Sons Of Anarchy: Season Two [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Ethan Stevenson (6th November 2010).
The Show

More motorcycles, more (and then less) guns, lots and lots of sex, violence and drugs, and of course, ol’ Bill Shakespeare. No, I’m still not talking about Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” (1996) – although I might be soon. Believe it or not, I’m actually talking about Kurt Sutter’s “Sons of Anarchy”, which is, all things considered, a not-too-terrible interpretation of one of the Bard’s most respected works, the titular “Hamlet”, with a dash of “King Lear” thrown in for good measure.

To catch you up on the groundwork laid down in the first season, I’ll just let my words from that review do the talking:

Something is rotten in the town of Charming, California and I think it might be all those dead bodies precariously buried around the county. The young “prince”, Jackson Teller (Charlie Hunnam) has recently had a visit from his dead father, in the form of an unpublished memoir titled “The Life and Death of Sam Crow: How the Sons of Anarchy Lost Their Way.” Second in command of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Originals (or SAMCRO for short), “Jax” is unsure that the club is what is father, the founder, really wanted it to be. As Teller reconnects with his deceased father through pages upon pages of text, he realizes the “Sons” were supposed to be about family and really nothing else. Jax describes the vision depicted in his Dad’s memoir as something resembling a “hippie commune” – a far cry from the gun running, thuggish crime bosses that the SOA are today. Not helping matters, the “vice president” has fatherhood thrust upon him when his son, conceived with his now ex-wife, is born 10 weeks premature to a junky mother,

Although second in command and the son of the clubs founder, Teller really has little say in the direction that the Sons of Anarchy sway. His mother, (the Queen) Gemma (Katey Sagal), and her new husband, the clubs current president (or King), Clay Marrow (Ron Perlman) run the show; and they’re fairly content on continuing down the illegal but highly profitable path they have laid down for themselves. Many of the other club members are equally satisfied with the direction the club has taken. Most of them ex-cons, the other Sons of Anarchy or “Men of Mayhem” as they have stitched to their jackets, find stealing, strong arming, blackmail and gun running perfectly acceptable, even if it means that they might have to murder a few hundred gangsters along the way; mostly, because, as I said, their business is highly profitable.


Something I only touched on in that review was the show’s large ensemble cast that makes up the rest of the Sons of Anarchy, and what a mistake that was because some of those characters only become even more important this season. Jax’s new (yet old) squeeze is Tara (Maggie Siff), his one time girlfriend who came back to Charming in season one because her dad died; she’s grown up quite a bit since Jax last saw her. No longer the manipulative, bitchy teen who started catfights with other women as if it were sport, Tara’s a doctor these days and a good one too. Tig (Kim Coates) is Clay’s right hand man; although Clay and Jax are supposed to be working together, and the later the direct subordinate of the other, their increasing opposition to each other has left Tig to do Clay’s dirty work. Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) is the clubs treasurer and secretary; good with numbers and even better at impersonating Elvis Presley, he brings some much-needed levity to oft-too-serious meetings. Chibs (Tommy Flanagan), an ex-member of the IRA and by proxy, an Irish import, serves as liaison to the clubs Irish-bred gun suppliers. At the start of last season Jax’s oldest friend, Opie Winston (Ryan Hurst), just got out of prison after serving six years for the good of the club; he was apprehensive in rejoining at first, but the allure of money and power only granted under the guise of membership with the SOA, Opie dove head-first into the fray when he committed murder on Clay’s orders. Piney (William Lucking), who is also Opie’s father, is one of the original nine members of the club, having joined back when John Teller and Clay founded it. Due to his emphysema, and a growing dissatisfaction with the direction that the club is heading in, Piney is less involved in the actual criminal activity, and instead offers his input at “the table” (meetings at which votes are cast by full members on decisions that will effect everyone on a club-wide basis) as well as sometimes counseling Jax on matters too subversive for unfriendly ears. Theo Rossi, who plays Juice, has been promoted to main cast this season, and as such actually gets a real character, even if that still means he plays more as the comic relief. Finishing off the Sons is “Half Sack” (Johnny Lewis), a member in training (the so-called club Prospect) with one testicle – hence his nickname. He gets an implant this season, which doesn’t go over so well. Also playing a larger role, although not immediately within the club, are two officers of the Charming police department, Chief Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) and his deputy, David Hale (Taylor Sheridan). Unser has long-since been bought by the Sons, and often bends the law in their favor because of that, which doesn’t sit right with Hale, a young-buck do-gooder chomping at the bit to get his bosses job so that he can bring true justice to his hometown. Something that Hale might just get soon, as Unser is battling cancer and his chemo treatments have often left him unable to perform his duties in their fullest capacity.

