Sons Of Anarchy: Season Two (Fox)
The second season of the FX original series about a motorcycle club that practically rules the desert town of Charming, California ups the ante from the hand dealt in the first season. Ron Perlman is club leader Clay, trying to keep control while his son-in-law and heir apparent Jax (Charlie Hunnam), son of the deceased club founder, tries to reclaim the original outlaw philosophy that has been twisted through criminal enterprise over the years.
There’s a definite Hamlet element to their relationship, much to the frustration of Gemma (a fierce Katey Sagal), Jax’s hell on wheels of a mom who is married to Clay (their marriage is one of the most loving and dedicated on TV) and devoted to Clay, Jax and the club. That tension is complicated this season when a white supremacist gang (led by Adam Arkin, with Henry Rollins as his glowering muscle) moves in and declares war on the gang while they move into the legal (if still outlaw) porn business. Jax knows that Clay was behind the murder of a club member’s wife from the previous season (a nasty bit of blowback caused by a poorly-considered police scheme to drive a wedge of suspicion through the club) and becomes more confrontational at meetings as he defies Clay and tries to sway the club into a new direction, but he stops short of making Clay’s violation of the club code public for fear of tearing the Sons of Anarchy (aka SAMCRO) apart.
For all the criminal activity and sex and violence of the lifestyle, it is a series about family and community and duty that celebrates their code of loyalty while acknowledging the hypocrisy of their outlaw lifestyle and the damage they leave in their wake. There is plenty of fireworks in gang fights and gun battles and even a car bomb through the course of the season, but the most interesting dramas are human. Arkin’s thugs begin their campaign with a brutal assault on Gemma, hoping to provoke a quick, sloppy response from Clay and Jax, but Gemma hides the rape from them both to save the club and the two men she loves. As tough as Gemma is (which is plenty), the trauma takes its toll the longer she suppresses it, and its the tenderly loyal friend and police chief Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) and Jax’s girlfriend Tara (Maggie Siff), both sworn to secrecy, wo become her emotional support. And Tara faces her own challenges as a civilian trying to adjust to their outlaw code and the reality of their activities, on the one hand put off by the violence and machismo and on the other intoxicated by the rush of power she has as the girl of the gang’s deputy leader, which troubles her as much as it excites her.
Though made for FX, the DVD features uncensored versions of the episodes with nudity, graphic violence and R-rated language. 13 episodes with creator and cast commentary on three episodes, plus the ten-minute “The Moral Code Of Sons Of Anarchy” with creator Kurt Sutter, the “Sons of Anarchy Happy Ending Roundtable” with Sutter and the cast answering questions submitted by the fans, deleted scenes and a gag reel.