SONS OF ANARCHY: SEASON FIVE
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Charlie Hunnam as JACKSON “JAX” TELLER
Katey Sagal as GEMMA TELLER MORROW
Ron Perlman as CLARENCE “CLAY” MORROW
Mark Boone Junior as ROBERT “BOBBY” MUNSON
Kim Coates as ALEX “TIG” TRAGER
Tommy Flanagan as FILIP “CHIBS” TELFORD
Johnny Lewis as KIP “HALF SACK” EPPS
Maggie Siff as TARA KNOWLES
Ryan Hurst as HARRY “OPIE” WINSTON
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Created by: Kurt Sutter
BY KEVIN CARR
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with “Sons of Anarchy” over the years. It’s not just that some seasons are better than others (although the weak season three really sapped my interest in the show). Rather, the series struggles with its own existence as a popular television series, and this throws up road blocks to telling the strongest stories and letting things play out in a realistic fashion.
Normally, I refer to this as “series rot,” though that term sounds much more pejorative than I’d like it to. I don’t necessarily blame Kurt Sutter and anyone in the “Sons of Anarchy” family for succumbing to this. It is, after all, the nature of the beast. But for “Sons of Anarchy,” the beast is in danger of consuming itself.
Overall, Season Five was a strong one. It offers a fantastic overall season villain, Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) a crime boss who makes things very personal with SAMCRO. This has powerful blow-back to several club members, particularly Tig (Kim Coates) and Opie (Ryan Hurst). These two characters seem to be the most developed because they are dealing with the greatest drama. In fact, Tig’s previous confession about his involvement in the death of Opie’s wife Donna makes these two tragic characters even more interesting.
For both good consequence and bad, Opie’s drama in Season Five is short-lived. This allows us a concise look at the character arc and the self-inflicted wounds the character has. It also doesn’t belabor the drama, which would have happened had these things happened to a lead character in the series.
Following the blows that Clay (Ron Perlman) receives both literally and figuratively, we see his character have to change and adapt to his new situation. This makes him less powerful in the core of the show, but still significant. He has control over a small slice of the SAMCRO pie, and he manages to mess things up enough for everyone involved.
The “series rot” I referred to earlier comes into play with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and Tara (Maggie Siff). The way things are written, you want Jax to realize the error of his ways and what a dangerous world he and his family live in. Considering all that he has suffers – and with reference to several lines of dialogue throughout the years – it’s believable that the club would allow him a quiet exit. However, that would make the show fall apart for at least a season. It would not be as significant a departure as, say when Steve Carell left “The Office,” but Jax is such a critical character, it would shake up the show’s dynamic in a potentially disastrous way.
So, we’re left with Jax and Tara dealing with their legacy in SAMCRO, and we’re left with the inability to dispatch Clay for good because Ron Perlman is such an iconic character on the show. This settles into Season Five more than any other season, especially when things get really dangerous for Jax and his family.
Still, the show is entertaining, and it holds together as well as – if not better than – Season Four. At the very least, it’s still got the momentum from the previous season to shake off the painfully awkward Season Three. But in the end, “Sons of Anarchy” is a soap opera for men, featuring more leather an body hair than something like “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The Season Five Blu-ray continues to have an impressive number of special features, including a “Creator’s Cut” on select episodes, deleted scenes and commentaries on select episodes. There’s also a pretty humorous (and not over-long) gag reel, a retrospective on Opie, a look at Kurt Sutter’s creative process and footage from a concert given for fans who won a contest.