REASON TO WATCH: Third-season premiere of this drama about gunrunning biker gang, SAMCRO, set in fictional Charming, Calif.
WHEN/WHERE: Tuesday night at 10 on FX
"Sons of Anarchy's" sophomore year was consumed by the battle between SAMCRO and L.O.A.N. (white separatists League of American Nationalists), wrapping with Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal), wife of SAMCRO boss Clay (Ron Perlman), gunning down Polly Zobelle (Sarah Jones), daughter of L.O.A.N. boss Ethan (Adam Arkin).
Gemma is then framed by ATF agent June Stahl (Ally Walker) for a murder she had just committed - the son of SAMCRO's "True IRA" contact, Cameron Hayes (Jamie McShane). When Cameron hears of his son's death, he heads to Jax Teller's house - Jax is Gemma's son - where he kills "Half Sack" (Johnny Lewis), ties up Jax's squeeze Tara (Maggie Siff) and kidnaps Jax's son, Abel.
WHAT THE EPISODE'S ABOUT
With the L.O.A.N. sharks out of commission and Ethan Zobelle in hiding, the story shifts squarely back to Jax and Abel. Where was he taken? Can an incredibly despondent Jax get his head around the fact that his son is gone? Gemma has disappeared from Charming, too - in hiding after the shooting of Cam's son, for which she got blamed.
In an anti-spoiler mood this morning, I will offer these vague morsels: Viewers meet Gemma's enfeebled senile dad, played by Hal Holbrook, and a fixer named Bachman with a macabre skill, played appropriately - and expertly - by Stephen King.
Even though it's among the best dramas on TV, "Sons of Anarchy" seeks neither your love nor approval. There's nothing needy or insecure about this show - it's all swagger and machismo and a white-hot poker to your eye. For fans, the full-frontal assault is bracing. Anyone who wants less graphic violence can always turn to the new season of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." In the third season, the song remains the same. Biblical themes of fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, honor and dishonor, Cain and Abel are all baked under that pitiless California sun. Brace yourselves.
Nothing to worry about, "SOA" fans. A terrific start.