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Sons of Anarchy Season 4: "Out"

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Wednesday, September 07 2011 and posted in Reviews

The acclaimed FX Network drama returns, and sees the Sons trying again in a brand new world!

Neighborhood gentrification isn't just for the lower-income districts of the larger cities anymore.  It seems like any usable tract of land anymore is ripe for development.  The real estate business will always find new ways to redefine whatever neighborhood it can.  Gone is any traditional local color, and in come new condos and mansions and chain coffee shops. Before too long, every neighborhood starts to look like every other neighborhood. 

As SAMCRO, the key members of which have spent the last fourteen months locked up in prison, ride into town reunited and whole again, this is the world they ride into.  There's a whole new Charming around the corner.  Charming Heights, the name given to the land grab orchestrated by Jacob Hale (Jeff Kober) for much of the first three seasons of Sons of Anarchy, is about to become a reality.  Ground has been broken, Hale is mayor, and the county police has taken over the law enforcement in Charming, replacing Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) and the Charming Police Department.  It's a world that SAMCRO doesn't particularly like, so they're going to change things back to the way things were when they were in charge. 

It seems incongruous for a show like Sons of Anarchy to get bogged down in issues of urban sprawl and eminent domain, but the theme of "Out" is change.  After an opening sequence of the Sons getting out of jail set to the strains of a modern day spiritual all about starting over in a new world, SAMCRO runs into new problem after new problem.  Unser is living destitute in a trailer, hopelessly rotting away from cancer, while the new face of law and order in Charming, Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar, last seen in FX's excellent but underseen and underappreciated Terriers) operates in a slick, multi-story law enforcement headquarters with byzantine hallways and key codes, a space that surely sticks out in rural Charming.  Roosevelt is your everyday, garden variety, no-nonsense tough cop who runs things on the straight and narrow.  He's a bit of a cliché, but Dunbar's natural charm does a great job of setting the character up as a good foil for SAMCRO this season.  Of course, he's not alone.   Also introduced in this episode is Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon), the eccentric and overly-mannered  Assistant United States Attorney who believes he can take down SAMCRO via the RICO statute, a federal law that brings together the FBI, ICE, the ATF, and, of course, local police.  McKinnon, who looks like a 1970's James Cromwell who traveled to the present to appear in basic cable dramas, plays Potter as a soft-spoken and erudite weirdo with a strange, edgy charm.  Hopefully, his act doesn't get old, as it bordered on in this episode.  The whole "quirky for its own sake" thing doesn't have much of a shelf life. 

Change isn't just coming to Charming, it's ocurring within the club itself.  Both Clay (Ronsoa_ps_003 Perlman) and Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) are thinking about the future.  Clay knows he doesn't have much more time as head of the club.  He sees SAMCRO's current deal with the Russian mob as his "golden ticket" to a seven-figure payoff.  "We're gonna do ok," he assures Gemma (Katey Sagal).  Jax, meanwhile, is once again talking about leaving the club.  Granted, he's been talking about it pretty much since the beginning of the series, but his view of things as they are have taken on a new dimension.  Whereas once he had his late father's writings to guide him and inspire him, he is now railing against them.  Now he sees John Teller as a "coward," who "instead of writing about it, should have done something" by taking Jax out of the life of the MC and following through on his convictions.  It's what he now plans to do for his two boys.  Tara (Maggie Siff) rightly points out that Clay and Gemma aren't going to just let him get up and leave, but Jax' plan relies on Clay no longer being in charge.  That eventuality may come about sooner than he thinks, but not for the reasons he wants.  When SAMCRO inevitably turns on the Russians and execute them while taking their guns (should we take anything from those tentative looks on Juice's face after the smoke clears in the back of that truck?), what they probably don't realize is that one of said Russians is an undercover FBI agent.

"Out" is a good survey of where the world of Sons of Anarchy currently revolves.  Seeing Charming as the future site of land development is shocking, and the new Sheriff's department looks like it's going to be the next great "villain" of the show.  The chase scene between the MC and the cops was pretty thrilling, and it once again showed the smarts of SAMCRO.  They were able to test out this new enemy, but also evaded them in a way as to make them untouchable for a while.  It's another ingenious plan, but Roosevelt and Potter have big plans of their own.  The push/pull between SAMCRO and law enforcement is going to be compelling, but it should mostly serve as a framework for the internal turmoil the club is about to go through, as promised by this premiere.  Although that's basically just another day at the office for SAMCRO, the constantly rising stakes are why we keep coming back for more.  "Out" is a strong premiére, and hopefully will lead to a very strong season.

Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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