Movie Mind Says: Buy It

If You Like This You Should Watch: The Shield, Rescue Me
Better Than: Breaking Bad, Southland,
Worse Than: Not a single thing on TV right now

Starring: Charlie Hunnam , Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal, Maggie Siff

Sometimes you find heart in the oddest places. Buried behind the heavy oil-stained motorcycle jackets, gruff bearded dudes, and bowie knives, you’ll find the most heartfelt show on all of television today. Sure, it’s shrouded in gangs, violence, and relationships so screwed up it’ll make your own feel like The Brady Bunch, but it’s there alright. It may not seem like it, but that’s the true recipe behind what makes this show so fascinating to watch.

Sons of Anarchy (SOA) has been gaining steam over the past 4 seasons in terms of becoming a quality, well-rounded TV show. Season 5 solidified its place as the single best one out there.

Anyone interested in writing for TV or just writing in general should be required to watch this show. Behind all the bikes, sex, violence, and general mayhem lies a genius creator (Kurt Sutter – who also plays the creepiest guy on the show, Otto Delaney) and brilliant writing. This is filmmaking manifesting itself within television through 60 or 90 minute increments at a time.

Sutter has managed to build characters that are so gripping, so real, that we all feel like we are sitting at the table right along with the other members of SAMCRO. Of course, you and I are about as far away from being in a motorcycle gang as Lindsay Lohan is from going into a convent, but when we watch this show it sure doesn’t feel that way.

SPOILER ALERTS BELOW

It’s hard to think back to the start of the season this past September since so much has happened since, but you should at least recall it started off with a bang. So many storylines seamlessly weaved together, with the same overarching theme: Jax’s conflict between the continuous pull of crossing over into the President’s seat at the table (and the ugly decisions that come with it) and the family man he is trying desperately to become.

What makes this season so special is that we are never sure who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. From the cops to the SAMCRO members, they all blur the lines of good and evil. Just when we think we have it all figured out, things get completely reversed.

You may have seen it coming all season: the role reversal of Jax and Clay, but probably not to this extent. It’s the subtleties that make it work so well. Somehow the writers ended up making us pity Clay and even feel sorry for him in the season finale, even after he had done such despicable things that all season we rooted for him to be killed. Suddenly, the golden-boy Jax is assuming the role of the renegade monster of the club that takes everything into his own hands; the same exact thing that he so despised Clay for. At the same time we saw a reversal of roles with the main men, the women were beginning to go down the same route.

These strong female characters both struggled to be in power at the right hand of the man in charge. Tara was ultimately in the driver’s seat until coming to the realization that Jax couldn’t break away in the best interests of their family. She had to leave the club and everything that came with it far behind. She was able to see herself becoming Gemma and ultimately decided to take a different path. Instead of Jax following her down that road, we are left with the final image of Jax with his strong woman standing behind his side like always. Only this time, it was Gemma and not Tara.

They gave us cartels, CIA operatives, prison murders, killing-off main characters (Opie), dirty cops & feds, double crosses (Clay and Juice), triple crosses (Gemma, Tara, and Jax), stripping members of their patch (Clay), voluntary resignations (Bobby), and that was only in one season!

There are so many storylines to be addressed in the upcoming Season 6 which right now seems like an eternity away. My only concern is that SOA still be able to find the balance between the craziness and ultimate reality in the characters. I feel like they have struck that perfect balance but as we’ve seen in so many great shows, it’s difficult to maintain. They need to avoid going the route of Rescue Me on its downside where it became more about taking each character over the edge then striking that crucial balance. Nip/Tuck used to be in that realm and went so far over the edge that it was unwatchable.

There’s no denying that SOA: Season 5 is a great show at its absolute peak. The only question is how long it can manage to stay there.

Submitted: 12-7-12

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