'Sons of Anarchy': 6 Big Developments From the Season 5 Premiere

Major changes within the California biker club, and a brutal murder took place during the explosive episode of the FX drama.

Sons of Anarchy rode back for season five with guns a blazin’ – literally. The fifth season premiere featured one giant truck explosion, several bloody deaths and, arguably, one of the most emotional, devastating scenes to ever appear on the FX show.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead.]

Season five of the hit drama sees Jax (Charlie Hunnam) at the head of the SAMCRO table, with Clay (Ron Perlman) dealing with separation from his wife, Gemma (Katey Sagal), and healing his body from the gunshot wound he suffered at the hands of Opie (Ryan Hurst).

PHOTOS: Kurt Sutter and Wife Katey Sagal on the Set of 'Sons of Anarchy'

Here are six major developments from the Tuesday premiere:

1. Problems With Niners
The Sons of Anarchy premiere starts out as explosive as possible -- with an actual explosion. Because Tigg (Kim Coates) killed Leroy’s girlfriend at the end of last season, there’s been a growing war between the Niners and SAMCRO.

The Niners end up hijacking -- and then setting fire to -- a truck that SAMCRO was using to transport drugs. The sheriff’s office is also looking into a string of burglaries that seem to be payback on SAMCRO.

2. Gemma and the New Guy
The first shot of SAMCRO matriarch Gemma, now separated from Clay, is of her bent over the bed with a new man (played by Jimmy Smits). The next morning, she can’t remember him, and points a gun directly in his face.

Nero Padilla is able to talk Gemma down from shooting him. He reveals that he runs a modern brothel, or as he says, he’s a “companionater.” “I bring folks together, I’m all about the love,” he says.

STORY: 'Sons of Anarchy': 5 Things to Expect in Season 5

3. Changes Within the Club
Jax, who has taken to writing his deep thoughts in a notebook, is now in charge of SAMCRO. He tells the club that Opie will not be returning right away, needing time to heal from all the death and destruction and all.

The club votes in three new members from the nomad group, which has decided to disband.

4. A Crumbling Clay
Clay is recovering physically and emotionally from the events that have unfolded.

He’s moving out of his house with Gemma, and he’s stepped down as leader of the club. Perlman’s transformation from a powerful, strong leader into a weak and small version of the same man is shocking and praiseworthy.

Clay runs into Gemma at their old house, and admits that he can’t live without her. But she is still healing from the bruises caused by Clay, and says she wants nothing to do with him.

Clay makes a surprise move when he tells the club about killing Piney (while changing the details a bit) and also shares that Opie is the one who shot him. He tells the club they have to vote to decide if they want to keep him or not. Jax isn't sure what Clay's game plan is, but he's definitely not trusting his stepfather any time soon.

5. Damon Pope Arrives With a Vengence
Sons of Anarchy welcomes a new badass into Charming with the arrival of Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau). Pope is determined to get revenge after his daughter was run down by a car.

Pope is clearly a man in charge, and proves it by messing with the Niners’ leadership when they don’t do his bidding. (Good bye, Leroy!)

Once he finds out that it was Tig that ran down his daughter, he enlists the Oakland police department to arrest him, and then gets his revenge.

STORY: Meet 'Sons of Anarchy's' New Big, Bad Boss: Damon Pope
6. Tig is Torn Apart

Pope’s revenge on Tig may be one of the most difficult scenes to watch in the history of Sons of Anarchy.

Pope has Tig handcuffed to a pipe. Tig’s daughter, Dawn, is being held in a hole in the ground, covered in gasoline. “Know my pain, Mr. Trager,” Pope says before throwing his lit cigar into the hole, burning Tig’s daughter alive. She doesn't die immediately, of course, and screams for her "daddy" over and over again. Tig screams and screams, and finally collapses to the ground.

Pope says that Tig and some of his friends (Jax and Chibs), have been IDed in the highway shooting with the Niners and the murder of Pope’s daughter.

Even in his despair, Tig is able to kill the dirty cop, and escape, but it's clear that Pope's actions have caused some serious changes in Tig. We're sure this will lead to even more destruction this season.

At the end of the episode, Jax and Chibs decide to find a place to hide out to avoid being taken into jail right away, where they would surely be killed.

What did you think about the season five premiere episode? Sound off in the comments section below.

Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford