Sons Of Anarchy season 5 episode 1 review: Sovereign

The outlaw bikers of Sons Of Anarchy are back with a strong season five opener. Here's Stu's review...

This review contains spoilers.

5.1 Sovereign

Just like that, Sons of Anarchy is back. It doesn’t feel so long ago that I was complaining about a lacklustre ending to a great series four. There has been plenty of good TV to fill the gap over the past nine months, with Mad Men and Breaking Bad being the highlights. However, nothing quite compares to the rush I get when I see some hairy bikers knocking the hell out of each other. Has anyone ever noticed how the Sons never have a normal day at the garage when they just sit around fixing bikes, and talking to each other? I guess it wouldn’t making compelling TV, but their lives must be exhausting.

Series five of Sons of Anarchy picks up where four left off, Jax is now club president, with Clay becoming a mere member, albeit one who still has a vote. Opie distances himself from the club, and in the closing montage of the episode (I had actually forgotten how much Sons of Anarchy loves a closing montage over music!) we see him putting his bike up for sale. This isn’t the first time Opie has distanced himself from the club, he did the same in the first series when he wanted to be a family man and was eventually drawn back in when that was tragically taken from him. Clay, being ever the opportunist, admits that he killed Piney – but it was in self defence.  We know this isn’t the case, but the reaction from club members was mixed. Tig’s reaction was particularly strong, as it was his belief that the One-Niners had killed Piney which caused him to go on a rampage at the end of series four.

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Most of the episode is spent setting up the change in dynamic between the One-Niners and SAMCRO. It’s looking like Damon Pope, whose daughter was killed by Tig during his rampage, is going to be the main antagonist. Pope is a well-dressed, eloquent, highly intelligent, yet absolutely ruthless type who reminded me a lot of Gus Fring from Breaking Bad. It is through his handiwork that in this episode the One-Niners have more changes in management than the average season at Liverpool FC. Pope’s most shocking act of vengeance, however, was the killing of Tig’s daughter by setting her on fire. Whilst what Tig did was awful, this places Pope firmly as a villain, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

It’s a fairly quiet episode for our hero, Jax, with the only real highlight being the club meeting with him as president. Towards the end of the episode, an APB is put out for Jax and Chibs in relation to the murder of Pope’s daughter. Gemma knows just where to hide them, though: in her new love interest, Nero’s love nest. 

It’s safe to say that Clay and Gemma will not be getting back together either. From what transpired in series four, it looked to be irreconcilable, and to put Gemma back with him would not be testament to her strong, badass character. Her only real interaction with Clay in this episode ended with her screaming “don’t touch me!”

Whilst the power dynamic between Clay and Jax has come back into play, it is clear that Clay is too weak to run the club. He looks to be in a bad way following the shooting at the end of series four, but the club still need him to keep the Irish happy. As always, Clay can never be trusted, and it always feels that betrayal is never far away wherever he is concerned.

The episode ends on kind of a weak cliffhanger. We see Unser being beaten up by a few people, but we can’t tell anything about them, aside from that one of them has a prosthetic leg. The only thing that I could think of is that it could relate to the nomad Sons who were sworn in at this episode.

It’s great to have Sons of Anarchy back on TV, and with a fairly strong start to the season I am hoping for a series as good as we have come to expect.

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