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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.


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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@Silvana Moore shut up go back to watching Golden Girls and Malcom in the Middle(both shows are great) and leave the adult shows to us because this was a great episode/show and you are obviously not a fan because burning a body wasn't that awful. And really are you going to blame tv for violence in the world......thats just dumb (smh) people are violent because thats how it is don't blame a show for what lack of parenting and lack of moral instillment said people had when they were kids. @BK what will take two hours is the clean up of the scene of the crime, no bodies no problem


☠☠☠☠☠ TV!


Too much violence in this show! Then we wonder why so many people are violent today. Gee I wonder?


Best show gald its back


What was the guy doing in the Grave checking on tigs daughter? He referenced 2 hoours or something like that.


I'm so glad SOA is back on. A great opening episode! Wondering: why would the NOMADS invade Gemma's place and beat the crap out of Unser? I think maybe Clay had a hand in this. Loved it when Gemma smacked Clay. Jax is keeping too many secrets; it'll come back to haunt him. Mr. Sutter is one hell of a storyteller(no pun intended). Jax- you're really gonna need Opie.


Thrilled Sons is Back on it's been a long wait. Tara as I said last season only loves Jax and is using his son's as leverage to keep him and that was so apparent again last night. Jax left and she had NO feelings towards her Own baby boy crying, she'd rather get high. She's NO Gemma never will be. Tara's become a Crazy, twisted verison of the Old Wendy. Poor Jax, run Jax run, lol.


LOVE that they've introduced Jimmy Smits - though Charming must be a sufficiently small place for all these guys to be aware of each other already. Smits is one h3ll of an actor, and I am looking forward to his involvement. It would be nice if Gemma maybe fell in love with him - and him with her. That could bring an interesting dimension to the story. The scene with Tigs and his daughter was awful - but I adore Harold Pirreneau and he's going to steal this season I reckon.


I agree with you that there are too many different stories going on. the first 2 seasons were much cleaner, as far as story line. and enough covering and protecting clay - it's getting old. the club should know the whole truth. but that being said, the acting and writing of this show are so brilliant. i'll watch no matter what!


What a completely brilliant premiere. From start to finish. From Gemma's 'I sucked your dick, didn't I?' to Tig begging and pleading for his daughter's life and then having to watch her burn to death. Absolutely incredible. I get Pope's 'an eye for an eye/a daughter for a daughter' way of thinking. (not to say I approve, I just understand where it came from) I would swear that just a few, extremely brief times that we saw Pope before/during/after Dawn's death he had almost a look of regret on his face about what was happening to Dawn. What a different SAMCRO we have this year. Add Tig to the list of those who now hate Clay. I actually felt some sympathy towards Clay last night until I realized he was putting on an act. He doesn't give a flying fig about anything he has done or anyone he has hurt. But what a show he's putting on. Tara, Tara, Tara....I don't care about the pot that she smoked at all. I wasn't even too bothered when she was ranting at Gemma for smelling like pot but when she turned around and smoked again and then turned the baby monitor off so she wouldn't have to hear a crying Thomas??? WHOA! Seeing as Wendy will be back for a few episodes, I'm guessing that is what will snap her out of her non mothering funk and turn her back into protective mama bear over her cubs....