Last night we experienced the penultimate episode of the FX series, Sons of Anarchy, and as any long-time fan can attest to, despite expecting death of the characters, it is still a tough thing to experience.
Sons of Anarchy SPOILERS follow.
Even back when Opie submitted himself to die, we saw it coming, and yet with no last-minute salvation, we were not only shocked, but his passing resonated with the fans for a very long time. So too shall last night’s death. (I’m using the term death in both a singular and plural form.)
CNN called it a “shocking character death,” while People Magazine tried to make it seem like a “plot twist.” Yet no matter how you wrap your content, pretty much anything that happened last night was more of an expected turn of events. And we still find our jaws dropping in how it is carried out on-screen.
It is bad enough that fans are feeling depressed that their beloved TV series about an outlaw biker gang is ending, but show creator and writer Kurt Sutter seems to be setting it up so if there ever is a sequel, we won’t be seeing too many familiar faces.
The story from last night’s episode opened with us seeing Jax walking with a noticeable limp, which already has viewers saying WTF? But it is not explained. (Did Charlie Hunnam tweak his ankle during production and now, this real moment is getting played into the story? Or is this something else story related?)
Now that Alvarez knows what has happened, it still doesn’t make things any better with what escalated from Gemma’s lies about her killing Tara. And as you see throughout the episode, despite everyone understanding why things happened, there still has to be a price to pay.
Wendy and Brooke are still in babysitter mode, going about their business as usual, since they aren’t quite up on what is happening yet. Speaking of which, while Gemma is on the run, I loved the quickie guest appearance of Michael Chiklis at the truck stop where Gemma spent the night while “in the wind.” Heck, I did not even catch on to the idea it was him until halfway through his appearance.
Jax is balancing out deals and meetings with the various gang leaders and the SoA forum. No matter what else happens, no matter who else we think is angry with Jax, I think we are all more worried about the outcome with the SoA forum and the actions that will come out of it.
Jax and Nero, with their shared loss of Gemma, have turned to each other for emotional succor and support. Jax has asked Nero to take Wendy and his two children up to his farm. Nero seems to have a moment of inner awareness of where this request comes from, but concurs to it. Even if there are animals on the farm he has no clue what to do with.
Meanwhile, Juice’s situation in prison goes from complicated to ugly. We know that Juice will be dying by order of Jax, but first the Triads “have their way” with Juice in one form of retaliation for Lin.
In my mind, I’m surprised that Juice has lasted this long, knowing how suicidal he’s been throughout the middle seasons of the show, but I also see that he’s being loyal to the club, to the last minute of his life. It is all he has.
But Juice finally takes matters into his own hands and later, approaches Tully apprising him of the plan for the Triad to use him to kill Tully, but instead, since Jax has tasked Tully with his execution, says it would be bad for Tully’s relationship with Jax if the Triad got to him before he did. And brings Tully the knife with which to kill him with.
Loyal to SAMCRO to the end, that is how Juice bled out profusely on the floor of the prison. RIP Juice.
OMG, it is her again. The homeless girl or ghost, the spirit that has shown up in the show from time to time, each time heralding that some big challenge or change coming for Gemma or Jax. (YA THINK???) The last time we saw her, she was pushing her cart through the alley that Juice dumped the Tara murder weapon. Though to be honest, I suspect that this appearance at the truck stop will be the last time we see her.
Jax has a heart to heart with Unser and let’s him in on all that is going on, and this of course, shakes Unser’s world, being that he’s been in love with Gemma for a very long time.
Jax’s forum with the SOA charter leaders is where I feel Jax is setting his own fate. It is hear we learn that “Mayhem has to land” for one president killing another. Jax presents his case with nothing but truth and honesty. He also asks this forum for a favor, to pull some unwritten bylaw be thrown out. But we do not learn what that bylaw is. Yet.
Chibs asks Jax what’s up but all Jax does is smile brightly and say everything will be alright for the club.
Ug. As far as I can tell or guess, Jax is preparing to die to save the club. Much like how Juice was loyal to his end. Or does Jax have a plan? This confusion is Sutter’s sublime talent at effing with the viewer, right up until the end. Bastard.
In the meantime, the wheels are set in motion. Unser, as well as Jax, learn that Gemma went north to go visit her father and look over old pictures of her past in her dad’s house. Unser gets to the house and tries to convince Gemma to leave with him. But she is resigned. Jax shows up and through the conversation between the three, you know Gemma is there to die. But Unser won’t let go trying to stop Jax and says that this, looking at Gemma, is all he has left.
Jax has no other option but to kill Unser with a single shot to the heart.
Gemma and Jax chat for a little bit. He asks after JT’s manuscript, then she walks out into the garden, where she faces away from him. He raises the gun to the back of her head, but starts to cry, then Gemma says “I love you, Jackson, from the deepest purest part of my heart. You have to do this. It’s who we are, sweetheart.”
It is who we are.
How true to the code of the club. It is who we are. We, or Gemma, who killed Tara and set in motion so many things that had so many people needlessly killed, alliances destroyed, that Jax had no other option. That this was the only way to clean the slate for the club.
But did he?
She says “I’m ready,” and Jax shoots his mother in the back of the head and she drops like a sack. Her death drop was about as realistic as it gets. Not like some foo-foo effect where people go flying through the air when they get shot on TV, but rather, like most shooting victims, when they get shot, they just fold and drop straight down.
And this effect, watching Gemma drop like a meaningless sack of potatoes had so much impact on me, and that it was done by her son, because he had to. Because it was who they are. Jeeze.
And in this one case, there is no clean up. He just leaves the body as is. (Or bodies, counting Unser.)
The episode ends with us seeing the various bodies. Gemma laying in her garden, Juice being covered up. And then Jax and Wendy connecting one last time where they are both at their best with each other… in the bedroom.
Or one last farewell nod to Hunnam’s butt to the fans.
This leaves us with the obvious questions about this “tragedy by code of honor” as I saw it. For this moment, Jax has to live with this. With killing Unser and Gemma. But how will the series and story of Jax’s SAMCRO end? He keeps saying it will be alright. But for whom? Will Mr. Mayhem come calling? Will one of the other club factions kill Jax? Will Jarry avenge Unser? Or will some other crazy end game come into play?
Since it has been said that Sutter has written this show based around the theme of Hamlet, I decided to look for that ultimate spoiler. How did Hamlet end? Can we use Hamlet to predict how Sons of Anarchy will end?
Hamlet is banished from his land and there are orders for his death for deeds he has done. Hamlet is poisoned in a slow death, but not before killing his adversary with the same poison. A prince from earlier in the play appears to only discover the carnage of all the death amongst this family and assumes control of the kingdom while Hamlet is treated in a manner befitting a fallen soldier.
Take that as you may. It may not appear good for our own hero, Jax. But at least he has secured a good place for Wendy and the kids, up at Nero’s farm. It saves the kids, it gives Nero a piece of Gemma (the kids), and all, for that part of Jax’s family, is safe and sound, outside the harm of who he is.
And I digress one bit… with Hamlet poisoned, I still wonder why Jax was limping? I guess we’ll find out what Kurt Sutter has in store for us with the series finale of Sons of Anarchy.