The season 6 finale of Sons of Anarchy was one of the most shocking season finales in recent memory. Over the summer, fans of the hit series contemplated exactly where the show would go for its final season. After all, now that creator Kurt Sutter has decided to finish SAMCRO’s story, pretty much anything could happen. Anytime there is so much excitement surrounding a series, it is pretty tough to live up to the fan’s expectations. In the case of last night’s season premiere, however, SoA delivered on all fronts.
The episode picked up ten days after the brutal death of Jax’s wife, Tara, and even before the first chords of the theme song were strummed, the audience not only caught up on the events of the cast but they were also exposed to the brutality of a man who has lost his wife to the violence he was desperately trying to escape; a man who has finally given into the darkness that he was so intent on dispelling; in short, a man who has finally accepted his path and has decided to stop trying to fight his destiny.
After being in jail briefly and forming an alliance with white supremacist Ron Tully (Marilyn Manson) while in lock up, Jax is released and returns to the club he holds so dear. As he calls his soldiers/brothers to the table, the audience is presented with a totally different Jax than they are used to seeing. This Jax is broken and he makes sure the club understands his mindset with a moving speech, one that also makes the club very aware that blood will spill and anyone that isn’t willing to die or kill for the man next to him should get out while they still can. After Nero passes on the condolences from the Chinese and the Mayans, Jax agrees to a sit down to lay out exactly what needs to happen in order to work out a truce between all of the different groups that now want control of the streets through the gun trade. Nero sees a calmer Jax, one that understands that measures must be taken in order for everyone involved to remain whole. The attitude that Nero interprets as calmness and control, however, is interpreted in a completely different way by the audience but they also have been watching Jax for years and understand that there is always more than meets the eye. This “calmness” is more calculating than serene and the episode draws to a violent, bloody conclusion that is as brutal as it is tragic.
The entire episode was well thought out and set the tone for the rest of the season. Jax is broken in the worst way and there seems to be no saving him at this point. Charlie Hunnam is either a severe badass or a fantastic actor – either way, this season’s Jax is absolutely terrifying. The series has always focused on his attempt to continue down the path that his father tried to pull the club before his untimely death, namely, finding the Sons more legitimate ways to make money. After all, the gun and drug running that they have been involved in has resulted in more bloodshed than cash. This Jax has decided that taking the path to legitimacy was a selfish decision on his part and is ready to take back ownership of the streets. He is cold and empty, and if there is anyone in his way, they should expect to be plowed through.
Watching this episode was a bit like trying to diffuse a bomb that you know nothing about while you have no choice but to wait for it to eventually explode in your face. Every line by almost every character could easily set off a chain of events that will leave members of their respective group dead in the streets and the tension was almost a character all to itself. Anytime Gemma (Katey Sagal) spoke with Jax, it was like watching someone smoke a cigarette while sitting on a powder keg; anytime Juice took the screen, viewers cringed, knowing his end is near; anytime Jax smiled, the audience’s blood ran cold. It was a exactly the type of premiere that the audience deserved.
The one issue with the episode was Brian Warner, bka Marilyn Manson. Manson’s acting isn’t the best and he has proven this fact over and over again. Ron Tully was a role that seemed perfectly fit for Manson, considering he is a self-proclaimed monster, yet he still fumbled it. There is no doubt that Sutter is a huge fan of Manson’s, which is likely the only reason for Marilyn to be on screen in the first place. The part could have gone to any one of the many capable actors out there looking for work and the scenes with Tully could have been much stronger with someone other than Manson in the role.
All in all, the episode was absolutely explosive and the extended length only drew out the anticipation as it went on. Kurt Sutter created something special with Sons of Anarchy and his passion for his project resonated throughout every single moment of the series. Now that he is ready to say good bye to the story, it seems that everyone who watches the series has their own bets as to who will die before the final credits roll. If last night’s episode was any indication, Sons’ last ride will be its bloodiest and its fans absolutely cannot wait for that bloodletting.
Sons of Anarchy airs on FX on Tuesdays, 10pm EST.