The second season of this series about the Sons of Anarchy, an outlaw motorcycle club that operates out of and runs the small California town of Charming, ended with a double cliffhanger. Not only was the infant son of heir apparent Jax (Charlie Hunnam) kidnapped by a member of the IRA, but Gemma, Jax’s mother (Katey Sagal), was forced to turn fugitive, framed on a double murder charge by a corrupt ATF agent (Ally Walker).
This third season, for the most part, puts all previous resentments and disputes between Jax and Clay (Ron Perlman), his step-father and leader of the club, on the shelf, as they join together to clear Gemma from the false charges and also travel to Ireland where they become embroiled in a conflict between the IRA and a notorious gun-runner in an effort to rescue Jax’s son.
Back home, there are continuing violent rivalries with other motorcycle clubs and dealings with crooked politicians, as the town of Charming is about to change forever.
Sons of Anarchy, in essence, began as a modern day version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with the Jax character standing in for the melancholy Dane, Gemma substituting for Gertrude, Clay for Claudius and Tara (Maggie Siff), Jax’s doctor girl friend, taking on the Ophelia role.
Unfortunately, except for a brief nod back during the season’s final episodes, that basic, utterly engrossing, storyline has been abandoned this season, which seems to go off in many different directions.
With all due respect to series creator Kurt Sutter and his group of talented writers, this decision to leave the Hamlet plot is disappointing, but is certainly understandable. After all, once Hamlet (i.e. Jax) learns that his mother and step-father have murdered his real father, there can be no more “nice-nice”. Jax must confront his mother and Clay. There will be violence and, if you recall Shakespeare’s version, the play ends with all the key characters lying dead on stage.
I guess that Sutter and his group will be holding off the writing of those scenes until the show’s ratings drop significantly. In the meantime, viewers will get tangential stories like the ones in Season Three.
That said, I must admit that Season Three is, in itself, quite addicting. Indeed, I watched the entire season in two days.
Writing and direction are first-rate. The dialogue is sharp and there are many surprising plot twists. Sutter is not afraid to push previously established television boundaries.
The cast couldn’t be better. Hal Holbrook and Frances Fisher join regulars Kim Coates, Johnny Lewis and Dayton Callie this season.
Sons of Anarchy, Season Three, contains 13 one-hour episodes on 4-discs.
As with my review of Season Two, my only complaint with this DVD set is that, like several other TV series from Fox Home Entertainment, it does not contain any previous season or previous episode recaps. This often makes viewing difficult when an episode references an incident or a character from an earlier episode or season. Rather than paying total attention to what is happening on-screen at the moment, one is trying to recall who is who and how they are related to the current action.
Hopefully, Fox will listen this time and correct this problem when Season Four is released onto DVD and Blu-ray.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is sharp with no issues.
The Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 Sound would be excellent, except for the fact that a few of the actors sometimes mumble their lines and the Irish accents are not always easy to understand.
Writer's Roundtable - an 18 minute featurette in which creator Kurt Sutter and his writing staff discuss how the third season storyline was developed.
The Future Begins Now - a quartet of scenes from Season Four that, since they are, for the most part, set in a prison, will probably appear in the new season as flashback sequences.
Audio Commentary by cast, writers and crew for 3 episodes - Participants include Kurt Sutter, Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagel, Maggie Siff, Tommy Flanagan, Ron Perlman, Mark Boone Junior, Kim Coates, Theo Rossi, Ryan Hurst, Dayton Callie, Dave Erickson, Chris Collins, Regina Corrado, Liz Sagal, and Marco Ramirez.
Directing the Season Finale with Kurt Sutter - 5 minute "Behind the Scenes" featurette.
Custom Bike Build - a 15 minute featurette detailing how the show had a bike built to be sold to benefit a charity (i.e. Wounded Warriors).
Season Finale Table Read – 44 minutes with the cast and crew present.
3 Extended Episodes - Viewers can watch the extended episode or the episode as broadcast.
Gag Reel – just over 3 minutes.
Deleted Scenes – available for several episodes.
Fox Movie Channel featurette - a 5-minute promo of the cast and series creator Kurt Sutter at the premiere party of Season 3.
This is one of the best dramatic television series currently on the air. Even though it veers from the main storyline this season, it is still an excellent series.