Season 5 of Sons Of Anarchy kicked off with a bang last night! Here with a re-cap is Allison Keene of collider.com...
Well that certainly opened with a bang. There were many of us in the SAMCRO fandom who feared the series was beginning to lose some of its luster during its meandering third season spent partially in Ireland. But not all who wander are lost — enter Season Four, which had the best cold open of any to date for SOA, and brought things (mostly) local again, focusing on club politics and betrayals (some of them quite severe). The end of the fourth season was compelling (Jax taking the clubs’s reins with a totally badassed-up Tara in support, a direct callback to Gemma and JT), but what made it even better was all that it set up for Season Five. Clay, The King, is not dead, the club is not rid of outside influences (in this case, the CIA via the Galindo cartel); they’re still running guns and drugs, and the members themselves, and their families, are in constant danger. Though there was no time jump from the end of last year’s run to the start of this one, things are already incredibly busy and incredibly dark.
When we last left the club, Piney was dead by Clay’s hand, Clay had also torn his family apart by putting a hit on Tara, Tig caused drama with the Niners because of Clay’s lies (notice the pattern here), Clay beat up Gemma, and the truth about him killing JT came to light, at least to Jax, Gemma and Tara. In non-Clay news, the CIA / Galindo cartel still needs the deal between SAMCRO and the Irish to go through … which is something that won’t happen without Clay. Sigh.
“Sovereign’s” opening touched on nearly all of these elements, or at least the ones that are currently the most dangerous to the club. Despite his desire to make the club pure again, like his father had intended, Jax is still caught up in the mess Clay made for them (and spends his time journalling about it for his sons because not only can the club read, “despite popular belief,” as Chibs said, they can get in touch with their feelings, too).
The Niners have always been the least of SAMCRO’s many gang-related worries. Though they’ve had beef, the club has always been able to pacify LeRoy and set things straight, occasionally even putting their incredible racism behind them to team up against bigger threats. But it’s good to see the show start to address the consequences of some of the club’s bloody actions, like Tig’s impulsive drive-thru (rather than drive-by) that killed Veronica Pope, girlfriend of LeRoy but, more importantly, the daughter of an extremely well-connected and bloody gangster (played by Harold Perrineau from Lost. You know, “WAAAAAALLLLLLTTTTTTTTTT’s” dad?) who is like a hybrid of Stringer Bell and Marlo from The Wire.
And that is a dangerous hybrid right there.
Though addressing consequences is good (it’s something Breaking Bad, for instance, does exceptionally well – no death is ever clean, no one ever gets away with it, every ghost haunts), the particular way things were addressed this week was, well, extremely distressing. Sons of Anarchy has taken us to dark places before — rape, murder, child kidnapping, suicide, more murder, extreme violence against women — but never has it gone so far as it did in “Sovereign.” And just because it can go there though doesn’t it mean it should. I had been warned before this episode that it was “disturbing,” and so when I saw LeRoy’s dismembered body unexpectedly I thought, well, that’s gross but it is what it is. Next came the sudden murder of Darnell, who seemed like an amiable guy, which is probably exactly why he was offed by Pope’s henchman. But then there was Dawn. First the girl was put into the cesspit of blood and body parts, as if that wasn’t traumatizing enough to watch. Tig thinks she’s dead, and so too do we … until she stirs. Right there, had Dawn been dead it would have been tragic but somehow we maybe could have gotten through it. Maybe. But wait … nope, Pope’s has his men pour gasoline into the pit and set it on fire where Dawn doesn’t die quickly or quietly, of course. She agonizingly screams repeatedly for her Daddy to help her. Please give me a moment while I pop some anxiety meds, or go for a quick walk where I can vomit peacefully from stress.
We didn’t really know Dawn, but did we need to? The situation was unbelievably horrific, and Tig’s tortured cries during and after the event were difficult to get through. Pope invoked a kind of Hammurabi’s Law, and we came to feel just how much pain he probably felt at his own daughter’s death by Tig’s hand. Though Tig pulled the proverbial trigger, it was set off because of Clay, something that has already caused a riff between them. Tig blames Clay for what happened, at least in part, and one wonders what kind of insane retaliation he might engage in next … and whether Clay will feel the brunt of it.
So much happened in “Sovereign,” some of it I’ll address below in the Musings, but the main thrust seems to still revolve around Clay and Jax being at odds, and the club being on shaky ground because of recent revelations (Clay admitting to killing Piney, which Jax was wise to question his intentions on). Notice too how a nervous Juice tells Clay how coming clean is a great thing, and how he automatically supports him? Might Juice’s treachery come to light as well this season? That could be devastating to watch, too. I know we’re dealing with big biker boys, but some of them have very gentle hearts (and an amazing sense of humor). It’s something that elevates the show, but is difficult to reconcile with moments like Dawn’s death. The show is often darkly comic, but it would be a shame for it to get so dark it snuffs out the light.