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Sons of Anarchy, “Sovereign” Season 5 Premiere Episode Hits Hard

Ho-ly shit.  The Sons of Anarchy (SOA) Season Five Premiere, “Sovereign” started the season at full throttle and doesn’t look like it will be letting up any time soon.  SAMCRO is definitely in a very different place than they were at the beginning of Season Four and in uncharted territory.  Episode one starts where we left off, with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) taking over for Clay (Ron Perlman) as president of the the club.  We find Gemma (Katey Sagal) in a compromising position, to say the least and Clay has left the hospital with less than stellar health, only to have to pack up and move out of the home he shared with Gemma.  We open dialog with Jax journaling, writing to Abel about his experiences and his philosophies while on a run for the cartel.  When the Niners show up and wreck the truck carrying their precious cargo, the Irish aren’t too keen on continuing their dealings with the cartel and SAMCRO, Clay is managing to hold it together.

Gemma finds herself in a room she obviously doesn’t recognize with a man she isn’t familiar with.  The man in question is a new face for the Sons, but not for the rest of us.  Jimmy Smits plays Nero Padilla, “matchmaker” pimp and someone Gemma feels she can trust, after she establishes who he is and what he does…and puts her gun away.  She gives him her phone number and real name despite continuing to wear her wedding ring.  She arrives home to find Unser and Clay at the house with a couple of guys from the clubhouse helping Clay move his stuff out.  He seems broken and weak, but is it all a ploy to disarm everyone and ensure they underestimate what he can do to them?  Clay swears to Gemma that the truth about her involvement in John’s death will never come to light and that he let the money get in the way of his judgment.  Just as Gemma seems to waiver in her anger, Clay goes to touch her and sets her off again, we see that she isn’t going to be letting him back in just like that.

When the club has a memorial for Piney, Jax and Opie have a brief confrontation/discussion about what happened to Piney and how Opie feels about burying their secrets along with his father.  Jax swears to him the truth will come out but that it cant yet.  In one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the entire series, Opie sets Jax straight in regard to the distinction between Jax’s fears and his own.  Jax is afraid of becoming Clay, but tells Opie that he isn’t and Opie tells him he’s actually frightened of becoming like Jax.  Is it just me, or does their hair seem to get greasier with every season that goes by?  Just after this love fest, Romeo meets with Jax to let him know that they are releasing Bobby, but Jax has to collect him and they have to let him in on their little secret.  Seems to be a dangerous prospect. Sheriff Roosevelt gets in on the action when a couple of different home invasions with attacks occurred around people affiliated with the club and mechanic shop.

More new members are introduced as the club votes in a few Nomads, giving them a place to roost.  Opie isn’t at this meeting and Jax gives him a formal temporary absence allowance.  This makes it necessary to pick a new vice president and he chooses Bobby.  Clay pipes up in this moment under the guise of accepting Bobby as the new vice president to segue into killing Piney.  Yes, that’s right, in a genius move, Clay takes it upon himself to tell the club that he was responsible for Piney’s death, but he tweaks the details just a bit.  He first says that Piney pulled a gun on him and he acted in self defense, he sites the example of the time that Piney attempted to take down Clay at the clubhouse in front of everyone.  He says he lied about the Mexicans doing it to keep the cartel happy and make sure no one thought there was any internal conflict in the club.  Clay goes on to reveal that Opie is the one that shot him, to Tig’s chagrin.  Tig started a war with Pope of the shooting when he though the Niners were responsible by killing Pope’s daughter, not to mention he killed and innocent girl over this incident.  Clay and Jax have a standoff after the elder biker tells the club he understands if they need to vote him out due to his “self defense” murder of Piney.  Both men use “doing what is best for the club” to cover their ulterior motives, but both men’s hackles are up, Jax even saying to Clay that “Mea Culpa’s not your style”.

We are also introduced to another exceptionally bad guy, Damon Pope (Harold Perinneau) who is a high profile gangster that prides himself on keeping his distance from the lesser criminals.  He is forced to pay attention to SAMCRO by the cartel.  When one of Pope’s men tries to kill Jax, he is taken down by his own men and used as an example of what not to do and as a message to his own crew to lay off of SAMCRO.  Pope is still trying to take down the Sons by implicating them in the highway shooting from Season Four and his daughter’s murder.  He particularly has it out for Tig as he is personally responsible for Pope’s daughter’s murder.  Tig is tricked into meeting with Pope and is immediately handcuffed by a detective from Oakland PD.  The initial assumption is that they are going to kill Tig, that changes to thinking they are going to torture him and then finally the realization that they are actually going to do something not directly to him, but to his daughter to hurt him in kind.  In one of the most heartwrenching and difficult to watch moments on not only this show, but on any show I’ve ever seen, Pope’s lackeys cover Tig’s daughter in gasoline and Pope ignites her in the pit with all the other bodies that he is responsible for.  It is horrendous to watch and so very painful to think about.  Tig is my favorite character on the show and despite how despicable he is, I don’t like seeing him hurt like this.  After Pope takes off, Tig manages to get free, kill the detective and the “clean-up guy” and gets away.

The episode wraps up with Jax receiving a phone call from Unser warning him of the warrants that have been issued for himself, Chibs and Tig.  Since Tig is MIA, Jax and Chibs find refuge with Nero thanks to Gemma’s fast thinking, and possibly a few self-serving reasons.  Unser has spent the entire episode at Gemma’s house and is attacked by a group of three men, one of whom is missing a leg.

BOOM!  I told you this episode was major.  The cast and Sutter really hit the ground running this season and I am intrigued to see how they keep this momentum going throughout the season.  I have no doubt that if anyone can do it, it is Sutter and his amazing cast.  Tig is hellbent on revenge and I can’t help but hope he gets it, Gemma is warming up to Nero as a welcome distraction and Jax is just trying to hold SAMCRO together while Clay plots his downfall.

Do you buy Clay’s “woe is me” act?  What was your favorite moment from the SOA premiere of Season Five?  Discuss in the comments!

For more SOA news check out some of our other stories.  Follow @CatEdison for this and other fall TV reviews and @ScreenInvasion for the latest in Pop Culture news, reviews and interviews!  Like Screen Invasion on Facebook to keep up with our latest giveaways and contests!




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Cat Edison

Cat Edison

Cat is an Austinite once removed with an affinity for film, TV, comics, graphic novels, and really anything she can read or watch. She gets emotionally invested in movie, television and literary characters, to an unhealthy degree. Cat has always had a passion for writing and there is little she loves more. Hopeful cynic and funny lady.