Sons of Anarchy Review: A Burning Sensation

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The Sons of Anarchy Season 5 premiere kicked off with Jax taking the place of his father in more ways than one, both at the head of the SAMCRO table and as the voice of journal-based reason, writing down thoughts for his kids and saying how much he enjoyed long trips because all he had to focus on was the smooth road ahead.

By the end of "Sovereign," however, the President was taking a far more stressful ride and his underlings were forced to stare down consequences for their Season 4 actions.

That road ahead is now a whole lot bumpier for everyone.

Harold Perrineau as Damon Pope

Especially Tig.

Holy emotional ball - errr, body? - of fire, that was intense. An ideal way to introduce Harold Perrineau's Damon Pope as the most bad ass of Oakland gangsters, immaculate suit be damned, the burning of Tig's daughter was as heart-wrenching and squirm-inducing as anything the show has ever aired.

It was gruesome, it was brutal and it was entirely appropriate given the context. A child for a child, right? This is the world into which Tig and the Sons have voluntarily entered and it's the reason why Tara so desperately wanted to take her kids out of Charming last season. The outlaws continually talk about family, and yet they risk the lives of their actual family members with every gun run they make.

Man, that was difficult to watch.

But Tig was far from the only SAMCRO member paying for his dastardly actions, as a chunk of the premiere was dedicated to Clay's struggle to prop himself back up.

It's a testament to the character arc Kurt Sutter has taken Clay down, along with the performance of Ron Perlman, that I found myself asking the same question as Jax every time this Oxygen-reliant biker was on screen: What's his play? Does he have a play? There's no way he's simply regretful and remorseful and content to live the rest of his days in a Piney-like role on the outskirts of the action... right?

One thing is for certain: he best not touch Gemma ever again. Especially now that the smooth operater Nero is on her side.

Debuting in classic SOA fashion - tattooed and bending a naked Gemma over the bed - Jimmy Smits' "companionator" will serve as a mentor of sorts to Jax this season. Sure, his inclusion in the storyline was a bit random and convenient... but it's Jimmy Smits! A huge fan of his from way back in the NYPD Blue day, I can't help but be excited to learn more about Nero Padilla.

This season will really be the journey of Jax Teller, though.

He began the episode as wistful and he ended it on the run from the police, a likely shiv in jail awaiting him otherwise. In between, he juggled a bitter fiancee, angry mother and secret alliance with the CIA. It's a lot for one man - heck, for one show - to handle. How will Jax be affected by the responsibilities of his new position? Opie fears that his best friend has already traveled down a path from which he can never return, one that led him to cover up Clay's shooting instead of putting his step-father in the ground.

Will Jax truly follow his father's teachings and turn the club in a positive direction? We all know what happened to John Teller when he merely hinted at that route back in the day.

Overall, Sons of Anarchy can sometimes juggle too many storylines at once. I'm not sure if we needed to see Tara with a joint and even the home invasion cliffhanger - the peg-legged dude was that NOMAD, right? - seemed like one shock too many.

But is there a better ensemble cast on television? Can any show deliver as many legitimately stunning, ghastly moments? Is it possible not to be affected by its nearly weekly montages?

I choose never to over-analyze Sons of Anarchy. I simply sit back and appreciate the performances, the intensity, the raw action and the twists and the turns that leave me wanting to rev up and hop aboard for another ride as soon as each episode ends.


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (336 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


That ending scene was B R U T A L. I can't get it out of my head!


First off SOA is a show about a motorcycle club, 3 rocker club, which means Outlaw M/C... They are known as 1%'s. Their life is about violence, plain and simple. They are along the same level as the Hell's Angels, Outlaws, Monks or any other M/C that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up with thoughts of fear, death, mayhem, drugs, etc.... That's why I watch it really..... Don't nitpick it, watch it or don't, the show has a great premise...


I disagree with your assessment of whether we needed to see Tara smoking a joint, I personally feel when Tara was in the bath with a joint laying next to a loaded gun it was showing that Tara is now basically transforming into Gemma. I expect to see more of this as the season continues and it shows an interesting look at being the 'Old Lady' to the president of a MC


what says Jax in the beginning? (...) almost kill us doesn't make us stronger, it makes us angry and bitter (...)


what say Jax in the beginning? (...) almost kill us doesn't make us stronger, it makes us angry and bitter (...)


continued; do to those around you? People are dropping left and right, your old ladies are cracking under the pressure and loosing it... wake up man! lol, of course, he HAS to stay, but oh the cost will be dear. Gemma is going to fall for Nero, and he is going to be the one to outfox her. That woman is a force of nature...
and Clay, that old psychopath, he will not go down lightly. Mission my ass, he is one self serving beast, no remorse at all. Maybe he and Pope will meet, they deserve each other.


