What We Learned From ‘Straw,’ The Violent Sixth Season Premiere Of ‘Sons Of Anarchy’

The sixth season premiere of Sons of Anarchy kicked off last night, and for those who like their Kurt Sutter dark, violent, and not at all subtle, it was a hell of a first episode. Sutter did not hold back, and though there was nothing quite as searing as seeing Tig’s daughter being burned alive in the fifth season premiere, the body count was certainly higher. And what of the expected controversy over the last three minutes of the episode? It’s hard to get worked up over the violence in Sons of Anarchy at this point. It’s effective, but it’s only truly shocking when Sutter restrains himself, as he (thankfully) did by featuring the bloodiest, most heart-wrenching sequence off screen.

The premiere did not resolve any of the holdover questions from the fifth season finale. Set a few days after the events of that episode, Sutter picked up those plotlines where he left off last season, and introduced enough new storylines to keep Sutter occupied for a couple of episodes, at least. In some seasons, Sutter chews through plot quickly, and in others, he takes his time. It’s hard to tell how quickly he’ll move this season, but it’s clear that he opened up a huge, season-long arc that will certainly threaten SAMCRO’s existence.

Let’s get right to the character breakdowns.

Otto Delaney — Basically, Otto is a broken man with no tongue and no ability to protest. Lee Toric (Donal Logue) is having men sent into Otto’s cell each morning to rape him. If there’s ANYTHING that would turn a guy into a rat, you’d think it’d HAVE to be the ole’ morning rape. JESUS SUTTER. I know that the event at the end of the episode was meant to be the thing that attracted all the “controversy” and attention for the premiere, but honestly, onscreen prison rape >> offscreen school shooting.

I think suicide is the coward’s way out, but if Otta were to decide to take his own life at this point, I wouldn’t hold it against the man. Give that man some sweet mercy.

Tara Knowles — Lee Toric is also the center of Tara’s story arc. Tara’s in prison under a charge of conspiracy to murder Lee’s sister. Tara thinks that Gemma ratted her out, and her attorney (Robin Weigert) passes that information on to Jax, who uses it as an excuse to yell at Gemma. Toric also offers Tara a deal: Rat out SAMCRO, and she can enter Witness Protection with Thomas and Abel. She declines (at least for now). In the meantime, Tara hauls off and beats the living sh*t out of another inmate who steals her blanket. It’s the most I’ve ever liked Tara. Do not mess with this woman’s blanket.

Clay Morrow — Clay also opens the episode in prison, crotchety as f***ing ever. He’s a scowl with jowls. Toric, who knows that Clay was framed for murdering Damon Pope, also offers Clay a deal: Rat out SAMCRO, and Toric will keep him out of the regular prison population, where August Marks — now the leader of the One-Niners — will have him killed. Clay ultimately takes the deal in order to save his own ass. Why not? He’s got absolutely nothing to lose at this point.

Bobby — Bobby is in no-man’s land. After ripping his VP patch off at the end of last season, he is on the outs with Jax and the Charming chapter of SAMCRO and exploring the possibility of creating a NOMAD chapter, which is basically a collection of SAMCRO cast-offs.

Gemma: She’s still stirring sh*t with Tara, still dating Nero, and still stringly along poor Unser. Late in the episode, she gives Nero’s kid a water gun in a piece of ham-fisted foreshadowing. She, along with the remaining members of SAMCRO, is helping to look after Thomas and Abel with Tara in prison. It’s good to see that Gemma still has her old sh*t-kicking attitude.

Wendy — Although Jax’s ex-wife no longer has any interest in being guardian to Thomas and Abel, Tara has already appointed her in that position in her living will, which Kurt Sutter is going out of his way to remind us. Either something is going to happen to Tara that will somehow leave Thomas and Abel in Wendy’s care, or that living will is going to so infuriate Jax that he’s going to kill her.

Jax — The main thrust of the action in the season premiere surrounds Jax’s decision to expand he and Nero’s lady business, which is — believe it or not — SAMCRO’s legitimate money stream. Basically, it starts because Jax discovers that Opie’s widow, Lyla, unwittingly got involved with some Iranian rape-porn filmmakers. They rape and beat the hell out of her, because Kurt Sutter takes no half measures.

