Sons of Anarchy season premiere recap: The Straw

Disturbing from start to finish, the premiere's most tragic moment signals the beginning of the end
Ep. 01 | Aired Sep 10, 2013

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS Can Lee Toric (Donal Logue) really turn Clay (Ron Perlman)?

Prashant Gupta/FX

Even the most diehard SOA fans may be reeling following this relentless, supersized season opener. If you fast-forwarded through the "previously on" montage or failed to grasp the connection between the young boy involved in the school shooting and the rest of the show, you're probably confused and angry: Six seasons in, you know creator Kurt Sutter wouldn't do something that violent arbitrarily, and yet, it seemed to come out of nowhere. What you may have missed: The gun the boy used was a modified KG-9 -- the kind of weapon Jax gave Nero's crew, which includes that boy's father figure (played by Dave Navarro), last season. The weapon can be traced back to SAMCRO. Sutter talked to EW extensively about this episode, and because of the seriousness of that event, here's an excerpt from that conversation before we go any further:

Kurt Sutter: My desire to do this story just felt very organic to the world: These guys deal guns, and there’s a certain amount of disconnect once you put those guns out on the street not really knowing whose hands they’re gonna end up in and what violence that they create. You sorta sell and move on, not unlike a drug dealer who doesn’t really know the emotional impact of their product. And to have a father [Jax] who’s struggling with boys of his own and questioning the violence of his life, and is this right for his kids — it just seemed like a very organic story to tell. And I waited because I knew that ultimately the emotional and social impact would be great, that it would be hard to have that story happen and then move on to a couple seasons where these guys are selling guns and just livin’ their life. I knew if we did it, it would really have to be at the end and, ultimately, I realized it was a good way to take us to the end. [Ed. note: Sutter expects the series to run seven seasons.] It’s not being done arbitrarily. It ultimately becomes the final straw in their relationship with the gun business and the domino that takes us to a fairly tragic and epic conclusion. It impacts all their relationships: It impacts their relationship with the IRA, their relationship with local law enforcement, their relationship with other charters, and, more importantly, it really impacts their relationship with Charming, their hometown. Maybe they’ve lost their favorite sons status over the last four or five years, but they’ve never really been seen as a danger or as a pariah, and that really changes this season as a result of that.

With that in mind, we begin...

Who did you think that young blond boy journaling was when he morphed into Jax at the start of the episode? Clearly, it wasn't a flashback, because Gemma never would have sent Jax to a school that required a shirt and tie. We've seen that technique used before (with Tara and Gemma), and it usually means the first person is becoming the second. The montage featured Jax -- now wearing an In Memory of "Opie" patch on his cut -- talking about the uncertainty of his next move, how he now understands why being a leader requires isolation from those whose lives your decisions affect, and how difficult it is to be a SAMCRO brother when his decisions are ones a father must make. We saw Tara and Clay in their respective jails. Gemma making Abel and new Sgt. at Arms/babysitter Happy pancakes. New VP Chibs riding with Tig. Nero supervising a beatdown being inflicted by his crew. Juice escorting Bobby on his journey out of Charming. Abel asking when Tara was coming home. And Gemma and Jax looking pissed off that no one from the county jail had called to tell them Clay had been killed. Happy telling Gemma that Jax's father would be proud of him -- comedy!

From that, we cut to disturbing scene #1: Otto getting raped in solitary confinement. Lee Toric paid him a visit while he was still on his stomach -- I can't even -- and sat on the edge of the bed telling him about his sister's memorial. Did you notice the tremor in Toric's leg? You may have missed that because you were distracted by Toric telling Otto that even though he wouldn't be seeing him again because he'd used up all his favors, his friends would continue to visit Otto every morning.

At T-M, Chibs and Tig were adorable when they picked Jax's boys up from Gemma's car, and Chucky brought out a toy watergun that Gemma was going to give to Nero's kid. (Did you suspect something already? I didn't.) Tig took Abel over to wake up "Uncle Touchy," aka babysitter Unser, and then Tig and Gemma poked a little fun at those of us who still ship them. (Is he jealous that she's with Nero? Maybe).

Tig was also curious about why no one's heard anything from County, and Jax was off meeting with August Marks, who still knows how to wear a suit, to find out why. Clay's in protective custody, which means someone's keeping him out of gen pop hoping he'll rat on the club. August then said what we've all been dreading hearing: He still expects Jax to turn over Tig. August wants to make that right for the late Damon Pope and his family. Jax tried to talk him out of it -- if he loses another body, SAMCRO folds. Too bad. The new deal: When Clay is dead, Jax delivers Tig. (Can Tig possibly get out of this again? He's my top pick in my season 6 death pool.)

NEXT: "I have to get out of here"

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