Taking the Final Ride with ‘Sons of Anarchy’

[Spoiler Alert: If you have not watched the penultimate episode of Sons of Anarchy that aired on 12/2, skip reading this for now]

It’s time to say goodbye to the bad guys.

After seven seasons, FX’s Sons of Anarchy will ride for the final time. Helmed by Kurt Sutter (former EP of another classic FX show, The Shield), the story of a motorcycle gang in Northern Cali has taken us on an emotional rollercoaster from day 1– proving, once again, that we’ve become an audience so conditioned to root for a story’s protagonist, we often overlook their evil tendencies (Tony Soprano, Vic Mackey, Walter White, Dexter anyone?). 

Like the shows referenced above, I admittedly didn’t start watching SOA from its initial premiere; it wasn’t until just following season 2 when I happened to catch the first episode during a New Years marathon.

Instantly, I was drawn-in by the action & dark humor, and, as a former motorcycle owner myself, the concept of an outlaw MC drama on FX was an easy sell for this viewer. There were few let-downs in terms of the storyline over the years– some slower moments when the MC traveled to Ireland or one of the numerous times most of the club was locked up; but, in general, Sutter maintained enough fuel in the fire to keep the show going fairly consistently over the years.

As is the case with any televised drama, at times, the story did cross-over to the realm of the unrealistic. Main protagonist Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) quite often pulled outright brilliant schemes that a man with his education & background should never be able to concoct. As viewers, we could (mostly) buy-in to Walter White’s clever means to get himself out of dangerous situations– he was, of course, actually quite intelligent before devoting himself to a life of crime. Still, we suspended disbelief for an hour per week as we rooted fiercely for our often wrong-side-of-the-law “hero” Jackson Teller, like his bad guy TV predecessors before, and his gang of Harley Hedonists.

And therein lies the genius of Kurt Sutter. Not that he could get us to root for a bad guy, mind you– we would’ve done that on our own. The true artistry of Sutter’s dystopian ode to Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been in what’s occurred in Charming since last season’s finale.

Jax’s mother, Gemma, offing wife Tara (decades after conspiring with Clay Morrow to kill father & founder of SOA, J.T. Teller), set the stage for last week’s explosive penultimate episode (possibly, IMO, the best show of the series). Jax’s killing of affiliate club president Jury earlier in the season has our protagonist facing almost certain death in this week’s finale– and with his shooting of Gemma (and, collaterally, Unser), Jackson is fulfilling Sutter’s vision of Hamlet reimagined.

Unfortunately, spoilers for Tuesday’s series finale were accidentally leaked this weekend. I won’t link to them here, and won’t search them out, either– I want to experience the final ride myself, of course. And, quite honestly, I’m almost 100% certain I know what will (and, basically, has to) happen, so I’m not interested in any early confirmation of this. Sons of Anarchy will go down as another incredible cable drama, regardless of how the series finale plays out; like Breaking Bad and The Sopranos and countless others before, I’m looking forward to watching the series again a second & third time around.

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