It's easy to refer to myself as a television critic when I review shows that I don't enjoy all that much (see: my weekly Hung reviews), but if I'm going to be reviewing Sons of Anarchy for the next 12 weeks, the correct term would be TV applauder.
Hey, if Sons of Anarchy wasn't my favorite drama on television before this week's season three premiere, it certainly staked that claim with "So." A truly fantastic hour of TV concluded by yet another shocking event in the 27 episode history of the series.
Sons of Anarchy has always been focused on the inner turmoil of its characters (think Tig dealing with Donna's death or Gemma and her rape), but it was never more evident than this week's episode. Between Clay having to worry about how to deal with finding Abel and keeping Gemma safe, Gemma needing to stay hidden but wanting to get home to Charming after finding out about Abel, and even Hale worrying about becoming the new chief of police even though he has done some shady things for SAMCRO, everyone is trying to figure out what is best for their own current situation.
The two that had me on the edge of my seat though, were lovely couple of Tara Knowles and Jax Teller. Jax is obvious. He's the lead character of the series and he's been dealing with problems from every direction in almost every single episode. Tara, on the other hand, is more of a minor character that really came into her own last season and continued her run of compelling story lines this week.
Maggie Siff is so good in this role. At the beginning of the series, she was a girl that wanted nothing to do with the SAMCRO lifestyle. She got sucked in by that Teller charm and now loves the Sons like a family. It was so great watching Tara ask Clay for help about talking to the ATF. She wants to do the right thing by her new "family" but doesn't want to give up on doing the right thing like she has always done in the past.
Boom! Jax tells her that she should get out of Charming because he doesn't want her caught up in this life. What a bomb to drop on the girl. Now she has people from every side pulling her in different directions. It's crazy that she can still do her job with all of this going on. Oh wait, she can't. Us witnessing Tara fail in the operating room just goes to show that she is going through some serious shit right now.
"I don't need a boy to handle my shit. You stay away form my family," she tells Agent Stahl.
Well maybe you do Tara. Not in the fashion Stahl was referring to. But you say it yourself that you need Jax. Tara claims it's because being with that person makes you a better human being. Well if beating people up, lying to the feds and not being able to do your job is a better human being, then she's right.
Jackson Teller, meanwhile, is going through some major Don Draper-esque depression at the beginning of this episode. Unlike the Mad Man, Jax gets out of his mopey act quickly and gets back in the game. Sure he is dealing with things, but he's still out doing his job in the process. The dude has to figure out how to get his baby back, whether to get rid of his girlfriend, and all the while be the future leader that this club needs him to be.
Charlie Hunnam does depressed but hard so well. As Jax went from shooting up the boat to sadly sitting by his father's grave, it was oh so reminiscent of season one when he was drinking himself into a stupor but managed to crash Donna's funeral and make out with Tara in front of every body.
One of the things I love about SoA is that they aren't afraid to have characters say what they're actually feeling. Case and point was Jax explaining to Piney what has him all turned around. By getting his true feelings out there, it leaves more room for action. And boy did we get some action.
This was a fantastic episode up to the point of Half-Sack's wake. I was ready to call this a great start to the season, and then the final scene happened. I was holding my breath, yet nervously laughing at the same time while the drive by took out a number of people outside the church. Just another epic moment captured perfectly by this series.
Where can they go from here? Can the season get much better than this? Can it sustain this level excitement for a third straight season? Will the inevitable trip to Ireland put a damper on the season?
- The way Sons uses music to create a moment could be the best on television. This week it was extremely evident in the opening sequence.
- Loved the shot of the late, great John Teller on the wall at the Club. The man. The myth. The legend.
- What up Roger Workman! If you're not a Lost fan, that will make no sense to you.
- Is Hale dead? He looked it from my angle.
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.