Even if we didn’t know going in that this was a season finale, you can tell immediately that Sons of Anarchy means business when it breaks out the Katey Sagal songs. “Ruby Tuesday,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” and now “To Sir, With Love.” Not sure if it’s the most mood-catching songs for what’s to come, but it’s always nice hearing her voice, reminding us of the unassailable beauty Sagal is capable of producing, along with the malice and desperation that so often shows in her portrayal of Gemma.
But, since this is a season finale, it’s all about tying up loose ends. So let’s start with Otto, who’s about to give testimony recanting his RICO statements. Watching him from the other side of the one-way mirror is Lee Toric, whom we last saw sitting at the foot of a bed that was covered in heavy artillery. So we could be forgiven for expecting a little fireworks from Lee, as he looks in on his sister’s killer, just before presumably going after Otto’s associates. But Otto has other plans, answering the first question asked of him — to state his name for the record — by biting off his own tongue and spitting it in Toric’s direction. He does it while laughing the entire time, gleeful that he has found yet another way to freak people the f@#$ out. Toric merely smiles and commends Otto on his commitment.
Cool scene and all, but that’s the entirety of Toric’s screentime! That’s it! Donal Logue intimated during a conference call with reporters last week that his character might return next season, and now that’s all but certain. Yes, there’s plenty of more action to be found this episode, and it’s more than OK that Kurt Sutter and the gang didn’t try to just cram in Toric and give him an inferior resolution. Still, very jarring to watch the SAMCRO logo come up at the end and realize, “Hey, where’d Lee Toric go?!”
I would hope this would be the end of Otto, however. As much fun as Sutter is obviously having playing him, the guy has kind of worn out his welcome. How many more brutal scenes of vicious bloodshed, uncomfortable sexuality and eyepatch-laden sorrow must we endure? And hey, biting off your own tongue is probably a good way to go out.
Speaking of the Otto incident, Tara gets the all-clear from the doctor, saying there is no permanent damage to her hand, and that she should be able to resume practicing surgery within six months. It makes her decision to take the Oregon job a lot easier, but then she receives a visit from Wendy that turns it into a necessity. Wendy lets her know that Jax attacked her and injected her with drugs in order to shut down her threatened attempt to get custody of Abel. It says something that there wasn’t much convincing that needed to be done for Tara to believe it, but she’s still heartbroken. She’s finally feeling about her relationship with Jax the way I and hopefully many other viewers felt a few seasons back, that it was a horribly bad idea to get involved with him. But she must know now that leaving him will not only be difficult, it’ll also be dangerous. She’s seen what he’s capable of in order to maintain his vision of his family.
On the business side of things, Jax drops by a worksite to visit Pope and add a little amendment to their deal for him to hand over Tig. Fearing that Pope might back out of Charming Heights once he gets Tig, Jax insists on additional contracts that ensure the club gets its cut, and that subsidized housing is provided for Opie’s family. Pope seems reluctant, but August assures him it won’t be too much of a hassle, so everyone agrees. The drop-off will be later that day at a remote location near one of Pope’s warehouses.
So in what appears to be Tig’s last mission with the Sons, they head to another warehouse (man, there are a lot of warehouses on this show) to find an enemy of Nero. Trouble is, there’s some dogfighting going on and Tig — for all his violent tendencies — can’t stomach seeing a pooch getting hurt. When one of the dogs is being led out after losing a fight, Tig breaks away from the Sons and follows the owner. Just as the guy is about to shoot the dog in the head, Tig pulls a gun on him. Jax, Bobby and Chibs remind him this isn’t why they’re there, and the search continues. After some gunplay, fisticuffs, and Jax shoving a guy’s face into a bucket of nails, they track the enemy down. He tries to get away by pulling a woman out of her vehicle, only to find that inside is a very angry doggy. Nero traps him in the car and they all enjoy as the canine tears the guy apart.
Jax goes from there to a conversation with Tara that he really doesn’t know is a test. While he’s appropriately happy to hear she can be a surgeon again, he naturally leaves out his actions against Wendy the night before. This was Tara’s last grasp at keeping things the way they were, and now she knows there must be a change. Jax abruptly leaves to go chat with Unser to see what he found out about Toric. In short, the guy’s a complete badass. Special Forces, Harvard-educated, but kicked out for pretty much making up his own rules. Perhaps he should start running around Harlan County, Ky., with Raylan Givens.
While Tara knows something Jax doesn’t know she knows, Gemma has something on her. She snooped on a floral delivery from her new employers to Tara and saw the note welcoming her to the practice. So Gemma, subtlety not being her style, accosts Tara at her office and threatens that if she takes one step out of Charming she will testify to the police that Tara conspired with Otto to murder the nurse. They get into a scuffle — the word “fist-raped” is dropped — and Gemma ends up punching Tara in the stomach. But Tara stands her ground, telling Gemma to do what she’s got to do, because she’s getting out of town and taking the boys with her. So it’s on.
