There are many things to love about FX’s Sons of Anarchy, which returns tonight at 10 p.m. ET for Season 2: Katey Sagal, who delivers a steely, layered, Emmy-worthy performance as Gemma, the matriarch of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club; Ron Perlman, who stars as her second husband, Clay, president of the club that runs Charming, Calif. (and guns); and Charlie Hunnam, who drives the drama as Jax, Gemma’s son and VP of the club, which he’d like to see go straight (as his late father intended). After chatting with Hunnam, we can tell you five things to watch (out) for this season. SPOILER ALERT!
1. The arrival of recurring guest stars Adam Arkin and Henry Rollins. They play white separatists determined to do whatever it takes to get the club to stop selling guns to gangs. “It’s no mystery how that’s gonna unfold ultimately,” Hunnam says. “It’s gonna be bloody.”
2. A brutal final few moments of the season premiere. Something happens to Gemma that will make you want to punch someone and/or your TV. Just know it serves a storytelling purpose. “There’s a slow build in the resentment between Clay and Jax that comes to a head in the middle of the season in a very explosive and violent manner, and we needed something that huge to bring us back together. The event is concealed from the vast majority of the club until Gemma realizes that she needs to pull the trigger and finally reveal this awful thing that happened to her in an attempt to unify us,” Hunnam says. “I think it was a very smart thing that [creator Kurt Sutter, Sagal’s real-life husband] has done actually. I totally agree that it could potentially put people off a little bit because it is just so horrifying, but if you stay put through the course of the season, there’s a really nice payoff at the end.”
3. Jax getting the club involved in the porn business. Big Otto’s wife Luann runs into trouble keeping her porn studio afloat, and Jax brings the club in as a partner to bail her out. In addition to affording an opportunity for much-needed levity, it gives Sutter a chance to fulfill Hunnam’s one request for season 2: That Jax play a much bigger role in the day-to-day mechanics of the club. “Through the course of the first season, Jax was very reluctant to engage in a lot of the business of the club, mainly running guns, which is something I always liked that he was against. But I also felt like Jax is a gangster, and gangsters like to make money. He needs to prove that if he was the president of the club, he’d be a strong leader, bring in some money, and do a better job than Clay.”
4. Jax’s son, Abel, being a quiet baby. Drea de Matteo, who played Abel’s mother, Wendy, is headed to Wisteria Lane, which means Jax is now a full-time father. “Which is fun, but boy, it’s kind of hard working with babies,” Hunnam says. “It’s all adorable and very sweet when they’re cooing and inquisitive and playing with my beard and grabbing my hair. They stay at that level for a couple of minutes, and then they get bored and start crying and we have to bring in a rubber baby. We’ve just opted for Abel sleeping a lot.”
5. Two shower scenes! Jax is committed to making his relationship with Tara (Mad Men’s Maggie Siff) work, though their ongoing issues ruin what could’ve been a romantic shower scene in the season premiere. But, Hunnam promises, “the second shower scene later in the season is a little more hot and steamy.” The actor doesn’t have a problem with nudity. “I had such a baptism of fire since my first job was [the UK] Queer as Folk, and I had to be 18-years-old, fully naked, and engaging in pretty graphic sex scenes with another man,” he says. “After that, anything that Sons of Anarchy can throw at me is pretty much a cakewalk. I’d still say the baby is more difficult.”