Sons of Anarchy: “So” and “Oiled”
Posted by therebelprince on September 23, 2010
So, Sons of Anarchy is back. (well, oaky, it’s been back for three weeks – but I only finished season 2 in August and I really couldn’t bring myself to go back to Charming just yet. We all need a rest sometimes)
Coming off the very strong season two, I’m glad to see that the show isn’t letting its story threads tie up quite so nicely. Certainly, none of us are fooled into thinking that the SAMCRO dudes won’t win the day, but there’s enough new complications – the death (sob) of Hale and the complex political situation it has left behind – to warrant genuine doubt.
In fact, I thought everything worked in these two episodes. Except some of those Irish accents, but Titus Welliver is so awesome that I’ll forgive it. Sons of Anarchy is pulpy, I’ll concede, and far far far too fond of musical montages, but it’s proved time and again that it is willing to shatter expectations, to legitimately follow-up plot twists, and – most importantly – move the characters forward. While Sons has many differences with The Shield, it shares that show’s desire to completely turn us on our heads every time we get comfortable with where the characters have settled.
Indeed, the best material we’ve got in these two weeks are all those moments where we realise just how far characters have come. Look at Tara. The good doctor has always been one of my favourite characters. From day one, we knew she wasn’t going to be some stereotypical ‘outsider’, the Kay Corleone, who never understands the club’s ways and exists solely to force pressure on our ‘lead’, but I couldn’t have expected where the show would take her. Tara has taken her place as an up-and-coming leading lady amongst SAMCRO’s ranks, and her relationship with Gemma has gone from strength to strength. It’s a fascinating progression to watch Tara slowly become more and more complacent with the life she’s leading, and growing to understand why the club works the way it does. And for Gemma and Clay to have grown to love her? Even more wondrous. After the brutal beating of the hospital administrator last year, I’m overjoyed to see that politics at the hospital have become even more complex.
Similarly, Katey Sagal’s Gemma continues to delight, and the maturity of her relationship with Tig makes up for the fact that she’s so divorced from the main plotline. (That and Hal Holbrook, who has some kind of supernatural power over me, cause I just want to reach through the screen and hug him…)
As for where the show is going, well that’s another question. I’m not concerned for Abel, since I’m sure they’re going to get him back sooner rather than later. I am, however, much more interested in the internal politics of Charming. Like any show about criminals, Sons can really take its conflict from one of three sources – the internecine (which we’ve covered enough with Opie, I’d say), that of other criminal gangs (which is recurrent but who – even when played by Adam Arkin – we know will always fall at the sword of Clay and co) and that of the law. Thank the gods they added Dayton Callie to the main cast this year, and I look very much forward to where Unser will go now that he’s caught in the middle of this battle. Unser is great because he completely understands the benefits – and the inevitabilities – of having made an alliance with SAMCRO. But so far, he’s been able to work his way out of any morally-grey corners. Not so for long, by the looks of it.
And the ATF? Well, I admit in some sick way I’ve come to love Ally Walker’s Agent Stahl. Yes, she possesses a seemingly neverending supply of witty retorts (like a bad Batman villain, c.f. Poison Ivy) and – for someone who is still on the case – she has the worst luck in federal agent history. But at this point, we need someone with a personal vendetta. It’s the same reason Weedseventually gave up the DEA plot altogether, and that The Shield chose to make Aceveda’s replacements more-and-more personally involved. After a few seasons, we as an audience get conditioned to know that the feds aren’t going to suddenly take down the entire main cast, and that season four won’t be Oz-lite. Stahl has lost her mind over this case, and we’re at least given pause as to just what she’ll do to get her hands on SAMCRO.
I’m looking forward to this season very much.
* How great to see Ron Perlman and Maggie Siff on screen together. I don’t really know why, but when Clay told Tara how much they appreciated having her, I was really touched.
* In general, I feel like this show’s characters act smarter than most. Clay and Gemma understand the odds here, and aren’t about to risk their loved one’s lives for some personal time. (Well, Gemma almost did, but she got over it.)
* Also, I always forget to applaud Charlie Hunnam. It was so jarring for me to see him at first, because he’ll always be the cocky, horny British exchange student in Undeclared. I think he took a while to settle in to the role of Jax, but even in his scenes alone, Hunnam is really rocking this part.
* Damn if that shooting at the end of ‘So’ didn’t chill me to the bone.
* Kim Coates for President. Theo Rossi for Vice-President. That is all.