'Sons of Anarchy' resumes at a slower pace
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 22:09
It is a well-known fact that the FX channel has some of the most critically overlooked shows; every year come awards season its programs are forced to play second fiddle to the giants on AMC, Showtime and HBO. “Sons of Anarchy,” which had its debut in 2008, is no different. It still hasn’t managed to receive a single Emmy nomination despite being well-touted for its superb acting and exhilarating main plot which contains many allusions to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
After SoA’s explosive season five finale, in which protagonist Jax Teller’s wife and stepfather were both sent to jail, the season six premiere returns to a more stately and introspective pace. Though there is plenty of action and setup for further action in the episode—the show is still called “Sons of Anarchy,” after all—a good majority of the episode focuses on the fallout from the previous season, such as Tig’s reaction to the death of his daughter, Tara’s experience in prison and Jax’s difficulties in balancing his work and family life. Even the action in this episode is more subdued as most of it centers on the effects a culture of violence has on the rest of Charming.
It is hard to watch “Sons of Anarchy” without thinking of “Breaking Bad” as well, both because of the ubiquity of the latter and the two shows’ thematic similarities. Vince Gilligan, the creator of “Breaking Bad,” once said that the core premise of his show was to turn his protagonist Walter White from “Mr. Chips to Scarface.” The same could be argued for SoA’s protagonist Jax Teller, who was perhaps never quite so virtuous as Walt but experienced the same moral downfall in his mission to wrest control of SAMCRO away from his stepfather Clay Morrow.
The parallels are especially noticeable now that both Walt and Jax have theoretically reached the apex of their power and must suffer the consequences of obtaining all they wished for. Despite the fact that Clay has been incarcerated and temporarily defeated, there is an inescapable sense of foreboding in the season six premiere. Things are already starting to fall apart; Jax has compromised too much to get to where he is now, and his own personal apocalypse may serve as the impetus for catastrophe on a far grander scale.
In the modern world as portrayed by what critics are calling the Second Golden Age of Television, Hamlet cannot kill Claudius and die a heroic death. Instead, he must become Claudius himself. And though “Sons of Anarchy” is admittedly less cerebral and rougher around the edges when compared to “Breaking Bad,” its far more visceral story of revenge and downfall should still strike at the core of any audience.