The fifth season of "Sons of Anarchy" premiered on Tuesday (September 11) in bloody fashion, with one of the lingering plot threads from season four — badass biker Tig Trager's accidental killing of a powerful criminal's daughter — immediately heightened in an even gorier fashion than fans have come to expect from the FX biker drama.
Towards the end of the premiere (titled "Sovereign"), SAMCRO's former Sergeant at Arms, Tig, came face to face with the father of the innocent girl he accidentally killed in the season four finale — Damon Pope, a ruthless gangster played by "Lost" and "Oz" actor Harold Perrineau. No amends were made between the two. Quite the opposite in fact: Tig, handcuffed to a chain, was helpless to watch as his own daughter, Dawn, was burned to death by Pope.
"It was a pretty tough place to go to in my head," actor Kim Coates, who plays Tig, told MTV News about shooting the gut-wrenching scene. "What happens to him and his daughter, I can't even imagine. Kurt told me [about it] back in March. We were in New York together, and when he told me, I actually got the chills. I didn't break down or anything, but I did tear up. I can't even imagine that happening."
The death of Dawn was shot over the course of two brutal nights, Coates said. The actor credits his performance to "Sons" director Paris Barclay, writer and creator Kurt Sutter, as well as the show's props department.
"They built this device where they saved my wrists from being ripped off by the shackles," Coates said of the props work in that scene. "Those were real handcuffs and that was a real chain. Without this propped, leather, rubberized thing underneath my shirt, I wouldn't have been able to do that scene without ripping my hands off. What they were able to let me do was to be in it, be real, and pulling at those chains constantly without ripping my hands off. That saved my entire performance."
"In some ways, it was the easiest acting I've ever had to do," he added. "It was so real. So violent. The tears didn't stop flowing for two nights. When I went home after that second night, I just poured myself a big drink. It was about seven in the morning, and my wife just left me alone. I still have a hard time talking about it now. It's what we do this business for, to be given [material] like that."
Tig has had no shortage of enemies to go up against over the past several seasons of "Sons," but with one flick of a cigar, Damon Pope is now at the top of the list.
"Harold did such a great job. I think he smoked about 40 cigars that night. He was frightening," Coates said about Perrineau's performance. "Pope is the kind of guy that Tig has never been up against before in his life. This is the kind of mobster who is so svelte, money and stealth that you don't even know he's around, but you feel him, always. You could be shot coming out of a bakery at any second. He has that kind of fear factor in him."
Even if Pope delivered the killing blow, there's a strong argument to be made Clay Morrow is also responsible for Dawn's death. Clay was shot by a fellow club member at the end of season four, but rather than outing his fellow Son (and himself), he blamed the shooting on rival gang the One-Niners. That led Tig to seek immediate vengeance, which directly resulted in the death of Pope's daughter. If Clay hadn't lied, Tig wouldn't have gone after the Niners, and Dawn would still be alive. That connection is very much not lost on the grieving, vengeful father.
"Last season, [Ron Perlman's character, Clay] was turned into a monster. Things got out of control," said Coates. "Tig and Clay have been on the outs for a couple of seasons now. But that lie was the gravest mistake for me to hear, for what I ended up doing, for what happens to me. You gotta see what happens between Clay and Tig this year, man."
No matter who's to blame for what, one thing is clear: Tig is at an all-time low. Not only is his daughter dead as a consequence of his own actions, but he's not even the Sergeant at Arms of SAMCRO anymore. Key parts of Tig's identity have already fallen away, and to hear Coates tell it, the turbulent ride is far from over.
"Tig doesn't know where he fits anymore. He's so lost," said the actor. "He's completely off the leash ... his world is free-falling for sure. I think people are going to be absolutely shocked and saddened. Wait until you see what happens."
What did you think of the "Sons of Anarchy" season premiere? Tell us in the comments section or tweet your thoughts to me @roundhoward!