- "I understand your anger and I know you think I'm some kind of devil. For years, I sat back and watched everything I love about this country slowly unravel: faith, values, morals, decency."
- ―Ethan Zobelle to David Hale
Ethan Zobelle was the Hungarian-American leader of the League of American Nationalists on the FX original series Sons of Anarchy. Played by American actor Adam Arkin, Ethan makes his debut on the episode "Albification", in the series' second season. The leader of L.O.A.N., a white separatist business organization allied with the Aryan Brotherhood, Ethan tried to gain both a legitimate and an illegal foothold in Charming. He appeared as one of the two primary antagonists in Season 2 (the other being AJ Weston), and after his status as an FBI informant was revealed, he tried to flee back to Budapest. After playing a recurring role through the series' second season, Ethan was last seen on the episode "Na Trioblóidí" in the same season.
Ethan Zobelle was from Budapest, Hungary. Eventually he married a woman and they had a daughter, Polly. The family emigrated to the United States, settling in California, where he became a church deacon. Zobelle opened a chain of cigar shops called Impeccable Smokes, which expanded into a chain with locations in Stockton, Alameda, and Millbrae.
Dismayed by criminal gangs bothering small businesses, he formed the League of American Nationalists, which became a powerful white separatist business organization comprised of numerous businesspeople, clergymen, judges, and even senators. On the other hand, they were also allied with the Aryan shot callers. AB member and racist true believer AJ Weston became his lieutenant.
Eventually, Zobelle was approached by the FBI. With little choice in the matter, he agreed to become an informant to help bring down the influential League members and AB shot callers so long as he could continue to make profits. Compromising his racist ideals and going behind his allies’ backs, he began making deals with Hispanic prison gangs in Stockton and Pelican Bay.
A year later, his wife was killed in a drive by shooting. Her death spurred him into action and he began using his AB connections to take down street gangs. Zobelle opened a new cigar shop in San Bernardino and provoked the gun running War Boys Motorcycle Club into attacking the store. He promptly had them arrested for aggravated assault, destroying the gang.
Ethan Zobelle and AJ Weston travel to Charming to meet with local businessman Jacob Hale Jr., who wants to drive out the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club. He opens a fifth location of Impeccable Smokes on Main Street and began recruiting white small business owners to join the League. Jacob Hale introduces him to his brother, Deputy Chief David Hale, who refuses Zobelle’s offer of assistance due to his racial ideology.
Zobelle tries to intimidate SAMCRO President Clay Morrow to stop doing business with minorities, and, when this fails, has Weston and his men gang rape his wife, Gemma. While Weston reaches out to local neo-Nazi Nordics leader Ernest Darby, Zobelle secretly informs Marcus Alvarez, the President of the Oakland Charter of the Mayans Motorcycle Club, about a gun deal between SAMCRO and the black One-Niners, resulting in a shootout. Meanwhile, the Nordics spread meth and prostitution into Charming. Zobelle has Darby give Hale an Impeccable Smokes coupon, which looks on video like a bribe. When SAMCRO blows up one of their meth labs on camera, Zobelle attempts to blackmail Deputy Chief Hale into acting against them, but he refuses.
Receiving no help from local law enforcement, Zobelle intensifies his campaign against the Sons. To demonstrate how far his reach extends, he has Weston contact the AB shot callers to arrange for an attack an incarcerated SAMCRO member inside Stockton State Prison. Next, he has Polly rig a bomb inside a van, which is towed to SAMCRO’s auto shop and detonated, seriously injuring Chibs Telford. Polly leaks information about a white power recruitment rally at the Christian Center in Morada, which the Sons attack, barging into a family dinner with guns drawn. When they are arrested, Zobelle has Aryans shank Juice Ortiz, though the others are bailed out before they can be targeted.
To further weaken SAMCRO, Zobelle and Weston meet with their True IRA contact Cameron Hayes and convince him to sell guns to the Aryan Brotherhood instead. To Zobelle’s dismay, Polly begins a sexual relationship with Cameron’s son, Edmond. Ule, a more flexible AB member, effectively replaces Weston as Zobelle’s lieutenant, and they begin giving the Irish guns to the Mayans free of charge, setting the stage for a heroin deal. Zobelle has Weston and Ule burn down SAMCRO’s porn studio, Cara Cara, and simultaneously end their relationship with the Nordics, leaving Darby to die in the fire.
Later, Weston furiously confronts him at gunpoint in Impeccable Smokes, stating that he has killed Ule and the heroin cookers, and denounces him as a race traitor. Polly saves her father’s life by aiming her own gun at them, and Weston leaves the store and severs the AB’s ties to the League. With his protection compromised, SAMCRO and Chief Wayne Unser come to kill Zobelle and his daughter. Things look hopeless when Unser refuses to help them and orders the other officers to leave, but the Zobelles are saved by Deputy Chief Hale, who arrests them for narcotics possession.
Zobelle and Polly are placed in jail in a cell next to Weston. They are released by the FBI, and his status as an informant is revealed to Unser, who tells SAMCRO. While Zobelle and his daughter hole up in Impeccable Smokes, defended by the Mayans and besieged by the Sons, Weston calls to threaten his life. When Zobelle reveals they are going back to Budapest, Polly insists on going to say goodbye to Edmond. When she does not come back, Zobelle is forced to flee, escorted by the Mayans, who break off after SAMCRO attacks and kills some of their members. Hiding in a deli full of schoolchildren, Zobelle frantically calls Hale for help. Hale informs him that Polly has been found shot to death, and lies that the local sheriffs were on the way to him before hanging up. When SAMCRO abruptly leaves, he flees to Sacramento and boards his flight, saying he will “adjust and adapt.”
The Impeccable Smokes location in Charming is closed down. Hale says that Zobelle is now “INTERPOL's problem.”
Zobelle is mentioned by Jax when talking with AB shot caller Ron Tully. He states that he was a cancer that almost killed both of them.
Zobelle presents himself as a businessman who owns a chain of cigar shops and leader of a white separatist group. However under it he is a cunning, ruthless, and greedy man who desires to take over SAMCRO's gun running business and start a drug operation with the Mayan MC only caring about profit and not race. He also uses his status as an FBI informant to keep his illegal activities going and stay out of jail. According to Jax, he is "moneyed, smart, and connected with both sides of the law." He is able to use illegal acts against SAMCRO without leaving evidence, in order to bait them into retaliating and incriminating themselves.
- In the episode "SO," a small plane crash is briefly shown, leading some viewers to believe Zobelle was killed. However, there is no official confirmation of this, and statements made by Kurt Sutter himself seem to contradict this theory, because "guys like Zobelle get away [and] they're almost above the law."
|Season 2 appearances|
|"Falx Cerebri"||"Gilead"||"Potlatch"||"Fa Guan"||"Balm"|
|"Service"||"The Culling"||"Na Trioblóidí"|
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