FX’s Sons of Anarchy Season Five, now available in a three-disc Blu-ray release, is an exciting one for the Northern California biker gang at its center. Much is thrown up in the hour because of new leadership and new alliances. Some major players enter into the mix in a big way, relationships fall apart, violence has never been more prevalent, and betrayals are revealed. For fans of FX’s most popular series, this batch of thirteen episodes is great.
As Season Five begins, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) now has command of SAMCRO, but this certainly isn’t an easy job for him, especially when trying to get the guys involved with prostitution, on top of their gun and drug sales. His son’s mother, Tara (Maggie Siff), doesn’t adjust well to being “queen” of the gang, and would prefer Jax give up his dangerous activities. Clay (Ron Perlman), Jax’s step-father and the former president of SAMCRO, is still around, and would like his old position back. New character Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits) is bedding Gemma (Katey Sagal), who can’t quite let go of Clay, much as she might want to. A brutally vicious man named Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau, Lost), who has business-like precision, shows up looking for revenge.
As always, the acting is amazing. Sagal delivers an even more complex performance than before, and adding veterans like Smitts and Perrineau to an already excellent cast only raises the bar. Hunnam also shines in his character’s increased role, deftly playing the man trying to keep a delicate balance of semi-peace. As much as the gun fights and avenge killings may draw viewers in, so many wouldn’t stay without these truly memorable characters, wonderfully and fully created here.
Things get even worse when a gun battle with the One-Niners erupts in the premiere. This attack, brought on as an attempt to balance scales that will never be balanced, threatens deals that SAMCRO has, and also attracts the attention of law enforcement, which may be a bit more eager to catch the bikers than ensure justice.
Once again, I am struck by how sympathetic these characters, who are basically criminals, are. They have their own codes and rule structure, and at least some of their motivation is altruistic, protecting the town of Charming. Yet, even as they work in the seedy underbelly of illegal organizations, fans will still root for Jax to succeed or Gemma to triumph. They are truly well-written, well-rounded individuals.
The momentum this season is intense. Conflict builds and situations grow more complicated from week to week. The tension mounts in organic ways, always heading towards something, never floundering. Each episode gives another layer of plot, while simultaneously serving larger goals, which satisfyingly come to a head at the end of the year in the most unpredictable of ways. And, of course, a major player bites the dust.
Blu-ray is definitely the way to go on this one. Sons of Anarchy has a very dark color scheme, with a lot of blacks and browns. The contrast when viewed in high definition is great, with plenty of detail in the shadow and layers clearly visible. Similarly, the motorcycle roars and ambient noise of the many outdoor sequences are best experienced in HD, and the Blu-ray boasts an excellently mixed soundtrack.
Sons of Anarchy: Season Five is well-packed with bonus features. There are roughly fifteen minutes of deleted scenes, a couple of very cool audio commentaries, and extended episodes. The gag reel is pretty amusing, and series creator Kurt Sutter talks about how he keeps the show from growing stale. “Opie Winston” is exactly what one would expect it to be if they’ve watched these episodes, and “Fan Concert at the Club House” is a twenty-minute featurette documenting fans visiting the set and hearing great music, including the lovely voice of Katey Sagal.
Sons of Anarchy Season Five is available now.