This post contains spoilers so read at your own risk.
[UPDATE] I forgot to mention in the original post, there is a fantastic cameo by Stephen King as Bachman (great tongue and cheek there using his early pen name) the “clean-up guy”. It is chilling and hilarious!
One of the primary themes running through Sons of Anarchy, and in particular during Season 3, is how the sins of the fathers affect their sons. The most obvious being the Shakespearean issue of John Teller and his Belfast daughter, Trinity, and how this affects Gemma and Jax. The priest plays on Jax’s guilt on Abel’s kidnapping by convincing Jax to leave Abel with his new family to save him from the “life” of a motorcycle gang. Jax is torn in his loyalties and a bit disconcerted – he almost sleeps with his sister (just before learning of Trinity’s true identity) and by not taking Abel at the market, inadvertently leaves Jimmy to kill the happy adoptive family and steal Abel as leverage for his escape from the IRA. The relationship between son and stepson (Jax and Clay) is actually better than during the crisis of Season 2, but there is still some tension there.
The repercussions of Season 2’s finale impact all of Season 3 with the theme of saving Abel. It is a dark season with little humor and loads of double-crossing. The character of Salazar is despicable, but more so is Hayes with his murderous scheming for the re-development of Charming. The town is plunged into chaos following the debacle of Stahl’s framing of Gemma with the double murder in S02E13 with the death of Deputy Hayes in E01 and the tensions between the Mayans and the Sons. There is a paradox between the crimes committed by the Sons and the sort of idyllic drug-free existence that they attempt to sustain in Charming. It is one of the keys to the series, are the Sons a necessary evil?
It was interesting to see a bit of SAMBEL in Belfast, but unfortunately we see that McGee of the First Nine betrays the Sons with O’Neil and in meting out the ultimate punishment, Clay is now responsible for the death of at least two of the founders – McGee and Lowell, Sr. Perhaps there are more skeletons in Clay’s closet. We also know John and Piney which makes 5 founders. I wonder if we will hear of the other 4.
Piney’s distance and life of crime has of course made Opie into a dark, lonely and hardened man. Piney’s alcoholism makes him somewhat unreliable to the Sons but as one of the First Nine, he is still in the heart of the group. Opie has been trying to make an effort getting closer to his kids via his pornstar girlfriend, but it is clear that his issues of being a dad and the weight of the past of Piney pays a toll on him.
The twists in E13 were great and relatively unexpected. How the Sons manipulate Stahl is masterful – I am not sure how they anticipated her killing her partner, perhaps that was a bit unrealistic but then, she was in a corner. I suppose that Opie got closure there too. It was also good to see justice come for Chip. And the idea of using Jax’s letter to Gemma overlaid on John’s letter to Maureen foretelling of his murder was a nice ending touch.
I think that Season 3 was darker but just as well written and well acted as S01 and S02. Now, I can’t wait to catch up with S04 and be ready for S05 in February.