This review contains spoilers if you haven’t yet seen the episode.
Last week’s opener to the new season of Sons Of Anarchy was a fairly restrained affair (or as restrained as an episode of Sons Of Anarchy can be), before finishing with a hugely shocking ending. And it’s there that this latest episode picks up.
If you’ll cast your mind back to the final scenes, it looked a lot like Hale was dead. And it’s hardly the most surprising news that that’s confirmed early on in episode two. It’ll be interesting, for starters, to see how that affects that dynamic in Charming Police Department, as Hale’s approach was at polar opposites to Unser’s philosophy of turning a blind eye to SAMCRO, as long as it protects the town.
This second episode opens in Belfast, with Cameron attending confession and admitting to the priest that he murdered Half-Sack, and kidnapped Abel. Cut over the dialogue is an aerial view of Jax doing press-ups in a prison cell. Initially, it would seem that Jax has been jailed for his vicious assault on one of the gunmen last week, but at the end of the scene he is released by Unser. It is also revealed that the priest Cameron confesses to is his cousin and part of the IRA, or as they seem to keep referring to themselves, “the council”.
Still following? It would appear, then, that the IRA are very upset at Cameron for causing great strain on a long relationship with SAMCRO. And as the episode continues, it would appear that the IRA members in the US are also angry at Cameron. Particularly Jimmy, as it turns out, who promises that SAMCRO will be given Cameron. The IRA are also made aware, during the episode, that the ATF shot Cameron’s son, and that he was working with the ATF.
Yet, for the duration of this episode, at least, Jimmy and everyone involved leads SAMCRO on a wild goose chase, assuring the Sons that Cameron and Abel are still in North America, and saying that they may have gone across the border to Canada.
All the while, Cameron is quietly strangled in a chapel in Belfast.
This looks, from where I’m sitting, like it’s an attempt to salvage the relationship between the IRA and SAMCRO, and also to save Cameron a painful, humiliating death. Unknown to SAMCRO, though, Abel is still being looked after by Cameron’s cousin, Maureen, and it doesn’t look like there is any real intention of giving Abel back to Jax.
It’s clearly an episode that gets through a lot of storytelling, and includes some quite meaty developments. And for those who have been watching the show from day one, it’s also more of an ‘ass-kicking’ episode of the ilk we’re used to.
Generally, after all, Kirk Sutter’s best television moments are when he has his characters going around intimidating people and beating them up. It worked brilliantly in The Shield, and it works brilliantly here. There’s more of it than usual this week, as SAMCRO isn’t only trying to get back Abel, but it’s also trying to discover who was behind last week’s shooting.
After visiting the now hospitalised shooter from last week, SAMCRO then goes to visit a man linked to the Mayans. And after Jax punches the man’s girlfriend, he then proceeds to kick the man in the head before he is taken outside and buried up to his neck, while the Sons ride their motorbikes around him.
The man then subsequently confesses that the Mayans are trying to run SAMCRO out of Charming so that they can flood the town with heroin, setting up a narrative strand that will be picked up on shortly, I suspect.
After last week, it’s good to see that Jax has gone from sitting around moping, to doing all he can to get Abel back. This is the Jax that we have all come to know and love.
Meanwhile, Gemma is still holed up in her father’s house with Tig and her father’s carer, Amelia. Things come to a head a little when Gemma’s father shoots Tig in the shoulder when he catches him having sex with Amelia.
His dementia, as it turns out, caused him to mistake Amelia for his dead wife, Rose.
There’s still a huge amount of sexual tension between Gemma and Tig, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes to a head in the next couple of episodes.
This particular episode ends when Amelia discovers that there is a $25,000 bounty on Gemma’s head, and tries to alert the authorities. However, unaware of whom she is messing with, Amelia gets herself taken hostage. Oops.
It’s a strong episode, in all. Generally, the show is at its absolute best when it’s somewhere between episodes like this one and the slower, talkier ones like last week. It’s certainly great to see it back in its stride, and given the work this instalment does in setting things up, the signs are we’re in for a very solid season the show. Here’s hoping.
Read our review of the season 3 opener, So, here.