At this point in its life, beardy biker Sons of Anarchy is on *ahem* cruise control. It's Season 5, and while the individual plotlines differ and the bad guys are different colors, the formula remains the same. SAMCRO gets into more beefs than a lonely cattle rancher, shit goes down, and an elaborate plan is executed to get the club out of a jam.
That's not a knock on the show at all. Sons of Anarchy remains one of the most exciting dramas on television and gives us more than our weekly fill of bare asses and bloody faces. It's a soap-opera with anger management issues. But the only things that really change are the peripheral season-specific characters and the relationships within the club.
That's why I'm stoked for Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits), Season 5's mystery man and the most intriguing new addition to the series. He made a spectacular entrance in last week's premiere, bouncing a blind-drunk and naked Gemma off his crotch and playing the role of gentleman the morning after, offering a lot more than scrambled eggs. Nero is deep into SAMCRO now, offering his pimp palace as shelter for fugitive Jax and friends, daring an aiding and abetting charge to come his way, and why? Because he's a nice guy? Ex-gangsters out of the game that have gone on to find success after dropping their colors don't want anything to do with the criminal element, so Nero's involvement raises eyebrows.
But in tonight's "Authority Vested," we got to know Nero a little better and he passed all the tests. He lent SAMCRO's Most Wanted his ride to go pick up a guy who just murdered a cop and some other dude. He has a special needs kid that he visits at a special home. He imparted O.G. wisdom about business ("Every picture's pussy, esse") on Jax during a fatherly conversation. He hosted Tara and Jax's wedding. And he welcomed Gemma into his place when she dropped by unannounced. Oh, and let's not forget that cool car chase he willingly threw himself into to shake a tail, all with a smile on his face like he was back on the playground. I'm beginning to think SAMCRO has a bit of a crush on Mr. Padilla. Heck, I'm beginning to think I have a crush on him.
And that's why we should all start the countdown to Nero pulling a fast one on SAMCRO. Kurt Sutter didn't hire the dynamic Jimmy Smits to join his show and be Mr. Nice Guy, so there has to be something else going on here that will bite the club in the ass when they least expect it. Right now, he's almost replacing Clay, or more correctly, JT. He's arms for Gemma to collapse into, and he's almost a father figure to Jax. If it seems too good to be true in Sons of Anarchy, it's because it is! Red flag red flag red flag!
Less surprising will be the truth that the Nomads are up to some sneaky shit. After the shocking reveal last episode (we think, based on what we assume was Greg the Peg's prosthetic) that they were behind Unser's episode-ending face-punching, we only got a peek at them in this episode. But it was telling! It seems they went straight for Clay's safe to get all those documents, including Clay and Gemma's marriage license and the birth certificate for Thomas, Jax's brother (it took lots of zooming and pausing to figure that one out). Based on how unpredictable this show tends to be, it's stupid to guess what's going on here, but I'll continue what I guessed last week: it's gotta be Clay behind this right? He tells the Nomads to join SAMCRO, and let's them know exactly where his safe is. Well, it's a theory at least. And what's the point in having a beast like Clay lumber around impotent? Clay's declawed, but he's not suddenly a model citizen.
But not all of the people in this show are hiding something. Leave it to Opie to bring the real, putting his differences with Clay aside and paying respect to his brothers by joining them in the clink for solidarity and protection. Just as Jax, Chibs, and Tig were turning themselves in, Opie joined them in grand style, slugging Roosevelt for his entry into prison. That's either incredible loyalty or incredible stupidity, probably both. And while the whole thing may have been influenced by Clay's talk with Opie, you have to respect Opie for staying true to Jax. I wouldn't go to prison for anyone, so please, none of you ask.
"Authority Vested" didn't have the violent bursts of the premiere, but it gave us a better picture of the second season by building up the right characters at the right time. Season 5 is starting to spin a ton of plates, as is the series' style, and soon, they'll come crashing to the ground spectacularly.
– I can't tell what Chibs says half the time, and for this episode I may as well have had peanut butter in my ears when he spoke.
– There was so something so perfect about Jax and Tara's wedding, right? No big deal, just getting married. These two may as well have been married this whole time with the amount of doodoo they've been through. In fact, I can't be the only one who forgot that they weren't married when they brought it up. It was simple, with friends, and in a whorehouse, that's how SAMCRO members should get married. Or they should go off in the woods and coordinate it with the murder of a bunch of Russian gangsters, like Opie.
– I'm a little worried that Unser's side-project police work into the break-ins, which I assume are the work of the Nomads under Clay's supervision, will get him into more trouble. And what's this about his theory about white boy break-ins being so different from black guy break-ins? White crimes are sloppy and the violence done is obligatory, whereas black break-ins are cleaner and full of anger? What is that nonsense? Three decades of work on the force and that's what you're going with? That's racist, dude!
– Still not scared of Pope.
– I love the way Chibs gets cuffed: holding out the double bird for the cops.
– In two episodes so far this season, we've been introduced to two character via doggy style. This week, hello Fawn Traeger! Nice to
meat meet you!
– Surely Tara would have told the attorney to bring the marriage license directly to her, right? Unless she WANTED it to go into Gemma's hands first just to spite her.
– I'm still a little upset with the whole Romeo and the feds storyline, and every time it comes up it irks me. I understand it keeps Clay in the picture, but Jax holding the secret from everyone else is just setting up a situation where it comes out and everyone gets pissed off at him. Also, SAMCRO having their balls in a vice by the CIA isn't a lot of fun. I prefer my outlaw motorcycle clubs outlaws.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom