Watching the season finale of Sons of Anarchy made me remember why I love the show. The scheming, the underhanded plots and the emotional beats that have been drawn out this season all finally came together and paid off. While I still wish there had been more resolution before this, but the storyline did accomplish everything it set out to do. While some major events were left open ended as the episode closed out, we didn't have any major huge cliffhangers. In many ways I am okay with that, because we got a lot of emotional satisfaction that hopefully will carry into next season.
The most major revelation we got, was the plans that Jax was plotting in terms of Damon Pope, Tig, and Clay. For some reason I had forgotten to expect the unexpected with this show, and was fully prepared for Tig to be getting on the boat to Ireland with Clay or being murdered by Pop. I guess I should have assumed that Clay would never be getting on that boat either, but was surprised by how it turned out. There also was an "ah-ha" moment when we see Jax with Clay's gun and realize that was the mission he sent Juice on. While the moment Clay gave his gun to Juice was emotional, I didn't really think that would come back into play. I should have known, but it is these moments and subtle clues that make the show great. Jax's whole scheme was also brilliant and ironic as when looking back it was actually Pope that likely gave him the inspiration for this plot. Jax asked him about his "Clay problem" and he said, something to the extent of having someone else take care of the problem. I can't imagine that Pope thought Jax was ballsy enough to have him be that person. Overall, this is a season that I think would be very valuable to watch again as now knowing the conclusion, I would like to go back and see all of the clues that led to the results.
I also must say, Jax was a pretty damned good actor as I full on believed that he was going to leave Tig to die. I kept having a slight suspicion that somehow he would survive because Kim Coates is such a great name and integral actor, I wasn't sure if they could really kill him off....but I still was nervous. Jax has seemed to become so cold and calculating since Opie's death, I thought he did blame Tig and would believe he deserved to die. However, I was also happy this wasn't true. Beyond Clay, Jax does still hold his sense of brotherhood that felt like was lost lately and it was good that made an appearance.
I also appreciated this episode, as there were many emotional beats that are also something that has been lacking this season. I swear I wanted to cry for Clay after seeing the look on his face when he realized that Gemma had betrayed him. It was a heartbreaking moment, which is even more impressive because of the fact that Clay deserves anything that is coming to him. He has been an awful and terrible human yet I was still very sad to see him be betrayed. That is a demonstration of great writing and even better acting, and I give props to both on that one. Speaking of emotion, I love the fact that a show about tough ass members of a motorcycle club is not afraid to have one of their most manly characters break down sobbing. Tig was full of fear, sadness and emotion and in another heartbreaking moment he let it all out. I also appreciated that he adopted the pit bull because that dog fighting scene was about horrifying enough to make me turn off the episode altogether. Kill the humans and I am fine...fuck with the animals...I'm out!
As I said before, the theme throughout this season really has been the evolution of Jax's character. This also came to a climax in his conversation with Bobby when he finally admitted that perhaps he isn't as different as everyone (and even he) thought he was. When faced with critical issues of the club he had no problem setting Clay up to meet Mr. Mayhem and while he deserved it, the Jax we used to know would have done everything possible to avoid this situation. It also became clear that Bobby hoped the club truly would change and Jax would be the one that would be able to bring about the revolution. Not wanting to be part of his political game anymore, he turned in his patch and is no longer VP and with no member truly "in line" now that Opie is dead, will be very interesting to see who is put in that position.
While Jax’s plots revolving around his plans for Clay were wrapped up, we still have no idea if Clay will actually survive the season premiere or not. He is sitting in jail with a bounty on his head, but whether this will actually be carried out or not is very up in the air. This is also true for Tara, who was hauled off to jail as an accessory to murder. She could be let out right away or in jail for a long time and it's nice not being able to predict what will happen. On a side note, I wonder if it actually was Gemma that turned her in? Does anyone have any thoughts on that? She certainly was there and ready to take her place next to Jax and supporting him, but if she had anything to do with Tara’s arrest, that reconciliation will not last long.
The other big open-ended story, or actually character would have to be Nero. The episode ended with him having an emotional moment and what we think will be the decision to stick with his "bad life". However, the big gun on his bedside table could mean that he decided to make another decision altogether. While this proved effective in the storyline, I suspect this actually has more to do with the question of whether or not Jimmy Smits will be available to appear on the next season. He is a very busy actor, who does not like to commit to series for long, and Kurt Sutter has said that his return to the show will be more based on his availability than their desire to have him back, as they would be more than happy to continue the character's storyline.
Overall, it was an effective and riveting final episode that wrapped up a somewhat lackluster season. I was thankful for how they handled it and the feeling that the show had returned to some of its roots and I certainly hope that continues next season. Until then SAMCRO, until then….