After fourteen long months the six members of SAMCRO that were put in jail at the end of season 3 have been released. And when they got out there was a lot waiting for them – new children, new mayor, new cops, new enemies and our first chance to see what a SAMCRO wedding looks like. (Hint: it’s all class!)
Before I get to the highlights of the premiere, I want to recommend you watch the four bridge episodes that take place during the 14 months the guys were in prison. You can find them on the Season 3 DVD (which I mentioned in my Sons of Anarchy Season 3 DVD review), the iPhone/Android app and the SOA facebook page. While you can follow the story without seeing them, some things in the first few episodes make a lot more sense if you have.
Sons of Anarchy Season 4 Episode 1 Review “Out”
There were a few new faces on the premiere episode. First up is the new sheriff in town, Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar). He used to work gangs, and as far as he’s concerned, SAMCRO is no different. He even has a new rule: if he sees a member wearing their cut – he’s taking it. Not cool, new guy. Not cool. One the other end of the spectrum is Linc Potter (Ray McKinnon). Where Roosevelt is buttoned up in his uniform, Potter rides a motorcycle, has long hair and wears a leather jacket. But don’t let his hippie exterior fool you – Potter is going to spell trouble from SAMCRO. He’s the Assistant US Attorney who just moved into the the police building and is looking for help from Roosevelt in not only taking down SAMCRO but the Russians, Real IRA and anyone else he can link to their gun running. He also has a fantastic wall of pictures that include the faces of pretty much every character we’ve ever seen on the show. It was a nice bit of detail. Also on Potter’s team – an ATF agent played by David Rees Snell (Ronnie on The Sheild).
Jax/Tara vs Clay/Gemma
In a really well done set of scenes we see the juxtaposition of these two couples and what being in prisons for 14 months has done to them. For Clay it has brought to the forefront the fact that his arthritic hands will soon spell the end of his run as President. When he can’t ride, then he can’t lead. Gemma is looking to keep him at the head of the table for as long as possible, but Clay realizes their new gun running deal will bring in some big stacks of cash, so when he is out, they will be fine. For Jax it is also about the money because he wants out for good. Jax proposes to Tara with a little help from Thomas (swoon!). She says yes, but with hesitation because she does not want her boys (Abel may not be biologically hers, but she’s basically his mom) growing up in the life. And after his jail stint- neither does Jax. He promises after they finish running the guns and bringing in the big money, Clay is going to have to step down, and during that transition, Jax will get out. Both scenes are very sweet in their way as they show how much love each of these couples have for each other. But it also brings up a lot of questions – without these 4 characters, there is no show, so what is going to happen to mess up their plans?
When the boys first get back to town, they see the old run down neighborhood is gone (where Lumpy’s gym was) and they are getting ready to build a McMansion development called Charming Heights. The developer: Jacob Hale, Mayor of Charming and skeevy SOB. The contractor: Elliot Oswald, former mayoral candidate and sometime friend of SAMCRO. Needless to say, Clay is, let’s go with disappointed, to find that Oswald and Hale are working together. The guys who have been taking care of things let those that were in prison know it is because Hale pushed certain projects through the City Council that put the lumber yard into eminent domain and therefore cost Oswald millions. So now he was basically forced into taking the contractor job in order to provide his employees with at least short-term work and provide his family with some money. Again, I say, Hale is a skeevy SOB.
At the end of last season, SAMCRO made a trade with the Russians for Jimmy O. But the money they gave them for him was mostly fake so once inside prison a Russian tried to kill Jax in retaliation (this is shown in one of those mini-episodes). When they get out, SAMCRO goes to make nice and get back into the gun trade with the Russians. Jax, Opie and Clay go to see Pavlova (meanwhile the rest of SAMCRO tangles with a couple cops as distraction, much to the chagrin of Roosevelt) and they make a plan to meet at Opie and Lyla’s wedding to check out the merchandise. As we’ve learned in the past 3 seasons, nothing is at it seems on this show. And this is the case here as well. In prison, Otto (series creator Kurt Sutter) is in medical care thanks to a self-inflicted wound and is given a scalpel to kill the Russian who shanked Jax who was brought in by a guard. (It is GROSS. I expected a throat slit, but no – it was a scapel shoved into his ear. Nasty) Over at the Russian’s warehouse, Happy, Juice, Bobby and Chibs check out the guns and then use them to kill all the Russians – what they don’t know is one of the Russians is actually an undercover Fed who, fortunately for SAMCRO, wasn’t recording this meeting because it was just supposed to be a show n’ tell. And at the wedding, Jax shanks Pavlova while Clay and Kozik kill his two men. So now, the gun running goes through SAMCRO.
Things are sad for Unser. He’s slowly dying, no longer chief and he has had no purpose for SAMCRO for the past 14 months. Gemma goes to see him, and as always she provides him with comfort. She also has Clay go and see him to give Unser a sense of purpose. And he does. Unser still has part of a trucking business, and provides SAMCRO with a catering truck to use at the wedding – this is how they are able to come and go from the Indian Reservation where Opie and Lyla get married (a perfect spot, as Roosevelt has no jurisdiction inside). It is also what they use to dump the bodies of the Russians – at the entrance to Charming Heights. Subtle.
At the start of the episode, Tara is still looking over the letters Maureen sent back from Ireland with Jax. They are from John Teller to Maureen saying if he dies, he believes it will be at the hands of Gemma and Clay. Abel takes the little note that Maureen attached to them and starts to color on it. At the end of the episode when Gemma is putting Abel to bed she finds that piece of paper leading her to believe that at least one of them have seen the letters. Gemma doesn’t know what they say, but she’s smart enough to know it can’t be good.
My favorite things:
-Apparently Clay and Gemma’s first time “together” after jail goes quickly, and she jokes it’s because he’s used to quick trysts with Juice in prison. Then there is this exchange:
Clay: Don’t turn what Juice and I had into something cheap and tawdry.
Gemma: I’m sure it was sweet Puerto Rican magic.
– Part of the wedding vows is for the SAMCRO member to say to his new bride that he will “treat her as good as his leather and ride her as much as his Harley.” Like I said, a SAMCRO wedding is classy all the way! HA!
– Any scene with Jax and Tara was so freaking sweet that I almost got a cavity. And I looooved it.
My initial questions:
Fending off one ATF agent took them 3 seasons, how are they going to get rid of the AUSA and his entire team? Nevermind Hale and Roosevelt. And did you notice that none of those guys seem to like each other? Maybe that will be the key. Also, like I mentioned, there is no show if Jax leaves, so what’s going to be the thing that stops him? And please don’t let it ruin him and Tara.
What did you think of the first episode back? Excited to have the boys of SAMCRO back on your TV screens? I know I am. But I’m nervous for Tara/Gemma because I love that dynamic.
Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae
Read the Small Screen Scoop TV Blog for Sons of Anarchy season 4 review pieces.