Have you ever heard the saying “less is more”?
I’m assuming you have, and I know for a fact that Kurt Sutter, creator of Sons of Anarchy has.
Here’s A Bold Statement: Sons of Anarchy is probably the best drama on TV that very few people watch. Reviewers love Mad Men (for reasons that are beyond me). Audiences love CSI (and it’s endless spinoffs) and NCIS. Cable viewers go gaga for True Blood (proving once more that sex does indeed sell well). But Sons of Anarchy gets no love from anyone, and that’s a crying shame.
Back to my “less is more” point – Sons of Anarchy is a plot that’s been done a million times before, hell, its origins are in set in Shakespeare’s plays, but it goes to show that even when you have a center point that is plain to the naked eye, it’s all about how you get to it, and how it’s dealt with once you do, that makes or breaks the show.
Sons of Anarchy is all about the rivalry between father and son (even if they aren’t exactly father and son). The aging leader and the young stallion that looks to dethrone him. The blurring of lines between good and evil, right and wrong, but it’s all updated for modern times.
Gone are old kingdoms, kings, queens and princes, evil neighbouring countries and warlords…
In are biker gangs, overbearing mothers, drugs, guns, DEA agents with a bone to pick, and well, rival warlords (or drug lords).
One of the things that attracted me to Sons of Anarchy right off the bat is the fact that you know that no one is innocent. Everyone in the show has faults, issues, and problems they need to work out. Another thing that attracted me – we get to watch most of those problems being solved, some better than others.
I cannot remember a single plot line that was tossed aside, made less important or not brought to full conclusion in Sons of Anarchy. Little tiny things that may be tossed in as experiments end up being left to solve themselves off screen in other shows are always magnified and in most cases end up biting our characters in the backside.
Season 2 was nothing if not an example of that. From the end of the first episode, with the brutal assault on Gemma (Katey sagal), to the involvement of gangs of Mexicans, blacks (not being racist, just using the show’s language) and Irish gun runners. The return of a seriously pms’d DEA agent (the ballsy Ally walker). The return of Chibs’s estranged wife, which seemed so unimportant, ended up setting the stage for a wild finish. But it was by no means all there was to it, neither were any of the things I previously mentioned.
Season 2 began exactly where season 1 left off, with Jax weighing his options about SAMCRO and his oncoming collision with Clay, some of the club siding with him, while Clay had his supporters too.
A new threat was introduced right off the bat, in the form of white pride racist Ethan Zobelle (the slightly maniacal, ultra slick and definitely sinister Adam arkin) and his merry men (including the always cool, even when beating women, Henry Rollins) moving to Charming. But they were a threat nothing like SAMCRO has faced before, subtle, sophisticated and very unimpressed with the way SAMCRO did business in Charming.
But if the first half of season 2 served to further the rift within the Sons, to open warfare and an all out brawl between Jax & Clay, and to separate friends and divide loyalties (Opie siding with Clay at some points was shocking to both Jax and us viewers, considering what we know about his wife’s death). Maggie’s becoming more like an “old lady” and part of Jax’s life than even she cares to admit to, and of course, Gemma hanging on to her sanity while keeping her terrible secret and trying to care for both her “men” and keep them from tearing the club, and each other apart.
The final part of season 2 served as the road to bringing all parties together in some sick kind of way, for what turned out to be an explosive end to the season where all different sides came together in what has to be one of the best examples in recent memory of season finale excellence. Plotlines converged into what was probably the best way to end an exciting and hectic second season, and where others have failed, Sons of Anarchy made good. They wrapped up a heap of plots, which makes for great satisfaction for loyal viewers, but they also opened a hell of a lot of new questions which will be a nice entry point for new viewers.
Like many shows, Sons of Anarchy is built on the quality of its stars, and while no one will doubt Ron Perlman’s acting chops, Charlie Hunam left quite a bit to be desired in the first season. However, I will personally tag anyone that watches the final scene of season 2 with a dry eye a cold hearted SOB. Jax and Hunam have both made strides towards growing up, and with season 3 looming closer (September) I for one am greatly awaiting a lot of answers:
1) Where’s Gemma run off to, and who will find her?
2) What will Jax do to get back his son?
3) Was the cease fire between Jax & Clay for real, or was it just a reaction to Gemma’s admission?
4) Will chief Unser ever retire?
Please, for the sake of great TV being allowed to roam free – Tune into Sons of Anarchy season 3…Let the Harley live!
Next week – the laughtrack hit that is Two and a Half Men.
Line of the week – “it’s just a little harmless game of cat and mouse between me and a professional killer” – Burn Notice.