On FX's Sons of Anarchy, Jax Teller's road to hell has always been paved with good intentions. That will be especially true in Season 6.
"Jax is trying to balance being a good father, a good husband and a good leader of an outlaw organization — therein lies the tragic flaws of this guy," creator and executive producer Kurt Sutter tells TVGuide.com. "He's got this sense of, 'I can unplug us from all the bad sh--. Let's go legit — let's head in that direction because that's going to keep us alive.' As the season progresses, the question is: How do you unplug if people perceive you as the source of power? And is it too late? Are things set in motion in such a way where it just can't be done? That's really the quest for him this season."
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But as Jax (Charlie Hunnam) tries once and for all to get SAMCRO out of the gun-running business, he'll have to stay one step ahead of ex-U.S. Marshal Lee Toric (Donal Logue), who is bent on bringing the club down for its role in the death of his sister. And with Tara (Maggie Siff) and Clay (Ron Perlman) both behind bars as the season begins, Toric has some potentially useful tools at his disposal.
So, will Jax be able to finally right the ship? Will his personal life remain as messy as his life in the club? And will there even be a club left to save by the end of the season? Check out six teasers for the new season, which premieres Tuesday at 10/9c on FX.
1. Marshal Law: Lee Toric no longer has a badge, which means that he doesn't necessarily have to play by the rules — not that he ever did when he was a Marshal. "He's really a different kind of adversary for these guys," Sutter says. "He's got all the pull and the clout of a lawman, yet he's basically just this unhinged dude that's hell-bent for revenge. In one of the first three episodes, he has a speech with Clay about how he doesn't give a f--- about justice. He is one of those cops that might as well be an outlaw." But as viewers will quickly learn, Toric has some dark demons, which may be his kryptonite. "We saw that huge bag of meds last season," Sutter teases. "He's got his own sh-- that he's dealing with, and perhaps he's a guy that has a ticking clock. Perhaps he's not afraid because he doesn't have much time."
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2. Orange Is the New Black: Toric will quickly pounce on both Tara and Clay, offering them protection while they're in prison if they give him intel on the club's illegal activity. Although Jax and Tara are in a rough spot in their relationship, Clay is seen as the real threat, since ratting out the club might be the only way he can survive in The Big House. "I think that Jax's interpretation of Clay is true. That's the reputation Clay has earned with Jax and with the club, and probably with the audience," Sutter says. "I felt like it would be a disservice to Clay to not have him somewhat impacted by the life. I've seen a lot of these guys, when they get a little bit older, they get tired. It doesn't mean they go rat, but their priorities shift."
While the old Clay might have done anything to stay alive, Sutter hints that being betrayed by Jax and Gemma (Katey Sagal) has changed Clay. "When Gemma betrayed Clay, that was the crack for Clay. That was the thing that he believed would never happen," Sutter says. "I think that changed him on a cellular level. This season, I think he feels like [his] days are numbered. He's a guy that's looking for some redemption on every level, with his family, with his club. You don't know if you should trust Clay... but I think it's interesting to have him go down this path, and at least be able to have that experience and perhaps be a different guy as a result."
3. Trouble at Home: Although Tara's prison stint is short-lived, she will still feel somewhat trapped in Charming. "The experience of the last six months has changed Tara," Sutter says. "She's this woman who's been assaulted, almost killed, and put in prison for the club within a period of less than a year. How does that not impact you when you have an infant at home? How does that not tweak you? How does she stay loyal to the guy she loves when he's the source of all those things?" So, are Jax and Tara doomed? Will Tara just pack up the boys and leave? "This show is really just a tragic love story. That love is the hope in the show," Sutter says. " It's going to be a bumpy ride for them this season, but no matter how drastic or extreme [things get], each of them feels that perhaps their connection will see them through. Whether that's true or misguided or foolish, I don't know."
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4. And Trouble Abroad: At the end of Season 5, Bobby (Mark Boone Jr.) turned in his vice president patch. This season, he's on the road, trying to establish a new nomad charter of SAMCRO. "Bobby's always sort of been the conscience of the club," Sutter says. "When he throws in that patch, it wasn't about, 'F--- you, I'm getting out.' It was, 'I don't know how to be your second.' He needs to realign himself. He's committed to the club, but somehow Redwood's not working." Taking Bobby's place is Chibs (Tommy Flanagan), who, despite being loyal to Jax through the years, may also disagree with the president's choices. "Chibs is more of a peer to Jax than Bobby was," Sutter says. "When you have peers, they're not afraid to say, 'Hey, what the f--- are you doing?' I don't think Chibs is afraid to do that with Jax, and one could argue that's why he put Chibs there."
Ultimately, Jax may not have any allies. "One of the interesting parallels we get to create is that [we saw] Clay a few seasons back isolating himself and sitting in that chapel alone," Sutter says. "We see Jax doing that. We see Jax ultimately being alone and trying to be isolated because, as Jax says, that's what you need to do to be a leader. You need to separate yourself from the people that you're leading so that you can be clear-minded and not be swayed."
5. New Faces: Although this season welcomes back Toric and Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits) from last season, there will be plenty of new blood. Peter Weller plays Charles Barosky, a crooked ex-cop who teams with Jax and Nero to re-launch the club's porn production. Barosky will introduce the guys to Collette Jane (Deadwood and Treme star Kim Dickens), a madam who can also help expand the club's escort ventures. (She'll also have an impact on Jax personally.) Finally, there's The Shield's CCH Pounder, who plays the San Joaquin County District Attorney whom Toric recruits in his crusade against SAMCRO.
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6. A Very Controversial Premiere: We won't spoil it, but Tuesday's season premiere features a scene that is sure to be talked about. But Sutter insists he's not going for cheap shock value. "I've wanted to do that story for about three years," Sutter told reporters at the Television Critics Association fall previews in July. "I knew it would be somewhat controversial, but I feel like as much as I wouldn't do something [just] because it was controversial, I'm also not going to do something because it is controversial. ... I feel like nothing is done gratuitously. ... I am not trying to make a statement. This is a story that's not being done to be sensational."
Rather, Sutter maintains that the potentially polarizing scene in question is a major turning point for the show as it kicks off its penultimate season. "It is truly the catalyst for the third act of our morality play," he said. "It sets everything in motion for this season that will ultimately lead to the end that then will bring us into the final season and what I see as the ultimate comeuppance of everything in terms of the series."
Sons of Anarchy premieres Tuesday at 10/9c on FX.