Season Four has been described as somewhat of a reboot by creator Kurt Sutter, but not in the sense that most people might think. Though there was definitely a feeling of starting fresh in tonight’s premiere, that doesn’t mean that all of the stuff that happened in the past has been forgotten. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, because the trouble that SAMCRO has gotten into this time around is a direct result of everything they’ve done in the past. They might not know the full extent of it just yet, but they certainly got a taste of what’s to come upon their arrival back in Charming.
Clay, Jax and the rest of the guys may be ready to get back to work, but there’s a new sheriff in town in the form of Eli Roosevelt who’s going to do everything in his power to make sure that doesn’t happen. Not only does Roosevelt have the full backing of Jacob Hale (who’s now mayor of Charming and moving ahead with plans to build luxury housing), but he’s a real by-the-books kind of guy with previous experience working with gangs, which apparently SAMCRO is now considered under the letter of the law. He also has another powerful ally in Lincoln Potter (what’s with all the characters named after former presidents?), an Assistant U.S. Attorney who requests Roosevelt’s help on a case that he’s quietly building against the Russians, the Real IRA and SAMCRO that would allow the FBI to take out all three of them in one fell swoop under the RICO Act.
Though the Russians weren’t too happy with the way that SAMCRO double-crossed them at the end of last season (nearly killing Jax in prison as retaliation), the two parties have since managed to make peace in order to continue doing business together. Meeting with Russian boss Putlova over the conditions of that deal was at the top of Clay’s to-do list as soon as he was released from prison. But when he realizes that the club is being watched like a hawk by Roosevelt’s men, the Sons devise a clever plan to distract the cops so that Clay, Jax and Opie can meet with Putlova without anyone knowing. And that ultimately proved to be more important than it was made to seem, because SAMCRO’s newfound partnership with the Russians didn’t last for very long.