Friday, May 16, 2014

Fangirl Fridays – Sons of Anarchy



When sorrows come, they come not single spies
But in battalions.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5


I just “came down” from watching the last episode of season 6, which is the last season (so far), of Sons of Anarchy. I am still reeling. I don’t remember who recommended that show to me; I am not sure if I should curse them or thank them. I am infatuated with it. I couldn’t stop watching, episode after episode of the violent, harsh, brutal life of this TV series. I would like to share my addiction with you after the jump.

Warning: A few spoilers ahead!




Sons of Anarchy (SoA) is a TV series named after a fictional outlaw motorcycle club in a fictional small town named Charming, California. The plot revolves around Jackson ”Jax” Teller (son of the late John Teller, founder of this motorcycle club), his mother (Gemma Teller Morrow), his stepfather and current president of the club (“Clay” Morrow), Jax’s love interest (Tara Knowles), and the activities of their club members. The club’s main source of income is illegal arms dealing with neighboring gangs and other clubs, the I.R.A., and other rough parties. The police force is partly corrupt, partly trying to nail the club, and partly helping them. There are all sorts of evil plots and crappy people plotting against them.


I hope that writing down my feelings will help me to understand why I love SoA, even though every episode of the show’s six seasons has at least one blunt, shockingly violent scene, in which I usually cringe and shield or avert my eyes from the screen. 


One of the main themes, for me, is the story of a tragic hero. I think it was during season 3 that I started thinking, “Oh! This is like a Greek, or maybe a Shakespearian, Tragedy!!!” That is why I am so attracted to it. There is one thing I know for sure: I am a sucker for tortured souls.

Do you know Aristotle’s definition of Tragedy? Here is a summary of what he wrote in Poetics:
Tragedy depicts the downfall of a noble hero or heroine, usually through some combination of hubris, fate, and the will of the gods. The tragic hero’s powerful wish to achieve some goal inevitably encounters limits, usually those of human frailty (flaws in reason, hubris, society), the gods (through oracles, prophets, fate), or nature. Aristotle says that the tragic hero should have a flaw and/or make some mistake. The hero need not die at the end, but he/she must undergo a change in fortune. In addition, the tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition about human fate, destiny, and the will of the gods.  Source


Here we have Jax at the beginning of the series as the young “prince” of the club. Accidentally, he finds his father’s journals and reads them, trying to understand his father’s thoughts and “legacy” of changing the club’s ways. Jax is striving to move the Club in the right direction, make its business legit. Are you familiar with this phrase: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”? That is what Jax’s life is. Oh, yes! Life and heritage are against him, pulling him down every time he tries to pull up or out of it. I feel that, basically, he is a good person, his heart is in the right place, but his loyalty to his club and family is at odds with his overbearing mother and the way he grew up, and these keep getting in his way.

It is interesting to watch Jax’s changing appearance during the seasons. In season one, he looks great: young, good looking, clean, and sexy, with the brightest smile on his face. By season 6, that heart-stopping smile disappears, his harsh circumstances and life move him in the wrong directions, and he becomes ruthless—I wouldn’t say heartless, but still. He looks different, his beard is longer, he looks messier and harder, he looks tired. Yes, life is gruesome.

Charlie Hunnam is doing a terrific job of portraying Jax Teller. I love his voice, the way he walks with a swagger—he makes anything look sexy, even beards, which I don’t like usually. For me, he does an excellent job. Here’s a quick visual:


Is that why I love the show? Yes, a part of the reason. Besides his great looks, I love his acting, and I just love his voice.


My favorite character is Gemma Teller Morrow, the badass queen of Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original Chapter (SAMCRO). She will stop at nothing for her family and her club... She is manipulative and does not hesitate to meddle in the club’s or her family’s plans to achieve her goals. Gemma is as tough as they come, and like almost every mother, she doesn’t like her son’s women. She is sexy and strong; I love her fashion sense and her breast tattoo. For me, Katey Sagal, the actress who portraits Gemma, is a gifted performer and her Gemma is superb. I remember her from her hilarious role as Peg Bundy in the Married with Children series. Talk about performance versatility!


I didn’t know that Katey Sagal is also a singer until I heard her character sing in this series. She performs some of the songs I love most on the SoA soundtrack: Bird on a Wire, Ruby Tuesday, and Strange Fruit. I think she is superb!!!


Speaking of songs, the SoA soundtrack is fantastic! Starting with the theme song, The Life, performed by Curtis Stigers and the Forest Rangers, then going on to great oldies: House of Rising Sun, Son of a Preacher Man, Can’t Get Used to Losing You, No Milk Today, What A Wonderful World, and so many more. An incredible soundtrack. I have it on every music device I own and listen to it nonstop. I found out that the music is another similarity between SoA and Greek Tragedy: almost every episode ends with a song that comments about things that happened in the episode or hints of things to come, just like the chorus in a Greek tragedy. You can click here to hear some of the songs.

This whole gang really rocks. Ron Perlman as Clay Morrow has an air of gravitas that commands respect for his act. I love to hate Clay Morrow and his brutal ways.



I am fond of the SAMCRO members: “Chibs” (Tommy Flanagan), who has a to-die-for accent. “Tig” (Kim Coates) with his crazy eyes and violent ways. Bobby Munson (Mark Boone, Jr.), more level headed than the others, sometimes called Bobby Elvis because of his Elvis impersonation. The somewhat conflicted, tormented, and vulnerable “Juice” Ortiz (Theo Rossi). Happy Lowman, a ruthless killer, played by a real life Hells Angels member, David Labrava.


