Three episodes in, I am comfortable saying that season 4 is going to be the best season of Sons of Anarchy to date. All three of the episodes have been action-packed, perfectly paced, well-written, and immaculately acted. Just like in the previous two weeks, last night's episode slowly pulled away the layers on each character, saying less with more, showing each character's motivations a bit more without hitting you over the head with them. I've always loved the show, but it's really hitting its stride now.
In specific, last night I had my eye on Bobby. More than any of the other club members, Bobby is aware of what is happening to Clay, how he's losing his psychological grip as he loses his physical one. Bobby's reactions in the scene where he and Clay meet with their Native American ammo-making contact are absolutely spot-on perfect. Fantastic acting on Mark Boone Junior's part, and really good direction by Peter Weller.
The other strength of last night's episode, for me, was the guest appearance of Marianne Jean-Baptiste as neighborhood matriarch Vivica Potter. Vivica is badass, in charge, and hilarious. The begrudgingly respectful conversation between she and Jax was one of my favorite SOA interchanges ever. I like seeing the show branch out a little bit in the kinds of power it displays.
Another thing I liked about the scenes with Vivica, as well a the sub-plot being constructed around Juice's racial heritage and what that means to his place in the club, and the race of the new sheriff, is that the show is looking like it's going to address race in a way it hasn't before. At first blush, I wasn't crazy about the idea of Sheriff Roosevelt using Juice's Black father as leverage over him. It wasn't like SAMCRO ever thought Juice was White--he's portrayed as Puerto Rican--and Happy clearly isn't 100% White either. Why should we believe anybody will care that Juice has a Black father? However, after thinking about it, I think it could unfold in interesting ways, so I'm reserving judgment and hoping for the best.
Katey Sagal is stellar in every single episode of this show, but I loved her particularly much last night. The combination of manipulation and, perhaps, a kernel of truth in her "confession" to Tara about John Teller's abandonment and the beginning of her relationship with Clay was superbly done. Even though I knew everything Gemma knows about the JT letters Tara is holding, I wasn't sure how much of what she was saying to believe. Watching the scene, it was so easy for me to put myself in Tara's shoes--she knows Gemma, and knows her capacity for manipulation, but there's something else going on, too. Absolutely amazing.
I honestly can't say enough good things about this show right now. Every episode I watch draws me in deeper and leaves me with a greater respect for the cast, the crew, the writers, and especially the pater familias of the whole deal, Kurt Sutter.