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

Charlie Hunnam, Maggie Siff, Katey Sagal and Kurt Sutter talk to THR about the explosive upcoming season, which sees Jax at the head of the table and Clay recovering from his fall from grace.
Charlie Hunnam in "Sons of Anarchy"

It wouldn’t seem possible, but when FX's Sons of Anarchy returns for season five Tuesday, it’s going to be even more shocking and explosive than the previous four seasons.

The end of season four brought about major changes to the dynamic within the California motorcycle club SAMCRO, with longtime leader Clay (Ron Perlman) stepping down as president and trying to heal his body – and maybe soul -- from the gunshot wound he suffered at the end of season four. Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is now leading the club, and heavy is the head that wears the crown.

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“I think that it’s a really fresh season,” Hunnam told The Hollywood Reporter. “It feels unlike any other season before just by virtue of the fact that Jax is president now. Immediately, the club went from the dictatorship that it has developed into back to the democracy that it always needed to be."

At the red carpet premiere in Los Angeles, THR spoke with the stars and creator Kurt Sutter about the FX show's upcoming season and all the explosive drama to come.

Here are five things to expect from season five:

1. Gemma Is on Her Own

Gemma (Katey Sagal) is separated from her husband, Clay, and dealing with being on her own. It seems she’ll deal with this by being in the company of new men, including new character Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits).

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“I think everything’s weird for Gemma right now,” Sagal told THR. “I think she’s lost, and I think that Jimmy Smits’ character isn’t the only man she may be bumping up against. But I think that’s all because she’s so displaced.”

Her relationship with Clay isn’t the only one that’s strained. Her son Jax is busy leading the club, and his fiancée Tara (Maggie Siff) is distant towards Gemma.

“She finds herself not liking to go home to an empty house, that’s how I always think of it,” added Sagal.

2. Jax Is at the Head of the Table

One of the biggest changes in season five is that Clay, now feeble and recovering, will not be at the head of the SAMCRO table. Instead, Jax will take over.

“I think he’s an excellent leader,” Hunnam told THR. “He really has had to watch Clay make so many mistakes over the years, and he’s really learned from those mistakes.”

However, leading a club that is threatened by the terrifying Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) and is struggling to complete its drug runs is definitely taxing on the new leader.

“I think one of the things he hadn’t anticipated was just how difficult it is to not make those mistakes,” Hunnam said. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and I think Jax is starting to appreciate that now.”

3. Tara’s Moving Past Her Troubles

Tara has had to leave her doctor duties behind because of her broken hand, which could have sent her back into a very dark place. However, Siff said her character is trying to move forward and focus on her new duties as first lady of the club.

"Instead of falling into herself, and depression, she’s trying to be a leader,” she told THR.

“She’s sort of trying to numb out in certain ways about what’s going on with her hand,” she added. “You see her smoking some more pot, you see her trying to take the edge off the things that would have otherwise, in former days, made her weepy.”

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As for her relationship with Jax, Siff called it the “ultimate bad-boy love story.” That story will continue to be written this season as Jax deals with running the club.

“I think they’re kind of fated, they’re meant to be together,” Siff told THR. “I think that they both feel that in some way that doesn’t always make a lot of sense but kind of demands that she keep showing up.”

4. There’s a New Boss in Town

Lost star Harold Perrineau will take on the role of Pope, an ex-drug kingpin who is on a revenge mission after Tigg (Kim Coates) accidentally killed his daughter at the end of season four.

"For me, it’s not that hard because it’s not that different from Lost in that I’m playing a grieving father,” Perrineau told THR. “This is just a grieving father with means and a bit of a mean streak.”

But his revenge mission might turn into something else entirely, according to Perrineau, who played Michael Dawson on Lost.

“What happens is, he ends up being more of a mentor to Jax,” Perrineau revealed to THR. “It’s really odd in how that happens. In tragedy, sometimes you make odd connections.”

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5. Death Is Coming

Sons of Anarchy never has had a season without a few deaths, but this season might top them all when it comes to destruction, both emotionally and physically.

Executive producer Paris Barclay said season five will have a lot of death, adding that not all the characters who appear in the first episode will be alive at the finale.

When THR asked Sutter how many characters he plans to kill off this season, the show’s creator simply said, “Too many to count.”

Season five of Sons of Anarchy premieres at 10 p.m. Sept. 11.

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