After an erratic third season, Sons of Anarchy does a hard reset, jumping forward 14 months, seeing the crew released from prison. The shift was jarring, but necessary, attempting to return to the groundwork set in the amazing first two seasons. Did the gambit payoff or did they further alienate their audience? Spoiler, it totally worked.
The amount of plot threads and subplots was overwhelming, with a number of disparaging threads culminating a strong finale. Quickly, SoA went from a show that could be watched passively to one that demanded your attention. The amount of content was staggering, with nearly every episode (minus commercials) running well over the standard 42 minute mark, hitting a 60 minute run time. An extra episode was added to sufficiently end the season, going over the standard 13 episode limit. Even with the great deal of content, the show managed to entertain throughout, making any weaknesses forgettable.
While Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is typically the center of the show, Clay (Ron Perlman) stole the show. Clay became an outright villain, something that couldn’t have occurred until now. Without context, or the three years of build up, his actions would have seen out of place, particularly set against the club’s happenings. Rather than wondering why they continued to believe him, the writers made him captivating, wondering what he’ll do next or how he’ll get out of it. One scene in particular, involving Opie’s (Ryan Hurst) father, Piney (William Lucking), was horrible to watch, yet unable to tear your eyes away from. The relationship between Tara (Maggie Siff) and Jax evolved as well, making the pains they suffered more heartbreaking. Tara, thanks to Clay, suffered as well, resulting in another fantastic scene.
With membership in the club fluctuating, mostly due to death, background characters became more prominent. Particularly, Juice (Theo Rossi). Juice was targeted and exploited by new sheriff Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar – side note, Rockmond is a badass name). This ‘relationship’ was irritating, in a positive way. Juice’s altruism was genuine, and watching him slowly become more compromised was despairing.
The fourth season returned swinging, hard, after the dismal third. This rightly centered on Charming, and SAMCRO, further descending into Shakespearean betrays. If the quality wasn’t this strong, I would have written the show off, ending with the amazing second season. Instead, creator Kurt Sutter righted the ship, telling an amazing story.
What was your favorite Clay moment? Feel sad for Juice? Comment below!