When we last saw the Sam Crow motorcycle gang, they were heading off for a short (14 months) prison stay. Season 4 begins with the boys getting out of jail (and the episode is titled “Out”). The only real question I have going into the season is: how much man hugging will there be in the first episode? will the stay in jail affect the boys’ ability to display manly affection through the proper ritual of manhugging?
See Sons of Anarchy and the Manly Art of Hugging for the full exploration of man hugs in Sons of Anarchy.
Well, I shouldn’t have worried. Before the opening credits even, there was a flurry of man hugs as the released prisoners were greeted by their Sam Crow brothers outside the prison. Hands are clasped, leather is slapped, and there are manly greetings all around. I counted 5 visible man hugs (Jax and Opie, as you might expect, get the most onscreen hug time), which is a pretty good tally for the first five minutes of the episode. And there appears to have been a whole lot of hugging going on just offscreen as well while the camera focused on a couple of hugs in particular. And that count doesn’t even include the man/woman hugs that take place when everyone arrives at the clubhouse and meets up with their wives and girlfriends.
So, some things haven’t changed, but the boys soon discover that some things have changed. Charming is now under the jurisdiction of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office. And there’s a new sheriff in town, Lt. Roosevelt, who immediately blockades the main street to let the riders know that wearing their colors is a violation of their probation.
There’s also a new baby, and Abel is walking, but there really wasn’t as much emphasis on the Sons’ domestic reunions as one might have expected, so we didn’t see much of Jax together with Tara and the boys (although Jax and Tara do take advantage of the boys’ nap time for a conjugal reunion). Actually, I take that back; since this episode is an hour and half long rather than the usual hour, there’s more space for Tara and Jax in the last half an hour. And the new baby, Thomas, has an adorable pair of motorcycle pajamas.
A welcome new addition is Ray McKinnon as attorney general Lincoln Potter, head of an impressive FBI task force planning to bring down Sam Crow, the IRA, and the Russian gang that is “partnering” with Sam Crow in the gun running business. Ray McKinnon played Reverend Smith on Deadwood, and it’s fabulous to see him again in another western (or quasi-western).
There’s also a nice chase sequence, as a policeman tries to follow Sam Crow and finds himself surrounded by motorcycles (and by motorcyclists who take turns kicking the door of his car—a nice bit of stunt work).
The big event of the episode is Opie and Lila’s wedding, and everybody is there (the Mayans, the Russians, the Sons). I won’t spoil with any details here, but suffice it to say, that the wedding involves “business” as well as nuptial celebration.
So there was more man hugging in the episode, nothing so extravagant as the opening round of hugs, and there were shoulder thumps (without accompanying hugs) too numerous to count.
The final man hug tally for the episode: 9 man hugs