Since about a third of the page views for this blog come from people wondering about the verisimilitude of SoA Season Three's trip to beautiful downtown Nordor, I feel like I owe it to my tiny readership to express some thoughts, no matter how cursory, about the short strange trip that was Season 5.
Season 4 was a bit of a mess - I tend to think of all of SoA as a bit of a mess, but apparently everyone thought that about Season 4, which scrambled around frantically trying to find things for everyone to do while Jax deliberated eternally over whether or not to schwack Clay. Having painted everyone into a corner with such gay abandon that he might as well have used a firehose instead of a brush, Sutter whisked aside the curtain and announced cheerily that it was all a CIA plot and that Clay would have to be kept alive so that … well, my suspension of disbelief doesn't get the kind of mileage it would need to get for me to try to explain how it all worked; obviously what's really happening is that Ron Perlman has Sutter's motorcycle locked in a basement somewhere, and to get it back intact Sutter had to think of something, anything, to avoid Ron needing to look for real work in 2012. My opinion; schwacking him and having him come back as ghost would have insulted our intelligence slightly less, but I suspect that Sutter was scared of being told that he was copying the Harry the Ghost schtick from Dexter the TV show.
Anyhow, from that unpromising start, Sutter had to assemble something in the shape of Season 5, and I was not that optimistic about how it was going to go. Clay was still sticking around, gumming up the works. The Sons were still operating in the alternate economic universe where it's possible to make money in the United States of Armed-error by IMPORTING guns from the least armed and least gun-friendly country in Europe, a universe which is co-located with the political fantasy land where the CIA is in any way interested in either Ireland or Mexico to the point where they'd make deals with domestic terrorists to keep a better eye on either of them. I had no idea what you could throw into the scales on the other side to balance that up into something I could watch without poking fun.
Well, fair dos to Mr Sutter, the man has got a couple of gears I hadn't suspected. Season five has finally settled Clay's hash. And the Sons are finally edging their way out of the guns and coke business. And a lot of the bad crazy stupid things they've done are starting to have real world consequences for them and the people around them, which is satisfying. I'm actually kind of looking forward to Season six, where all kinds of bits of plausible retribution are going to have to work their way through the system, schwacking guilty and innocent alike.
Not too dusty for a season which got going by burning Tig's daughter alive, introducing Jimmy Smits as a pimp and finally putting poor Opie out of his misery (though I don't discount the possibility that Sutter is planning to resurrect Opie in Season 6 so that something terrible can happen to his dead body. Opie is like the unluckiest Hell's Angel EVAR). Other fun things; bringing in Donal Logue as a ringer at the end of the season, undoubtedly so that he can terrorise the entire cast the whole way through the next season; bringing in Walton Goggins as a transvestite hooker, because Walton Goggins; and giving Harold Perrineau the best ever explanation of why kingpins need to take revenge - because otherwise they'll just brood on their grievances and lose focus on the big picture. And in a cheering testament to the way that in TV world chemo just works for good and bad alike, Ex-Sherriff Unser has lasted just as long with cancer as Walter White, without ruining anyone's life at all. Yay, Unser. There's a vocal constituency on the internet which want to see him get his own show called Unser PI, but if the money's out there for anyone to get a PI show it needs to be spent on ten more seasons of Terriers.