SONS OF ANARCHY – The Final Season Review
The “Final Ride” has come to an end. What a ride it was. Kurt Sutter brought his seven year Sons of Anarchy journey to a definitive close with Papa’s Goods. The die-hard fans will have loved every episode of this season while the less devoted fans will have had some ups and downs. Overall the series ended very strong, in the most fitting of manners. Known for its violent hard-hitting action and drama, not all of the main characters survive to the final credit roll. This was expected and nearly the only way the show could end properly but still devastating due to the performances.
The cast really came into their own this season. Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal as Jax and Gemma Teller gave their best performances of the series. The last few episodes of the season in particular highlighted Hunnam’s acting. His amazing portrayal of a broken and unstable Jax was presented with an authenticity and intensity that would surprise anyone when held in comparison to his first season presentation. The many scenes featuring high-emotion interactions between Jax and Jimmy Smits’ Nero were some of the best acted and heart wrenching moments of the entire series. Smits’ addition to the show in 2012 was one of the best and most refreshing acts by Sutter.
Other standout performances this season came from Tommy Flanagan, Dayton Callie, Kim Coates, Theo Rossi and Mark Boone Junior. Flanagan’s interactions with Jax, as his Vice President, were the strongest reminders of the MC’s brotherhood, a fundamental and appealing aspect of the show. Coates’ scenes with Walton Goggins’ Venus as Tig took his character to deeper, more vulnerable places this season. Tig went directions that no one would have ever assumed possible in season one. These characters and actor’s growth carried the narrative further than most expected. The very large and talented cast allowed Sutter to broaden the scope of his story in the last few seasons. Without this specific cast one is hard pressed to imagine multiple plot lines, one of the show’s trademarks, being so pertinent and engrossing. The season was also rounded out with multiple great guest stars ensuring that the acting was the best it had been in the past seven years. The stars went out strong and on top.
Throughout the entire series main characters have been left in the dirt. Sometimes they killed themselves, were killed by rival gangs or met Mr. Mayhem and justice of their very own club. This season did not fail to accentuate this theme, another trademark of the series. Action and adrenaline junkie appetites will have been filled by the time credits roll. Though, the story was violent and action packed it was really based on the Shakespearean tale of Hamlet. It was a story about a family, betrayal and love and the seventh season delivered this on its most intense level.
Sons of Anarchy was truly the Teller family’s tale. During the middle of the season some of the episodes focusing on Gemma and Jax were slow, dragging out the lies and the tension to the point where it likely nearly fell flat with some viewers. To cover this, the show focused on a bunch of side plots and gang politics, as expected and mentioned earlier. The spattering of fights, chases and murders helped keep the show from getting too far from its standard pacing but did not fix the issue. Anyone invested in the Sons likely did not bat an eye at the pacing but continued to eat up all the world building. In the moment a lot of these extra plot lines carried a sense of importance that later fizzled. That is not to say that they had utterly no impact. Sometimes the pay off just didn’t seem worth all the time and extra long episodes spent focusing on the “side” stories. Sutter, a master plotter, left no threads floating in the abyss by the end. This was very fitting for the show as it is known for showing everything, sometimes more than people are comfortable.
Symbolism was heavy in the finale. The series had been filled with symbols and visual metaphors from the beginning. It had surely become an expected portion of the show for most viewers. Recurring items and images including the homeless woman whom Sutter refuses to explain in absolutes all made their final appearances in Papa’s Goods and the episodes leading up to it. The woman’s interaction with the cast in the finale took her symbolism to a level that she never had before. She went so far as to help create more symbolism after she disappeared. This was a very nice touch and choice on Sutter’s part that helped solidify the feeling that everything was meant to be and destined to happen from the first episode of season one.
The season ended on an emotional and freeing note. Fans will have loved every moment of the ride. Less fervent viewers are likely to have been slightly off put by some of the pacing in the middle episodes but that was really the only issue throughout the season. The final season of Sons of Anarchy was a beautifully scripted tale with top-notch acting and presentation. It was perfect closing to the last chapter of the seven year journey.