Sons of Anarchy wastes no time jumping right into the middle of a frenzied evening. Still reeling from the explosive season premiere, SAMCRO members are scrambling as law enforcement is closing in. Not only are the Charming police on top of Jax and Chibs for murder of some One-Niners, but the gang itself is tightening the noose.
“Authority Vested” puts the gang drama in mid-season form. There are a lot of hushed conversations about what the boys have to do to get out of the murder charges they’re facing. Of course they committed the crime, but in a way they are being set up. I think that only two shows, this and Dexter, allow me to root for such immoral characters with such gusto. But what made this episode great is how it focused on all of the other personal demons each of the characters is facing.
Tig is a prime example. After what happened to him in last week’s episode, I can’t help but want everything to be OK. His reaction to watching his daughter get burnt alive was nothing short of harrowing. Now, as his other daughter discovers what happened, he has to sit there silently as she hysterically exclaims she hates him over and over. He knows it to be true, and hates himself for it. In the midst of the storm that’s brewing is a silent turmoil raging within Tig, and there’s nothing he can do at the moment aside from letting it torment him.
It continues as Clay confronts Opie about what happened the night Piney was murdered. Clay, who already owned up to SAMCRO in the previous episode, doesn’t offer an apology to Opie for killing his father. He doesn’t even explain why it happened. He just informs the self-alienated member that he needs to rejoin the crew and sit at the table. It’s a short conversation, but it explores the depths of the complexity running through the characters and the entire show.
While he’s only been in two episodes and his precise motives remain a mystery, Jimmy Smits’ Nero has proven to be just a complex as characters who have taken four years to develop. The subtle nuances that come with the character are adding up to something bigger than just a smart pimp. What’s Nero’s angle?
Then there is the wedding between Jax and Tara. It may not be romantic to many of our standards—in a brothel as he is hiding out while wanted for murder—but it’s perfect for the show. After all, nothing says endless love like capital murder. Right? It may mean nothing right now, but the marriage will most certainly come into play as the season goes on.
The show’s exploration of its multi-layered characters continues to be the meat of this season. Aside from a pickup truck/SUV chase that actually falls between a revealing conversation, this episode features very little thrills. Instead the focus is on how much intensity the show can manage during an entire episode dedicated to characters’ emotional development. It ends with the immediate future being a murky one. A fuse has been lit, and Sons of Anarchy is about to explode into what might be its most memorable season.