Hamlet on motorcycles. That is what Sons of Anarchy has been referred to since 2007, when the show first debuted. You can see why with the character types the show has and the Shakespearean levels of drama, violence and sex. The story, for anyone looking to check it out, is about Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) discovering his father, John Teller (referred to as JT in journals) and the real future he had planned for the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club, nicked name the MC. He talks about how he wanted he and Clay Morrow (Jax’s step father, played with such a great devilish sly performance by Ron Perlman of Hellboy) to lead the MC in a new direction. His mom is Gemma, played by Katie Sagal of Married… with Children fame, who happens to be married to the show’s creator, Kurt Sutter who also appears on the show here and there as the club’s death row inmate Otto.
The overall arc involves Jax trying desperately to get away from the club in every way possible and to get the club out of the IRA gun running business that his father has had them involved in since its formation. Season 1 deals with the SOA coming under fire from the feds and a new sheriff moving in. Jax’s ex-wife ODs and nearly kills their unborn son. Opie‘s wife is killed by Tig under orders from Clay who believes that he has turned and betrayed the club, which they later come to learn is not true. In season 2, Gemma is gang raped by a Neo-Nazi leader played by Henry Rollins. One of the prospects is killed trying to defend Jax’s son, who is kidnapped and taken to Ireland. Season 3 has Gemma on the run after being framed for murder, as the SOA spend most of there time in Ireland looking for Able. Also, the Feds case against the SOA sends most them to jail for a year.
In season 4, Tara gives birth to Jax’s new son and a new sheriff decides he does not want to play well with the SOA. Opie also gets married to his porn star wife, Lyla, and Danny Trejo plays a character named Romeo, who joins the show as a member of a drug cartel who wants the SOA to start running drugs. This doesn’t sit right with Jax who wants nothing to do with drugs, as it nearly killed his son. Clay beats Gemma nearly to death and Tara is nearly killed under orders from Clay. All this is part of the charm of the seedy and dark undertones of the show, as you never know what’s coming next.
Clay kills Piney, the oldest member of the club, and then Opie tries to kill Clay. Trig is told a lie about who tried to kill Clay, which sets off a chain of events that leads to the club getting involved with Damian Pope. Jimmy Smits comes in for Season 5 as the brothel/porn studio owner Nero, who starts sleeping with Gemma. Opie is killed in prison and Jax feels the weight of the gavel. Clay is thrown out of the club, stripped of his cut and has his tattoos blacked out.
The show runs the gauntlet of ups and downs and out of control plot lines. Watching Opie get his brain beat in in prison was intense and heartbreaking. Gemma’s rape scene was like any other gang rape scene – you can’t turn away even though you want to. Tig pays for his crimes with his daughter’s life, as he has to watch her be burned alive in front of him to make up for what he did to Pope’s daughter.
The use of action, drama and cliffhangers is what grasps people to the show. Guests stars galore amp up the characters. The show tests the limits of violence and sex on TV, with brains being blown out, blood everywhere and every few episodes some hard core PG-13 (non-nude) sex scenes. This current season has had the highest rating on FX and some of the highest on cable, in general, with downloads and home media sales raking in huge numbers.
Some of the other great characters on the show include…..Bobby, played by Mark Boone Jr., the clubs current VP and Elvis impersonator, Chibs, the muscle of the group, played by Tommy Flanagan, Juice, played by Theo Rossi, a character at Jax’s beck and call as penance for betraying the club. He does all the dirty work and in exchange gets to stay alive. Kurt Sutter plays Otto, a club prisoner who just betrayed them because he’s on death row and wants revenge for what happened to his wife. Former police chief Unser, played by Dayton Callie, and the current police chief Eli Roosevelt, played by Rockmond Dunbar, whose character wants the SOA out of Charming, the fictitious town in CA where the show takes place.
This show has just had its best season yet but the series as a whole has been a great ride, no pun intended. This is a great show and I recommend it to anyone who loves intense action dramas.