Sons Of Anarchy season 6 episode 1 review: Straw

Sons Of Anarchy's sixth season starts with an intensity few shows can match. Here's Matthew's review of Straw...

This review contains spoilers.

6.1 Straw

To paraphrase Kurt Sutter, Sons of Anarchy‘s third act has most definitely kicked into high gear. Only in Sons of Anarchy do we see a man being brutally raped as part of a complicated psychological and physical torture scheme (being perpetuated by a former US Marshall) and then see a man being drowned in a bathtub full of piss and not have either of those moments be the most shocking moment in the episode. The most shockingly disturbing moment of the episode came from a completely unexpected connection to a young boy who looks curiously like Jax may have looked as a boy, or even Thomas or Abel. Initially I thought the show was taking a cue from Breaking Bad’s final season and we were seeing a scene from the future, but alas what we saw was a violent school shooting using a gun sold by SAMCRO.

One of the things that makes this show so fascinating is that every problem that gets solved brings forth a slew of new and unexpected consequences that affect the major players in extremely significant ways. Where we last left off, Jax was seemingly triumphant in saving the club and Tig from the depraved Damon Pope (played to perfection by Harold Perrineau). He had Clay dead to rights and served him up for Mike to dispose of, he was able to eliminate Wendy, secure the Charming Heights project, and eliminate the stranglehold that the cartel/CIA had over the club. As Bobby so eloquently said it truly was some “epic shit brother.” Walter White may be the most popular escape artist on television these days, with manipulation as his weapon of choice, but Jax Teller could well be his equal in that regard. Certainly he is as good as any character has ever been of being able to manoeuvre his way out of seemingly impossible-to-escape situations.  

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Jax has been living on borrowed time and his actions are starting to bring forth consequences that are beyond even his ability to see. Fate, it would seem, is conspiring against the new king and one of the themes of this upcoming season seems to be dealing with that age-old truism about never being able to escape your fate. Kurt Sutter tells us to brush up on our Shakespeare and Hamlet in particular to understand Sons of Anarchy. I’ll spare you more of the numerous connections to Hamlet at the moment, but they are continually piling up for our beloved anti-hero. Indeed, in this first episode the number of obstacles confronting Jax is absolutely astounding even by Sons of Anarchy standards. How poignant was the last scene of season five now when not only does Tara, arguably Jax’s moral centre, get carted off to jail and Sympathy for the Devil begins to play. Initially my thoughts at the time were of Gemma representing some manifestation of the devil in Jax’s life when now it seems like those brilliant creative people were basically preparing us to get ready for some truly heinous obstacles for Jax to face.  

With the ending being at one time so utterly shocking, it is also something that we probably should have seen coming on some level. What is happening now besides the basically insurmountable odds Jax is facing is that the violence that the club lives by is affecting the world around them and more particularly it is affecting the very moral fibre of their community. Raising the issue of school shootings in America and the role that gun ownership plays into this is an extremely complicated and controversial topic and to put this into the season premiere of Sons of Anarchy is a bold move to say the least. It does serve to be a very important plot point because perhaps in our efforts as viewers to root for these anti-heroes we forget just how brutal and savage they truly are. These characters are deeply flawed human beings and that makes them all the more interesting, but as I said, their actions have dire consequences for everyone around them.

Let’s have a quick rundown on what Jax is now facing: he has tension in his club between Chibs and Juice. He lost Bobby who was his probably the most level-headed member of the group when it came to the affairs of SAMCRO, Tara is in prison, Lila’s situation leads Jax to get into business with Charlie a deeply corrupt cop who seems untrustworthy to say the least. Clay is still alive and willing to turn on the club, Mike still wants to kill Tig to avenge the death of Damon Pope, and a drugged out ex-US Marshall who does not want justice but simply to inflict as much pain as possible onto SAMCRO is on a rampage. His tactics would arguably make some of the biggest monsters in history blush. Also, what a great job by the writers to show us the scene of Otto’s torture before Tara gets interviewed because when that happens and Tara refuses to take the deal we are fully aware of what that is going to cost her and it is painful to watch. Now add this onto the fact that Tara is protecting Jax not fully aware of how badly she is going to get hurt while Jax is once again off fornicating with someone else. Did you really think that they brought back the prostitute that Jax had an affair with just for fun? Let’s not forget that Jax sleeps with his new business partner who happens to fulfill the Oedipal complex he’s had since episode one of the show.

This season started off with an intensity that few shows have ever come close to capturing. It certainly made up for Sunday night’s disappointing episode of Dexter. It is going to be quite a ride for the rest of the season, so grab your seatbelt!

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