Sons of Anarchy season three, a brilliant Irish potboiler, some thoughts
By April MacIntyre Dec 1, 2010, 21:56 GMT
This season made me much more curious about Clay and his backstory in general, and how he wrenched Gemma\'s heart from John, most likey aided by her own distress over her husband\'s wandering eye.
The season is over but not forgotten, the story of Jax Teller has blossomed into what promises to be a riveting season four, based on past interviews with showrunner Kurt Sutter.
Sutter gave some excellent foreshadowing of what we can look forward to with E!'s Jennifer Arrow: LINK
But first, season three for me was superb and necessary for many reasons, mostly because of the insight of the why's of Gemma's (Katey Sagal) modus operandi and her troubled personal history, along the events that led up to her split from John Teller to become Clay Morrow's (Ron Perlman) old lady.
The history of the original nine members too, fleshed out more as we were treated to a cameo by Hell's Angel's Sonny Barger, who did a bang up job as Lenny.
This season made me much more curious about Clay and his backstory in general, and how he wrenched Gemma's heart from John, most likey aided by her own distress over her husband's wandering eye.
Gemma has ego and pride for three women, and one can only imagine how she handled her man's unfaithfulness at the peak of her youth. Will Jax have empathy for his mother over this betrayal by his idealistic Father who spoke out of both sides of his mouth through a manifesto written another lifetime ago?
Last night "NS" proved it did. Jax is all business now.
Actor Hal Holbrook nailed it playing Nate, Gemma's Alzheimer's stricken father, and their scenes together were some of my favorite for the series in total. Who didn't cry when she had to relinquish her confused and panicked dad to a nursing home?
Stephen King also delivered for me the best cameo of any TV show on the air in 2010; his one-off as a cleaner associate of Tig's who comes to Nate's home to dispose of the "greedy Guattie" was wonderful. Casting touches like this make "Sons of Anarchy" exceed violence-laden dramas by subtle layers of sly humor offsetting the horror of the moment. It is similar to "The Sopranos" in this technique.
This season also allowed Tig (Kim Coates) to fly in his quirk and killer charm. Coates is always a scene stealer, and his white hot chemistry on screen with Gemma is palpable. The examples in S3 being the lube scene between Tig and Gemma at Nate's, Tig's Hummel doll freak out and the Missy the dog fiasco.
Newcomer Kenny Johnson (Kozik) was given a run for the money in their push-me pull-you test of wills that had William Lucking's Piney just about shoot them over exasperation. Piney has always been one of my favorite characters, Lucking is so gifted as an actor he can relay a paragraph of dialogue with just one of his patented side eye glances.
Opie (Ryan Hurst) too, finally had his long awaited screen moment in the finale, payback for Donna, dispatching June Stahl (Ally Walker) with a chilling calm. Hurst has a zen quality about him and radiates an energy that acts as a gravitational force to keep Jax (Charlie Hunnam) close by.
Ally Walker's demise was satisfying, but her riveting presence among the cast will be missed. Walker is off to another TV series, but her impact as the sociopath June Stahl, beholden to no one other than her own ego and career climbing, laid waste a lot of people through her callous actions and lies. We shed no tears for her.
Tara (Maggie Siff) was resplendent and morphed from a knitted brow worrier to fierce warrior, taking her life in her hands and smacking down the porn girls and shanking Salazar's old lady; we needed to see her moxie this season. Will she evolve in this fashion or retreat to her degrees and academic achievement as a doctor? That is for next season to answer.
A moment of praise for Michael Marisi Ornstein's character Chucky. He could have drifted off to a buffoon graveyard of side players, but Ornstein's talent took a bit role and turned it into a full-course meal; he is invaluable to everyone, and endearing despite his OCD masturbatory issues. His busy hands mutilated by Henry Lin of the Triad gang further cemented the allegations that the Chinese are a cruel race of people.
When I interviewed Kurt Sutter at the beginning of the season, he noted that this was going to be Jax's season in that Teller's manuscript would be balanced by learning more about who John Teller really was, and how Jax would lead the club, either as a robust money making business, or with loftier ideals.
Well, the idealism went out the window in the finale "NS," as Jax fooled them all, and reclaimed the part of him that is very much Gemma's son. It was brilliantly played.
Some critics feel the Belfast and Abel storylines were handled poorly, or unnecessary, and I completely and respectfully disagree. It had to happen; we had to be forced out of the familiar of Charming to understand SAMCRO more thoroughly.
We needed to go to Ireland to learn of these simmering hurts and bitterness, all of this had to be revealed and Gemma's shame of being further deceived by John Teller even after his death. This "moss covered shit hole" storyline made "Sons of Anarchy" so much more relevant, as we now are home sweet home with the family to new problems.
Had this season stayed put in Charming, it would have been a mistake. You now understand SAMCRO's business dealings all the more; their alliances and bonds that make this club more than just a dusty local MC that is up to no good.
SAMCRO exceeded the mark in making complex allegiances far beyond the cozy California hamlet. This fact makes endless story possibilities for the Russians, who seem much more treacherous than the IRA, Ethan Zobelle, still out there, Georgie Caruso, who lurks as well and even Darby, for which way will his heart go?
Mitch Pileggi played him this season with a hint of regret and a touch of sentimental softness, demonstrated in the Lumpy Feldstein moment, where Darby in turn shuts down Jacob Hale. The Darby of season one would not have done that.
Next season is fraught with possibility for a now relieved Unser (Dayton Callie, another favorite of mine) and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan), will he be made whole after Jimmy O's (Titus Welliver) eviscerating, first of his face, then of his woman and child? Loved how Chibs got to slice up Jimmy as payback.
Sutter shines in these scenes where he turns us into his Roman coliseum audience and we hold our thumbs down at the TV screens, getting a juicy payback. The dispatching of Agent Kohn by Jax in season one, and the subsequent sex scene still smolders in our memory.
Always enjoyable to watch, Juice (Theo Rossi) has further entrenched himself on the academic side of SAMCRO, while David LaBrava as Happy is an evil Jiminy Cricket, who relishes a good kill as much as Tig, probably more so. He intrigues me to no end.
Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) is all heart and soul, paternal yet carnal, and is the regulator to Clay's impulsive decrees. Last but never least is Sutter as Otto. It is a rare occasion that a showrunner can hold his own with such a stable of talented actors, but he pulls it off, and leaves us wanting to know him better.
Maybe in season four Otto somehow will have some Sutter-style revenge on Georgie (Tom Arnold) a vileness who murdered his old lady Luanne in season two. We can only hope.
Big respect for Paula Malcomson's embittered and restrained Maureen Ashby, hurt that John chose Gemma after all, and left with a souvenir by way of Trini. I think we will see these women again, which reinforces my love for this season three, and the risk Sutter took taking us on an Irish sojourn.
We already know in our gut Clay had some malevolent doings with regard to John Teller's demise, but how it went down is still story left for us to hear. We love our Romeo and Juliet, Jax and Tara, and wonder what will become of Charming as the future and new law enforcement power structure tries to hem in SAMCRO. Opie and Lyla, do people change even after marriage? Clay and Gemma both have health issues, and somebody in "Sons of Anarchy" always dies.
Season four cannot come quick enough.