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‘Sons of Anarchy’ Season Premiere Review: “Straw”

Sons of Anarchy Season 6 Premiere Straw Review
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Sons of Anarchy’ season 6 roars out a premiere with its first episode of the year “Straw,” as Jax works to take SAMCRO in a more legitimate direction, while Tara and Clay struggle behind bars, and an unexpected calamity threatens to bring even more madness and death on the club’s shoulders..

Last year’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ finale “J’ai Obtenu Cette” saw Jax preparing to hand Tig over to Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau), while Nero fought to reclaim his old neighborhood, Clay found his Ireland trip interrupted, and Tara faced a deadly obstacle in her efforts to leave Charming behind.  So, how does “Straw” open up the season?  Does ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 6′s premiere mark the beginning of the end for SAMCRO?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 6 premiere, “Straw!”

A young boy writes in his journal as Jax does the same, while we see Tara and Clay adjusting to prison life, and SAMCRO members settle into their new positions. Elsewhere in prison, the mute Otto (Kurt Sutter) endures his latest rape orchestrated by associates of Lee Toric, before Lee himself arrives to explain his intent to visit the MC. Jax meets up with August Marks (Billy Brown), as no one has heard of Clay’s fate within prison, though August reminds Jax he’ll soon need to give up Tig as part of their agreement.

The mysterious young schoolboy passes Primo (Dave Navarro) on his way out of the house, while over in prison Ally Lowen explains to Tara that prosecution won’t reveal details of her incarceration. Tara still refuses to see Jax, though outside Lowen explains to him that Tara believes Gemma was the one to give her up. Back at Teller-Morrow, Ima Tite arrives to warn the club that Lyla has been badly hurt.

Jax arrives to Diosa to confront Gemma about her threats to Tara, but the situation is quickly broken up by the appearance of a bloodied Lyla. Ima explains that Lyla had been doing a porn shoot with the Persian Ganazi brothers, though the crew failed to warn her of the brutal nature of their torture porn. Nero warns Jax that they’ll need to clear it with Stockton boss Charles Barosky (‘RoboCop”s Peter Weller) if they rush to confront the Persians, but Jax resolves they should simply evaluate the situation first, before causing trouble.

Lee Toric pays a visit to Clay, explaining that his pull with the ATF kept Clay out of the prison’s general population, and certain death by Damon Pope’s men. Toric threatens that he wants to bring SAMCRO down for intensely personal reasons regarding his sister’s death, and offers Clay a deal to consider before being placed back in gen-pop. Elsewhere, Filthy Phil helps Bobby move into a new apartment as the man considers returning to the Nomad life, while Wendy pays Gemma a visit, and reveals she has no intention to fight for custody of the boys anymore.

Over at the Stockton docks, Jax and the others force their way into the Ganazi brothers’ studio, releasing the captive girls and demanding they stop their business. The younger brother pulls a gun, kicking off a brief firefight that ends when police show up and raid the studio. The officers bring Jax and Nero to Charles Barosky’s bakery hangout, where the men hash out the incident, before considering going into business together to open up another escort house.

Juice returns from moving Bobby in, explaining to Gemma that he thinks the deposed VP might look to put together a new nomad charter. Meanwhile, Toric pays a visit to Tara to explain it was he who had her incarcerated for her involvement in his sister’s death, and offer witness protection for her and the boys if she gives up Jax.

Chibs expresses his worries to Jax about Juice being back, but Jax insists that knowledge of Juice’s actions would only hurt the club further, and they should give him a chance to earn his way back in. Inside the porn studio, Tig goes to let the younger Ganazi brother loose from one of the cages, but when the man taunts that Tig’s daughter might be among the torture porn tapes, Tig violently drowns him in a bathtub full of urine, before capping off the pool himself.

Jax and Nero discuss the expansion of their business with Barosky’s madam Collette (Kim Dickens), before Jax and Collette break to visit her establishment, locking eyes with the mysterious schoolboy sitting outside the bakery. Back at Teller-Morrow, Unser assures Gemma she can still talk to him about what’s going on with Clay, before Lowen interrupts looking for Jax, and Gemma threatens her about helping the wrong side of the club. Back at the docks, Tig dumps the man’s body, and abjectly sings to himself, while Clay is led to the door of the prison’s general population, before the sight of waiting thugs convinces him to make a deal with Toric.

Jax arrives to Collette’s brothel to learn about its operation, before taking another phone call from Lowen to learn that Tara doesn’t want him at her hearing either. Back at Teller-Morrow, Chibs isolates himself with Juice in the garage, explaining that he has to find a way to get right with Juice being allowed to stay in the club. Knowing what’s coming, Juice allows Chibs to beat him down, returning for more each time to show his loyalty. Collette invites a distraught Jax up to help fold laundry, while Toric gets high off heroin in his hotel room.

The mysterious schoolboy finally arrives to his campus, pausing at a bench to roll up his sleeve, revealing multiple scars. The boy retrieves a machine gun from his backpack, and calmly goes inside to begin shooting as the bell rings, as we see the boy’s notebook to contain a disturbing number of demonic drawings and illegible ranting.

As authorities arrive to the school, Tara finds herself forced to assault another inmate for stealing her blanket, while Chibs tends to Juice’s wounds, and Bobby continues to research recruits for his new nomad group. A strung-out Toric dances naked in his hotel room, as we see Jax give into Collette’s advances on him.

Whoo boy. That Kurt Sutter warned us that the premiere would contain a shocking and controversial act of violence, and he sure wasn’t kidding. Without focusing too heavily on the potential consequences of incorporating a school shooting into ‘Sons of Anarchy’ we’d at least like to take a moment to defend Sutter’s choice in that “Straw” certainly doesn’t sensationalize the issue, as the writers had looked to include the sequence for several seasons. If anything, tonight’s premiere presents the horrific act of violence exactly as it should: something difficult to see coming, tragic on all sides, and clearly the actions of a disturbed individual who lacked the help he sorely needed.

So where does that leave ‘Sons of Anarchy’ going into its likely penultimate year? Has the cycle of violence wrought too much despair between the characters to garner any enjoyment out of the series anymore? It’s certainly the darkest we’ve seen the series yet, as last season’s finale and the resulting hardship ostensibly tore apart the few remaining bright spots like Jax and Tara’s relationship, again complicated by Jax’s petty actions in bedding Collette, or Tara’s refusal to be seen in such a weakened state. There doesn’t seem to be any hope for Tig either, as his latest outburst can only seal his fate in being handed over to Pope’s men.

If indeed ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 6 begins the third act in Sutter’s ostensible ‘Hamlet’ parallel, things will certainly get worse over the season before getting better, and the upcoming episodes feature similarly few light spots of what we’ve seen. Dark days for SAMCRO indeed, though it remains to be seen how much of Toric’s quest for revenge can hold water, even with Clay’s potential decision to turn rat.

If anything, fans of the series would do best to look to the episode’s final montage, in which precious little good can be found in the few renewed relationships, while a bit of healing will hopefully be in order for all. And if nothing else, Peter Weller is still awesome, right? Right?

Did you get your fill of road-rashing ‘Sons of Anarchy’ action?  What did you think about the season premiere, “Straw”? Join us next week for another all-new ‘Sons of Anarchy’ recap of “One Six Six,” and stay tuned as we bring you additional coverage on tonight’s big premiere with series creator Kurt Sutter!

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