*shudder* that scene, that scene... so visceral, so vivid and real it still has me jumping. Tigg is going to rampage. Quietly or blatantly, but he will be going off. He made a brutal choice, cut the poor Tig crap people. The reaction from Pope was even more brutal, and thus it goes spiraling downward into a morass of further insanity. Justified? Hell no, not in my world. But then, I don't live where they do. I agree with the Ophelia prediction for Tara, she is already one bitter and closed down bitch. The accumulative effects of the violence, loosing her much loved career has hamstrung her, and she is sliding fast. Even her babies aren't reaching her now. I thought it was perfect, her bitch slapping Gemma for smoking pot as her reason to lose her participation with the've heard of transference, right? That is just how she is judging herself, and it's going to get ugly. Jax buddy, are you really not seeing what this club you love and won't let go of is continuing to do to everyone around you? Jax is so resilient and tough, he gets through this shit, but man its taking a toll on the rest. Clay is just a psychopath. No remorse. Mission my ass. Wonder how long he rehearsed that load. Do love the oxygen/Piney thing. I think Gemma is going to fall for Nero, and he is going to be the one who outfoxes that 'old broad'. Man oh man, that woman is a force of nature, isn't she?


Continue :To attack Unser. I love seeing clay have the same symptoms piney had. Carrying around that oxygen priceless. I LOVE THIS SHOW.


Ok I am confused I have the 1st season were windy gave birth to ABLE and she was a junky. Then Gemma gave her something to kill her self in the hospital.
2nd season Jax and Tara are together and gemma was raped and opie wife got killed. The club went to ireland.The club went to jail. Tara had a baby. Jax & clay fought In jail. I don't have the 3rd season. I am looking for that season. So where is the 3 rd and 4 th season? So is this the 5th season? Am I missing something.
Whoever said killed off TARA they are crazy. She is fitting in her role. Now that TIG will be off the chain I hope he blames clay. Bobby should not be Jax right hand man. Let the young boys do it. Opie should be right next to Jax. And while he is there he can look at clay everytime they have church and mean mug him with a look
I am coming after you its just a matter of time. Bobby knows the truth about clay ordered TIG to kill opie but made a mistake and killed Donna. I absolutely believe clay had those boys to attack Unser. Where is the guy that TIG did not like because of the German sheppard?


Ray, remember when the nomads came to the table?
I think his name was "peg" and he put his fake leg on filthys shoulder.
As far as the espisode,the show it has run out of gas. I am moving on. to silly for me.

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Sons of Anarchy Season 5 Episode 1 Quotes

Something happens at around 92 miles an hour - thunder-headers drown out all sound, engine vibrations travels at a heart's rate, field of vision funnels into the immediate and suddenly you're not on the road, you're in it. A part of it. Traffic, scenery, cops - just cardboard cutouts blowing over as you past. Sometimes I forget the rush of that. That's why I love these long runs. All your problems, all the noise, gone. Nothing else to worry about except what's right in front of you. Maybe that's the lesson for me today, to hold on to these simple moments. Appreciate them a little more - there's not many of them left. I don't ever want that for you. Finding things that make you happy shouldn't be so hard. I know you'll face pain, suffering, hard choices, but you can't let the weight of it choke the joy out of your life. No matter what, you have to find the things that love you. Run to them. There's an old saying, 'That what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger' I don't believe that. I think the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the good things - your family, your friends, the satisfaction of hard work. Those are the things that'll keep you whole. Those are the things to hold on to when you're broken.


Tig: Oh come on there's nothing wrong with the occasional skank.
Jax: Time to pull out, I wanna go home.

Sons of Anarchy Season 5 Episode 1 Music

  Song Artist
Franky perez and the forest rangers higher ground Higher Ground Franky Perez and the Forest Rangers iTunes
The vim dicta your man Your Man The Vim Dicta iTunes
Song Horse Latittudes Jeffrey Foucault