In Defense of Sons of Anarchy

Spoilers of the Season 6 Premier

Last night’s Sons of Anarchy premier contained standard SOA fair as well as a shocking ending leaving fans reeling. sons-of-anarchy-season-6-premiere-strawResponsibility dictates that I inform you that this essay contains massive spoilers for the Season 6 premier.  There is a lot of material in the premier episode including Chibs getting straight with Juice, Tig’s remorse about his daughter’s death, and Tara’s transformation in jail. But it is the school shooting that is at the heart of the controversy. Many say the show has gone too far. But I’m going to tell you why the event is just right.

Creator Kurt Sutter did not use the scene as a stunt. If you watched the promo for next week, the shooting has a huge impact on the club and on Jax. It seems the club has indirectly supplied the gun that was used in the shooting. Sutter told Entertainment Weekly, “My desire to do this story just felt very organic to the world: These guys deal guns, and there’s a certain amount of disconnect once you put those guns out on the street not really knowing whose hands they’re gonna end up in and what violence that they create…And to have a father who’s struggling with boys of his own and questioning the violence of his life, and is this right for his kids — it just seemed like a very organic story to tell”

The emotional implications of this are huge for character development as well as the show’s end game. “I knew if we did it, it would really have to be at the end and, ultimately, I realized it was a good way to take us to the end,” Sutter says as the show plans to end after Season 7. “It’s not being done arbitrarily. It ultimately becomes the final straw in their relationship with the gun business and the domino that takes us to a fairly tragic and epic conclusion.” The events move the story; it’s not there just to drop jaws.

-sons-of-anarchy--seSecondly, the scene was very well done. Sutter kept the depiction of the violence to a minimum. The scene focuses on the child and his mental state. The child is shown looking through a notebook. He rolls back his sleeves breaking the illusion that he is a clean cut boy in a school uniform. He has cuts up and down his arms, probably self-inflicted. The boys pull a gun from his back pack leaving his journal on the bench. The viewers see drawings of a very disturbed mind. The scene cuts to guns shots and flashes through a school window. Viewers never once see him actually shoot anyone. The scene is done tastefully keeping any actual violence shown to a minimum.

The scene depicts real life and this is why it hits so hard to viewers. For those like me, it’s an emotional impact that I know will change every aspect of the show. For others, it’s linked to a personal past experiences that can be very emotional. This is not his first instance that SOA has dealt with such emotional topics. Season 2 dealt with Gemma being raped, a violent affair that happens to thousands of women every day. In Season 3, Jacks son is kidnapped. These three events are all very real but have been used in other shows as plot points. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer dealt with the issue of schooling shooting but the episode was cut because soon before airing Columbine happened. Criminal Minds has also dealt with the after affects from school shooting victims. It’s not taboo; its real life presented in art.

The events of the premier will resound through the last two seasons changing Jax and bringing the club to its eventual demise. Powerful, tasteful, and though provoking, the shooting is the epicenter of everything that the club does now. Like in the real world, it will change every life it touches.

 

 

Read the original Entertainment Weekly article here.

Sons of Anarchy Season 5 Premier: This Means War

FX

 

When last season of Sons of Anarchy ended, Clay had been dethroned and Jax was sitting at the head of the table. The club said goodbye to Piney, Kozik and Miles leaving the club a few members short. Clay was outed for killing both Piney and John Teller leading to a brutal attack in his life by Opie. Trying to keep things a secret, Jax and Clay blamed a rival gang for the attack, and Tig promptly repays in kind. But instead of killing the leader of the group, Tig accidentally kills the man’s daughter. This leaves Jax with a very tension situation to try to diffuse.

On The Road Again

The episode opens with the crew making a run with an unexpected attack by a rival gang. This as well as a rash of home invasions is the local Niners trying to tell SOA they don’t approve of the death of the daughter of Damon Pope. Jax has more to deal with than just the Niners as the sheriff threatens the club and relations between Tara and Gemma become even more tense. Both of the ladies are on hard times imbibing in drugs, alcohol, and, for Gemma, black out sex with pimps. Opie has stepped back from the club letting the newly released Bobby to step up as VP. The majority of the first hour of the show is used to set up the season.

The King Becomes the Old Fool

Appropriately entitled “Sovereign,” the viewer sees what happens to the old king once the new one has taken his place. Even though Piney is gone, it seems there is a new fool to take his place. Fragile Clay is trying to deal with his diminished state and in a sad scene fails to hold up his bike. Clay is shrunken, slumped, and low voiced. When he comes to the table, plops his oxygen tank on the table and sits in Piney’s old seat, we’re left to wonder, is he going to loose it in alcohol?  He has lost his wife who, after a brutal beating and learning that he tried to have her daughter in law killed, can’t stand to look at him. His state proves he is only weaker without Gemma.

Clay makes the one power play he has left: confesses to Piney’s murder. When I say confessed, I mean the only truth was that he pulled the trigger. This sad tale of self defense he spun does three things: takes away any blackmail threat surrounding the murder, makes the guys feel sorry for him and therefore loyal, and screws with Jax’s head.

But Clay hasn’t just lost his position in the club and his wife; he’s also lost his best friend. When Tig finds out he killed an innocent girl, Tig starts to truly second guess his relationship with Clay. The split that has been building up from last season is c0ming to a head.

Getting Tiggy With It

It’s the last half hour when the episode that takes viewers to reaches only SOA will go as Tig struggles with the consequences of his actions. In fact, Tig is a running theme in the episode. At the beginning, he is friendly with Jax and there seems to be no animosity between him and Jax. Even the club as a whole doesn’t seem overly angry with him for killing Pope’s daughter. He goes from accepted to humiliated as Clay reveals his lie. Not only is Tig dealing with the fact he killed an innocent girl, but now he knows his best friend lied to him. He and Clay have a frank discussing that leaves the future of their friendship in peril.

Things really heat up when Tig gets a phone call from a detective saying that have his daughter Dawn in custody. Tig has to pick her up so she will not be charged. Instead of finding his daughter, he finds Pope’s men and a detective ready to escort him to jail. But when he is handcuffed, he is not taken in a squad care but chained next to a dumpster. In the dumpster is Dawn. As Pope’s men cover her with gasoline, Tig begs Pope to kill him instead. It’s heartbreaking to watch this strong man beg for his daughter’s life. And for a moment you think Pope might. But Pope’s henchman dowses her in flames, and Tig can only call to his daughter as she is burned alive. Pope then leaves him to mourn. Tig manages to get loose enough to kill the two men Pope left behind. Only once this is done does Tig let the rage dissolve into grief.

This Means War

With the death of Tig’s daughter, viewers know there can be no truce with Pope. The club will have to balance this war while three of their members are on the lamb. It seems that Jax, and Chibs have been fingered for the truck explosion, and the law is out for Tig’s involvement in the Pope murder. Jax will have to manage a club that has no idea where its loyalties lie as each member tries to understand the events that transpire. Things will become increasingly difficult as Abel’s mom returns (so looking forward to that), and Romeo puts pressure on Jax from the CIA deal.

With this as the premier, things can only get more mind blowing and violent as Kurt Sutter takes us into the farthest reaching of his mind. Who will make it out alive?