Sons of Anarchy: Season Five Preview

Last season of “Sons of Anarchy” was a pretty big transitional year for the FX drama, and it doesn’t take very long for the effects of those changes to show in the first two episodes of Season Five. After Clay’s cold-blooded murder of Piney created a domino effect of bad decisions and more dead bodies, by the time the dust cleared, Jax was sitting at the head of SAMCRO’s table. But the season didn’t exactly end on the happiest of terms, with Clay nearly shot to death, Opie’s future with the club left undecided, and a potential gang war ignited with the One-Niners after Tig accidentally killed the daughter of ex-drug kingpin Damon Pope.

The fallout of her death plays a major part in the new season as the Niners look to retaliate, and viewers will finally be introduced to Pope himself, played by “Lost” alum Harold Perrineau. Though I was openly critical of the actor during his time on the island drama, and was pretty concerned when I heard that he had been cast in the pivotal role, Perrineau brings an intimidating calmness to Pope that makes him a completely different kind of threat compared to past foils like Ethan Zobelle and June Stahl. He’s more of a gentleman’s gangster, but ruthless when needed, as Tig is unfortunate to witness in the 90-minute premiere.

The other new addition this season is Jimmy Smits’ Nero Padilla, a former gangbanger who’s since built a lucrative career as a pimp… or as he likes to refer to himself, a “companionator.” Smits is another actor that I didn’t used to be particularly fond of, but he’s done some great work in recent years (like his season-long guest role on “Dexter”), and from what I’ve seen of his “Sons of Anarchy” character so far, he’s likely going to be the standout of the season. You can already tell that Smits and Charlie Hunnam have excellent chemistry, and it’s going to be interesting to see how Clay reacts to Jax getting a new mentor, especially since that’s not the only department in which Nero is replacing Clay. I’ll let you guys figure out what that means on your own.

Though it’s still unclear as to how much the other characters are going to factor into the new season, here are a few things you can expect to see in the first two episodes:

1) With the RICO case still hanging over SAMCRO’s head, Danny Trejo and Benito Martinez’s CIA agents are still very much involved in the club’s Irish gun deal…

2) And more importantly, Jax tells one of his fellow Sons all about it.

3) The body count gets pretty high in the premiere, including one very gruesome death.

4) Jax finally names his Vice President, and it’s not who you’d expect.

5) Jax also gets rid of his “SO” and “NS” rings, perhaps for good.

6) Though he may effectively be the club’s new Piney (omnipresent oxygen tank and all), Clay still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Check out the promos below for a taste of what’s to come this season (including your first look at Jimmy Smits and Harold Perrineau), and then be sure to tune into “Sons of Anarchy” when it premieres September 11th at 10 p.m. on FX.

  

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“Sons of Anarchy” cast and crew discuss Season Five at PaleyFest 2012

The stars and creative folks behind “Sons of Anarchy” don’t just make the popular FX television series. They live up the lifestyle to the fullest. Most of the cast are dedicated riders, while embracing the whole image of the Harley-Davidson, cruiser riding biker culture.

Their moods are intense. Their humor is edgy. They toss around f-bombs at press events as easy as they feather the left-hand clutch. Their wardrobes are streetwise. While other events celebrating top TV series at the 2012 PaleyFest featured actors and actress in suits and gowns, the “Sons of Anarchy” crew rolled in with t-shirts and boots. And their viewers out in the seats at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles sported the same.

During the fan-friendly media event, show creator and executive producer Kurt Sutter joined his wife and series star Katey Sagal (Sutter’s wife), Theo Rossi, Tommy Flanagan, David La Brava, Michael Marisi-Ornstein and others to talk about where “Sons of Anarchy” – essentially a V-Twin-powered Shakespearian political tragedy – is rolling to in the future.

Season Four ended with big changes, with Jax finally taking on the roll of the young king at the head of SAMCRO’s ornately carved table. Fans were immediately interested in how Sutter and company would tackle that this season.

