A World Where Outlaw Bikers Are Bad, But Government Agents Are Even Worse


Sons of Anarchy is a Sopranos-style crime drama airing on FX television that follows the violent exploits of an outlaw motorcycle club known as the Sons of Anarchy. The show's main story line is a retelling of Hamlet, with the vice president of the club, Jackson "Jax" Teller, slowly discovering that his father, the club's founder, was murdered by the man now running the crew (and now married to his mother).

But there are a few more contemporary twists as well. One of the biggest is the recurring theme of lawless government officials. Regular viewers have already seen one federal agent stalk and assault Teller's girlfriend, while another federal agent framed his mother, Gemma (played by former Married with Children star Katey Sagal), for murder. And now, deep into Season 4 (episode 12 airs tonight), we have yet another diabolical fed on the loose, an assistant U.S. attorney who's more than happy to ruin careers and sacrifice human lives if it will help him build a case.

Rogue cops are nothing new on TV, of course, but rarely do we see such a relentlessly negative depiction of federal agents—particularly in contrast to the show's often sympathetic portrayal of the murderous bikers, who are frequently shown to be men of courage operating within their own unique honor system. Unlike the typical prime-time crime drama, which features a noble hero breaking the law in pursuit of the greater good—such as counter-terrorism maestro Jack Bauer on the Fox hit 24Sons of Anarchy makes a very different point about law and order: The government's ends don't always justify its means.


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  1. I really must start watching this. It’s on play instant right now.

    1. I watched a couple episodes and couldn’t get into it.

      1. That’s because you like Sixteen and Pregnant.

        1. I beg your pardon. That’s I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant.

          1. Don’t listen to him, he thinks chili is supposed to have broccoli and conversation heart candy in it.

            1. “These candies are chalky and unpleasant!”

              1. Like Tums

      2. I watched part of an episode and went, “Meh, more FX style uber-machismo and violence.”

      3. We lasted until partway into season 2, or something. Too much melodrama and repetition. Also, Ron Swanson could totally take those candy assed dudes.

        1. MmmmmMmMmmMMMmmm….Ron Swanson…..*drooooooool*

          1. +99 claymores to Kristen.

    2. At the beginning of the season, they ran 5 minute recaps of the previous seasons. Absolutely genius, IMO. Dunno if you can get those on your fancy play instant, but if so, it would be a big help.

      Good show, all around, although I have a mucho difficulty with the Jax/doctor story line. Katey Sagal is an absolute revelation.

      1. katey defines the mc alpha queen & has left crap like that married show waay behind. >her old man writes, & occasionally appears, in the show.

        1. Learn you some fucking grammar, oral idiot, and shut your bitch mouth about Al Bundy.

          1. wha? my GF says i gots a purdy mouth (cue dueling banjos?)

        2. Christina Applegate was sweet.

      2. Yeah, I love Gemma. She’s as ruthless as the gang. I’ve watched the show since the beginning. I love it. They did some bad ass shit in the first season which sticks with you. Kinda frees them up since they’ve already proved themselves. Sopranos pretty much did the same thing.

    3. You must. It’s outstanding.

    4. The first two seasons were good. Not Breaking Bad or Mad Men caliber but watchable. But the third season went totally off the rails, The current (fourth) season is better but has been pretty inconsistent.

  2. One of the best shows on television, for sure.

  3. Barney Miller brainwashed a generation of compliant children into seeing cops as their heros.

    Damn you Abe Vigoda! Damn you to hell!

    1. I used to regularly see Abe and Steve Landesberg (not together, though) on the street and at the local diner near my apartment on the Upper East Side. I was often tempted to start humming the Barney Miller theme but, unfortunately, restrained myself.

      1. Who would have thought Fish would outlive Dietrich?

        1. Nothing can kill Abe Vigoda, dude.

            1. I have to admit, I’m enjoying this Snickers ad campaign a little too much, especially the one where they hit Rosanne with a steel girder.

      2. As a kid, I learned the great Carol Kaye bass line in the theme of the show. People would always request it.

      3. good friend of mine was roommates with max gail in college.

    2. Oh, please. The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo was teaching the inherent corruption of a too powerful law enforcement system to any impressionable youth who was wise enough to watch.

      1. Yes, but surely the Dukes of Hazard also helped impressionable youth see the importance of expressing one’s civil liberties by hanging motionless in a muscle car during endless commercials? It didn’t have the hipster edge of Sheriff Lobo, but there were still plenty of teachable moments.

