Episode Title: "Out"
Writer: Kurt Sutter
Director: Paris Barclay
Previously on "Sons of Anarchy":
After recovering his son, Abel in Ireland, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) acted upon his deal with ATF Agent June Stahl (Ally Walker) to give her former IRA boss Jimmy O. (Tutus Welliver) in exchange for a reduced sentence for the members of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club facing weapons charges. Stahl agreed, but then she metaphorically stabbed Jax in the back by outing him as a rat in front of his step-father, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) and the rest of SAMCRO. As Jax's mother, Gemma (Katy Sagal) and his pregnant lover, Tara (Maggie Siff) watched in horror, the Sons vowed to make Jax pay for betraying them.
Shortly thereafter, Sheriff Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) flagged down Agent Stahl and the car carrying Jimmy O. to a safe house. Wayne claimed that the IRA intended to ambush the cops, but in reality it was a trap laid by SAMCRO with Wayne's help. Jimmy O. was killed and Opie (Ryan Hurst) murdered Stahl as revenge for her part in the death of his wife. On their way to prison, Jax and the rest of SAMCRO were given a signal that meant that their enemies were dead and they burst out into laughter, revealing that SAMCRO was in on Jax's plans all along.
Elsewhere, Tara received a letter from Jax explaining what he had done. But unknown to him, Tara had come into possession of John Teller's letters from Ireland; which implicated Clay and Gemma in his death.
14 months later, Tara anxiously awaits Jax's release as she pours over John Teller's letters from Ireland. She stuffs the letters back into her purse, but when she leaves the room, Abel pulls the paper out again and begins scribbling on it. Elsewhere, Gemma takes care of her other grandson, Thomas; the new baby of Jax and Tara. In the prison, Jax, Clay, Tig (Kim Coates) and five other SAMCRO members get ready to leave prison and gather their things. Elsewhere in the prison, a guard sympathetic to SAMCRO slips "Big Otto" Delaney (Kurt Sutter) a razor in his breakfast; which he uses to slash his wrists.
Outside of the prison, the former prisoners get a hero's welcome from the rest of SAMCRO. Jax and Clay flip off the prison as they ride away in triumph. On their way back into Charming, Clay is dismayed that Jacob Hale (Jeff Kober) is building "Charming Heights," a new area of homes far too expensive for the residents of Charming to buy. SAMCRO's return to Charming is also spoiled by the new Sheriff of Charming, Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar); who greets them with a police blockade before warning them not to wear their "gang colors" in public. At the auto shop, the former prisoners are reunited with their families and Jax quickly finds Tara and Abel.
Across town at the Sheriff's office, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon) introduces himself to Eli and invites him to meet him later just before the new mayor, Jacob Hale tries to convince Eli to stay focused on neutralizing SAMCRO. After Clay lays out his plans for the club, SAMCRO realizes that Eli has assigned cops to follow their every move. Splitting the line of motorcycles into two groups, the rest of SAMCRO distracts the cops while Jax and Clay meet with the Russian mob about their gun running arrangements. The head mobster, Viktor Potlova (Keith Szarabajka) apologizes for having Jax "shived" in prison, but he says that it was just business.
At Lincoln's office, he brings Eli in to see the scale of the investigation aimed at bringing down The Irish Kings, the Russian Mob and the Sons of Anarchy. He reveals that the government as an agent inside of the Russian mob near the top. Eli is impressed by the operation and he volunteers to join them. Later, Gemma visits Wayne, who seems to be in failing health and in lesser control of his mental facilities. At home, Jax makes love with Tara and tells her that he wants to marry her and get out of SAMCRO. His plan is to wait until Clay steps down and hopefully break away from the life when a new President is installed.
Around the same time, Clay finally visits Wayne to catch up with his old friend and he promises to make sure that Charming Heights is never built. In the prison infirmary, Big Otto is in recovery when a Russian mobster is wheeled in strapped to a bed. The same guard who slipped Otto a razor then cuts one of his straps on Otto's wrists before he leaves the room. That night, SAMCRO, the Mayans and even Viktor and the Russians converge upon an Indian reservation for the marriage of Opie and Lyla (Winter Ave Zoli). After the ceremony is over, Viktor and his guards stay behind to demonstrate the new guns to SAMCRO out of the prying eyes of the local cops.
Bobby Munson (Mark Boone Junior), Piney (William Lucking) and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) are smuggled out of the party in a Wine truck to fool the officers outside of the reservation. Once they reach the Russian storehouse of weapons, they wipe out their Russian escorts with automatic weapons. In prison, Otto breaks free and kills the Russian who stabbed Jax in prison. Back at the reservation, Viktor is caught off guard when SAMCRO murders his bodyguards right before Jax fatally stabs him. As he dies, Jax tells him that it was "just business." To top off their caper, SAMCRO dumps the bodies of the dead Russians on the grounds of Charming Heights. But back at home, Gemma finds the piece of paper that Abel grabbed at the beginning and she realizes that Tara may know the truth about her role in John Teller's death.
If there's one thing that "Sons of Anarchy" wants to accomplish in this episode, its a vivid reminder that the members of SAMCRO are not heroes or good guys. They are criminals and murderers. Even Jax, the most righteous character in the organization isn't afraid to personally stab his enemies to death.
The first episode of the season is a solid installment, but it's not clear where the story is going from here. Lincoln and Eli are clearly gunning for more than just SAMCRO. I'm also not sure if SAMCRO inadvertently murdered a federal agent when they wiped out the Russians. There should be some huge blowback over that and I can't imagine that the larger Russian mob would allow so many of its members to be killed without retaliation.
As for Jax's newfound focus on Tara and his sons, it's an appealing turn but let's face it…. Jax isn't getting out of SAMCRO anytime soon. If he did, it would basically end the series. It's kind of like Clay's arthritic hands. They will always be there as part of his character, but if he ever steps down from the Presidency of SAMCRO then "Sons of Anarchy" would lose one of its most compelling figures. And that's just not going to happen.
It was striking to see how the relationships had changed in the intervening months between seasons three and four. The biggest shock was seeing Kozik (Kenny Johnson) embraced by Tig as full member of the Charming branch. The closeness between Gemma and Tara was also surprising, but I wouldn't expect that to last long after Gemma's discovery at the end of this episode. "Sons of Anarchy" has thus far resisted spelling out exactly how John Teller died. However, if these letters from Ireland are going to be an ongoing focus of the season then there have to be some answers coming or else the series is wasting our time on this mystery.
Regarding the antagonists, Lincoln is the most striking of the new characters. From his appearance, I half expected Lincoln to introduce himself to SAMCRO as a prospect and he was the only man in town who gave Jax a nod of respect when he rode into the blockade. The scope of Lincoln's investigation was also impressive and it seems that the government knows far more about SAMCRO's activities than it has let on before. They even knew that it was the Sons who killed Jimmy O. and not the Real IRA. That sequence was also a very clever exposition drop for any new viewers.
Ultimately, there are no real surprises here. If you liked the first three seasons of "Sons of Anarchy," then you're going to enjoy this episode. For those of you who haven't seen the series, there's no better time to ride with SAMCRO. There are only possibilities ahead.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.