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Sons Of Anarchy has been a great ride so far.

Sons of Anarchy poster

Written by : published Saturday 7th April 2012

Sons Of Anarchy has been a great ride so far. main image

I have been meaning to write a review for Sons Of Anarchy (SOA) for ages but for what ever reason mainly the fact that I am lazy and don't like writing reviews I haven't until now. So before you start reading don't expect some smooth razor sharp in depth analysis of a TV episode. These are just a random collection of my thoughts about a sublime piece of television. That's why I have better writers than me write the reviews on TheTVKing. I find the 140 characters of twitter ample for me to pass comment on most TV shows. However I probably should have started a TVKing podcast as I prefer to verbalise my reviews on TV. Maybe one for the future, but before I go too far down this tangent back to the matter in hand.

As with the first big US drama I got hooked on 24 I came across SOA by accident. Just over a year ago 5USA (a UK Freeview channel) was showing SOA repeats from the beginning. As FXUK had already aired the the first 2 series (or season if you must). So needless to say watching series 1 with one episode a day for a couple of weeks I was hooked, then I devoured series 2 and had to wait 'til the summer for series 3. After starting my SOA education with a daily fix I was now going to have to wait months until series 3. I should have known binging isn't good whether it is pies or TV. After-all boom is always followed by bust. I could have blamed the creator Kurt Sutter for creating such an addictive show but it's my own fault for gorging on SOA. Will I ever learn no, is it my own fault yes!

There was one silver lining to this withdrawal from SOA and my steadfast rule that I would not succumb to temptation and stream/download the show online illegally after-all; I am TheTVKing and I help people to find, legal links to TV shows and do not advocate or watch TV shows illegally online. The creator of SOA Kurt Sutter uses social media, and in the run up-to series 4 in the US, had started to produce extra online content including WTFSutter (What The Fuck Sutter) where fans could ask Sutter questions about the show and begin, to get a teasing glimpse into the mind of the creator. These small tit bits and reading online content about SOA helped me through to the start of series 3 which I remember fondly as the Irish mission. While some lambasted Sutter of this shake up I liked it. Maybe it was because I had only known the show for 6 months, and I didn't have long standing ideas about what the show was, or that as a Brit they were bringing the Sons to Belfast. Which made the show feel more tangible as it wasn't just based in the never never land that is California.

The Irish experiment finished airing in the UK last Autumn at which point the US fans were raving about series 4 which was under-way and receiving fantastic ratings and reviews. Which was probably due in part to Sutter and his social media usage and interaction with the fans. I mean how many show creators will fly fans out to watch a pre-screne episode with them and send swag to international fans?

So as I run TheTVKing and have reviewers writing for me and I am online a lot I did see spoilers of series 4. It was my own stupid fault, I mean what possessed me to go to Wikipedia and check the SOA cast list about some random shit, probably the name of the new prospects (Filthy Phil, Miles RIP) only to see that Piney died in series 4. Then there was my WTFSutter addiction which contained more spoilers. I should have learnt but like a dumb child touching the fire I didn't and got burned more than once.

As series 4 came to an end in the US in late 2011 I couldn't wait for it to start in the UK but was told by 5USA(who had now secured the rights to secure series 4) said that we would have to wait until July 2012 to see series 4. Scrooge must have got a late case of Christmas cheer as suddenly I saw an advert on 5USA announcing that series 4 of SOA would be returning not in July but February At last someone has seen sense. Most online pirates exist due to the time delay between TV shows crossing the pond in either direction. If this time was reduced to a minimum like BBC did with Episodes or Sky do with Mad Men we would see less online piracy.

So to series 4 and this review seems to have become a story of my journey with SOA but I don't care. It's my site and if you have read this far you may as well carry on. I mean it could get interesting. With series 4 I had high expectations, I had learnt more about SOA heard the hype and had grown to like the way that Sutter orchestrated the show like Bovril (the meaty Marmite) you either love him or hate him and even those you love piss you off sometimes. If your looking for beige I can point you in the direction of many a TV show SOA certainly isn't, nor is it black. For me SOA much like most people is a dark pearlescent not a simple matte finish but deep with layers and the more you look the more you will find. Some angles you will like some you won't but viewed as a whole it is complex and exquisite even with its imperfections. After-all this show isn't some product of an Hollywood Botox syringe with everyone puffed up and shiny. Much like its creator SOA has rough edges and a gritty realism. That we don't see enough of from Hollywood. From the tantalising glimpses we fans get this show feels authentic to the core, cast and crew.