When we last saw them, things weren’t going too well for SAMCRO. A pair of ATF agents – mostly the gung-ho female member of the duo, June Stahl (Ally Walker) – had it out for the California-based motorcycle club. Stahl had turned them against each other, orchestrating a mass deception to make it look like Opie; a husband (and father of two) had gone States-witness. Of course he hadn’t, but she did her best to make it look like he had, putting Winston and his family into “protective custody”, not to mention clearing thousands of dollars of their debt with money from clearly marked federal accounts. Thinking that he was a rat, Clay put a hit out on Opie – telling Tig to do the deed after a party celebrating newborn baby Teller’s homecoming; a celebration that Jax’s best friend would certainly attend. Wires get crossed and the assassination, made up to look like gang retaliation, is botched; instead of Opie getting an entire clip unloaded into his skull, his wife Donna (Sprague Grayden) gets killed.

As the second season opens, three months have passed. Opie returns from a walkabout to find the club in even greater disarray, thanks in large part to Jax, Piney and deputy Hale’s (wholly correct) suspicions that Clay was the one behind Donna’s death. Jax is on the warpath and wants Clay gone, but he won’t kill him because he cares too much for his son and Tara, the latter whom has warmed up to the idea of being Jax’s “old lady” and baby Abel’s mother. Piney would kill Clay if he weren’t so shaken by Donna’s death that he’s been holed up, drunk and suicidal at his cabin in the woods. Hale wants Clay to disappear more than anyone – after all, with the president dead or behind bars, and the membership in such angry hysteria, the SOA will likely be out of his hair for good – but wants to uphold the law, so murder is out of the question. And, despite his laundry list of illegal activities, surprisingly Clay isn’t the easiest guy to connect to a crime; meaning regular police channels also aren’t sufficient for the deputy.

The second season sees a new nemesis for the Sons, a group of neo-Nazi white supremacists called The League of American Nationalists, headed by the chillingly clean cut Ethan Zobelle (a scarily restrained Adam Arkin) and his violent skinhead lieutenant AJ Weston (who else but Henry Rollins). Zobelle wants the town of Charming for himself and will do everything in his considerable power to make that happen, even if that means war. Unfortunately for the club, Zobelle isn’t an unintelligent neo-Nazi thug who peddles drugs to junkies like Darby (Mitch Pileggi) whom they ran out of town last season (Darby also returns, but on brother Zobelle’s orders). No, Ethan Zobelle is a well-connected, respectable businessman, who plays nice with the law and uses dirty tactics on the side. The club can’t touch him with a confused Deputy Hale in Zobelle’s pocket, and even if they really wanted retaliation for some of Zobelle’s more heinous transgressions – namely the rape of the club matriarch, Gemma Teller, turning the SOA absolutely upside down without their powerful momma-bear to keep things in check – they have to be careful because he’s smart. Perhaps smarter than anyone they’ve ever dealt with before, even Agent Stahl.

Speaking of Stahl, she is curiously nonexistent for most of the first half of this season, despite her storyline being left open-ended when we last say her in the season one finale. Not to worry, she returns with a force in the back seven, but her disappearance is handled clumsily, which is unfortunate (and one of the only problems I had with this run of the series) because, despite being a character you really should hate, actress Ally Walker makes her a character that you sort of want to love (and, weirdly, want to cheer for). Also absent is Drea de Mateo, who played Wendy, Jax’s ex-wife, in the first season. Her absence is explained in a deleted scene (as is Stahl’s for that matter), but only in passing. Fortunately for Sutter I can forgive his mishandling of the Wendy storyline, as it was frankly not interesting and one of the biggest pieces of fat that needed trimming.