  4. Still waiting for Season 3 on Netflix streaming.

    1. That’s why I still get the DVDs. (And other shows as well)

    2. Itunes Apple Itunes. I bought seasons 2 and 3 on them and was super happy. 4 is the only season I have watched when it broadcasted, and when it’s over I’ll probably buy the episodes on Itunes. It’s around 20 bucks for the season.

  5. I’m glad Katie Sagal is getting work. She’d make a great Gertrude. But it’s a climbdown – at least Peg Bundy stayed faithful to Al.

    As for “lawless government officials,” wouldn’t that description fit Claudius?

    1. Maybe I have a weird thing for GMILFs, but Katie Sagal is hot.

      1. She’s also a pretty good singer. Married with Children might have paid the bills, but it was a waste of her talent.

        1. Yeah, her contributions to the soundtrack have been excellent.

          1. Doesn’t she do the voice of Lela on Futurama?

            1. Yo. She can do more with her voice than most actors can do with their whole arsenal.

      2. My girlfriend gave me a disgusted look when I told her that I was attracted to Sagal. I then informed her that she would make a very poor lesbian — failing marks.

        1. It sounds like the failing marks belong to you — have you gotten laid since that moment of over-candor?

          1. I’d start to worry about my partner’s sexual orientation if he didn’t ocassionally express lust for some female celeb.

  6. The government’s ends don’t always justify its means.

    Not if you consider increased power, convictions at any cost, and career advancement for the individual government agents to be worthwhile goals.

    1. Thank you, you said exactly what I was thinking. If anything the current storyline includes entrapment, collusion and Juice’s rights being violated by being forced to sign a deal without a lawyer.
      This of course is what leads to the tension between Lincoln Potter (US AG) and Sheriff Roosevelt. He understands the animal he is dealing with.

  7. I thought it was a reality series.

  8. Agent Stahl was a pretty good villian – although it did seem like they were going out of their way to make her non-stereotypical.

  9. I just about jumped out of my chair and cheered when they croaked that DEA bitch Stahl.

    1. Err, spoiler alert?

    2. Yeah, but then when Stahl’s boss gets even with the gang by sugaring their gas tanks…comedy gold!

  10. Looks like nicole from the ML finally got her boyfriend to marry her, with expected consequences.

    1. After seeing the picture, I understand why chose he the bridge to off himself.

      1. Shit “he chose”

  11. murderous bikers…men of courage operating within their own unique honor system


  12. The government’s ends don’t always justify its means.

    The entire show is about the ends not justifying the means. This season, especially, is about Clay doing horrible things for what he believes is the good of the club.

    1. Except he’s not doing it for the good of the club. He’s trying to line his pockets before his hands completely fail and he can’t ride anymore.

      1. I think he’s still telling himself that it’s for the club. But either way he always previously told himself that he he was doing the things he did for the club.

    2. SPOILER ALERT!?!?!

      1. I didn’t post any spoilers. Yell at AC and Brett.

        1. Clay is gay.


      2. Clay is a Cylon.

        Awwww, shit!

        1. Frackin’ toasters!


  13. Who’s going to kill Clay? Jax? Opie? Wayne? Bobby Elvis? Gemma?

    1. Gemma or Jax. Tig is my dark horse candidate. I’m thinking the Irish guy kills the US Attourney.

      1. I’d like to see Juice off the DA,

    2. opie. dude offed his dad

      1. Jax has to read the letters while clay is still alive. Maybe we’ll have a who shot J.R. thing happened. Clay found dead. Stay tuned for new season to find out who dunnit.

    3. I hope it’s Opie, and I hope Clay takes Op with him, since that dude is now officially too effed up for life, even as an outlaw biker. That be Hamlet-esque, but I think the writers are going to have Jax ride off into the sunset, with or without his Ophelia.

      1. I meant to type, “wouldn’t exactly” after “That” and before “be.” Hope that makes more sense.

  14. I’m not sure Clay ever pretended (in his own mind) he was acting in the “best interests” of the club.

  15. P Brooks- ATF, not that it really matters in real life. On the commentary for that show, they were talking about playing it at a theater for a lot of fans. Kurt Sutter said the fans had muffled cheers, as if they really wanted to, but were holding back from cheering a murder.

  16. ATF, not that it really matters in real life.


    If they were trying to go for the “You become the monster you hunt” angle, it worked.

  17. Of course, I tend to go with the view that the job (crimefighter), by its very nature as it is currently constituted, attracts scumbags and assholes who want virtually unlimited power with no consequences.

  18. Err, spoiler alert?

    Try to keep up, wouldja?

  19. …the job (crimefighter), by its very nature as it is currently constituted, attracts scumbags and assholes who want virtually unlimited power with no consequences.

