I've been saying for weeks now that the Season 4 finale of 'Sons of Anarchy' would be a pivotal episode of the show. It was clear that the way that the current series of events resolved would influence the show for some time to come, and give us a big clue as to what creative directions the show would follow and what kind of risks it would be willing to embrace.
You can find the audio version of my reaction to the finale in this week's 'SOA' Talking TV podcast, which is live now here and here. Or you can read on for my thoughts on how things worked out for Jax, Clay, Gemma, Tara and the rest of these Charming men.
We hear the word "patch" a lot on 'Sons of Anarchy,' and it's interesting to think about how its various meanings are applicable to the current state of the club.
Of course, to wear the SAMCRO patch means that you're a fully vested member of the club. But there are deep divisions within the club, as well as differences of opinion and temporary alliances with various non-member too.
'Una Venta' did a good job of showing us how those problems have been patched over, but underneath that temporary fix, things are really starting to fester.
"The night is dark and full of terrors." Frankly, there's not much of the teaser to savor, but you can do so after the jump.
Meanwhile, 'Game of Thrones' creator George R.R. Martin says he has "mixed feelings" about The CW's planned remake of 'Beauty and the Beast.' Martin served as a writer and producer on the original series, which aired on CBS from 1987 to 1990.
This episode provides textbook examples of what I think is working -- and wobbling -- this season on 'SOA.'
The long-term tensions, alliances, goals and conflicts that are being set up among various club members are gold, as far as I'm concerned. One thing I especially like about this episode is the variation on a theme we've seen explored in the past -- the idea that when Clay and Jax are allied, they're actually more dangerous to the club than when they're at each others' throats.
That's not to say that the alliance is smooth sailing all the way. Far from it. Jax felt blindsided by the deal that Clay had made with the cartel about transporting coke, and Clay couldn't believe that Jax would really and truly walk away from the club forever. Both men were forced, not willingly, to accept the situation as it is, and given their parallel goals -- to make money before leaving the club's leadership positions -- they had to grudgingly get over whatever problems they might have with each other's actions.
The first few minutes of season 4 were shown before the panel (by the way, spoilers ahoy). Would it surprise you to learn that the clip ends with club members on their motorcycles, flipping off the prison that they just left after 14 months of incarceration? No, I do not think it would.
After the gut-wrenching attacks on the motorcycle club in season 2 -- including the finale's cliffhanger kidnapping -- they're picking right back up with Gemma and Clay, Jax and Tara and the gang, and the aftermath is sure to be emotional, explosive and incredibly violent.
I caught up with stars Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam and Maggie Siff to hear all about the characters being more proactive and where we'll find matriarch Gemma this season (premieres Tues., Sept. 7, 10PM ET on FX). They also talked about the amazing guest stars we'll see (including Titus Welliver, Hal Holbrook and Paula Malcomson) and how the IRA will give SAMCRO a run for their money.
If the cast of 'Sons of Anarchy' seems as bad-ass in person as they are on their hit FX show, it's because they are. The refreshingly motley crew that took the stage this morning would seem to be more in place at a meeting of the show's motorcycle gang SAMCRO than on the stage of the Beverly Hilton's International Ballroom.
Which is why, when a critic asked them to talk about what they thought about being shut out during the Emmy nominations, Ron Perlman put his feelings succinctly: "F--- 'em."
Charlie Hunnam, who plays Jax Teller, was a little more elaborate in his explanation.
"I was really happy. I think it's all a crock of s--- and it's corrupting," he told the critics. "I was happy we weren't on the receiving end of a force that can change the dynamic (of a show). All of that crap is secondary and unimportant, but does have the potential to ruin a good thing. So as you said... f--- 'em."
(S01E05) Y'know the way you've been frantically scribbling in your diary for the past few years about how badly you want to see Thomas Lennon and Ron Perlman voice animated characters together? Yeah. I bet you thought you would keep writing forever. But 'Archer' sensed the secret wish in your tear-stained pages and made it a reality.
This episode wasn't quite as rapid-fire funny as some of the previous ones but it was still fantastic. It's clear that the writers are having a lot of fun with the characters, even the ones that pop up for only one mission.
One of the best scenes of the season, perhaps the entire series, occurred in episode ten, 'Balm'; it was the culmination of an arc that actually began in the season premiere, 'Albification.'
With some heavy stuff coming down, SAMCRO and Unser hole up inside the clubhouse as Jax and Clay prepare to battle The League. After Gemma tells Tara that she's Jax's "old lady, which means something in this town," Tara roughs up the tight-ass suit at the hospital.
Weston's kids get hauled off by child protection services, courtesy of Jax, who challenges Weston to a showdown. Their ten best guys, no weapons. A fistfight ensues; Hale shows up and arrests Weston for the porn warehouse arson.
(S02E11) "If Gemma had gotten raped on John's watch, he'd have written a whole different book." - Jax
Forgiveness can be a funny thing. Assuming you're on the receiving end of something awful, It's not always easy to determine if you'd even be willing to forgive. That's the beauty of forgiveness though -- the act that led you to it might have been sincere, but that doesn't mean your capacity to forgive has to be. Unlike quietly accepting a situation, forgiving a situation has the power to pacify the parties at fault.
As we learned with Opie last night on Sons of Anarchy, his capacity to forgive is huge, but that doesn't mean he ain't lying through his teeth when it comes to his true intentions.
(S02E10) I'm filling in for Danny, who experienced a DVR malfunction, so be gentle with me, as I've been a bit here and there with Sons of Anarchy this season. Last winter, I raced through season one for Jane After Dark, and fell in love with the gritty characters and edgy storyline. But to tell you the truth, I had trouble watching it after Gemma's rape this season. It was really disturbing, and I wasn't sure I wanted all of that in my head all the time.
But the fact is that Sons of Anarchy is a great show and -- like many other FX shows -- unlike most of what you see on TV these days. So I'm happy to have this chance to get caught up a little bit with season two.
"Pull the trigger man. That's the only way this leather is coming off my back." - Jax to Alvarez, the head of the Mayans who orders him to give up his club jacket
Jax is supposed to be the hero of this little modern day Shakesperian epic, but he's starting to look more and more like the enemy in each episode.
I don't mean that he'll be the one in the end who has been scheming the whole time behind SAMCRO's back with the white power. This is a well-crafted, slow paced, high caliber drama, not a badly written Schwarzenegger movie with a thrown together twist ending (cough, Total Recall, cough).
Jax is more of an enemy of himself. He might have good intentions at heart, but his moves are nowhere near his brain. Maybe his loyalty to his family runs deeper than he ever imagined. Logic and family hardly make a decent cocktail. Anyone with a brother-in-law can tell you that.
The thing that surprised me most about this week's episode are the number of times it made me laugh. That's hard to do for a show that cracks more skulls per episode than a plastic surgeon.
It doesn't do so by sacrificing the things that make it great. It's still just as hard-edged, emotional and violent as before. You're just chuckling for all the right reasons, this time.
I paid a visit to the show's sweltering North Hollywood set last week as series creator Kurt Sutter (The Shield) and his cast were putting the finishing touches on the show's second season.
In fact, the show's writers were so close to revealing its final secrets to the cast that my PA and FX PR tour guides slammed a door in my face lest I wander into the writer's conference room and see the white dry erase board full of plot points for season two's final episode.
Evidently, if I'd have seen the final, bottom-right panel on that wall-wide white board, I'd have been chained to show star Tommy Flanagan's motorcycle and taken for a drag around St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank.
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