The strongest aspect of Sutter’s creation though is not just the characters he’s produced, or the incredible ensemble cast that he’s pulled together – all of whom are top notch, and damn near the best group of actors working collectively on TV today – nor is it the show’s neatly woven action plots, or even the tense drama. Not just. It’s the combination of these elements, which make the show work so well. “Sons of Anarchy” balances pure awesome action – involving guns, death, bombs, and bikes – with such well acted, unrest drama better than most other TV shows and films, and does so while still managing to get a bit of the funny on screen as well. Does the credit all fall on Sutter? No, of course not. But, he can share the credit with his real life wife Katey Sagal, who is absolutely superb and should have received at least a nomination in last year's Emmys (how the show has never received any award buzz is beyond me; preconceived notions and bias about the subject I suppose.) along with Charlie Hunnam, who takes his rightful place in the cast as the no-longer brooding prince. His inaction and woe-is-me storyline last season left Hunnam’s Jax with little of any substance to actually do on the show; I’m glad that the writers have straightened the character out and given him some depth via his thankfully developed divergence into new-fatherhood. The rest of the cast deserves accolades as well, as do the other writers on this show (yes, although Sutter seems to pen many of the teleplays and stories, someone else is usually credited alongside him) and most definitely the directors – among them, director and cinematographer Phil Abraham of “Mad Men” (2007-present), which is coincidental one of Sutter’s favorite shows on TV at the moment – who’s close working relationship with the writers (and, thus, the writer’s familiarity with the actors) allows for one of the most cohesive, well translated series on cable at the moment.

I think that “Sons of Anarchy” has been prejudged. I’ll admit, I wasn’t too keen on a series that centered on a motorcycle club, simply because, stupidly, I found the idea somehow beneath me. But, as I watched the first season I realized that Sutter’s plan for his show is an exceedingly well-crafted one that combines all the elements of a great drama series with some smoldering machismo always lurking – and frequently breaking through – the surface. And Kurt Sutter and his crew have only improved upon his initial plan in the second season. No that’s not true, they haven’t improved it.... they’ve perfected it. And Sutter, ever the intelligent writer who realizes that this perfect balance is what makes his show work has stepped up his game, offering three extended episodes (each approaching a full hour without commercials) so that he can provide the tense action plots with dense character arcs. For every encounter Clay has with Zobelle or a rival gang, Gemma is given an equal amount of time to battle her demons and Jax is able to mount his internal attack on those in power, as he tries to legitimize the clubs business (moving away from guns, to, well, a slightly less sleazy avenue - porn). Watch “Sons of Anarchy”. Now. Because this is a tremendous series and it deserves an audience.

All thirteen episodes from the second season of “Sons of Anarchy” are spread across three discs. Typical of Fox TV on Blu-ray, we get options in the menu for “play all” – which plays the disc straight-through, uninterrupted for marathon viewing – or “play episode” for single viewings on the nights that you can’t spend more than 43 minutes with the most dangerous motorcycle club in Charming, CA. A third option pops up on selected episodes to “play episode with commentary”. The episodes featured in this season two set are:

- "Albification" - In the hour long season premiere, with loyalties inside the club split after Donna’s death, Clay sets up a new gun deal with the IRA. Meanwhile, a white separatist group threats to take control of Charming.

- "Small Tears" - Jax’s rogue decision-making brings danger (and unwanted attention) to the club’s doorstep. As Luanne looks to SAMCRO for help with trouble at the porn studio, Gemma turns to an unlikely source for support too.

- "Fix" - The League seeks to undermine SAMCRO, forcing the club to take (highly) explosive measures in order to ensure a strong message is sent. Clay and Gemma struggle to communicate after her attack, while Tara learns to claim her man.

- "Eureka" - The MC finds trouble when they cross state lines on a “charity” club ride, which is really a front for a gun run up the coast to their Oregon-based SOA brethren. Meanwhile, in Clay’s absence Gemma is put into a compromising position with The League.

- "Smite" - Despite their best efforts to discourage otherwise the SOA have found a dangerous new enemy in The League, who wants to take the town of Charming for themselves. Tara’s compassionate efforts to reach an increasingly distraught Gemma don’t go unpunished.

- "Falx Cerebri" - Incited by Zobelle, Clay sets a course for retaliation, which forces Jax, who thinks rash action is just going to play into The League’s game, to turn to an unlikely source (deputy Hale), in hopes that he can save the club. Elsewhere, Gemma helps Tara manage her anger issues by teaching her how to handle a gun.

