Sons of Anarchy Review: "Sovereign" (Episode 5.01)
_You know that saying about the rich just getting richer? Well, on Sons of Anarchy the badass just keep getting even more badass. Eloquent? No, but that’s exactly what this full-throttle crime drama is about. Within the first five minutes we play witness to a booze- and drug-infused orgy and then a highway ambush followed by a subsequent shootout.
While the drug trafficking is the show’s biggest push and serves as a link for the broader strokes, it’s the characters’ interpersonal connections that drive each individual episode, and the season five premiere is no different. “Sovereign” introduces Jimmy Smits as Nero, a tatted-up pimp, excuse me “love connector,” who is at the center of the orgy with Gemma (Katey Segal). Smits has always carried a rough aura to whichever show he pops up in. His calm and collected demeanor when Gemma pulls a gun on him the morning after proves the character is going to be able to talk his way out of anything. And I’m assuming he’ll need that charm time and time again.
Newly appointed SAMCRO president, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) has long been the lynchpin of the series. Now, with more power coursing through his veins, he has to deal with the repercussions of last season’s events. Opie (Ryan Hurst), still distraught over his father’s death at the hands of Clay (Ron Perlman) and still yearning for the killer’s head on a platter, is coming to grips with Jax’s decision to cover up the truth. “It will hurt too many people,” the SAMCRO president warns his friend during a somber scene at the graveyard. It seems as if there has been too much damage done and Opie might have to step away from SAMCRO.
His duties now include trying to solve the problems Tig created when he killed the daughter of Damon Pope, the most powerful gangster in Oakland, last season. Pope, an unseen character in season four, is played by Harold Perrineau (Lost, Oz). He’s another big name attached to the series that also boasts a reoccurring role for Danny Trejo.
Unlike Smits’ strong performance, Perrineau plays it more subtly. He’s soft-spoken—maybe too much so for the most feared gangster in Northern California—but he pulls his weight this episode. His force is felt through his right-hand man August Marks (Billy Brown). Brown, a relative unknown who joined Dexter in a small but intregal role, gives a forceful and commanding presence to the Niners crew. He also provided one of the first shocking moments.
The second heart-pounding moment consumes the final third of the episode. Tig (Kim Coates) is lured to Oakland by Pope to face his death. Only it’s not Tig who Pope wants dead. In a shocking and emotional turn Tig is forced to watch his daughter burned to death. Coates’ performance, though I doubt anyone truly knows how to act in this situation, is harrowing. He gave a mixture of screaming and crying that rang through the commercial break and beyond.
We’ve spent these past seasons getting acclimated to being in a motorcycle club. Now we’re about to see what happens when SAMCRO’s world gets turned upside down as a warrant was issued for three SAMCRO members.