“I’ve always wanted to play this idea of putting Jax in charge and explore how he handled the power,” Sutter said. “I also wanted to explore how those around him respond to having him in charge – the ripple effect of (Jax’s power) on the gang and the loyalties of it and where people land.”

“The interesting dynamic to play out this season is seeing Jax at the head of that table and the struggle that he has of being king. How can he be the leader of a motorcycle gang – an organized crime syndicate – and not become Clay?”

“And if you choose not to become Clay, are you doomed to the fate of John Teller?”

Sutter never made any secret of the fact that he’s recreating a sort of modern day Hamlet with “Sons of Anarchy.” The same tense standoff between The Prince of Denmark and his mother is playing out between Jax and Gemma (Sagal). Jax is at the head of the table now, but the matriarch really seems to want that job.

“I could really see Gemma sitting at the head of that table with the gavel in her hand,” Segal said. “And I think she should be a great head of the gang. It’d be interesting to explore how a woman could be this queen in such a world. I want to see her sitting there at the head of the table.”

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Bullz-Eye’s 2012 TV Power Rankings

So…where were we?

Oh, fine, let’s go ahead and deal with the elephant in the room: it’s been nine months since Bullz-Eye doled out its last TV Power Rankings. What can we say? There were a lot of good shows on the air between May 2011 and February 2012, and somewhere around late October, it just kind of reached a point where we said, “You know what? It’s way more fun to watch TV than it is to write about it.” Eventually, though, the powers that be pried us off the couch (there’s still an indentation where we were sitting), set us back in front of the computer, and said, “Look, the readers demand to know Bullz-Eye’s take on the best shows of the past year* and, frankly, they’re starting to get a little belligerent about it.”

(*Rounded up for statistical purposes.)

So here we are, ready to offer up our list of the 25 best shows on television** as well as several shows bubbling just under our list, plus a new section called “Still Too New to Call,” where we praise shows that seem pretty damned good after their first few episodes but simply haven’t been around long enough for us to feel comfortable including them in the other two lists.

(**Okay, technically, it’s the 24 best shows on television plus one show that hasn’t been on since 2010, but we’re so excited about that particular show coming back that we included it, anyway.)

All told, we hope you’ll walk away from this piece either nodding your head in agreement or wondering why you haven’t been watching some of these shows. If not, however, there’s a perfectly good Comments section that’s just waiting for your opinions about what’s good on TV.

Everybody ready? Then let’s get this thing started…

25. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

No, it’s not quite the same show it used to be, owing to the fact that the cast now consists of almost as many women as it does men, but with the series now in its fifth season, the trio of Kaley Cuouo, Melissa Rauch, and Mayim Bialik have probably infused “The Big Bang Theory” with more laughs than the it would’ve had at this point if it had stuck strictly to the original four geeks. The only question now is how much longer we’ll have to wait for Raj to come out of the closet…because, seriously, you don’t need to possess gay-dar to see that that’s what they’re leading up to.

24. Weeds (Showtime)

When we first picked back up with Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) for the seventh season of “Weeds,” she’d spent three years cooling her heels in the clink while the rest of the Botwin clan had been chillin’ in Copenhagen, but with Nancy being shifted to a halfway house in New York City, a family reunion was only inevitable. Big shock: Nancy started selling pot again. Possibly bigger shock: even going into its eighth season, “Weeds” is still reliably entertaining.

23. New Girl (Fox)

When it comes to watching “New Girl,” one’s level of appreciation is directly proportionate to how one feels about the concept of “adorkability,” which Zooey Deschanel brings to the small screen in seemingly limitless quantities as Jess, a too-cute twentysomething who moves in with a trio of guys on the heels of an excruciatingly bad breakup. As with most ensemble comedies, it’s taken time for the chemistry of the cast to find its feet, but it’s coming along nicely.

