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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sons of Anarchy Season Four roars onto Blu-ray

When fans completed the third season of Sons of Anarchy, many members of SAMCRO are in prison. Season four, now on Blu-ray and DVD, picks up fourteen months later. The gang is out, but they don't quite return home to the same place they left. There's a new sheriff in town, Lieutenant Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar, Prison Break), who won't even allow them to wear their insignia anymore. Backed up by U.S. Attorney Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon, Deadwood), a case is being built against the parolees. Will SAMCRO stand for this? Will they toe the line to stay out of trouble? Viewers of the show should be able to guess the answer fairly easily.

Even as everyone pulls together, there are some who call their loyalties into question. Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is ready to move on, especially after Tara (Maggie Siff) accepts his marriage proposal. Being a member of the motorcycle group hasn't been an easy or a safe way to live, and these lovebirds plan to leave it all behind them. If only quitting were that easy...

Clay (Ron Perlman) makes things worse. The guys have long run guns, but Clay thinks that they should mule cocaine, too. This added business prospect, not only risky, but also morally questionable, causes a schism in the group. Half of the guys are in favor of the extra money getting involved with drugs will bring, while the other half take a different stance. It makes it awfully hard to fight the law when you are sucked into internal bickering.

A rat within the organization, secret ancestry, letters with incriminating details, an old murder come to light, and some serious rivals are only some of the many obstacles the characters face in season four. It's a roller coaster ride which tests every characters' mettle. Loyalty and betrayal, danger and excitement, love and death rule this year, by most accounts a worthy continuation of a well-respected series.

Some complained that season three strayed too far from the beaten path, taking the characters in directions that were not universally approved of. Most agree that season four is a return to form. While that does mean it falls back into a certain formula, there are also some sweeping arcs and moving stories that raise the game. There is a re-invigoration of the strongest elements on the show, and things seem a little less meandering than in the previous year. There will never be a consensus on a show that divides people like Sons of Anarchy does, but most point to season four as a solid effort.

Despite how hard the series may seem on the outside, as it is about a bunch of criminals on motorcycles, after all, the true reason this series works is because of the characters. A fantastic cast which includes not only Perlman, Hunnam, and Siff, but also Katey Sagal, William Lucking, Mark Boone Junior, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Theo Rossi, Ryan Hurst, and Dayton Callie sell each and every installment. These characters are layered, and by the brilliance of the performers, are made sympathetic, despite the dark deeds that they do. Add to this, fantastic writing and great direction, and Sons of Anarchy remains one of cable's most compelling dramas. People who watch this show expect a high level of quality, and season four, like the previous years, delivers.

Season Four's Blu-ray release does not lack for extras. There are extended episodes and scenes, deleted scenes, and several of the episodes have an audio commentary option, including the two part finale. There is also a gag reel and featurettes on fans of the show, and a stop by the House of Blues. A touching tribute to Piney (Lucking) may just bring tears to your eyes.

Sons of Anarchy Season Four is available now wherever Blu-rays and DVDs are sold.

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