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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.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
  • 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (333 Votes)

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

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Amazing writing on this show indeed. In response to someone talking about Tara and her love for Jax outweighing her mothering skills, if you do a little research on the writing and creation of this show, it is based on Hamlet. Ophelia is the template for Tara, and for those of you unfamiliar with the Shakespearean tragedy, Ophelia goes mad and kills herself. Personally, knowing this, I'm actually excited to watch her fall of the deep end. I was almost ready for her to off herself the end of last season when she kept asking everyone to tell her they loved her. Hopefully they will make it a slow and interesting progression. Love this writing!!

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The Nomads, hmmmm, I am on the they-work-for-Clay-train, and Unser has been for quite some time a pain in Clay's ass, so now that the Charming Boys are with Jax, he needs his own army to do his evil biddings... Tara: Well I don't know why, but she's been annoying me for quite some time, I feel for her like I feel for Lori on the Walking Dead, please please please, get her killed a gruesome way and make me a happy girl... And for those blabla'ing over too much violence: Please go and watch soap operas, they may be more to your liking, SOA needs the violence, they are violent, the Cartels are violent, the Irish are violent... The news show us violence all over the world, why would series or games be the only reason people get stupid? Mankind is stupid, always has been, SOA just shows it...

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Wow... Rewatched it twice to get everything processed right in my little brain and damn... I thought doing a marathon and rewatching the first 4 seasons would leave me less astonished but man, I had something else coming... Gemma and Nero ha... Lovely, I had to grin all through their exchange, that was just brilliant. And my heart goes out to Tigger, but what you sow... Everything has a way of coming back at you, and this was pure Karma... Maybe Clay was the reason he did that foolish thing, and ultimately, I see the fault more with him than Tig, but an eye for an eye big boy, an eye for an eye. Of course Pope's way of dealing with it was a bit harsh (even though I found it rather cool, poor Dawn), but come on, I don't have kids, but I can understand that you get back at someone for hurting them... The Nomads, hmmmm, I am on the they-work-for-Clay-train, and Unser has been for quite some time a pain in Clay's ass, so now that the Charming Boys are with Jax, he needs his own army to do his evil biddings... Tara: Well I don't know why, but she's been annoying me for quite some time, I feel for her like I feel for Lori on the Walking Dead, please please please, get her killed a gruesome way and make me a happy girl... And for those blabla'ing over too much violence: Please go and watch soap operas, they may be more to your liking, SOA needs the violence, they are violent, the Cartels are violent, the Irish are violent... The news show us violence all over the world, why would series or games be the only reason people get stupid? Mankind is stupid, always has been, SOA just shows it...

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I get the feeling Tara's character is undergoing a dramatic change this season. From the opening scene where Jax is talking about things that "almost kill us doesn't make us stronger, it makes us angry and bitter" (or something to that effect) and it flashes to Tara sitting in the bathtub smoking with a gun close by to the ending scene with her smoking pot and ingnoring her kids. She will be a totally different person by the end of this season.

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Just a hunch: Who has a motive to attack Unser? It's Clay, because he knows that only Unser could have confirmed that he killed Piney and Unser knows it was no accident in response to an attack by Piney. So, does that mean the Nomads are "plants" whose loyalty is actually to Clay?

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NOTHING I EVER EXPECTED! I LOVE TIGGS, HE HAS TOTALLY SNAPPED NOW. I SAW THE LIVE BROADCAST AN HOUR BEFORE TOO, WAS THRILLED TO JOIN IN! KURT YOUR AMAZING AND THE CREW OF ACTORS IS BEHYOND SAYING! NICE ADD FOR JIMMY SMITTS. I ALWAYS FOUND HIM SEXY SINCE N.Y.P D. BLUE AND A TRUE GREAT ACTOR. JAX HAS ALOT ON HIS PLATE RIGHT NOW AND I THINK HE FINALIZATION WITH THINGS WITH CLAY WILL BE WHEN THE SHOW FINALLY ENDS, CLAY WILL GET WHAT HE DESERVES. SOA IS TRUELY ADDICTING. BE WELL WONDERFUL CAST AND WRITER.............LOVE TO ALL, TAMMY MICHAEL...GARRISON N.Y. AND HOUR NORTH OF NEW YORK CITY. I REALLY HOPE SOA CREW CONSIDER A MEET AND GREET SOMEHWERE IN N.Y. NEXT SPRING OR SOONER. I GET JEALOUS WHEN I SEE MEET AND GREETS EVERYWHERE ELSE, PLEASE COME TO N.Y. JUICE ORIGANLLY FROM STATEN ISLAND N.Y. AND ME, TAMMY MICHAEL FROM ROCKAWAY BEACH, QUEENS N.Y., WHERE THE WATER SPOUT HIT LAND RECENTLY LAST WEEK! PLEASE COME.....MUCH LOVE AND SUCESS TO ALL, TAMMY MICHAEL.TAngel444@aol.com

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With it looking like the three former nomads being the home invaders and the news on here of the nomad president going to be introduced. Are we seeing a possible hostile take over of the sons in progress, whereby they scare off the hangers on first (croweaters, mechanics, etc) then go after the MC? With the club thinking that Bobby was in jail for the Georgie Caruso murder, does this mean no retribution to Otto for ratting out Bobby? If Tara is finding things hard at the moment with Gemma still holding influence over Jax, just remember that Wendy showed up near the end of season 4 saying that one way or another she would be seeing her son again.

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I knew it was going to be a wild premier and I wasn't disappointed...At all. After watching it for the last four years, I've learned to stop trying to predict what direction Sutter is going to take.
I think the first thing that threw me was Leroy's death. I didn't see that coming. He might have been just a recurring character, but he was always in the background the last four seasons and was certainly not a guy to be taken lightly. So anybody that can have a guy like that tortured and killed so easily is definitely a guy a force to be reckoned with. I thought Sutter pulled off Pope's introduction beautifully.
As for Tig's daughter, I honestly tried to look at both sides of it. If it were me, I just would have had Tig killed horribly. Killing his innocent daughter never would have entered my mind. And that there is what established Pope as a figure who's absolutely capable of anything. Even bad guys have their limits. Pope doesn't.
I got a feeling this isn't going to end happily. Tuesday nights are finally worth looking forward to again!

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Does anyone know the name of the song and the artist at the end of this episode? I thought it was interesting that they chose a slow, ballad-like tune after such a violent episode. The contradictory story-telling and music is part of what makes this show so great.

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Something happens at 92 miles an hour.............what a great first episode. What a season Sutter has coming up. I think Tara is realizing what she has lost so to speak and what she now has and is simply facing the reality of her choices. It will be interesting to watch the dynamics of her and Gemma. I fear for Tig as I cannot help but think things end badly for him. As far as Clay what a player and that is all I will say on him. The one I am watching is Opie.............what a season this will be......