oswald into helping the Sons when they need it.
P is for President, as in Sons of Anarchy president Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman). Clay is the youngest of the original SOA members, and, after the death of John Teller in 1993, married Gemma, John's widow, and became the club president. Clay's tough, though his age and worsening arthritis (which gets so bad that, in one season 3 episode, Jax has to tie his stepdad's hands to his motorcycle to keep them from slipping off) threaten his ability to lead, as does Jax's growing unease with the club's law-breaking ways. The rift between Jax and Clay led Jax to, briefly, quit the club in season 2, after he found out that Clay had attempted to kill SOA member Opie, who Clay thought had become an ATF informant. The ATF had set it up to look that way, and though Clay's plan to kill Opie failed, Opie wife, Donna, was killed in the process, sending Jax, and eventually Opie, reeling when they found out what Clay had ordered.
Q is for Queen, as in Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal), Jax's mom, Clay's wife and the queen bee of the SOA family. Gemma, who knows all the club's secrets, and keeps many more of her own, had another son, Thomas, who died as a child, thanks to a genetic heart disorder he inherited from her. Gemma is fiercely protective of the club, and, in particular of Jax and Abel, which means she doesn't usually warm up to the women in Jax's life. She has come to respect and trust Tara, with whom she has bonded and has shared some 'Thelma & Louise'-ish moments when other women have threatened them. Gemma is as tough as any of the motorcycle club men (and more so than some), having survived a vicious rape and beating by several of Ethan Zobelle's men in the season 2 premiere. Revenge was exacted, but Gemma kept the attack a secret from Clay, Jax and the club for months, fearing they'd be destroyed by going after Zobelle. When season 3 begins, Gemma is on the run (after ATF agent Stahl set her up as Edmond Hayes' murderer), which leads to a reunion with her ailing father, more light being shed on her past and another adventure for her and Tara, with assistance by SOA member Tig.
R is for Redwood Original Chapter, as in the original chapter of the Sons of Anarchy, which is the Charming branch. The club has more than two dozen chapters around the globe, and can "patch over" other motorcycle clubs to make them a part of SOA. The SOA's Belfast chapter will come into play in season 3, as Jax continues to search for the kidnapped Abel, who was taken to Ireland by babynapper Cameron.
S is for SAMCRO, which stands for Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original, and is often mentioned as "Sam Crow." In addition to Clay and Jax, current members of SAMCRO include:
- Bobby Elvis (Mark Boone Junior), the SAMCRO secretary who also performs as an Elvis impersonator to make cash to pay alimony and child support;
- Tig (Kim Coates), SAMCRO Sergeant-At-Arms and a vicious fighter (he once bit a guy's ear off) who is extremely loyal to Clay, is the club's randiest member and can be surprisingly sensitive and funny. He father to two girls (Dawn and Fawn) and is afraid of dolls;
- Chibs (Tommy Flanagan), a Scottish member of SAMCRO, who's also a mechanic and an emergency medic, and the club's connection to the IRA. He's nicknamed Chibs because of his facial scars ("chib" is the Scots word for knife), which Flanagan suffered in a real-life mugging;
- Opie (Ryan Hurst), Jax's best friend, son of SAMCRO founding member Piney and, at the end of season one, widower of Donna. Opie blames himself for Donna's death, because, after serving a jail sentence for club-related arson, he promised her that he would not engage in illegal activities. He did, however, and is now raising their two children after her death. In season two, he began dating Lyla, who's one of the actresses in SAMCRO's porn business, and found out that Tig was the one who shot and killed Donna;
- Piney (William Lucking), John Teller's best friend and a co-founder of SAMCRO, and Opie's dad. Piney has to carry around an oxygen tank with him at all times because of an advancing case of emphysema, and he, like Jax, is unhappy with the way the club is being run;
- Juice (Theo Rossi), who's often teased for being dimwitted, but is actually the club's mohawked computer expert/hacker and chief intelligence gatherer;
- Happy (David LaBrava, a real-life Hells Angels member), a "Nomad" member of SOA (meaning he isn't affiliated with a specific chapter). He's nicknamed Happy because, every time he kills someone, he has another happy face tattooed on his body.
