The highly touted 90 minute premiere of Sons of Anarchy aired tonight, and to be honest, it was underwhelming. Granted – this could simply be the cause of the raised expectations set forth by Kurt Sutter after last season’s premiere, but it just didn’t feel that personal.
The episode starts as the crew is released from a 14 month stint in lockdown, and they waste no time jumping right back into the business end of things. They have a meeting set with the Russians from Season 3, but there is a new Sheriff in town (literally) and he has plans for SAMCRO that don’t involve their normal business practices. This Sheriff – Eli Roosevelt (Rockmund Dunbar) ran gang units in Oakland before coming to Charming, and he’s not gonna to oblige the club with the same professional courtesy that the Ex-Chief of Police did.
And speaking of old Chief Unser, the cancer that has been eating at him since the beginning of the show hasn’t let up any. More than likely however, his condition has worsened due to a lack of caring and serious case of feeling all around useless. Disgraced and living alone in the woods, Unser is looking for a purpose in life, and now that he isn’t wearing a badge anymore, he’s likely gonna find said purpose with the Sons.
The underlying tone of the season however, and what has been building for a couple of years now, is Jax’s desired exit from the club, timed with Clay’s deteriorating health. This will be the catalyst that drives the season, and the inward struggle that will no doubt be tested as time goes by.
The action of the episode culminates at the happy nuptials of Opie and Lyla. SPOILERS AHEAD>>>> The club decides to end their business deal with the Russians as, in a Godfather-esqe closing, in 3 different locations, at about the same time, they kill off their business partners. This is where I felt Sutter really wanted to ‘wow’ us as he usually does in his premieres and finales, but I just found it hard to care about the Russians. They were introduced late in Season 3 and killed off right away in Season 4, and not a member among them was connected to the audience. Now obviously the presence of the now dead uncover fed they killed will drive a huge train’s worth of trouble their way this season, but I think the new members of law enforcement we’ve been introduced to just don’t seem threatening enough to yet illicit a major reaction. Of course dumping said bodies at Hale’s new development was a nice touch…
So, of the 90 minute premiere, which honestly felt more like 30 minutes of bikers and about 2 hours of commercials (actually 59 /31), I wasn’t overly impressed, but I can see good things ahead. And I can’t kill FX over it the commercials, seeing as they are one of the only channels that consistently puts out quality programming (with the exception of those Two and a Half Men reruns), but I bring it up only because I felt the opener was a little underwhelming, and the constant advertising interruptions certainly didn’t help the flow of it. But like I said, they seem to be heading in the right direction, and tonight we just got a lot of setup.
Now, one of the reasons I’m so optimistic about this season, despite what I consider to be a lackluster start to it, is the additions to the cast. SoA is one show that’s always done a great job of combining a great cast with good writing. They find a way to utilize everyone efficiently. We’ve talked before about the addition of Rockmond Dunbar, but I also want to bring up a couple other fresh faces from 2 of my all time favorite shows. Deadwood‘s Ray McKinnon as AUSA Potter and The Shield‘s David Rees Snell as the ATF’s rep in Charming.
The Shield (10) – Jay Karnes, Benito Martinez, David Rees Snell, Kenny Johnson, Katey Sagal, Ally Walker, Jeff Kober, Marcos A. Ferraez, Patrick St. Esprit, Jose Pablo Cantillo
Deadwood (6) – Dayton Callie, Robin Weigert, Titus Welliver, Ray McKinnon, Paula Malcomson, Jamie McShane
And Bonus: Veronica Mars – Theo Rossi & Taylor Sheridan
There may be more, so who am I missing? Also I was gonna do 24 as well, but I lost track pretty quick there…