- "Gilead" - With the key members of SAMCRO behind bars, the club must find new allegiances inside and outside of prison. Mysteriously absent ATF Agent Stahl (Ally Walker) returns to test Clay and Jax’s relationship in an attempt at creating even greater inner turmoil for the MC.

- "Potlatch" - SAMCRO takes extreme measures to procure a shipment of AK-47s for a new customer. Meanwhile, Tara’s personal life and work life collide when Gemma threatens Tara’s boss after she asks one to many questions about the club. A rival porn producer (Tom Arnold) who’s been at odds with the club and their interests in Luanne’s business ups his game. And Jax and Clay’s quarrel about the direction of the club comes to a volatile head over family dinner.

- "Fa Guan" - When the clubs interest in the adult film business becomes a hindrance, Clay sets out to revive the gunrunning cartel. Jax and Clay become increasingly antagonistic towards each other, which leaves both sides ready to part ways. And, Gemma finally finds some solace when she accompanies Chief Unser to a Sunday church service.

- "Balm" - Jax thinks about joining another charter of the SOA, which pits Clay supporters against the few pro-Teller members, not suffering from some sort of injury or in hospital, left. The tension between Clay and Jax makes Gemma wonder whether or not she should come clean about what really happened on the night of her “car accident”. Meanwhile, as the Teller-Morrow club tears itself apart from the inside, the Teller-Morrow repo business thrives thanks to a visit to the local Indian Reservation, and Stahl gets up-close and personal with the MC.

- "Service" - A recovering Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) attempts to make a deal with Agent Stahl in order to protect his ex-wife and daughter. Deep in emotional turmoil, Opie seeks both revenge and reconciliation, which could leave his membership in question. Reeling in the aftermath and truth of Gemma’s rape, the SOA set out on a warpath against Zobelle and his crew.

- "The Culling" - SAMCRO goes on lockdown as Jax and Clay prepare to battle The League. Weston (Henry Rollins) learns about Zobelle’s real business dealings with the Mayans. Gemma finally realizes her purpose. Tara confronts her boss and ensures her position at the hospital. Meanwhile, Deputy Hale finally takes command of the Charming Police force and tries to put a stop to the impending war between the MC and their rivals – at least within city limits.

- "Na Triobloidi" - As SAMCRO tries to permanently rid Charming of Ethan Zobelle and The League, familiar faces – particularly the Mayans – cause even more trouble for the club and Charming PD. Gemma wants justice, and hunts down Zobelle’s daughter to get it. And the Irish are under the watchful eye of Agent Stahl who once again goes too far, getting someone killed in the crossfire, which could have repercussions for Jax. The gripping finale ends on a tantalizing cliffhanger that potentially changes the game forever.

Video

Very little has changed in the past year in terms of video; “Sons of Anarchy: Season Two” looks absolutely identical on Blu-ray to the excellently transferred previous season. A clear upgrade over the HDTV broadcast, which are riddled with unattractive blocks and noise on my over-compressed Time Warner feed, Fox’s high-def disc release is just about perfect; I can’t imagine “Sons” looking any better than it does here. I’d just be repeating myself anyway so to give you an idea of what the discs look like, I’ll let my comments from last year do the talking:

Despite some slightly overcooked contrast, a tiny bit of black crush here and there, and an intrusive yellow filter invading most scenes, “Sons of Anarchy: Season One” looks mighty good. The 13 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfers preserve the original high def broadcast framing at 1.78:1. Detail is strong with pores and facial features looking crisply rendered. Long and medium shots have the expected detail of a solid high definition transfer too, with exterior textures and writing on faraway objects clearly legible. The show has a gritty stylized appearance, with overblown, ultra-bright whites and an elevated color palette but I won’t knock it for this obviously creative-decision-based “fault”. Although the show is shot on video via Panavision Genesis HD cameras, a bit of artificial grain looks to have been added in, probably in the hopes to give the show a documentary-like, and more cinematic aesthetic. Lots of hand-held camerawork and some long lens material help add to this style.