Avenging Lyla’s torture, SAMCRO tussles with the Iranians and chases all but one away. Jax and Nero then gets mixed up with Charlie Burowski (Peter Weller) — a crooked former cop running his racket in that territory, including a brothel operated by Collette (Kim Dickents). Burowski is a pretty shady character, although it’s impossible to see the guy without thinking, “I’ll buy for that for $1.” Thanks Robocop. You’ve ruined Peter Weller.

Fortunately, Kim Dickens cannot be ruined. She is a splendid ray of sunshine. Also, a high-end prostitute. Jax agrees to expand their escort operations into Stockton and partner with Collete. Jax also gets very friendly with Colette — who listens almost as well as “she sucks d*ck” — and by that, I mean: He eye-banged her and then he bang-banged her.

Meanwhile, Tara doesn’t want Jax coming to her court hearing, and with Jax sleeping with Colette, Sutter has fomented just enough marital discord to suggest that Tara may consider Toric’s Witness Protection deal. I’m also guessing that Tara’s Oregon job has evaporated, now that she’s locked up on conspiracy-to-murder charges.

Ratboy — My expectation is that Kurt Sutter has every intention of beefing up Ratboy’s role just enough so that, when Sutter kills him off, we at least remember who he is. Having Gemma press his hand against her boobs and insist he not call her ma’am should be all the character development Ratboy will need. The Ratboy Death Watch Begins Now.

Tig — Oh, well: Trager is still on the hook for killing Damon Pope’s daughter. After August Marks takes care of Clay, he still plans to take out Trager, much to the dismay of Jax, whose chapter numbers are already dwindling (seriously, it’s basically Jax, Happy, Chibs, Tig, Juice and Filthy Phil now, which is barely enough SAMCRO members to take care of Thomas and Abel, not to mention run drugs and guns, plus run a prostitution business). It’s nice, though, when the bad men shake hands and agree on an execution.

In a fit of rage, Tig — who suddenly remembers that his daughter was murdered last season, and decides that, OH YEAH, he’s sad about it — kills one of the Iranians, drowning him in a tub of piss and vinegar, like you do. He also took a leak on him, because — like my Granny used to say — “when you gotta go, you gotta go.” A corpse floating in a bathtub is hardly a reason to hold it in. Don’t forget to shake, Tig.

Tig dumps the body off the pier, and sings “Dock of the Bay.” I gotta say, though, for such a vile reprobate, Tig can be an awfully sweet guy.

Unser — Unser is basically hanging out, being Uncle Touchy to the boys, offering hollow advice to Gemma, and waiting for Kurt Sutter to find something meaningful for him to do. So, same as last season.

Chibbs and Juice — Chibbs, who is now Vice President of SAMCRO, basically evens the score and makes good with Juice by beating the holy sh*t out of him, which is the SAMCRO way of saying, “You’re a good kid, Juice. Welcome back!” You should see their birthday parties.

Toric — In addition to orchestrating the plot movement with regard to Tara and Clay, we also know that Toric is a smack-abusing nutter, because being a psychopath hellbent on avenging the death of his sister is not quite enough motivation. You need the smack for the excuse to show Logue’s ass. You know, for the ladies.

Nero — He wasn’t a big fan of Jax jumping on business opportunities without running it past him first, but otherwise, Nero had a fairly quiet episode. He expanded his business, he got to hang out with his kid, and oh yeah, one of his men — Arcadio — has an old lady whose kid just shot up a school. NO BIG DEAL.

The Blonde Child Killer — There’s been quite a bit of confusion about the identity of the child killer. No, he’s not young Jax, as the voice-over montage as the beginning of the episode inadvertently implied. Dave Navarro, who plays Arcadio (who, according to IMDb, is a different character than the one he played last season, Primo) has an old lady. His old lady has a son. That son shot up his school.

Will the school shooting tie into the rest of the season? Or did Kurt Sutter just feel like buttoning the episode with a random act of violence? I’m not 100 percent sure, although my guess is that the gun the kid used was Arcadio’s, which will put heat on both Nero’s organization and SAMCRO.

This is Mom, by the way. I suspect we’ll be seeing more of her.

Though she wasn’t in this episode, CCH Pounder has been added to the cast this season as a district attorney. My guess is that she’s going to go after Nero and SAMCRO for the school shooting.

The take home from the opening episode, “Straw”? Rape porn is vile. School schootings are f***ed up, and morning prison buggerings are THE WORST. God bless, Kurt Sutter, and God Damn, Kurt Sutter.