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Sons Of Anarchy Season Premiere Review: “Sovereign” (Season 5, Episode 1)

Disappointment is a most familiar feeling for fans of Kurt Sutter's Sons of Anarchy. Over the years, Sutter's tried to deflect negative criticism by means of comparing his show to a soap opera, belittling what was, for a brief moment early in its run, one of the best shows on television. Soap operas are what my mother watches. If they were what I wanted, I would join her in caring about the overbearing melodrama inherent in every last one.

Yet, not all of what last season brought about is welcomed, at least not on the part of this reviewer. In this season’s opening moments, Sutter didn’t exactly tread lightly where the parallels between Jax and his father, John Teller, were concerned. Like his father, Jax is now keeping a journal of his innermost thoughts. Sutter could have easily stuck with the closing match-cut of Jax and Tara with the photograph of John and Gemma, which the season went out with. That was already a little too on-the-nose.

Except broad strokes are precisely what he deals in. He’s done the same in terms of making it clear that Jax and Tara will never escape Charming, not without losing themselves, their lives, or both. As with the “with great power comes great responsibility” line quoted in this episode, Sutter is so transparent with his repeated attempts to drive points home that missing them isn’t even in the realm of possibility.

That being said, there was one subtle aspect in this episode that caught my attention and got me wondering, and that would be how Jax and Clay came to resemble one another as they used to be in a rather literal way. I remember thinking to myself, at the start of the episode, that it was strange of Clay to suddenly change his hairstyle, get it cut short. Then I noticed Jax’s, now back to its previous length and slicked back, not unlike how Clay’s used to be.

What Sutter means to say with this shift, I’m not yet sure, though there do seem a number of probable answers, the first of which being that it’s simply a visual reassertion of the change in power. It could also be a hint at Jax’s devolution, as he’s inadvertently becoming more like Clay than his father. Whatever it is, Sutter will surely beat it dead before the season’s out.

Bringing this review back around to where it began, let’s discuss how Sutter once again displays his inability to follow through on his promises. This time he does so with both Jax and Tig.

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About the author

Travis Smith