Unfortunately, I did notice a few (extremely short) moments of aliasing one a couple of the episodes. But, other than that, I think “Sons of Anarchy” looks very good. Not “picture-window perfect” but, then again, this show isn’t supposed to be a pristine Technicolor showcase. Each encode is strong (average bitrate is a respectable 23Mbps), lavishly spread across all three discs and there is no evidence of severe macro-blocking or other artifacts. I also noticed no sign of banding either, despite some heavy color grading. The artificial grain and inherent (but light) source noise is nicely rendered, never reducing the overall image to tiny blocks. And the series is unmolested by post-processing “tools” like Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) or edge enhancement. Fox has delivered another fine TV on Blu release to be sure.

Audio

Similarly, Fox’s lossless DTS-HD mixes on these 13 second season episodes sound as good as those tracks found on season one. Although the second season drops the dub options found on the first season, it adds English, Spanish, French (Quebec), French (Parisian), Portuguese, Cantonese and Korean subtitles. This series is absolutely the reference for what a TV on HD-disc should sound like, so just like my take on the video, I’ll let my previously written words explain:

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (48kHz/24-bit/3.8Mbps) is quite impressive, coming across frankly as one of the best sound TV on Blu releases I’ve heard yet. Dialogue is well balanced, clear, precise and never unintelligible. Rears are populated by exhaust rumble from the bikes and the clatter of gunfire, as well as ambient and discrete effects like crowd chatter and whispered dialog. Effects pan smoothly; gunfire is supported by the crisp crack of a stable high and low end. Explosions, of which there are a fair few in this series, have strong support from the LFE channel (which also rumbles from the passing Harley’s). Mixes of blues and rock music permeate the soundscape and help add an eclectic flavor, and nice attractive backing, to the show. Even more impressive than the extremely satisfying video presentation, “Sons of Anarchy” delivers on the lossless audio front, producing one of the most impressive television mixes currently on the market.

Extras

Supplements are similar to those found on the first season, with each disc outfit with an audio commentary on a selected episode, plus a large collection of deleted/extended scenes and a couple of featurettes. Where the second season sets itself apart from its earlier sibling is that all video based extras are presented in high definition (either 1080p or 1080i), including the deleted scenes, which were encoded in crummy-looking SD last time around. The Blu-ray also offers one exclusive, a picture-in-picture video commentary on the final disc, which is quite a welcomed addition for reasons I’ll outline below.

DISC ONE:

“Albification” receives an audio commentary with creator/writer/executive producer Kurt Sutter, and actors Ron Perlman and Adam Arkin, and director Guy Ferland. This is a solid track, with Sutter (quite unsurprisingly) offering the most insight, talking about his intentions with this season and the new nemesis that the Sons must face. Sure, this isn’t the most polished commentary – Sutter and Ferland both litter the conversation with “ums,” “uhs” – but even with a couple of small gaps of silence (usually accompanying a narrative transition that was necessary because of commercials) this is worth a listen from beginning to end for fans of the show.

Each disc is home to any deleted and/or extended scenes (1080p) that were removed or trimmed from the episodes contained on that disc before final their final, broadcast-ready edit. Disc one includes cuts from “Albification”, “Small Tears”, “Fix”, “Eureka”, “Smite” and “Falx Cerebri”. A “Play All” option is also included:

“Albification” includes 3 scenes (2 minutes 17 seconds):
- Last seasons menace Agent Stahl (Ally Walker) gets some (short lived) closure.
- Gemma and Tara discuss baby Abel’s nanny.
- Gemma interviews said nanny in a scene in which we learn the whereabouts of Jax’s ex-wife Wendy (Drea de Mateo).

“Small Tears” includes 2 scenes (2 minutes 27 seconds):
- An extended version of the Sons confrontation with wannabe porn-king Georgie Caruso (Tom Arnold).
- Gemma ignores a call from Clay and gets some counsel from the nanny.

“Fix” includes 2 scenes (2 minutes 29 minutes):
- Luanne (Dendrie Taylor) asks Gemma for her help with the porn studio.
- After her big fight with Clay, Gemma is visited by Tara who tells her that the “test results came back negative.”

“Eureka” includes 1 cut scene (1 minute 1 second) in which, during a layover on the clubs gun run, Clay reminisces about his time in the army with a police officer who also served.

“Smite” includes 3 scenes (3 minutes 47 seconds):
- An extended version of the club’s visit to Zobelle.
- Chief Unser talks to Clay about what needs to be done with their mutual “problem”, Ethan Zobelle.
- Deputy Hale has a visit from his pro-Zobelle brother who is curious about where the chief’s loyalties really lie.

