Lingering Excuses: Why I Still Love Sons of Anarchy

Just over half of Season Five has aired, and, without spoiling it for those who are still catching up on the program, Jax’s time at the head of the table has been anything but easy. He’s had to build all-new alliances both inside the club and beyond in order to simply maintain the status quo. New threats from competing interests have emerged against Charming as well as the Sons, and the man who would be king has learned in no uncertain terms that leadership has its price. Oft times, a heavy price indeed.  Just when he thought he was well on the way out, “they pulled him back in,” and now Jax is having to go places he never imagined, up to and including more prison, more killing, and even using an ax to lop the hands off a dead guy in order to serve justice.

Like Anakin Skywalker’s descent into Darth Vader, Jackson Teller is on a road that’ll surely lead him to some very dark places.

If anything, this fifth season has revealed some weaknesses of a program growing a bit old under its own weight. There have been a handful of ‘celebrity’ casting decisions that feel more like guilty pleasures than they do inspired choices. Tween-sensation Ashley Tisdale put in a two-part appearance as a totally wholesome schoolgirl hooker, and I’ll admit to feeling some secret joy when Clay’s old lady Gemma beat the crap out of the Disney princess. An episode or two later, Joel McHale showed up as a young punk who briefly bed Gemma, all for the purpose of jacking her car whilst she wasn’t looking.  Again, I felt so much vindication when the gang tracked him down and thumped him a good one that I cried out from my couch, “And take that for ‘Community’!” Former Lost star Harold Perrineau came aboard as Damon Pope, a former banger turned Donald-Trump-type (?!?!) whose daughter died accidentally at the hands of SAMCRO last season. Now, all he lusts for revenge. For my tastes, Perrineau is all wrong as Pope; his face is far too cherubic to believe he’s ever worked a day’s honest labor, so the lines that come out of his mouth are just all wrong. It’s like casting Denzel Washington on a “Steve Urkel” budget.  It just looks plain silly.

Still, I’m along for the ride, with all the bumps and scrapes and potholes we hit along the way. Like the gang, I’m wondering where all of this is heading. It can’t be good, can it? For the life of me, I can’t imagine it’ll climax with a shot of happy warriors riding off into the sunset. This is a dark, dark road we’re on, and the destination remains murky.

And, from what I can recall, Greek dramas never end well.


  • jaromir

    Maybe your not so much a ” meat’n’potatoes Conservative-leaning schmoe” as you think you are.

    And as to your point as to the show just being like any greek drama, isn’t all forms of story telling greek in origin some way or another.

    Anyways good article.

  • XenoIrish

    I think Harold Perrineau is awesome as Pope, he’s got that nice looking business man on the outside, hardened mob boss on the outside thing down pat. And the scenes with Jax and him are generally great.

    I was a little underwhelmed when we finally met Quinn, leader of the Nomad charter, and the other celebrity casting was weak to be sure.

  • E. Lee Zimmerman

    @ jaromir: You could be “right.” Oh, oh! See what I did there? But, nah, not every show fits into the classic Greek structure so far as I can tell, but there are quite a few that do. As always, thanks for reading & sounding off.

    @XenoIrish: I just don’t see it for Perrineau. It could be that I grew too accustomed to him on Lost, and maybe kinda/sorta things don’t sound quite right. I guess I may have to wait until I see how all of this plays out to get a better feel for it. As always, thanks for reading & sounding off.

  • ash

    Episode 6 (7?) celeb casting was fucking brilliant and hilarious! The actor was perfect and the roll was so over the top insane, I couldn’t help but almost feel like Tig did in those scenes.

  • In line with the Greek drama analogy, it’s pretty well-documented by Sutter and the cast that SoA is a loose adaptation of Hamlet, with Jax as Hamlet, JT’s letters as the ghost, Clay/Claudius, Gemma/Gertrude, Piney/Polonius, and Opie/Ophelia, which is why I was waiting on tenterhooks for him to kill himself somehow once they finally killed off Piney.

    Obviously Shakespeare borrowed heavily from Greek dramatic structure, so eff yeah evolution of storytelling across centuries. I’m with jaromir here, I do think every story stripped down to its core is pretty much the same story, and that counts stories from even before the Greeks started perfecting the medium. And I’m also with you regarding the inevitable end. Everybody dies in Hamlet.

    Fantastic piece!

  • E. Lee Zimmerman

    @ Sara: Good points. Don’t know if you’ve seen it, but on the Season 2 or Season 3 DVD collection of the show (I don’t remember which one of the top of my head), there was a panel discussion with all of the regulars, and it was just awesome. It’s clear how much respect they have for the stories and for one another, and I’ve no doubt that ‘chemistry’ really helps elevate the performances all around. As always, thanks for reading & sounding off!

  • SFV_Steve

    I grew up in Chatsworth, literally down the street of Hells Angels. This show, to a certain point, gets it! To achieve peace, there needs to be a certain level of deception. But where I come into conflict, is, that EVERYONE is deceiving. I have hopes for a brotherhoood leaving off of last episode. Juice knowing the truth about Clay, and Jax hunting him down. I hope that pans out the way I think it should. BUT, the fact that I have a specific view of how things should end up, and how they Might end up, is the reason why I keep watching…. Every week I speculate on what I would do, what a real M.C. like that would do, and still, I’m currently amazed at the curve balls that the characters end up doing.

  • Delaney

    Sons of Anarchy is said to be based on Hamlet and I can definitely see those elements in the show. It is equally dark, full of betrayal, and sometimes shocking moments that take hours to sink in. You just never know with SOA so I’ve got my Hopper from DISH recording the show each week. It’s got four times more recording space than all the other DVRs out there which means I don’t have to rush to watch everything I’ve recorded. If you’ve never seen the show then you’re definitely missing out. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but there is something to be said about great writing and fantastic actors. My DISH co-worker said that she didn’t start watching the show until season four and got hooked. She spent all summer catching up on previous seasons and now she loves the show. I definitely recommend giving it a try.