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Sons of Anarchy – For me, this season is all about Gemma

Someone actually gets burned alive in this episode of 'Sons of Anarchy,' but it's the continuing evolution of Gemma Teller that has me hooked.

- Season 5, Episode 1 - "Sovreign"

It’s no secret that I love Sons of Anarchy. If you’ve read any of my reviews, that fact is readily apparent. The season 5 premiere only solidified its standing as one of my absolute favorite shows on television. From the opening sequence to the final scene, this episode was one jaw-dropping event after another. Even though there was a ridiculous amount of action and plot development, it’s Gemma’s storyline that has me most excited for what’s to come.

For four seasons, we’ve watched Gemma lord over everyone as the HBIC. As the president’s wife and the vice-president’s mother, there was no question that she was the most powerful woman in Charming (although what it actually means to be the most powerful woman in this extremely male-dominated culture is another story). While she’s certainly displayed Lady MacBeth-like tendencies over the course of the series, Gemma has always been a woman driven by love and family, not power.

Central to this is her love for her husband Clay. Her bond with her husband was so strong that it not only weathered the occasional  errant out-of-town blowjob, but it arguable even eclipsed her love for her own son at times. While Gemma would probably never admit it to herself, she has definitely put Clay’s well-being over that Jax’s on more than one occasion.

In fact, Gemma was driven so much by her love of Clay that she was willing to have her husband – and Jax’s father – murdered so she could be with him. She let her son grow up fatherless so she could be with the man she loved. Now that’s dedication.

Twenty years have gone by, however, and Gemma and Clay’s relationship has finally reached the breaking point. Not only is Gemma done with the marriage, but she’s pretty much done with Clay existing on this earth (moral of the story: Don’t marry Gemma Teller. YOU WILL NOT MAKE IT OUT ALIVE). This new development is going to allow us to see a very different Gemma.

This is clear in the opening of the show, as we see her in a home that is not her own, blond bimbos passed out around her, having sex with someone who is decidedly not Clay. That somebody turns out to be Nero, played by Jimmy Smits in the first interesting role in which I’ve seen him. Nero runs a high-end escort service, but clearly comes from the streets. He’s not interested in the young girls with whom he works, and I already love him.

The act of tearing Gemma out of the role she’s occupied for the past two decades and throwing her into an unfamiliar situation (meeting a new man) is going to provide ample opportunities for Katey Sagal and the writers to shine. Gemma is one of those characters who can be the perfect villain one moment, and then turn on a dime, showing a deep vulnerability that will make you take her side in an instant. She is at her best when the situation is out of control, and now her entire life is out of her control.

I’m sure there are many dating books that would tell you to play it coy with a new guy, but Gemma clearly hasn’t been reading them. By the end of this episode, she’s already using Nero to harbor fugitives. He’s a complete stranger, but Gemma is already trusting him enough to bring him into the family. When you trust someone like that, it gives them power. Gemma handing this power over to Nero is certain to have some entertaining implications– especially once Clay is brought into the mix and finds out what is going on. While the things in this episode that actually made me gasp out loud didn’t have anything to do with her, to me, this season is going to be all about the new Gemma Teller.

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Photo Credit: FX

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4 Responses to “Sons of Anarchy – For me, this season is all about Gemma”

September 12, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Very interesting post. I have to say when I read the title, I thought..Gemma?? All about her?? but you brought up some great points about her. I’m a long-term Jimmy Smits fan so can’t wait for this season to play out. LOVE THIS SHOW!!! After last night’s episode though, I wondered if I was going to be able to make it through all the violence..definitely started with a few OMG moments that were hard to watch.

September 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Pretty remarkable the you dedicated an entire review of the season premiere without mentioning the One-Niners, Pope, Opie, or Tig a single time. TIG!!! Can you say “rabid-beast-let-loose” for Season 5? Imagine the destruction he’s going to cause now.

I had read some mixed reviews for this season prior to last night’s episode and all I can say is that those reviewers are jaded, cynical, unhappy people. Because after what was established in the first 90 minutes of season 5, I have to believe that I will be holding my breath — on the edge of my seat — audibly cheering and gasping — until the end of this show!

September 12, 2012 at 1:09 PM

This really wasn’t intended to be a full episode review. If it were, you’d bet your ass I would have mentioned Tig. I mean, come on! TIIIIIIIIIG!!!!!!!! I still don’t even know what to do with that whole thing. All I could think of during the aftermath is how he’s going to smell the stench of that smoke for days. Now that in and of itself is a horrifying prospect.

September 14, 2012 at 1:56 PM

I’m so intrigued by the interest in this show. I have so many friends who love it but the adverts don’t appeal to me at all.

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