Paul Risker reviews the finale of Sons of Anarchy season 5….
Last night the finale of the fifth season of Sons of Anarchy directed by creator Kurt Sutter aired on 5USA. UK SOA viewers – the under-privileged – have been forced to wait a further five months to their American counterparts, and it was worth the wait.
It was yet another compelling season in the Sons of Anarchy run that has spanned sixty nine episodes across five gloriously thrilling seasons.
It is beyond doubt that SOA sits atop of the television mountain. It is the premiere television show which leaves all others in the rear view mirror, and the only shows to come close to snapping at its heels are Danish political drama Borgen, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and ITV 1’s Endeavour.
Kurt Sutter’s skill is to evolve narrative arcs, concluding them ahead of audience expectation, and from the ashes of resolution spark new conflict. The sixty nine episode narrative is a tangled web of murder, intrigue, betrayal as well as being filled to the brim with secret and honest – out in the open – machinations.
J’ai Obtenu Cette brings about a resolution with Clay and Pope, as Jax successfully orchestrates Pope’s death, though Sutter appears to have granted Clay a stay of execution until the commencement of the sixth season. Of course, knowing Sutter as we do, a few more twists could be in the pipeline for good old Clay Morrow.
As the sun sets on season five, the unbreakable bond between Jax and Tara, committed to a single-minded journey, may have come to a close. With Tara led away by Roosevelt on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, the burning question is introduced as to the future dynamic between Jax, Tara and Gemma? It is difficult to comprehend Tara not confiding in Jax of Gemma’s role in her eventual incarceration, the consequence of Gemma’s malicious lies, though which could be perceived as a blessing in disguise for Jax.
In their final discussion, Jax is on a precipice, Tara backing him into a corner to choose between his wife and children, and SAMCRO. Tara’s arrest inevitably nullifies her ultimatum, and it is unlikely the job in Oregon will be on the table once she is released from prison. This is a devastating blow to her mission to prevent her children from reliving the mistakes of their parents. How this will play out will be revealed in the upcoming sixth season, though knowing Sutter this conflict will only resolve itself at the time of the series finale, and not a season finale.
In the meantime Jax appears to have accepted that he is no different to those he has so desperately fought against emulating. In this season Jax has undergone a transformation, abandoning the wisdom he had possessed up until now, and the determination to escape the life his father did not desire him to have. It is Bobby who speaks the words of wisdom in response to Jax’s successful play in exacting revenge on Clay: “It wasn’t about being smart enough to hurt him; it was about being smart enough not to hurt him. You had a chance to be different.” Jax replies, “Maybe I’m not so different.”
One of Sutter’s skills is to know when and how to employ his characters to their utmost effect and propel the narrative forward. Juice was an essential character in moments of this season, and right now as season five ends Bobby is the character Sutter is putting his faith in. During the latter episodes of season five, Bobby unlike Jax, Gemma and Clay, has been the one who not only recognises the line, but observes its existence. He has understood the need to not allow personal impulses to obstruct the needs of the SAMCRO, its alliances, interests and integrity.
Even Chibs through his alliance with Jax has undergone a transformation, now imbued with a previously absent darkness, which is showcased by demented grins as Jax during an altercation with an opposing gang member wedges his face in a box of nails. These are indeed dark days for SAMCRO, the bloodletting becoming more than ever the norm.
But if Bobby is becoming the character to sympathise with, then Gemma once again steps into her role as the shows dominant villain or villainess. She is the puppet master, the one who pulls the strings of the other characters, even when it seems otherwise. If she perceives Tara as a threat to her family, a force that will break up the Teller clan, then Gemma’s selfish actions are merely a repeat of past sins. The Teller family’s choices are defined by selfish motivations and actions – adultery, abandonment, betrayal and murder.
Just as Bobby represents the positive presence of SAMCRO, Tara represents purity. As she tells Jax, “We both know if we stay here, we’ll end up like the two people we hate the most and our boys will be destined to relive all of our mistakes.” Unfortunately she has no comprehension of Jax’s willingness or submission to the fact that he is no different after all. In season six we will discover just how indestructible their bond is, and whether their single minded vision of escape were empty words spoken by one half of this reigning couple.
Gemma may have once again control of the SAMCRO president, affirming herself as Sutter’s wicked Lady Macbeth, but one suspects a dark retribution on the horizon – just a feeling.
Paul Risker is co-editor in chief of Wages of Film, freelance writer and contributor to Flickering Myth and Scream The Horror Magazine.