The FX motorcycle gang drama, Sons of Anarchy, premiered its fifth season on Tuesday, September 11, with the extremely violent episode, “Sovereign.” The fifth season welcomes big names to the cast in Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue, Dexter, The West Wing) and Chuck Zito (Oz) to the lineup.

“Sovereign” has a lot of loose ends to tie up. At the end of season four, Clay (Ron Perlman) committed a number of heinous acts, including killing founding SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original) member Piney (William Lucking), beating wife Gemma (Katey Sagal), and placing a hit on Jax’s (Charlie Hunnam) girlfriend, Tara (Maggie Stiff).

The episode opens by introducing a new character to the Sons cast in Nero (Smits), a pimp who we meet while he is having sex with Gemma — an event she does not fully remember the next morning when she wakes up in his bed.

At a SAMCRO meeting, the Sons welcome a new member with an artificial leg and, of course, newcomer Frankie Diamonds (Zito) before Clay opens up and confesses to the group that he killed Piney.

While the Sons are guiding a shipment of drugs and weapons, rival gang the One-Niners attack and burn the truck. In general, the One-Niners are hard at work during the episode. Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) orchestrates the murder of the group’s leader, Laroy Wayne (Tory Kittles), and Pope’s sidekick, August Marks (Billy Brown), puts the reluctant Darnell (B.J. Britt) in charge. It's all a ploy to get Pope in power. When the Sons and the One-Niners meet, August slips Darnell a gun to kill Jax, but when Darnell pulls the trigger it clicks empty. Jax then attacks Darnell but, in a surprising move, August is the one who actually shoots him.

Later, Tig (Kim Coates) receives a call saying that his daughter, Dawn (Rachel Miner), has been arrested for a DWI, and when he goes to the rail yard to pick her up, he is taken in by authorities himself. Pope then reappears, and in a fit of revenge against Tig, who killed his daughter, he burns Dawn alive. Pope then tells Tig he’s been connected to his daughter’s murder and will be arrested by the detective. Pope warns Tig not to say anything or his other daughter will be harmed as well.

“Sovereign” concludes with Jax going into hiding to avoid warrant trouble, Tig slipping out of his cuffs and strangling the police officer, and a group of men breaking into Police Chief Wayne Unser’s (Dayton Callie) house. One of the men has an artificial leg, leading us to believe the Sons are behind the crime.

Sons of Anarchy has become one of FX’s most popular and recognizable shows, in part due to Married with Children and Futurama's Sagal, whose performance as Gemma has been widely praised and even earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress-Television Series Drama (Drama) for season three. Episode two, “Authority Vested,” will air Tuesday, September 18, at 10 p.m. EST on FX. —Hal Sundt

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