‘Sons of Anarchy’ recap: Who’s your baby?

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It will be hard to top the nefarious brew of ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ Season 2, with Gemma’s rape, SAMCRO’s porn biz, Charming’s potential neo-Nazi takeover and the kidnapping of Jax’s baby – plot lines that took so many characters’ skeletons out of the closet and rattled them around, pushing the M.C. to the brink. But the Season 3 opener keeps up the momentum. Personally, I would’ve liked the show to open with Jax scoring H from the Mayans instead of slumping on the floor by Abel’s empty crib, because screaming at the end of a dock didn’t seem appropriate for a man whose baby had just been snatched by an IRA gun supplier. But that’s the mom in me. Ultimately, Sutter made the better call in having Jax act out as he did by the end of Episode 1: repeatedly bashing in the face of a guy who killed an innocent kid. With its opener, ‘Sons’ is as brutal and Tarantino-esque as ever, but it isn’t gratuitous. Its leather-clad toughs are just becoming more fully formed versions of themselves, especially the women. As much as ‘Sons’ is Hamlet-esque in its theme of father-son relationships, it’s also about daughters. We know Gemma’s MO: to be a fierce mother, which she continues to prove. I love the scene of her using a newspaper only to catch her nail trimmings, then reading it to find out about her dad’s wife dying. Whether it’s hot-wiring a car or sassing back to Tig, Gemma seems different this season. She may be on the lam, but her mood is more playful. And so is her look. I’m relieved to see her shed the leather-and-lace Stevie Nicks thing and get more rocker. [Updated 9-8-10, 12:40 p.m.: A previous version of this post stated Gemma had read about Abel’s kidnapping in the newspaper.]
I don’t yet know what to make of Gemma’s visit to her dad’s, but so far, Hal Holbrook’s performance as an elder with Alzheimer’s has been heartbreakingly wonderful. So has Maggie Siff’s turn as Tara. Just as Season 2 allowed Katey Sagal to show her serious acting chops as Gemma, this season appears to be Siff’s turn to shine as the doctor/SAMCRO old lady hybrid who’s struggling to find her path. Will Tara be suspended from the hospital? Will Gemma get busted? Where is Jax’s baby, anyway, and how will SAMCRO get its guns? Sutter tends to trade in secrets that are unexpectedly and dramatically revealed, letting his characters’ animal instincts come to the fore. More please. -- Susan Carpenter


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