“Sons of Anarchy” showrunner Kurt Sutter rolled into Comic-Con with nearly all of the SAMCRO crew: his wife Katey Sagal, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, Maggie Siff, Theo Rossi, Ryan Hurst, Tommy Flanagan, Kim Coates and Dayton Callie.
To promote SOA’s fifth season — which FX announced premieres Tuesday, Sept. 11 — the audience at Comic-Con’s very last panel were treated to a sizzle reel that truly sizzled. In fact, one scene was so graphic that the video had to be blacked out per the convention’s regulations.
Audiences heard the audio loud and clear, however, and Sutter filled fans in on the missing detail: “That scene they blacked out was my wife getting f***ed from behind from [guest star] Jimmy Smits. With that tease, I hope you all show up for the premiere.”
In another explosive scene in the trailer, new club president Jax Teller (Hunnam) is moving weapons when the SAMCRO convoy is ambushed by Damon Pope and his crew, a clear retaliation for Tig (accidentally) killing Pope’s daughter in the fourth-season finale. Jax’s cold fury is a stark contrast to the flaming rig behind him.
“This season is really about Jax at the head of [the SAMCRO] table and what kind of leader he’ll become,” Sutter explained. “Can you become leader of outlaw organization and not become Clay? And if you don’t become Clay, are you perceived as weak? We’ll see by end of season what kind of leader he’ll become.”
Hunnam said, “The moment at the end [of last season’s finale] when I sat and assumed the position of president, there was tangible feeling among the guys we’re moving on to a new chapter.”
“Don’t get used to it!” barked Perlman, whose character, Clay, was dethroned.
“I’m feeling pretty comfortable in it,” insisted Hunnam.
In Season 5, Perlman pointed out, “every single thing in [Clay’s] life has been taken from him, except his life. He literally starts off with nothing, but has to wonder why the f*** would you leave me alive? You gotta know I’m coming back. What’s amazing me for me is I’m getting to play the exact same human being in a completely different set of circumstances.”
Hunnam notes an “interesting psychological effect” in Jax’s new position: “I’m feeling empathy for Clay — it’s not easy to rule without compromising his integrity. I want to brutally murder the guy, but I’m realizing [his actions weren’t] all malicious.”
The power shift will also affect Gemma and Tara’s “push-and-pull mother-daughter relationship,” Sutter said. “It’s not a linear arc; it changes from episode to episode. With a wife and 16-year-old daughter at home, I’m kind of living it every day.”
After pointing out that their daughter is in fact 17, she adds, “I think Gemma loves Tara, very, very much, but she is threatened that she might be taking over Gemma’s position…It’s a very familial dynamic, which I think he is observing at home — just not quite to that extent.”
When Siff is asked why Tara is so attracted to Jax, a career criminal, Hunnam hijacked her response: “I think it’s great abs and an 8-inch c***. “
Interruptions aside, Sagal noted, “Women have very strong voices on the show. We don’t have women playing victims. I attribute that to my husband having a very fond respect for women.”
Sutter’s also an equal-opportunity exposer: “There’s more male ass than you can possibly imagine this season,” said the showrunner. Chimed in Flanagan: “He’s not joking. Some buttocks are out this year!”
As for the murder that set up that retaliation scene in the Season 5 trailer, Kim Coates joked, “Why does Tig always kill the wrong girl?” (He shot the wife of Opie — his intended target — in Season 1.) “The way Kurt has set it up for Tig [this season] is really intense,” he added seriously. “It’s been a great ride.”
Despite his first wife’s death and his second wife’s betrayal, Hurst said Opie still has a “strong desire to have a normal family — he is a softie at heart, but that heart is getting ripped out and trampled on. I think of Opie as Job, these awful things keep happening to him.” That, of course, includes Clay murdering his father, Piney.
In regard to Opie’s refusal to support Jax, Sutter notes, “We had damaged Opie and his family so much, it would’ve been too neat and too simple to put him at that table. In essence, the club has to gain his respect back. That’s going play out during the season.”
Like his own father and former club president, John Teller, Jax begins writing a journal for his own sons when he assumes the presidency, a narrative device we see used in the Season 5 preview. When asked whether John Teller’s story will ever be told in flashbacks, Sutter had an interesting response.
“Flashbacks aren’t a component of the show,” he said, “but I’ve talked to the network about doing a prequel of the first nine and seeing the origin of the club. I would love to do a period piece about the formation of the club.”