T is for 'This Life,' the 'Sons of Anarchy' theme song, which is performed by Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers. The tune, which can be purchased on iTunes, was written by Stigers, Kurt Sutter, Velvet Revolver guitarist Dave Kushner and music producer Bob Thiele Jr.
U is for Unser, as in Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie), Charming police chief. Unser works with the Sons frequently, as he, unlike Hale, sees them as good for Charming, or at least as a necessary presence for keeping more undesirable elements, like drug dealers, out of the small town. Unser, who is married and has two daughter, also runs a trucking company, and is battling cancer, which he sometimes deals with by smoking marijuana. Under is particularly fond of Gemma, in a fatherly, friendship way, and was the only person she initially told about the rape in season 2. Because of his illness, Unser plans to retire, but events in the shocking season three premiere may put that plan on hold.
V is for Vests, aka "cuts," the uniform worn by SAMCRO members. The black leather vests contain the club logo -- a Grim Reaper holding an M-16 rife, a scythe and a crystal ball -- plus patches that signify the members' ranks in the club and that they are members of the Redwood Original chapter. Clay and Piney's cuts also contain patches that indicate they're part of the "First 9," the original SAMCRO members.
W is for Women, the strong female SOA cohorts. Gemma and Tara (Maggie Siff), Jax's high school girlfriend who moved away to become a doctor and has returned to town and forged a family unit with him and Abel, lead the pack, which also includes the late Donna (Sprague Grayden); Cherry (Taryn Manning), Half-Sack's girlfriend who once got a skateboard smacked into her face by a ticked off Gemma, and who returns in season three; Lyla (Winter Ave Zoli), a porn actress who's dating Opie and helping him take care of his kids; Margaret Murphy (McNally Sagal), an administrator at the Charming hospital who has tried to make trouble for Tara, but, in season 3, surprises her with a new attitude; and Mary (Julie Ariola), Piney's ex-wife and Opie's mom, who moved away briefly with a teen Opie in an attempt to keep him out of SOA activities.
X is for X-rated, as in porn, SAMCRO's attempt to make money legally. SOA paired with Luann (Dendrie Taylor), Big Otto's wife, to run Cara Cara, a porn production company, but ran into legal problems, as well as a rivalry with fellow porn producer Georgie Caruso, who stole Luann's tapes and equipment, and coerced her actresses into working for him. Jax, who saw the porn business as a better way to make money than illegal gun-running, threatened Georgie and retrieved some of Luann's equipment, but not long afterwards, Luann was found dead by the side of a road, beaten to death and with Georgie as the main suspect. Later, egged on by the Zobelle crew, Darby and his men burned down the Cara Cara studios.
Y is for Youth, as in Jax and Opie, life-long BFFs and the future of SAMCRO. Though much of season three will focus on Jax's efforts to find Abel and the history of SAMCRO and John Teller, there is much unfinished business between Jax, Opie, Clay and Tig, as more immediate threats, and the news of Gemma's attack, forced them to band together against outside forces. But Jax still foresees a different future for the club (egged on by Piney), and it's a safe bet that neither Opie nor Jax have truly let go of their anger about Donna's death.
Z is for Zobelle, Ethan Zobelle (Adam Arkin), season 2's big baddie, who will return in season 3. Businessman Zobelle moved to Charming under the guise of opening a fancy cigar shop, but he's also the leader of the League of American Nationalists (LOAN), a white separatist gang that wants to run SAMCRO out of Charming and take over control of the town. It was Zobelle who arranged for the attack on Gemma, thinking that she would immediately tell Clay and the club and force them to back down or spark retaliation that would land them in jail. A back and forth between Zobelle's crew and SAMCRO played out all season, until Zobelle was revealed to be an FBI informant. He and his daughter Polly, who had also helped plot Gemma's attack, planned to flee Charming, but Polly was killed when she went to say goodbye to boyfriend Edmond. Zobelle left without her and was last seen heading to Budapest, but with his daughter dead and his power play thwarted, his season 3 return will almost certainly be motivated by revenge.