“Falx Cerebri” includes 3 scenes (2 minutes 8 seconds):
- “Juice” (Theo Rossi) and the chief have a little chat about their screw up.
- Tara has another talk with her boss, who informs her that “Chibs” let his insurance laps so once he’s stabilized, they will need to move him to another hospital; a hospital that Tara calls a hellhole.
- Gemma and Tara continue their target practice, where Gemma gives the latter some more advice on the importance of being able to handle a weapon.

The first disc starts things off with a handful of pre-menu bonus trailers and promos. An “FX Originals Promo” (1080i, 1 minute 1 second) features clips from the networks current lineup including “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, the Timothy Olyphant starring “Justified”, Adam Reed’s animated spy-spoof “Archer” and more. A spot for “Fox TV on DVD” (1080p, 1 minutes 19 seconds) oddly neglects the entire Blu-ray format even though a number of the shows that they feature in the trailer – “Bones” and “24”, among others – have multiple seasons released in high definition at this point. Two DVD and Blu-ray trailers, one forJoe Carnahan’s utterly ridiculous but surprisingly fun “The A-Team” (1080p, 2 minutes 34 seconds) and another for Robert Rodriguez and Nimród Antal’s sequelized reboot of the Predator franchise, “Predators” (1080p, 1 minute 56 seconds), are also included.

DISC TWO:

“Balm” features a super-sized audio commentary with series creator Kurt Sutter, stars Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal and Maggie Siff, director Paris Barclay and writer/consulting producer Dave Erickson. It’s an all-around satisfying discussion that improves upon the standard audio commentary on disc one, and even manages to eclipse the picture-in-picture video commentary track on disc three. Perhaps it’s the fewer people compared to the latter track, but there’s less of an airy frivolity and more serious discussion about the characters and plot developments.

Each disc is home to deleted and/or extended scenes (1080p) that were removed or trimmed from the episodes contained on that disc before final their final, broadcast-ready edit. Disc two includes cuts from “Gilead”, “Potlatch”, “Fa Guan”, “Balm” and “Service”. A “Play All” option is also included:

“Gilead” includes 3 scenes (5 minutes 34 seconds):
- An extended version of the clubs prison-yard meeting where they discuss procuring some protection from one of the black gangs.
- Tara and Gemma discuss Chib’s lapsing insurance, and what they might mean for his safety. The conversation then turns to getting Jax and Clay out of prison.
- Agent Stahl visits Juice in the prison infirmary to discuss the growing rift between Jax and Clay.

Despite being one of the shortest episodes in the shows history (a mere 37 minutes) “Potlatch” only includes on deleted scene (1 minute 15 seconds); Nanny Neeta (Cleo King) asks Gemma about her mysteriously shifting bible ribbon, which has been jumping to different gospels on a daily basis.

“Fa Guan” includes 3 scenes (4 minutes 59 seconds):
- In a long deleted sequence, Tara wakes up alone in bed and goes in search of Jax whom she finds sleeping in the rocking chair in Abel’s room. She and Jax talk about the death of two members’ wives in as many months; Tara remarks that she doesn’t like those odds. This abruptly cuts to Gemma being woken by a leaving Clay who doesn’t even say goodbye to her, and then later that morning when Tig comes to visit Gemma.
- Jax, Tig, Bobby and Opie layout their plan for kidnapping the judge.
- Okay, this makes way more sense…. in the next episode the two-fingered chronic masturbator Chuckie (Michael Ornstein) shows up at Teller-Morrow with burns on his hands. This isn’t explained, but it seems he was also at the porn studio when The League burned it down and was caught in the flames trying to “save” Darby (Mitch Pileggi).

“Balm” includes 2 scenes (2 minutes 12 seconds):
- Jax confronts Chibs at the Irish surplus, the latter of whom was having words with Jimmy.
- In a bit of foreshadowing, Gemma asks Chief Unser to watch out for the club because she might not be around to protect them after she gets some much-needed revenge for her rape.

“Service” includes 4 scenes (5 minutes 57 seconds):
- Gemma apologizes for bringing her “problems” to the clubs attention; Clay says that she doesn’t have anything to be sorry for, and that she will have justice.
- Bobby brings Juice home from the hospital; Clay calls a meeting.
- Unser and Gemma talk about the possibility of the latter attending a support group.
- Gemma and Tara bond over a shared joint. Tara makes amends with “porn-girl.”

