Sons of Anarchy’s fourth season premieres this week, returning us to the fictional Northern California town of Charming and the lives of the men of SAMCRO and their old ladies. As Season 3 may be viewed as a dip in plot development by comparison to the first two seasons, I have high hopes that the fourth season will get the story back on track. Based on the first few episodes, the show is certainly headed in the right direction. Things are changing in Charming, and I’m not just referring to Jax’s new haircut.
When Season 3 left off, much of the Sons of Anarchy Motor Club, Redwood Original crew were hauled off to prison. Season 4 picks up fourteen months later, and begins with the release of Jax (Charlie Hunnam), Clay (Ron Perlman) and the rest of the incarcerated bikers. We see that Tara (Maggie Siff) has been raising Jax’ son Abel, along with their baby son, with the help of Jax’s mother Gemma (Katey Sagal) and the rest of the club. Life has gone on on the outside, but everyone is excited to have the club back together.
?There’s a tone of hope and renewal at the start of the premiere, but we soon begin to see hints of the impending changes made to Charming and unsettled grudges, some of which are due to things that took place during the interim between Seasons 3 and 4. Prison life wasn’t easy on the guys and Jax’s chest bears the scars to show for it. The guys return to Charming to find their families waiting, along with the new local law enforcement, headed by Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar), a motivated lawman with years of experience dealing with gangs.
Roosevelt isn’t SAMCRO’s only opposition. They also have the scores to settle with other people on their own side of the law, and issues with Mayor Jacob Hale (Jeff Kober), who’s intent to modernize Charming, including building a housing development that promises small town living with modern luxuries (and mortgages well outside what the typical Charming resident would be able to afford). As part of SAMCRO’s goal has always been to look out for the town, seeing it turned into a trendy, cookie-cutter town intent on importing upper-middle-class residents isn’t exactly an ideal scenario.
SAMCRO’s biggest opposition comes from within, as Jax considers his future within the club, Gemma worries over what kind of influence Jax’s father may still have on his son from beyond the grave, and Clay prepares for life beyond the club as his arthritis threatens to pull him off of his bike and out of his position as leader of the crew.
Of the internal issues, I’m most intrigued to see the relationship between Tara and Gemma continue to develop. Gemma has years of experience being an "old lady" in the club. She's made some tough choices for the better of the club, some of which we've seen firsthand over the last few seasons. While Tara is hardly new to Jax’s world, Season 4 has Tara further along in finding her place within the club and in Jax's life, and figuring out what she wants for herself, her relationship with Jax, and their family. Gemma and Tara may be different in a lot of ways, and they haven't always gotten along, but what similarities they do share may count for more, among them strength, determination and their love for Jax.
On the allied front, SAMCRO is set up to work with the Galindo Cartel, which introduces us to Danny Trejo’s character Romeo, an excellent addition to the show. Despite being fresh out of prison, there’s work to be done and decisions to be made as to how the club will get back on its feet and what direction it needs to take.
Sons of Anarchy is multi-layered, with numerous stories unfolding and overlapping at all times. It’s for that reason that I would recommend newcomers check out the first couple of seasons on Netflix before diving into the new season. While Season 4 may start off with a new beginning of sorts, there’s a lot of history with these characters and the premiere doesn’t waste a lot of time getting us caught up.
For those of you who’ve already seen the first three seasons, I think you’re going to like how things pick up in Season 4. The themes aren’t all that different than they were back when the series first began. Perspectives have been altered somewhat, but SAMCRO is what it has always been. It’s Charming that’s changing and I’m excited to see how the crew adjusts to the way things are run now, and whether they’ll be successful in resisting what’s happening in their town, or if the impending changes, added to their growing internal issues will result in SAMCRO imploding. At this point, anything can happen.
Sons of Anarchy Season 4 premieres Tuesday, September 6th at 10:00 p.m. ET on FX.