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The Real Reason There Is A Cell In The Opening Credits Of Sons Of Anarchy

"Sons of Anarchy" is still regarded as one of the best TV dramas of the 2010's, because it's much more than a show about bikers. The story of Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original member Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) and his biker family is at heart a tragedy. Creator Kurt Sutter deliberately modeled the story after Shakespeare's "Hamlet," and even included a "Hamlet" quote to wrap up the series (via ScreenRant).

At the beginning of the show, Jax's father John, who co-founded the club, has died under suspicious circumstances. Now, Jax's uncle Clay (Ron Perlman) has married his mother Gemma (Katey Sagal) and runs the club. Just like Hamlet, Jax must navigate the dilemma over the loyalty to his uncle/leader and his loyalty to his murdered father.

Beyond the big Shakespeare parallel, "Sons of Anarchy" is full of symbolism that gives the show layers of meaning. The opening credits in particular serve two purposes: to introduce the cast as well as to show imagery that evokes the themes of the show. The credits are full of symbols that represent things important to SAMCRO. There are many shots of guns, because the group is heavily involved in the gun trade, which brings in money but also danger. There are also photographs of Vietnam War soldiers. That's because several members of SAMCRO are veterans. Jax's father fought in Vietnam, while Half-Sack (Johnny Lewis) served in Iraq.

Then, there's the jail cell. It's an important image on the series, and here's what it's all about.

Incarceration is a major theme of the show, but it's more complicated than that

Obviously, since "Sons of Anarchy" is a crime drama, the threat of prison looms large over most of the characters. Many members of SAMCRO have gone to prison for their actions. At the beginning of the series, Jax's best friend Opie (Ryan Hurst) is just getting out of jail for a SAMCRO-related crime. 

The placement of the jail cell is also significant. It appears along with the name of cast member Dayton Callie, who plays Sheriff Unser. He's the show's main law enforcement character, a corrupt cop on the show. Unser is often the only thing keeping SAMCRO members out of jail, so the use is a bit ironic.

Finally, prison as a concept defines many of the characters' underlying dilemma in the series. When a biker joins SAMCRO, they sign up for a lifelong commitment, symbolized by their tattoo of the gang's symbol on their backs. If someone is exiled from the club, the tattoo must be either cut or burned away. For many SAMCRO members, there's no real way to escape the gang and its lifestyle. SAMCRO is a family, but it's not one you can escape.