DISC THREE:

The second season finale “Na Triobloidi” features a mega-sized commentary, available either as a picture-in-picture video commentary (59 minutes 17 seconds) or bog-standard audio commentary, with Kurt Sutter, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Maggie Siff, Theo Rossi, Ryan Hurst, Mark Boone Junior, Tommy Flanagan, William Lucking, Dayton Callie and Taylor Sheridan. The two tracks are the exact same, but in different formats; I preferred the video track because it allows you to put a face to the sea of voices in this massive group of people. The video commentary, which requires a Profile 1.1 "BonusView" enabled Blu-ray player, features video from the commentary recording session encoded in a medium sized window in the bottom right corner of the screen. There’s no behind-the-scenes footage or other interview interspersed in the picture-in-picture commentary but the content is worthwhile and definitely worth a listen.

“The Gag Reel: Season Two” (1080p, 3 minutes 57 seconds) is a mercifully short series of bloopers that are mildly entertaining at best. I did find it funny that there were so many flubs during the meant-to-be serious scenes between Katey Sagal and Dayton Callie.

Each disc is home to deleted and/or extended scenes (1080p) that were removed or trimmed from the episodes contained on that disc before final their final, broadcast-ready edit. Disc three includes cuts from both “The Culling” and “Na Triobloidi”. A “Play All” option is also included:

“The Culling” includes scenes (4 minutes 54 seconds):
- The “old ladies” gossip; Tara comforts Opie’s new squeeze.
- An extended version of Chuck’s talk about the Kara-Kara arson. He talks about saving Darby (who’s rescue was cut in a previous episode). Bobby ponders insurance money.

“Na Triobloidi” includes just two brief scenes (1 minute 6 seconds):
- Jax visits Otto (Kurt Sutter) in prison and updates him on the goings on with the club.
- Usner learns of the Mexican standoff outside of Zobelle’s cigar shop in passing from one of his deputies. He isn’t pleased.

“The Moral Code of Sons of Anarchy” (1080p, 10 minutes 33 seconds) is your typical EPK featurette, which talks about the second season as a whole. Kurt Sutter, Katey Sagal, Charlie Hunnam, Mark Boone Junior and Ron Perlman talk about the characters, their relationships and some of the plot developments from season one and two. The most interesting stuff here is Sutter’s comments about the history of the club, based in part on the massive amounts of war vets who started motorcycle clubs upon their return post WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and how he imagines Clay, John Teller and Gemma met.

“Sons of Anarchy Roundtable” (1080p, 40 minutes 29 seconds) is the far more interesting and worthwhile featurette included in this set. Creator Kurt Sutter meets with the cast at The Happy Ending Bar and Restaurant in L.A. to discuss the show, based on a series of questions submitted by fans via the Internet. Light, funny, smart and pretty damn insightful, from Perlman’s hideously loud shirt (which he had to be wearing on a dare) to base questions about who each actors favorite character is and more serious subjects like why Piney rides a three-wheeled motorcycle while everyone else is on two, this roundtable is a true service to fans.

The final disc starts off with a standard-def bonus trailer for “Archer: Season One” (anamorphic 16x9 480p, 31 seconds) on DVD.

Packaging

“Sons of Anarchy: Season Two” comes packaged inside a 3-disc Elite style case with a flip-mounted holder with a spindle for discs one and two; three sits in the cradle of the actual box. Each platter is a dual layered BD-50. Like the first season, although the tech specs box on the rear art says that the Blu-ray is locked to region A, I’ve confirmed that it is in fact Region free. Unlike the first season, this release comes with a textured cardboard slipcover and some pretty nifty artwork.

Overall

The second season of “Sons of Anarchy” impresses all around (the lone area that could use some improvement being the extras, but only because there are so few of them; what is offered is mostly great stuff). Gorgeous video and pure, uninhibited, reference quality DTS-HD MA tracks makes this an easy recommendation; the fact that the story of the second season improves upon the first makes this package all the sweeter. A Must Own for fans of the series.

The Show: A Video: A Audio: A+ Extras: B- Overall: A

 


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