Netflix UK review: Sons of Anarchy Season 7, Episode 1
Chris Bryant | On 12, Sep 2014
Momma, I killed a man. Sons of Anarchy’s trademark has never been tough guys or ultra-violence. Sure, it does both with style and meaning, but Kurt Sutter’s country ballad only becomes incomparable during its musical montages. Season 7’s first of eight “Final Ride” episodes delivers that in an exemplary way. Twice. Beginning with an overarching view of our characters’ current situations – Gemma looking after the boys, Jax carving a Swastika into a fellow inmate – Sutter’s montage sets the tone for Black Widower and, possibly, the whole season: bleak, sorrowful and solemnly brutal.
The feature-length opener touches base with all major players without unsettling (or shooting / stabbing / flaying / burning / maiming / hospitalising) any of them. It serves to point a bony, scythe-grasping hand in the direction we’re headed with SAMCRO.
Fittingly, Charlie Hunnam presents a very different Jax Teller to the audience this time around. Teller has detached, going through the motions with no regret or adrenaline. What does the man who’s lost nearly everything want? Something to keep.
That something, in this case, is the Sons of Anarchy California chapter. Still loyal, still darkly comic and still the oddest, most likably flawed cast on television, Jax leads the Sons into yet another bloody mess. Apart from a few bouts of spine-straightening violence, they follow suit in their calm, wounded manner. In the middle of a war with, well, everyone, their future is suddenly uncertain.
The episode – aside from one distractingly sub-par special effect – is quietly brilliant, not so much the calm before the storm as a slightly smaller storm bookended by a really big storm and a lot of fog that’s probably hiding an even bigger one. One person who isn’t clear of the waves is Theo Rossi’s fallen angel, Juice Ortiz. A fan favourite from day one (back when he was just the comic relief), Rossi transcends his character’s brief as the struggling good guy to become an achingly broken martyr of Shakespearian standard.
Another highlight Black Widower provides is a well-publicised cameo from Brian ‘Marilyn Manson’ Warner. He has a few cold, gruff lines to throw at Jax from his throne, as head of the White Power movement inside Stockton Prison, and his size and fearsome appearance serve him well in this plotting, tough world.
Sutter’s writing, the lead performances and the unstoppable narrative all combine to provide a slow-burning beginning of the end. All the head-stabbing, Nazi-themed maiming and tooth-pulling cannot deflect from the residual fear of Season 6’s final episode. Aside from the cover-ups and personal chaos, Jax’s endgame of peace seems far from likely – and, remorsefully, far from relevance. Lost and widowed, he appears to be heading for all-out war with little regard for his club or family. Until now, SAMCRO’s president has justified his vicious means with honourable ends, but without a clear end in sight, there may be no limit – or worse, no reason – to Jax’s struggle.
Sons of Anarchy Season 7 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription, on Amazon Prime, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription, and on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription.
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