Sons of Anarchy's Rockmond Dunbar on Sheriff Eli's Efforts to Save Tara, Juice -- and SAMCRO?

A show like Sons of Anarchy tends to villainize the “good guy.” More often than not, the cops, agents and lawmen on FX’s gritty drama (airing Tuesdays at 10/9c) ultimately meet their maker  — and when they do, fans tend to feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Oddly enough, this tried-and-true formula doesn’t seem to apply to Charming’s latest Sheriff, played by Terriers/Prison Break alum Rockmond Dunbar, a fact that is seemingly not lost on Sons showrunner Kurt Sutter.

“My first conversation [with Kurt] went like this: ‘Hey, look man, we’re going to bring you in for a 10-episode arc. You’re going to die. It’s going to be great. I don’t know what your demise is going to be but of course it’s going to be brutal because you know our show,'” Dunbar recalls with a laugh. “So, that’s what I signed up for at the very beginning. But once the 10th episode came that all changed…”

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Yes, there is a very real possibility that we’ll see Eli in Charming during Sons’ fifth year. “The way it’s set up now, there will be some type of continuation [next season],” the actor reveals. “I don’t die, so that’s a good thing!”

Tonight’s installment (a.k.a. the aforementioned 10th episode) will begin to shed light on why the by-the-book cop may actually begin to put down roots in the tiny California town, starting with his desire to keep Tara (Maggie Siff) safe.

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“Eli will become a little bit more involved [with the hit Clay put out on Tara] because it’s happening in his town,” previews Dunbar. “Any threat on someone’s life is very serious and he’s taking it that way. So, you’ll definitely see more of that storyline develop and hopefully it will not come to a close by the end of the season because I think it’s really interesting.”

Charming’s conscience-riddled cop is also taking strides to right the wrongs done to SAMCRO’s distraught Juice (Theo Rossi). Explains the actor: “Eli definitely has sympathy towards Juice because they’re both being manipulated [by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lincoln Potter] in the same way.”

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That said, Dunbar notes that his character remains very much “on the right side of the law” throughout his Sons run (however long that may be), adding, “I don’t think you’ll ever see [Eli and the Sons] team up because there is a hard line between criminal and law enforcement, and that line will never bleed over.”

Hit the comments with your thoughts on the prospect of Eli sticking around Charming for Season 5!