After that we come to the real meat of the episode, and the moment we’ve been leading up to all season. Jax gets Tig to come with him to the drop-off location, telling him it’s a place they can free more dogs. Only when they get there Jax pulls a gun on him as Pope and his crew pull up. Tig understandably freaks, calling Jax a rat bastard, then pleading with him not to give him up to the guy who burned his daughter, but Jax is merciless, telling Tig that what goes around comes around. He even asks for Tig’s jacket. He appears to have no compunction as Tig is being led away to his execution. But then we see Jax, who has been disarmed and searched by Pope “just as a precaution” reach into the bag on his bike and pull out another gun. This one he uses to shoot his way into the garage and free Tig. They have the drop on Pope, who warns them about what will happen to the person who kills him — reminding Jax about the bounty put on Pope’s killer — to which Jax replies, “I’m counting on it.” Then Tig blows the guy away. After a tense moment or two when we’re not sure if Tig is going to turn the gun on Jax, Tig breaks down and Jax explains that he couldn’t tell him or else Pope would pick up on it. Then Tig realizes the gun he’s holding is Clay’s, the one Clay gave to Juice last episode.
Not long after it all goes down, Sheriff Eli gets a call summoning him to the crime scene. In addition to finding Pope and his crew, Eli gets a call while on site from Jax telling him where he can find the murder weapon. I’ll be honest, for a minute I thought they might find Tig out there, too, since we can never put anything past Mr. Sutter (who is talking with reporters for a postmortem on Wednesday). But no, Tig is fine at the clubhouse, playing with his newly rescued doggy friend.
The next logical stop, then, is Clay’s house, where the old man is packing up getting ready to go to Belfast. He has one more heart to heart with Juice, who is still acting pretty subservient to a guy he very recently voted to have killed. Clay tells him he’s going to miss him most of all, and this triggers some latent guilt in Juice, who tells Clay he has to leave NOW. But it’s too late. Eli comes a-knocking and shows him the murder weapon, and asks if Clay can account for his whereabouts that afternoon. Clay says Gemma can, only Gemma says no, Clay took off for a few hours that afternoon and took the gun, saying he had to “settle up some accounts before he left.” She didn’t think he’d kill anyone. And with that, Jax’s plan to take Clay down is complete, and Gemma has done her duty. While Gemma appears tortured by her role in Clay’s downfall, once the door is closed and everyone is gone, she immediately exhales and looks unmistakably pleased with herself. Damn. I mean, yeah, Clay has deserved this for a long time, and we’ve rooted for it, but it’s still just a little hard to watch.
Just think of Donna and Tara. That helps.
Jax then goes and has that conversation with August where they both know what really happened, that Jax planned the whole scenario and that August can’t prove anything. Plus, the outcome for August is pretty darn good, so really, who’s to complain? August goes through the motions, saying if they find out anyone other than Clay had something to do with Pope’s death, they will be killed, too. But as it is, the bounty is on Clay, and August — henceforth “Mr. Marks” — wants him dead before the trial.
After his victory, Jax returns to the clubhouse, tells Juice he has earned his way back into the club’s good graces, then has a sad meeting with Bobby, where Bobby tells Jax that he has become exactly like the man he just took down. Jax can’t disagree, saying maybe he’s not so different after all, and accepting it. Later we see Bobby removing his “vice president” patch.
Gemma’s had a busy day, punching her daughter in law and putting her husband in jail for murder, so she blows off a little steam by heading over to Nero’s and officially taking the plunge with him. Yes, she accepts that he is fully back in the gang lifestyle, and she’s ready for it. Once an old lady, always an old lady. As they’re about to start going at it in his office, Jax drops by and Nero puts the brakes on things to go talk to him. Jax doesn’t know Gemma is in the next room eavesdropping, so he and Nero get pretty real. He tells Nero he has to get out, he has to buy that farm. (Or else he’ll buy the farm, right?) Nero says sure, I’ll get out when you do. Jax has nothing he can say. He knows, despite all his lip service and promises to Tara, himself and the boys, that that ain’t happening. Gemma seems moved by her son’s actions. Will this compel her to let Tara go, to see the bigger picture that Abel and Thomas are far better off away from Charming and the club?
For all the places this episode has taken us, the climax takes place at home. Jax’s home, where he discovers the legal documents that Tara has been preparing without his knowledge, the guardianship, life insurance, etc. She tells him about the job, and that she’s leaving, and that if he really loves the boys and her, he’ll join them. You see glimpses of the murderous, vengeful Jax emerge, but before anything definitive can be said, the door rings. It’s Eli, saying he’s not there for Jax, but for Tara. There’s a warrant out for her arrest. Conspiracy to commit murder.
Tara’s near meltdown as she’s led away in cuffs is heartbreaking, but she composes herself enough to coolly tell Jax to call the lawyer. Then Gemma just happens to walk by and see Tara in the cop car. Her expression doesn’t exactly say she put Tara in there, but she doesn’t seem surprised or angry about it. Logic would dictate that while she was there making her statement about Clay, she went ahead and gave Tara up, too. She strides into the house and puts her hand on Jax, telling him, “I’m here, baby.”
So yeah, epic season. But more so than the others, it really feels more like a point where they stopped making episodes as opposed to any kind of real finale. Truthfully, I don’t see the plot with Tara sticking around much in Season 6, if indeed it was Gemma who is responsible for her being behind bars. I’ll see what Mr. Sutter has to say. Other questions for Season 6: Is Jimmy Smits back? What’s Lee Toric’s plan? Will Unser finally die? What about Clay? Now that SAMCRO is essentially legitimate, where’s the crime element going to come in?
I know you’ve got questions, too, so send them along and I’ll see what I can find out. Till next season!
Photo: Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX