Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sons of Anarchy - Season 2

Sons of Anarchy's second season was a nice follow-up to the first. I sort of wish Jax' perceived split with the group at the end had more immediately impact on the story here, but his issues with the club's direction still manage to fester and grow while they boil under the surface, as there's a more immediate threat that the Sons have to deal with. The League of American Nationalists come to town when the President Ethan Zobelle opens a cigar shop on main street. They're a white supremacy group, and along with his second in command Weston played by Henry Rollins, Zobelle looks to use a lot of clout and underhanded tactics to supplant the Sons as the primary gun supplier in the area. He came at the right time with Jax and Clay constantly butting heads, and it's a struggle all season long for the club to deal with this new threat when they aren't united internally.

There's a lot of good character progression this season, as everyone in the club gets their chance to be sympathetic despite their criminal leanings. Some very bad things happen to a few of them, and the way they handle it while maintaining outward appearances is always compelling drama. Katey Sagal's performance is again key, and what she goes through while at the same time her relationship with Tara is evolving is pretty great stuff. It really is all about the characters, even in such a tightly plotted show like this, where five minutes rarely seem to pass without something significant happening. Because even though it would be enjoyable just for the crime drama plot and often impressively done spurts of action and violence, what makes the show awesome is that I honestly like and care about all of the characters. It doesn't matter if they're a grizzled, cantankerous veteran like Piney or a dimwitted but ballsy prospect like Half Sack, the show does a great job of making them into people instead of tools, no matter what evils they're committing to save themselves or just make some money. And by the last couple episodes it's just fantastic moments coming one after the other, with some genuinely thrilling and hard hitting scenes as good as anything from the great dramas that came in the last decade. I wasn't the biggest fan of the note things actually ended on, but if anything that just makes me more eager to catch up with the almost-finished third season.

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