    When nearly half of the “crimes” people are arrested for have no victim, it would be hard to disagree.

  20. Not a new concept

  21. My favorite part of this season is how they’ve managed, without preaching or hitting you over the head with it, to show that ‘the life’ visits destruction even, or especially, on those who do try to maintain some kind of moral compass amid all of it.

    1. That’s true of the characters on both sides of the law, and even those in between, like Unser and Oswald.

  22. Where are the fathers of anarchy?
    Is it all their fault?
    Should they have spent more time at home?

  23. pfff…. I have real gang.

    1. I got it, I got it … ouch.

      1. /laughs maniacally

  24. I saw that this thread reached “69” comments… I thought it was a dream come true.

  25. Tiny cartoonie:

    96 — “Hmm, something’s not right, Mable!”

  26. Has anyone started watching American Horror? Alexandra Breckenridge is ridiculasly hot in that show.

    1. Everytime I tell someone about it, they think I’m saying american whore and they think it’s another housewives show.

    2. Heartily agreed. The show’s a bit of a mess, but AB is tasty.

    3. I love both SoA and American Horror Story. SoA is preposterous on its face, but it draws you in. The bit about the government is not entirely new, though. It echoes the theme of The Wire that the cops are effectively just another gang, which of course is a long-running theme in the gang/mob film genre.

      American Horror just gets weirder and weirder each week. Just when you think it can’t get more twisted, they come up with something else. I do worry that they are revealing too many surprises too fast, though.

  27. I don’t feel as though they developed the US attorney character well enough. What are his motives? Why is he such a dick?

    1. He went to Harvard Law School. What other motivation does he need to wreak destruction and chaos?

  28. I don’t feel as though they developed the US attorney character well enough. What are his motives? Why is he such a dick?

    1. Double-posting means you’re good at the Internet.

    2. They keep hinting that he has some history. I think we’ll start finding out more about him soon. He’s an odd bird for sure.

      1. They’d better hurry up if that’s the case. The current season only has three more episodes.

        I can see that story line continuing over to next season, however.

    3. Crack theory: John Teller’s younger brother?

  29. “lol” yourself, triggerman.

    When the orders come, you’ll follow them to the letter. That’s your destiny.

  30. And, on the “Who gets to do Clay?” question; didn’t Opie’s original wife get bumped off in a botched hit (on Clay’s orders) attempt on him (Opie)?

    Opie should do it.

    1. Spoiler alert…Like I was saying above, Could be a J.R. type deal. Opie has a double motive. When Jax finds out out Tara and his realDad, he’ll have a double motive. Gemma said he needs to die. Unser has threatened to kill him. Bobby’s turned against him and now Tig turns in his patch very pissed off. He may end up dead and we’re left to wonder who until sweeps week.

  31. What was that movie where “everybody” dun it?

    They snuck in one by one and stabbed, strangled, shot, electrocuted and hanged the deceased because he was an asshole.

    1. That sounds familiar. Wasn’t it a comedy? Like a Mel Brookes but I don’t think it was him.

  32. Its a soap opera. Fictional tv

  33. SOA immediatedly became one of my favorite shows from its first episode on. The MC members I know in real life are divided on the show however. Some call it “Sons of Malarky.”

  34. I doubt SOA can cause much damage in the real world where cops randomly sprays pepper spray into the faces of old women and student for peaceably expressing their 1st Amendment rights and responsibilities. Jack Bauer on the other hand promotes a mind set that makes it easier for the gov’t to get away with war crimes like torture because it teaches our citizens that such things are defensable.

    1. 24 was enjoyable as an insane romp and a logistical conundrum (ok, when are these people going to shit?), but it had a tendency (probably due to lazy writing) to justify the torture of even innocent characters when some kernel of truth tangentially related to someone the bad guys maybe met one weekend at a terrorist retreat back in the ’70s was ripped from their subconscious as Jack shot their kneecaps in front of their wives and children. Most neocons had no problem with this and assumed that’s how it must(should?) work in the real world, innocence be damned. After this realization, the many successful large scale attacks on the US in the 24 universe start to make more sense from a blow-back perspective.

  35. Stahl framed Gemma for murder? Um, that’s technically true for the death of that Irish kid (I’m not sure I’d call that “murder” exactly, though that’s what Gemma was wanted for), but let’s not forget that Gemma murdered the girl who set her up to get raped at the same time. Wikipedia laughably says that she killed her “in self-defense,” as if there was any scenario in which Gemma wouldn’t have killed her. I mean, come on.

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