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TV Review: ‘Sons of Anarchy’ S2, Episodes 6-8
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Dr. Royce Clemens   |  
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Sons of Anarchy S2, Eps 6-8
Created by Kurt Sutter
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior, Maggie Siff and Ron Perlman
Now airing on FX

SPOILERS: This is not to be read until after you’ve seen the 10/28 episode. But if you haven’t watched this show, I have to ask what the hell you’re doing here?

The story so far…

The Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club-Redwood Original (or SAMCRO) rules over the town of Charming, California with a hard but benevolent fist, keeping huge corporate development out of the town, gaining even the respect of the town sheriff. They finance their activities by running guns. Naturally, this runs afoul of the ATF.

The ATF troubles loom behind them (particularly Agent Stahl, played by Ally Walker), but now they’re caught up with the threat that white separatist Ethan Zobelle (Adam Arkin) and his crew pose. They start off the pissing match between them and the Sons by having his XO (Henry Rollins) rape the club matriarch Gemma (Katey Sagal), but Gemma, being made of equal parts piss and ice water, refuses to tell her husband and club president Clay (Ron Perlman), for to do so would destroy the club in a fire of rage.

When the fifth episode of this second season ended, one of the club members (Chibs, played by Tommy Flanagan) is blown up in a car bomb planted by Zobelle’s crew. And the Sons are roaring for revenge.

Which brings us to Episodes 6-8, and that’s where I come in. The divide between Clay and stepson-slash-Club VP Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is growing after Clay ordered the hit on Opie (Ryan Hurst) and took out Opie’s wife by accident, driving home the parallels that Sons of Anarchy has to Hamlet. Clay even says at one point in episode eight of Jax, “It’s like the ghost of his old man’s hauntin’ him.” Subtle…

Anyway, The Sons finally attempt to get their retribution on Zobelle and wind up in the middle of a set-up. The Sons get sent to jail, where they are in no way safe. They get bail posted and they get to tending to the porn business that they’re using as a front. But there are difficulties here as well, as they’re being preyed upon by a violent rival porn producer (played by, of all people, Tom Arnold).

The longer Sons of Anarchy goes on, the more it distances itself from the unfair Sopranos comparisons it garnered in the first season. While The Sopranos moved at a snail’s pace chocked full of unnecessary padding, this show moves like lightning while still giving us the feeling that we’re heading somewhere. Building up to something. This is a very uneasy balance when you have shows like Heroes that go from build up to payoff so fast that neither the buildups OR the payoffs mean anything, or a show like Mad Men, which will move like a glacier before applying the pyrotechnics in the last three episodes of the season (a formula which works, but I’m in a “for-the-sake-of-argument” kind of mood).

But Sons of Anarchy rockets from place to place with a maximum of purpose and a minimum of fat while building the characters’ relationships and displaying the familial strife and the chasms in the makeup of the club that widen by the minute. It’s not enough to know about the people speeding on their Harley’s down into the abyss, but to care about them.

This season seems hellbent on destroying this rich and unique world that it’s spent so much time building. No more is that apparent than in the final shot of episode eight, Gemma standing over a dinner table she worked so hard on while the club is literally at each others’ throats. The first season spent so much time showing us how unshakable these guys are. It’s nice to know that the second season is doing what any second season worth its salt should do, and starts shaking.

Unlike the first season, which only found its footing at the halfway point, this second season roars and thunders with episodes that run the gamut from “very good” to “stellar. The only complaint I have is…

Who the hell decided on Tom Arnold as the bad guy?

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