We’ve had nearly a year to breath since the fated shot heard round SAMCRO. Clay (Ron Perlman) took the life of another member of the Redwood Original 9 in Sons of Anarchy Episode 4.8 (read the SAMCRO Obituary).
The SOA webisphere cried in outrage, calling for Clay’s death – at the hands of Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and/or Opie (Ryan Hurst). Alas, we don’t hold the gavel. The weight (and burden) of that honor falls on the shoulders of showrunner Kurt Sutter. And, he ruled that Clay would live. But, there would be consequences.
Sons of Anarchy Season 5 began in an ostensibly new direction. Jax now officially rides at the head of the pack, with his Sergeant-at-arms, Chibs (Tommy Flanagan), by his side. Clay, “broken” but not out, looms in the periphery. He’s hunched over and unable to ride. However, don’t call him the new Piney (William Lucking). If you did, you would be blind to the truth. Clay may appear to be wounded and sickly, but his strategic mind is always working on an end game – one that is a far cry from Piney’s moral compass.
As for Opie, he is out of the club, unable to sit next to the man who murdered his father and more importantly unable to live the lie that Jax has accepted for the time being. Conversely, Juice (Theo Rossi) appears to be going deeper into the club. He’s thankful for Clay’s support last season and has begun to look up to Clay as a father. Unfortunately, we all know the secret of Juice’s black heritage. Let’s see how that plays out once Damon Pope’s (Harold Perrineau Jr.) character comes more to the forefront.
“Sovereign” started off with what appeared to be the rumblings of a war between the Niners and SAMCRO. LaRoy attacked Jax’s drug convoy. Filthy Phil (Christopher Reed) barely escaped with his life.
Surprisingly, the “beef” with the Niners was quickly put to a rest once Pope’s character was introduced.
Jax talked Romeo (Danny Trejo) into arranging a sit down with Pope. Although Romeo holds the Rico card on the club, Jax can also expose the truth about Romeo’s CIA operation. It’s an uneasy alliance that probably won’t get resolved until Season 6.
Unfortunately for LaRoy, Pope doesn’t like receiving calls from cartel members regarding sit-downs with biker gangs. Darnell (B.J. Britt), LaRoy’s second in command, found that out first hand when August Marks (Billy Brown), Pope’s right hand, revealed LaRoy’s body at the bottom of a ditch. Then, Darnell became the new leader of the Niners.
Then, came the meeting.
August gave the Niners’ new leader a gun and told him to kill Jax.
Jax arrived, only to find out that he wasn’t meeting with Pope, but rather with August and the Niners. The Niners’ leader pulled his gun, realized it wasn’t loaded and then got pummeled by Jax. What came next was even more unexpected. August killed the new Niners’ leader – shooting him point blank in the side of his head.
To show SAMCRO that Pope decides who lives and who dies.
It was a well-orchestrated scene that really builds up Pope’s character as a threat. Both Pope and August are intelligent, calculating characters. We haven’t really seen an external threat this cold and shrewd since Ethan Zobelle (Adam Arkin) in Season 2.
The scene ended with Tyler taking over the Niners. August said to a stuttering Tyler, “Well, T-t-t-tyler, you need to go back to your crew and tell ‘em the beef with the Sons is done.”
When I interviewed Kim Coates (as Tig) on Season 5, he told me that “Tig is completely off the leash” this year. I had no idea why, until “Sovereign.”
Pope had multiple witnesses come forward, pointing the blame for his daughter’s death at Jax, Tig, and Chibs.
Pope set up a ruse to lure Tig away from the crew. Then, he had Tig watch his daughter burn, a fire Pope set with the light of his cigar. I can’t say I was too sold on Tig’s breakdown when he saw his daughter burning. Tig seemed like he was just yelling as much as possible, begging Pope to take his life instead. Coates is best during those quiet moments of suffering as he’s exhibited on past seasons of SOA as well as Entourage.
When Pope left, Tig was able to free himself, but the damage was done. He killed Pope’s remaining men and swore that he would kill Pope too. There’s definitely going to be more bloodshed before the season is over.
There was a darkly humorous transition that happened afterwards. During the closing montage, we saw Damon Pope handing out ice cream to children. August looked on and grinned. Both Pope and August had smiles on their faces as if they didn’t have a care in the world. It paints the picture for these two cold, desensitized enemies.
Clay has come clean about Piney. Well, sort of. Ever the strategist, Clay says that he murdered Piney but that it was in self-defense. He says that Piney was drinking and pulled a shotgun on Clay first. He then told the club that Opie shot him in retaliation, but he blamed it on the Niners to keep the peace. Tig walked out after the meeting was adjourned – markedly upset. He killed Pope’s daughter because of Clay’s lie. Now, his own daughter has become a casualty because of the fall out.
Gemma (Katey Sagal) is definitely going in a different direction this season. “Sovereign” began with Nero (Jimmy Smits) having sex with Gemma doggy style. We later learned that Gemma performed fellatio on Nero and messed around with two girls as well. She definitely seems to be hitting a bottom. However, Nero appears to be a “nice” thug. He runs an upscale escort service and is now helping to hide Jax from the police and Pope. Perhaps Gemma will find redemption through Nero.
Tara (Maggie Siff) is having her usual problems with Gemma. The daughter-in-law has opted to have her children stay in daycare instead of allowing Gemma to watch over them. “I smell weed and alcohol on your breath every morning,” Tara says to Gemma. Coincidentally, after Jax leaves with Gemma, Tara starts to smoke weed.
It looks like there will be no returning to Clay for Gemma. When Clay tries to put a comforting hand on her shoulder, she knocks him down and tells him to never lay a hand on her again.
In that same scene, Clay showed us that he is just as shrewd as ever. He tells his estranged wife that he will take the secret of Gemma’s involvement in John Teller’s death to his grave. In saying this, he showed Gemma that he still holds something over her head.
Other Notable Bullets
- SAMCRO is expanding with the addition of Filthy Phil, rising up from the ranks of prospect (Does anyone miss Half Sack as much as me?). Also, the nomad charter has disbanded, with three nomads joining Jax’s crew: Frankie Diamonds (Chuck Zito), Gogo (Chris Browning) and Greg the Peg (Kurt Yaeger).
- Bobby has been freed from jail and he’s now the new VP.
- Seeing Opie put the For Sale sign on his father’s bike and walking away was damn near tragic.
- When Darnell is promoted to head of the Niners. August says, “Rise to it brother, with great power comes great responsibility.” The new Niners’ leader mumbles to Tyler, “I ain’t no Spider-Man ni##a.” The humor was less in the line and more so in the frightened expressions on the gang members’ faces. They all looked like they were about the crap their pants when August was naming the new Niners head.
- Unser (Dayton Callie) gets beat up in the closing scene by a man with a prosthetic leg. Greg the Peg (Kurt Yaeger) showed off his prosthetic leg at the club meeting.
- Great Dialogue Moment: Jax says to Opie, “I’m not gonna turn into Clay.” Opie responds, “I’m more afraid that I’m gonna turn into you.”
- Funniest Line: Dunbar asked the Sons, “Who would attack your truck?” Response: “Angry pirates?”
- Favorite Scene: Clay and Jax engage in a game of dialogue chess over ulterior motives when Clay confesses to Piney’s murder.