Jax Teller is absolutely right: it's good for the Sons of Anarchy to be home.
Following an uneven third season that took the club out to Ireland, and used the members in a chess game between other players in whom the audience had little invested, "Out" essentially hit the reset button.
Clay, Jax, Juice (all his hair) and others are freed from prison after 14 months. They're back in Charming, but it's a very different Charming.
There's literally a new sheriff in town, Eli Roosevelt, a by-the-books lawman who has experience with gangs and understands many of the Sons' tricks.
There's a development going up, Charming Heights, led by Mayor Hale and assisted by Clay's old pal, Elliott Oswald. His Honor is seeking a much wealthier class of people to move in.
There's also a major sting being set up, led by Ray McKinnon's Lincoln Potter, an Assistant U.S. District Attorney with an impressive team on his side, many photos on the wall and the goal of bringing RICO charges against the Russians, Irish and Sons. He even has a man undercover with the former. Correction: he had a man undercover with the former.
RIP, all Russians. That will teach you to shiv Jax Teller and to take a large percentage of SAMCRO's gun money.
As Jax said earlier in the episode - during one of many heartfelt conversations, from his speech to Tara; to Clay and Gemma's concerns over his hands; to Lyla telling Opie she was staying; even to the boys joking about their wedding gifts - SAMCRO is all about money now. But not because the club is raking it in.
Quite the opposite, in fact. These men essentially living score to score, but that's not good enough for Clay when he only has one winter remaining, or for Jax if he wants to leave Charming and not be supported by his wife. They need to make a lot of money and they need to make it quickly and that's why they had to waste the Russians...
... along with an undercover ATF agent, unbeknownst to them of course, that will only intensify the spotlight on them in town.
But what did everyone make of Jax's heartfelt admission and proposal (she never actually said yes, did she?)? A focus on one's family and a re-evaluation of one's priorities is an impressive, mature step for Jax. Still, they could leave tomorrow if he simply swallowed his pride and let his wife carry the financial burden for a bit. We've all seen where stubbornness has taken Walter White. Jax said he isn't "weak" like his father, but he may wish to rethink his definition of that concept.
Is it really strong for him to remain part of a murderous club because him can't bring himself to rely on his wife and he's scared of his mother and step-father?
If there was one downside to the opener, it was how familiar this all feels. Jax is sick of SAMCRO's greedy, violent ways? He no longer wants Clay to be President? There are problems with local law enforcement? Heck, even with a guy named Hale? Those were the same storylines that ran through the first two seasons.
(Granted, my chief complaint last year was how Kurt Sutter took the men away from Charming and this comfortable territory, so how much of a beef can I really have now that we've returned to it?)
Still, it's far too early to judge. If Clay orders a hit on Opie and Tig accidentally shoots Lyla, only then will we be certain the series is out of new ideas. In the meantime, it's just nice to be back in town and to imagine a season where external forces lead to internal battles, both between various SAMCRO members and within SAMCRO members themselves.
- You can try to act all tough, Jax and Clay, but you're just a pair of softies in love. It was fun to watch these two joke around with their significant others, first Clay about his prison-based affection for Juice and then Jax about Tara's jugs.
- Is Lyla pregnant again? Or was Opie simply expressing his desire to her to expand their family?
- Go back and look at Juice's faced after he mowed down the Russians. Was there a sign of hesitation there? Of regret? The guy does have a legitimate side business now.
- Wayne Unser is always a welcome presence, even when he's a dour, depressed presence. His relationship with Gemma helps brings out the humanity in this menacing matriarch.
- Still... Gemma is just an old lady, Jax? Are we talking about the same Gemma here? Good luck relying on that viewpoint to free you from the club, especially now that she's on to Maureen's letters.
What did everyone else think? Are you happy that Sons of Anarchy is back to doing what it does best?