Series 4 got under-way and felt a little slow, that was probably just me with being all hyped up. From reading about how series 4 was developing over the last few months. Reflecting back it has been a great series with the plot unfolding gradually and seeing Sutter's mastery in weaving a rich and compelling tapestry for the viewers. If the show had blown its load in the first couple of episode of the series. It would have given me the instant gratification I was desiring but ultimately instant gratification like instant celebrity just fucks you up. The slow build to the crescendo is what it's all about and so far Sutter seems to be on track for this series with 2 episodes to go.

In the Irish mission I became aware of Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) as before I hadn't noticed him. Then in this series the way that Juice has been developing has been fantastic as a secondary arc to the main Jax story. For me Theo Rossi in his portrayal of Juice has been sublime and the relationship that he has developed with Chibs as a father figure guiding him through this difficult time. Before I had seen Juice as a Labrador puppy full of energy, loyal and no real care in the world. This seemed to mirror Rossi's own character as least that which comes across in interviews and the great panel at Palyfest this year. Which made Juice stand out against the other Sons whom all seemed to have an element of darkness in their soul and this series I believe we have seen Juice acquire his darkness and this seemed to be defined by being awarded the “Men of Mayhem” patch. Episode 11  “Call of Duty” (COD) also contained a scene which I loved. The one with Juice crossing the mine field. I had a response on twitter that “That mine field in season 4 was too much...crappy” @tommythebull77. However I thought Sutter played it well with the purpose being to show just how one the edge Juice is and that the presence of Chibs is of paramount importance if Juice is to come back from the brink. I know I had the feeling when the mine field first appeared that “now adding a mine field to up the body count s just taking liberties” but it proved to be deeper than that and we only lost Kozik. Oh and I can understand Flanagan just fine.

Finally I arrive at the original point of this review episode 12 “Burnt and Purged Away” which followed hot on the heels of the fantastic episode 11 COD in homage to the computer game. Which I love and after episode 11 and the use of the RPG by Jax I just had to fire up the PS3 and while away a couple of hours on the battle field. COD set-up the plot with a feeling of a penultimate episode and the way episode 12 panned out you could have been forgiven for thinking that was it. There were people who thought it was and it would have been one hell of an ending at that. The realisation that there is still two more episodes to come was received with joy and can it get any better than this?

I felt that this episode was the best episode of SOA to date and quite possibly one of the best TV episodes ever! It had everything from the sublime to the ridiculous, reminding the audience that this shit ain't real it's theatre. The purpose is to entertain and oh boy did it do that. In an age when every one wants everything now and we have huge hype prior to an event where we build it up to be the single most important instant of your life to date and to miss out will be disastrous. Only to find that once you arrive at this momentous point in time it is but a speck of dust and of infinitesimal insignificance. Usually leaves you with a drained empty feeling like you were expecting and Elizabethan Royal feast, and you were presented with precise portion of calorific controlled rabbit food. Then the ad men go back to work the day after telling you about the next life changing event that will change you and the world forever. I like to put this under the heading of “Bull Shit”. Which is what you may think of this so called review but who cares.

Sutter's slow build to this episode had me thinking that Clay's final comeuppance may end-up being like a who shot J.R. We had so many runners who had some sort of motive to pull the trigger. The Jax after finding out what Clay had done to Gemma. Gemma herself as she is well aware Clay would have no problem doing the same. The we have Unser whose unrequited love for Gemma is evident and it is becoming clear to me that the main reason for the former Sheriff being on the payroll of the Sons was his desire for Gemma. Then there's Tig the former Sgt. at Arms and Clay's right hand is it just a lovers tiff or something deeper? Well as Piney is now out of the running we have Opie to replace him and after his dad's death on top of the loss of Donna he was sure ready to blow. For me Bobby was also an outside bet as he and Clay had been butting heads for a while and had made a play for the gavel.

Otto, Sutter's own role got his 5 minutes in the spotlight this week with a compelling scene opposite Bobby we see the moment when Otto finally signs his life away and reviles his betrayal. Bobby is forced to read a list of the acts that Otto has carried out in the name of the club while being inside and it is extensive. Will the full list ever see the light of day? Hope so. After Otto's betrayal, will Bobby become the new Otto as the clubs inside man?

