Review: First Four Episodes of SONS OF ANARCHY Season Three

     September 5, 2010

As cliffhangers go, fans of the show will remember, the ending of season two of FX’s Sons of Anarchy was a real doozy.

With the SAMCRO crew watching from the end of the dock, “Irish” absconded with Jax’s (Charlie Hunnam) baby Abel, while simultaneously, Gemma (Katey Sagal, yes, really) had been framed for two murders by agent Stahl (Ally Walker) and was on the lam with Police Chief Unser (Dayton Callie).  Got all that? Hit the jump to find out what’s in store next for the motorcycle club with, if not quite a heart of gold, at least an odd sense of justice that makes the show extremely watchable.

Season three opens just days after season two ended, with Jax predictably stoned out of his mind with grief and Peg now under the protection of a SAMCRO contingent led by Tig (Kim Coates). She doesn’t yet know what has happened to her grandson Abel, and that fact gives the opening episodes much of their impact.

As Jax is slowly brought back to reality, Clay (Ron Perlman, still great) and the rest of the crew get him focused on what will be the main focus of season three, the hunt for “Irish” (Cameron, played by Jamie McShane) and Abel. To tell you much more would just spoil things, but the pursuit leads down a variety of agonizing wrong turns as it introduces us to Cameron’s True IRA mates and James Cosmo as Father Ashby, a great actor and a much tougher priest than you might expect to meet at Mass on Sunday.

The search for Abel, thankfully, gives Jax something else to focus on other than his existential angst, so the Clay-Jax tension that dominated season two is now at least just bubbling under the surface. Episode one closes with the funeral for Half-Sack (Johnny Lewis), who fans will remember was stabbed by Cameron at the end of season two, and its interrupted by an act of violence (naturally) which will change the future of Charming in a way that will surely impact the power of SAMCRO.

The best story arc of season three, however, is certainly the story of Gemma and her father, played by the inimitable Hal Holbrook. Bringing in a performer of his stature (easily one of my favorite actors) gives more power to what was already a great story line from creator Kurt Sutter and his writers. It is, without exaggeration, so good that it should finally put both Sagal and Holbrook into Emmy contention (it probably won’t, but since Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler each finally received overdue recognition for Friday Night Lights, one can dream, right?) As this arc plays out, keep an eye out for a cameo from horrormeister Stephen King, though to reveal how he appears would be a crime I won’t commit.

Overall, the first four episodes of season three of Sons of Anarchy have the show developing further into an intricate and juicy web of family ties, secrets and lies, making it easily one of the best shows returning to TV this fall. Tune in beginning at 10 p.m. Tuesday.