By Joe Donatelli
Tonight, "Sons of Anarchy" roars back into America's living rooms to shoot double-fisted .45s at your entertainment center and make dirty hooker love all over your couch.
When last we left SAMCRO, Clay and Tara were headed to prison, Gemma was back in her perch, Jax was morphing into Clay and an outsider was seeking vengeance against SAMCRO. What will happen next? Here are several predictions for Season 6 of "Sons of Anarchy."
Clay Will Not Die in Prison
In the Season 5 finale, Jax framed Clay by using Clay's gun to kill underworld kingpin Damon Pope. Clay is in the big house, and he's a marked man for allegedly offing the most powerful gangster in Oakland. Will Clay die in prison? Show creator Kurt Sutter says Clay's days are numbered, but I say Clay survives the season. As Jax points out in the Season 6 trailer, Clay will do anything to stay alive, including turning state evidence against his old motorcycle club. He's too valuable to the feds and to others who wish SAMCRO ill to die at the hands of gangbanger vigilante justice. Clay survives. Clay always survives (that piece of garbage). There's only one guy who's ever figured out how to get Clay, and that's the guy who took his motorcycle club away from him: Jax. If Clay and Jax aren't pointing giant guns at each other's heads in the series finale it is going to be a huge letdown.
Lee Toric Will Become a Cruel Pain in SAMCRO's Ass
SOA creator Kurt Sutter made his bones on "The Shield," and there are many similarities between the two shows, from the pacing to the use of music to the dialogue to the antiheroes to the moral ambiguities. "The Shield" often introduced new, clever and unconventional enemies to oppose the protagonist. The battle between rogue cop Vic Mackey and Internal Affairs detective Forest Whitaker's character Jon Kavanaugh on "The Shield" lives on as some of the cruelest and most compelling television of all time. The Lincoln Potter character from Season 4 of SOA was interesting, but Lee Toric (played by Donal Logue) is less scrupulous, more dangerous, deranged and driven. Can Toric vs. Jax top Mackey vs. Kavanaugh? If it can, it will be incredible TV, and SOA is capable of incredible TV.
Prison Will Hasten Tara's Evolution Into Gemma 2.0
Gemma is cold and calculating and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Tara hates Gemma and would never want to be like her. This is why Tara's evolution into Gemma 2.0 is so heartbreaking and interesting to watch. Now that Tara's in the slammer, will she become more like Gemma (cunning, evil, ruthless) or less like Gemma (a normal human being)? This isn't "Orange is the New Black," where prison is a quirky, character-building experience. This is "Sons of Anarchy." Prison will change Tara.
Lincoln Potter Will Return
He has unfinished business in Charming. I can't see him alone taking down SAMCRO. He took his best shot and missed. But working with Toric? That's a fantastic combination: The zen Potter and the brute Toric. Who doesn't want to see them in a bunch of scenes together?
Nero Will Die
Anyone who gets close to the Teller-Morrow clan gets dead, and Nero is very close to that, now that he's with Gemma romantically and acting as a mentor to Jax. There are so many ways Nero can die. Clay could take him out. The street could get him. Or maybe someone from his dead half-sister Carla's past will come sniffing around. The "Sons of Anarchy" thing to do is make Gemma responsible for Nero's death, but that's a web the show's writers have yet to weave.
Bobby Will Be Forced to Do Some Shit He Doesn't Want to Do
Only on "Sons of Anarchy" can an outlaw villain who kills people, stomps faces and breaks 30 federal laws before breakfast be the moral center of the show, but that's exactly what Bobby has become now that Jax has slowly gone over to the dark side. In the Season 5 finale, Bobby resigned the vice presidency. He and Jax are at odds, which means come this season you can count on Jax needing Bobby or Bobby needing Jax or maybe both. Jax no doubt wants Tara out of prison. Who in the club is smart enough to concoct a scheme to do so? Tig? Juice? Jax would be better off asking the pool table.
More of the Same Old, Same Old
Thanks to bad timing, poor decisions and unforeseen circumstances, SAMCRO's business dealings will go haywire and force its members to engage in a series of illegal acts that worsen its problems and lead to violence, uncomfortable-yet-erotic sex scenes, Otto doing something unspeakable and more violence. Which is fine, because it's enjoyable to watch.
Gemma Will Die
She's at her height. She has Jax's ear. She has her grandsons. Clay and Tara are in prison. This is as good as it will get for Gemma. For Season 6, the most interesting thing that could happen would be to take it all away from her: Jax, the boys, maybe her freedom and, most likely, her life. Big prediction: Clay kills Gemma at the end of this season, setting up the long-awaited ultimate showdown between Jax and Clay. You can kill the man's dad. You can try to assassinate the man's wife. You can threaten his life. But don't you dare touch his momma.
Jax Will Get Tara Back But Lose Control of the MC
What's the one thing Jax wants? He wants his wife Tara out of prison. What's the one thing he can't afford to lose? His motorcycle club. Complicating matters: Jax has become really good at running the club and really bad at being a family man. Making Jax trade his club for his wife is the hardest choice that he could be faced with. If Clay kills Gemma and Jax no longer has the club at his back, it sets up a more even showdown between Clay and Jax for the show's seventh and final season.
Joe Donatelli is a journalist in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @joedonatelli. All photos courtesy of Prashant Gupta and FX.