“Something happens at around 92 miles an hour — thunder-headers drown out all sound, engine vibrations travels at a heart’s rate, field of vision funnels into the immediate, and suddenly you’re not on the road, you’re in it. A part of it. Traffic, scenery, cops – just cardboard cutouts blowing over as you past. Sometimes I forget the rush of that. That’s why I love these long runs. All your problems, all the noise, gone. Nothing else to worry about except what’s right in front of you. Maybe that’s the lesson for me today, to hold on to these simple moments.”
There’s nothing simple about Sons Of Anarchy. But there are some moments that will cause you to hold on… for dear life.
You’ve heard me say it before. When these guys send a message, they don’t use Western Union. Not only will they blow up your warehouse, but they’ll catch one of your guys and plant a stick of dynamite in his butt cheeks to set off the explosion. That’s the world of the motorcycle club, the Sons Of Anarchy. In the wake of The Shield, FX stays true to form with the latest from that show’s alumni Kurt Sutter. Sons Of Anarchy has a familiar tone and quality to it for fans of that now-gone cop drama. There’s a lot of handheld camera stuff, and you have very similar themes.
The season’s initial peril stems from an unfortunate accident in the previous season. Of course, these kinds of unfortunate accidents are standard operating procedure in Charming. Tig (Coates) killed the daughter of one Damon Pope (Perrineau), and now he wants revenge. He’s paid witnesses to come forward to land Tig in jail with Jax (Hunnman) and Chibs (Flanagan). Of course, he doesn’t really want them doing time. It’s a way to get to them and kill them. Jax has to make a very dangerous deal to keep most of them alive, and this deal is going to drive many secrets that he’ll have to keep from the club as he takes over as President.
Of course, Clay did some pretty bad things up to this point, and it’s gotten him shot. At the end of the last season Opie (Hurst) tries to kill him for killing his father. In an ironic twist Clay ends up with oxy tubes in his nose and weak much like Piney was in the old days. But Clay’s not as weak as he appears and has his own bloody plan to get back control of the club, and he doesn’t much care who gets hurt in the process. And when the sheriff’s wife becomes one of the casualties, let’s just say the club is surrounded by enemies.
“It’s hard not to hate. People, things, institutions, when they break your spirit and take pleasure in watching you bleed, hate is the only feeling that makes sense. But I know what hate does to a man, tears him apart, turn him into something he’s not, something he promised himself that he’d never become. That’s what I need to tell you to let you know how hard I am trying not to cave under the weight of all the awful things I feel in my heart.”
The show still has its share of riding and action, but it’s not so much the focus of the series. Sutter might have started the show to please the biker crowd, but it’s obvious that he’s been reaching for a much higher goal this year. The plots are, dare I say, Shakespearean in scope. Plots to topple kings and families who plot against family. Betrayal. It’s all there. Sutter likely won’t admit it, but there’s no question he’s spent some time with The Bard. Not sure what kind of effect it might have on viewership if he admitted it, but I’m just glad there’s more here than bikers doing their thing. It’s not a culture I’m at all attracted to and was initially put off by the promos of the show. But it’s these complicated relationships, loyalties and stories that keep me coming back for more. You don’t need to be a biker to enjoy Sons Of Anarchy anymore than you have to be a “family” man to enjoy The Godfather. Compelling drama always wins out, as it does here. Sons Of Anarchy is a tragedy in the classic sense of the word.
I think the power here is with the cast. There’s a dedication to character here that I find quite rare in television. None of these characters are particularly strong on their own. I’m on record with my disappointment with Charlie Hunnman. Here he’s bolstered by the others. Each fits more like a puzzle. It’s the way all ensemble casts should work, but it rarely happens this way. When we lose a character it does forever change the dynamic of the show, because a piece of the group personality is missing. The relationship dynamics are intricate and the chemistry is something you can’t write into a show. The good thing is that they know they have something special here, and no one appears to take it for granted.
Sons Of Anarchy is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 1080p image is brought to you via a solid AVC/MPEG-4 codec. The series sports a gritty-realism feel, and the high-definition release plays well into that feel. Colors are really pretty muted here, but it’s the detail that really shines. Black levels are excellent. In close-ups you can really see the texture and creases in the leather vests. There aren’t any compression artifacts, and you’ll get a pretty good 25 mbps average in the compression. The quality is identical to the first releases.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track has some solid LFE. You can really hear those bikes roar at times. The music cues live mostly in the rear speakers. The whole thing feels pretty wide. Dialog is perfect. There’s very much a movie quality to the sound here. Again, this is the very same audio presentation you heard on the first two releases.
There are Audio Commentaries on selected episodes.
Deleted Scenes on select episodes.
Gag Reel: (4:51)
Opie Winston: (6:48) Say goodbye to a beloved character.
Kurt Sutter – Creating Anarchy: (3:41) The show leader talks about where it’s all going.
Fan Concert At The Club House: (19:29) Some lucky fans were invited to spend a day at the clubhouse set. They got to hang with the cast, eat, watch an episode, and were entertained by a concert. An unforgettable day for these fans.
This might well be the season that it all came together for me. I’ve talked about the Shakespearean tragedy elements, and for some reason it all opened up this season. I almost kick myself for not noticing it before. It’s a tale of power and endless love. “And nothing says endless love like capital murder.”