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3 YEARS

Comic-Con 2011: 'Sons of Anarchy' Season 4 Spoilers Revealed

"They're big fish back in the small pond, but the small pond is polluted," creator Kurt Sutter said of SAMCRO at the start of the new season.

Charlie Hunnam
Frank Ockenfels/FX

FX's Sons of Anarchy returns in September with things looking very different for SAMCRO.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead.]

The fourth season opens 14 months after the finale with the guys of SAMCRO, led by Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and Clay (Ron Perlman), finally free.

"They've done their time; part of the deal they've set up with Stahl (Ally Walker)," creator Kurt Sutter said on Sunday afternoon in cavernous Hall H after an exclusive showing of the opening scene played on the large screens. "That's the first four minutes of the prologue for Season 4."

THR's COMPLETE COVERAGE: Comic-Con 2011

So with SAMCRO back on the road, what is its first order of official business? "You ask anyone who's ever been to prison, the vast majority of what is spent thinking there, you think about what you're going to do when you get out," Hunnam explained. "You're a little less patient."

"For Jax, those 14 months were spent doing some intense soul-searching," he continued. "That ultimately creates a challenge for him and some difficult decisions have to be made."

The time that's passed between the third and fourth seasons puts Gemma (Katey Sagal) in a unique place. "At the beginning of Season 4, you see a happy Gemma," Sagal says. "It's a happy Gemma to begin with [which] doesn't last very long." Not before teasing, "She's not shooting anyone" in the first episode back.

PHOTOS: San Diego Comic-Con 2011

With a new sheriff in town, played by Rockmond Dunbar, "it's a different dynamic for the club," Sutter shared.

"Whenever there's an external threat to the club, all internal differences are shelved not being resolved," Perlman explained. "There's this tension that exists" even though there is a "single-mindedness of purpose."

The question that was on everyone's mind was the status of Jax and Tara's (Maggie Siff) relationship. Sutter said that during the 14 months, Jax has a "deeper commitment to family than ever before. That relationship is more important to him and Tara has given birth to his child so her side is more solidified." Hunnam agreed, adding, "He definitely comes out knowing that he's always going to have to struggle between his life in the club and his personal life," except now the latter will take precendence.

But with the characters in different places, what is the overall theme for Season 4, if there is one? "It's just a romance novel at the end of the day," Sutter joked. "There are as many, if not more, f---ed up things."

"They're back on their home turf and dealing with Charming," which has always been a character in the show, Sutter said. "They're big fish back in the small pond, but the small pond is polluted."

Speaking of change, a notable one was Jax's physical transformation. "The hair conversation Charlie and I have been having for a while," Sutter said, referring to the new buzz cut Jax has in the premiere.

"I went to two different prisons just to get the true vibe of what it's like there," Hunnam elaborated. "Uniformity is a very big thing in correctionals ... I thought it was the right move." There may also be a possibility that Jax's hair will be grown out throughout the season.

On a non-Sons of Anarchy-related note, Hunnam mentioned that during the hiatus, he worked alongside Perlman in a comedy called Frankie Go Boom "where we play lovers -- and that's not a joke. But Ron's a woman, who used to be a man, so it's not weird," he said to laughter.

FX's Sons of Anarchy returns with a 90-minute premiere on Sept. 6 at 10 p.m.

Email: philiana.ng@thr.com