I'm back with my writers on Monday to begin breaking season four of Sons of Anarchy. Crazy, right? Feels like yesterday that I started this blog about the process of running a show. Wow. Once again, I'm reminded that I have the coolest job in the world and that even though I blow hard, I'm a lucky and grateful motherfucker.
I have a pretty good sense of where we will begin season four and a half-complete sense of where we will finish. Basically, I know the mile markers, I just don't know how or when we will get there. That's the meat that I hang with my very talented writers. Who are my writers, you ask? They are, in order of sexual favors, Dave "Squeaky" Erickson, Chris "The Cleaner" Collins, Regina "Tornado" Corrado, Liz "the scarier twin" Sagal, Marco "Polo" Ramirez, and Brady "I'm not your fucking" Dahl. Like their showrunner, they are the most dangerous scribes in Hollywood. Most of them I've pulled from prisons and asylums, except the ones repped by CAA, those I found masturbating in public restrooms.
Where was I... This season, I'm trying to approach the room with a looser grip on story. Season three, the story drove the characters more than the characters drove the story. That was my intention. It's still up for debate as to whether it was better or worse than previous seasons, but I knew coming into season three most of the details of the Ireland narrative. This season, although there is a big story that will drive a lot of the episodes, I'm hoping that character will move the episodes forward as much as story. By character, I mean the emotional lives of Jax, Clay and the others, and their relationships to one another. So the season will be about the shit they feel, as much as the shit they do.
I always knew our guys would be heading to jail at the end of season three or four. Most of the bikers I've met in the outlaw life have done prison time. I always thought it would be a cool, organic device to have a long passage of time. One that allowed us to reboot the narrative and prevent the mythology from folding into itself too soon. I felt one of the story traps we faced on The Shield was that Vic's machinations began to turn inward on him after season three. So we were always faced with the dilemma of keeping his karmic history ever present and yet not so close that it inhibited him from being proactive. I mean, when you begin a series by killing a cop, there's already a steep, downward trajectory. Of course, Shawn navigated the show brilliantly so the story never collapsed, but it was a big writer challenge in the later seasons. We had nearly as many charts and graphs as Lost. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but you get the point... a lot of dirty details and dead bodies.
So this season on SOA, I am not encumbered by any narrative loose ends (like a baby in a boat). Yes, there are historical, emotional and familial connective tissue, but story-wise, I get a reboot. It's a blessing and a curse really. It's much easier, creatively, coming into a season with a narrative that's already on the ground running. You plug in and pick up where you left off. Rebooting means that you have to really do the homework on each character's life over the passage of time we've missed. What happened, how have they changed and how do you communicate those changes to the audience without belaboring a premier with buckets of exposition? But I'm really looking forward to that game. Anything can happen in fourteen months. Bobby grows an afro, Tig decides celibacy is the answer, Happy smokes so much weed he thinks he's both Simon and Garfunkel, Juice gets booty implants and a weave, Gemma becomes a Scientologist and decides she's gotta "clear" Tara... it's fucking endless.