When Usner is cleaning up after Bobby's murder we see Gemma tell Unser to stop Opie from killing Clay so that he doesn't ruin what it has taken her 20 years to build. For me this reinforces my impression that Gemma is the puppet master of this show and the club. Geppetto to Jax's Pinocchiho if you will. Ensuring that Jax ascends to his rightful place at the head of the table, but only when she sees fit. Those of us who are fans of the show know of Sutter's admiration for Shakespeare and the parallels that have been drawn between SOA and Hamlet. That's as maybe but for me the most important thing for her is her blood line and the protection of her family and that she keeps them safe and close at any cost.

In perhaps one of the most bizarre period of the entire show. We see the Sons accompany the Irish Kings to a “Baby Factory”. The scene in which Tig is playing the piano in an orphanage has to be one of the most sinister and comedic I have seen. Then we hear Jax say “No guns, the kids“ but of course and full on brawl between the cots and a room of screaming babies WTFSutter! This segment could have been dropped into any dark horror and been right at home.

We also see how Clay now a desperate man with no real support or backing scrambling around to save his plan and as a result causing more problems for all involved. The once all powerful King's star is on the wane and it is only a matter of time until he falls from his throne for good.

The scene at the crematorium between Jax, Opie and Unser is a powerful one. And shows the bond between Jax and Opie which I believe is the strongest male bond on in the club. Possibly only ever equalled by that of Piney and J.T. And we know where that lead. Sutter then has audacity to have Jax chase Opie in a hearse. I mean WTFSutter? It sure did lighten the mood although it didn't last long. If I do have one slight disappointment about Piney's cremation it is that the club didn't turn out in force. I am sure he will get a proper send-off though. The three way with Jax, Opie and Unser carried more clout.

Perhaps my favourite part of the episode is the montage of Bobby, Juice, Tara, Gemma and Clay etc., while Jax is in pursuit of Opie. For me the music makes this sing. And reminds how simple imagery and music can convey a whole range of emotions which may have lost the impact with extensive dialogue

In the end it's Opie, but why not shoot him in the head? He is a sitting duck. Is it some sort of rule that you don't hit the face? Even with the double tap Opie seems to miss the bull and this leaves the possibility that Clay will live to ruin another day. Maybe the black widow will have a will and a son will end Clay? When Gemma said that she wanted a son to end Clay I took this to mean that his “son” to do it in a Prince killing the King and ascending to the throne as opposed to a member of the Sons doing it. One thing I did notice during the final scene was that the doors to the Chapel (the Sons meeting room) had been replaced and where no longer hardboard. I liked this touch and it gave the impression for me at least like Clay had secured his inner sanctum. Where Tig has accused him from distancing himself from the club before. This allows the entrance of Opie to be more theatrical in breaking Clay's wall of power.

I think the fact that Opie seems to miss the target has a lot to do with Jax and the influence he has over Opie and that Opie knows this should be dealt with by the club and therefore expresses his anger with enough restraint to allow justice to be done. The SOA way.

In the end this was a great episode and a fine example of why Sons Of Anarchy is a great show. It had everything; tragedy, comedy, suspense the lot and not many shows give you that. I love this show and I will give anything Sutter writes a more than its fair chance after the joy he has given me while watching Sons Of Anarchy. And to think we still have up to 3 years to go if Sutter gets his way and he should. The show also has a fantastic sound track and I think that was evident in this episode. The montage music was David by @noahgundersen, which I thought was a great choice. Thanks to @Nick_Selby1 for letting me know that one.

So that is about me done. Will anyone read it who knows. If I am honest I would love someone from the show to check it out but that ain't going to happen. Most of all I hope those who do read my thoughts, let me know theirs.

I hope to write a review for the final two episodes, as they are act 1 and act 2 I may end up writing a single review that I will post on TheTVKing. If you have got this far, I applaud your staying power in reading my drivel and I guess you will have a few comments, questions or choice words to throw my way. Feel free either in the comments below or on twitter @thetvking. As this is a show I have to watch live every week, I will be tweeting, during the ad breaks of course. So if you are on twitter and you fancy a chat during the ads or after tweet me. I don't bite.

I would also encourage you to follow Sutter on twitter and that cast that are on there. But be warned if you poke the bear prepare to run or face the beast.

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