TV Review: “Sons of Anarchy” Episode 1 – “Sovereign”

Written by Jesse Gelinas September 13, 2012

“Something happens around 92 mph.”

SAMCRO has had a tough go of it lately. Season 4 was not exactly what I had hoped it would be, and by the time it was over, the powder keg that I was expecting to blow just sort of fizzled out. Every show of this kind gets one off season. With “Sovereign”, Kurt Sutter has proven that his brainchild is by no means on its way downhill. This is by far the best episode since the season 3 finale. The intensity has been kicked back up to full power and we are going to see some heads roll once more. We’ve got familiar faces and some new ones, evil scheming, new drama, and old beefs stirring back up. The unwarranted act of violence that capped off last season has come back to bite our loveable bikers in their collective asses. Evidently, payback is a bitch.

 

**WARNING: Serious episode spoilers below trailer**

 

 

I’m afraid that I’m gonna turn into you.”

“Sovereign” begins with Jax writing about the life in his journal just like his father used to. We’re treated to a quick montage showing us where everyone else is following last season’s finale which found Jax and Tara as the new king and queen of SAMCRO. Clay is taking his demotion pretty hard and coupled with his separation from Gemma and slow recovery from Opie’s shooting, he’s a pretty broken man. Tara kept her promise and stayed in Charming, still depressed about her delayed and possibly ruined medical career. For the other Sons it all seems business as usual.

That changes pretty quickly when a drug shipment for the cartel is torched by the One-Niners in retaliation for Tig’s murder of Veronica Pope (girlfriend of Laroy, the One-Niner boss), last season. SAMCRO is left shaken, expecting a full out war if they don’t defuse the situation quickly. Business aside, Opie is being forced to deal with reconciling his loyalty to Jax with his desire to see Clay dead for killing Piney. The jury is still out on that one. Gemma, on the other hand, is apparently enjoying the her new single status, and introduces us to Nero (Jimmy Smits), a connected “companionator” with a thing for mothers who’ve had open-heart surgery. Hey, we all have our thing. We also get the joyous return of Bobby ‘Elvis’, fresh out of custody now that the federal case against the Sons is on the backburner.

“This is Pope letting us know, he’s the one who decides who lives and dies.”

Pretty soon afterward, we meet Veronica’s father, Damian Pope (Harold Perrineau), a big time gangster from Oakland who sees the score with the Sons as his to settle. Immediately this guy emanates pure intimidation. He strikes you as the kind of guy who doesn’t care who has to die so long as the ones he wants die badly. Pope doesn’t appreciate Laroy’s handling of the SAMCRO beef and we quickly find out that the position of One-Niner boss is not really a sought after one.  On top of this, Jax also has the CIA-backed Galindo Cartel to keep happy, and that means keeping the Irish happy, and that means keeping Clay breathing.

As “Sovereign” draws toward a close, we get a pretty off-putting confession from Clay that threatens to shake SAMCRO to the core. Of course, this being Clay we have to assume there’s another angle at play here. After this, in what is surely the most intense and graphic climax yet, we see exactly what kind of a force Pope is when he sets his sights on Tig.. After what he’s forced to witness we can be certain that Tig is officially off the leash (and off the effin’ chain!) this season. Unfortunately, there seems to be a serious internal problem brewing with some of the newest transfers to the Sons’ chapter. Such is life in Charming.

“Know my pain, Mr. Trager.”

Overall, the episode is tight, intense, and oh so frustrating and unsettling when it ends with Jax in a state we haven’t actually seen him before: on the run. The actors are all at the top of their game, and the new additions to the cast seem to mesh well already. It is a lot of threads to balance, but Sutter has proven before that he can manage. With his role as Otto seemingly over and done with, he can focus completely on the other side of the camera and deliver us a stellar season of SAMCRO.

My Rating: 9/10

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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