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Sons of Anarchy 4.14 – To Be, Act 2

In last week’s recap, I proposed that the only reason Romeo could have for telling Jax that Otto didn’t sell out the club was that he knew something SAMCRO didn’t, and as it just so happens, that something turned out to be pretty big. Shortly after Lincoln and his men set up surveillance on the Sons, Romeo and Luis roll into camp to announce that they’ve been working with the CIA and are shutting down the RICO investigation. I had a feeling this might be the case back when Lincoln was discussing Luis’ history with the Mexican military, but I had completely forgotten about it since then, mainly because it seemed a bit far-fetched at the time. And it still does, to be honest, even if this wouldn’t be the first time that the government has sided with the bad guys for the greater good. They’re essentially bankrolling the Galindo cartel so that they come out on top, because “whoever controls the drugs controls the politics,” and in order for that to happen, they need SAMCRO’s deal with the IRA to go through unimpeded.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy in the world of “Sons of Anarchy,” and although the Irish Kings seem open to working with the cartel, they’re only willing to do it with Clay as the intermediary. That puts Jax in a bit of a bind, who openly admits to Romeo that the club is already way over its head on this whole cartel business. Though he didn’t want to have to bring Jax into the loop on their CIA connections, Romeo’s hand was forced by the prospect of losing the IRA gun deal, so he explains to Jax that if the deal goes bust, the RICO case will be reopened and the club will be destroyed. All in all, it was a pretty clever way of keeping Clay alive and ensuring Jax remains in Charming. I also found it interesting that Romeo never intended to hurt Tara, but was instead going to put her into protective custody. That at least explains why the kidnappers didn’t just shoot the both of them when Jax came to her rescue in the park.

I don’t think we’ve ever seen Jax more pissed off than when he went to go visit Clay at the hospital (except perhaps at the end of last week’s episode), because despite every bone in his body telling him to kill the traitorous bastard, he had to keep him alive for the sake of the club. It’s hard to imagine a show where Clay can co-exist alongside Jax, Opie, Tara and Gemma now that they all know the truth, but Jax really has no other choice. Though he’s stripping him of the President patch, Jax is allowing Clay to keep a seat at the table and his vote for the sake of appearances, but what will the Irish think when they realize he’s no longer in control of the club? And while Clay may wish that he was dead now, that’s not going to stop him from putting up a fight when he recovers.

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Sons of Anarchy 4.13 – To Be, Act 1

After last week’s cliffhanger left many wondering if Clay was dead, tonight’s episode was quick to clarify things by confirming that, while he was definitely wounded, Opie hadn’t succeeded in killing him. (Surely a shot to the head or the heart would have been the way to go, but then there wouldn’t be a need for a two-part season finale.) Of course, Opie could have easily finished the job if Jax hadn’t shot him in the hand, but at that point in time, Clay was still innocent until proven guilty in his mind, despite Opie’s insistence that we was telling the truth. Jax wasn’t ready to buy into that theory just yet, and promised Opie that he would get to the bottom of Piney’s murder, to which Opie mockingly replied, “Just what I need. Another promise.”

It probably wasn’t the best idea for Jax to pin the shooting on “some black guys,” but no one could have expected that Tig would take the news so personally. I can understand why he feels like it might be his fault after turning his back on Clay, but to just retaliate on the Niners like that without any proof they were even responsible was really stupid. Tig was lucky to get out of that situation alive, because you can be sure that’s not the last we’re going to see of the Niners. Though Laroy made it out in one piece, his wife/girlfriend/someone important was killed in the initial attack, and two more of his men died in the ensuing chase. Geez, just when all the gangs in Charming we’re starting to play nice with one another and Tig had to go and mess it up.

Meanwhile, Gemma looks like she’s finally done protecting Clay (either that, or she just wants to be on the winning side) and decides to open up to Tara about all the horrible things that Clay has done lately. It was obviously just a ploy to make her feel guilty about using John Teller’s letters as leverage, but it worked, because Tara gave Gemma the key to the storage unit where they were hiding all along. After reading through the letters, however, Gemma took out the ones that implicated her and Unser and handed the rest over to Jax, which ultimately led to her spilling the beans on years of secrets – from Clay’s initial attempt to kill JT by sending him into a Mayan ambush, to rigging his bike to crash, to shooting Piney in the cabin and even putting out the hit on Tara.

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