And there’s “Opie” (Ryan Hurst), that gentle *ahem, not really* bear of a man, Jax’s best friend since childhood—strong, gentle, and hot tempered. My heart goes out to him. Did I mention the ex-addict/gangster Nero Padilla, played extremely well by the wonderful Jimmy Smits?

OH What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive
~ Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, 1808
Jax and Tara, I felt their relationship was doomed from the start, as soon as I watched their first love scene. It was there, written on that bed, making love while Andy Williams sang Can’t Get Used to Losing You over and over. Tara left Charming 10 years before to escape that shitty life. She built herself a new life and became the respectable Dr. Tara Knowles, a surgeon, no less. But she came back to the “scene of the crime”—back to Charming—and unavoidably back into Jax’s strong, perilous arms. I will not dig into the Jax and Tara story, it would be too spoilery and too long. I do feel she is a victim of circumstances and a casualty of love. Well, they both are. Tara and Jax’s love shines at the beginning, strong and hopeful. Tara knows she is going back into the place she tried to escape years ago, but she goes anyway. She can’t help it, she loves Jax. By season 6 both are so changed. It is so sad and tragic, and Gemma doesn’t really help this whole situation, but to tell you the truth, it hurts so good!

The characters list is long, so I’ll stop here, even though there are many other great characters and actors. There are also some great cameo appearances on the show. I’ll mention only two here. The first because it was really hilarious: Walton Goggins, better known as the terrifically intense Boyd Crowder on Justified. He turns in a priceless performance as a transgender professional escort in season 5, and he’s even better in season 6.

The second made me jump from my seat: Stephen King. Yes! At first I was not sure it was him, so I googled him. I was not wrong; apparently, he is a huge fan of the show. He plays a creepy guy named Bachman (which really was his 80s pen name), a cleanup guy who is called to “help” Gemma and Tara in a tight situation.

Kurt Sutter, the series creator, is as badass as his show. I’d say he is an evil genius, and the emotional wringer he put me through is awfully awesome. Kurt Sutter also plays a member of the SoA, a scary, half-crazy guy named “Big Otto” Delaney. God! He is so intimidating!!!


Mr. Sutter admits that the story is based very loosely on Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
One of the recurring themes of Shakespeare is the idea that power doesn’t just corrupt, but that the corruption continuously repeats itself... How does that guy feel about his guys becoming outlaws? That guy for me became John Teller, the founder of the club. Then I thought ‘What if that guy is the father in Hamlet? What if that guy is the ghost of John Teller?’ That archetype enabled me to establish the prince, our lead guy, Jax Teller. I loosely based all my characters on ones from Hamlet. I winked at it with Gemma as Gertrude and Clay as Claudius. Opie was Horatio. And the ongoing question was: Would the prince find out?   Source

Kurt Sutter and Katey Sagal

Would the prince find out? I didn’t tell you that, because I didn’t want to spoil too much in case you want to watch the show, but I hope that season 7 will tell us all about it this fall. I try not to read the comments on the Internet, so I won’t be spoiled. But being a romantic at heart, I still hope for a Happily Ever After. Which one, I don’t know. 

I do know the end of season 6.
I know I’m dealing with Mr. Sutter...
And we all know how Hamlet ends.

So I went in search of some comic relief:


Sesame Street Parodies Sons Of Anarchy

For me, this is a huge drama about family ties, strong women, love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, greed, corruption and power struggle, jealousy and envy, misjudgments, and some delusions. Really, all Jax wants is to protect his sons, his family.

  Jax said it best in season 6’s last episode:
Today, this is my truth. I am terrified a great deal of the time: afraid of what I’ve done, of what I’m doing, and of what I might have to do. It’s not a crippling fear. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I thrive on it. I crave it. I need that rush of terror to get me out of bed in the morning. It’s in my DNA. I have tremendous remorse for the acts of violence I’ve committed, both planned and spontaneous. But I think what brings me the most sorrow is that I’ve learned to justify this behavior. I always find a reason, a cause, a need that allows me the karmic lubrication to stuff my guilt into its savage compartment. I’ve become the thing... the one I hated. And with that awareness come periods of days, sometimes weeks, when I have to avoid looking into a mirror. My self-hate is so deep, so palpable, I fear I’ll lunge at my own image, shatter the glass and cut myself with shards of broken reflection —

And I want you to look back at this entry and know that at the very least your father was completely honest. So you know I speak the truth when I tell you that you are the most important thing to me. I will never hurt you, never abandon you. I love you, Abel. I love you, Thomas. More than anything or anyone, and I always will. Everything I do is for my sons.


This is not a review of the show. I’m afraid I would fill a whole lot of pages with a real review. I left out a lot of great stories and fascinating characters. These are just a few of my thoughts and current obsessions, and I hope I can find someone to obsess with me.

Have you seen the show, or do you intend to? I’ll be so happy if you’ll share your thoughts with me.


3 comments:

  1. I love this post! A group of friends (RR) constantly talked about this show so I do the whole 'mad marathon' thing on Netflix and could see what all the fuss was about it. The show is simply ACES, it is not afraid to do all kinds of unspeakable things and tear a viewers heart out with it's fist! Major kudos to Sutter for NOT being afraid to go that place that is inside all of us. It is real and it is scary but life is not all sunshine and roses and this show reminds us that it is also not fair. It is too bad that other shows cannot follow the same example!

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  2. Loved the post, very accurate description of the characters from an amused point of view :)

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  3. There is no greater model for dramatic character than Shakespeare. I love your passion -- verily, it leaps off the page. WRITE ON!!!

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