William Shakespeare never chopped a Harley, ran drugs and illegal guns, financed a porn shoot, or took up with the occasional, uh, person of ill repute (OK, not so sure about that one), but he'd still find plenty to identify with in this fifth season of Sons of Anarchy
(with 13 episodes on three discs). The parallels between Shakespeare and this show haven't gone unnoticed--several articles have illuminated them, and Sons
creator Kurt Sutter has acknowledged them--but they seem more vivid than ever this time around. Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) now knows that his stepfather, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), killed his father before marrying his mother, Gemma (the redoubtable Katey Sagal), in a scenario straight out of Hamlet
. With Clay in disrepute, Jax is now in charge of the motorcycle club known as SAMCRO. But uneasy lies the head that wears a crown (Henry IV, Part II
, for those keeping track). For one thing, no one seems to realize that Clay's plotting various dastardly deeds in order to usurp his stepson's authority and regain it for himself; more immediately, Jax and the others face a very formidable foe in the form of one Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau), who blames the Sons for the death of his daughter and is exacting an extremely nasty revenge, while Jax and spouse Tara (Maggie Siff) have good reason to believe that Gemma is no longer fit to look after their two kids. But it's not all bad, as Gemma has a new love interest, a pimp (he prefers to calls himself "a companionator") played with rough-hewn charm by Jimmy Smits, who proves to be a valuable ally. Still, this is a tough world--these people are hard-core criminals, after all--and the producers don't stint on the profanity or sometimes graphic violence (the murder of one club member's daughter at the hands of Pope in the first episode is not for the faint of heart; this is also a show that's unafraid to knock off a major character now and then). With two more seasons to come, it's hard to predict where all of this will end up. But as long as we're talking about Shakespeare, it's worth remembering that in the Bard's tragedies, pretty much everyone eventually ends up dead. Just sayin'. --Sam Graham
From creator Kurt Sutter comes the adrenaline-charged Sons of Anarchy, featuring exclusive "creator's cut" episodes and kicking into high gear with its biggest, most explosive season ever! As SAMCRO's new president, Jax is surrounded by ruthless enemies and gut-wrenching betrayal. With Gemma fighting for control of the family and a bloodthirsty Clay out for revenge, Jax defennds himself haunted by the sins of his past. Alliances are forged, friends are murdered, and loyalties are put to the ultimate test. Now, with the truth in sight, Jax must do whatever it takes to secure the legacy of brotherhood and protect his family-even if it costs him everything.