REVIEW DISCLAIMER: NO SPOILERS so feel free to read even if you haven't seen a single episode of Sons of Anarchy.
Being a big tv junkie, I have to admit that I didn't hear about Sons of Anarchy (SOA) until the middle of Season 2 and even then, I didn't really pay much attention to it. I guess the main reason is because we don't carry the FX channel here in Canada, even though it finally became available last month. About 2 years ago, I received the SOA Season 1 Blu-Ray as a gift for Christmas from my cousin's boyfriend. I remember unwrapping it and then giving him a raised eyebrow look, What's This? Some random TV show about biker gangs starring Peggy Bundy and Hellboy? "Uhhhhh Thanks." He insisted he heard great things about it and that I should give it a try, I was very appreciative of course but the Blu-Ray sat on my shelf unopened for over a year. I honestly just kind of forgot about it because the idea of watching a bunch of old biker dudes causing ruckus just didn't seem so appealing, like how deep could the story be? I was just picturing a typical gang show but instead of the mafia sporting baller suits, you have old hairy fat white men shooting up each other while riding around in their Harley's. I was cleaning my house last summer, and stumbled upon my SOA Blu-Ray, filled with a layer of dust, still in its wrapping sitting on the shelf. I decided to give it a shot and let's just say my perception of the show was COMPLETELY WRONG. I was hooked after 3 episodes and I proceeded to marathon through the 3 seasons. Simply put, Sons of Anarchy is dope.
Sons of Anarchy is about a outlaw motorcycle club called, well—Sons of Anarchy, also referred to as SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original). The story takes place in a town called Charming in California. The club basically owns the town, they have the police cheif working for them, a Charming politician in their pockets and all the citizens respect them and fear them at the same time. The crew's clubhouse is located beside Teller-Morrow garage which basically acts as a business front for all their illegal activities, primarily, importing and selling firearms.
The story centers around the vice president of SAMCRO, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam, The Ledge) who is next in line to become the president when Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman, Hellboy) steps down. On the surface, Jax is probably one of the smartest and most useful club members, a natural leader who gets the job done but from the very get-go of the series, we see that he starts to question the club and himself. I don't want to get too much into the shows storyline because I went into the show not knowing what to expect and found myself totally divulged into the story. There are so many deep character interactions and story lines that make SOA far from just a simple show about biker gangs selling guns. Politics, family, love, friendship, brotherhood, secrets and betrayal all come into play.
Other characters include: Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal, Married with Children), Jax's mother and Clay's "old lady" aka wife and Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff, Mad Men), Jax's love interest and attending surgeon at St. Thomas Hospital and the police chief, Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie, Deadwood) who basically works for the club. Other SAMCRO members all sporting their own customized bike: the calm and wise, Bobby Munson (Mark Boone Jr., Batman Begins), the violent, Tig Trager (Kim Coates, Black Hawk Down), the tech savvy, Juice Ortiz (Theo Rossi, Cloverfield), the loyal Scotsman, Chibs Telford (Tommy Flanagan, Braveheart), co-founder of the club, Piney Winston (William Lucking) and Piney's son and Jax's bestfriend, Opie Winston (Ryan Hurst, We Were Soldiers).
It's worth mentioning that the acting is top notch in the series. Especially nice to see veteran actors such as Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman playing their roles so perfectly. I honestly feel that the role of Gemma and Clay were written for these two actors. I never thought I would see Katey Sagal as anyone but Peggy Bundy—I only see her as Gemma now. To be honest, I never heard of Charlie Hunnam before SOA but he's easily sold me as a solid actor after watching this series, like the aforementioned two, he plays Jax Teller perfectly. Dude has swagger. The overall casting in this series is well done, all the actors are very believable in their roles and the dynamics between the club/characters is amazing with a great diversity of different types of bad ass.
One of the most interesting things about SOA is the whole mythology, rules or hierarchy that the club members follow. All the SAMCRO members wear vests or cuts that have the SAMCRO patch on the back, a giant grim reaper holding a crystal ball and a scythe, with the words, Sons of Anarchy and California (SOA has many charters all across the United States, including overseas in Ireland). In front of the vest is the most interesting because everyone has different small patches that basically establishes their position in the club. To name a few examples, Jax and Clay both have "Vice President" and "President" patches, respectively. "Prospect" patches are for the newbies of the club that basically do all the bitch work for the club until they earn a spot, "Sgt at Arms" worn by Tig, Clay's right hand man means the member is responsible for discipline in the town's jurisdiction, and "Men of Mayhem", my personal favorite means that the member has spilled blood on the club's behalf. All of them also have the grim reaper tattooed on their body and if they leave the club, the ink has to be removed. Club members always take votes at the table for important decisions. This is just a small glimpse of the principles and rules the club follows.
Overall, Sons of Anarchy is a very solid show with alot of depth. Even though Jax is the main protagonist, all the characters play a pivotal role in the story and that's what makes this series so great. All the pieces work cohesively together giving you a real depiction of the highs and lows of club-life and how all the different character dynamics make a club work or not work. I'd highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a show with great acting and a very good story. Each season has brought something new and different to the table and it just keeps on getting better. The enemies of SAMCRO are just as interesting and diverse, from the the mexican motorcycle gang, The Mayans, the white separatists, League of American Nationalists, the chinese gang, Lin Triad, the black gang, Black Guerrilla Family, to the IRA. Season 4 has been quite intense and to those who follow it, the closing scene of the most recent episode "Burnt and Purged Away" was epic. Only 2 more episodes left in Season 4, be sure to catch my finale review! Anyways, simply put...if you haven't yet, WATCH SONS OF ANARCHY NOW.
TV Samurai Score: 4.5 Samurai Stars out of 5