After seven seasons replete with bloodshed, tears and enough drama to fuel a telenovela, Sons Of Anarchy’s reign has finally come to an end. Attempting to sum up whether or not creator Kurt Sutter did the show justice isn’t the biggest query at stake here. The more important question to be answered is: did he see off the boys of SAMCRO with the showy farewell they all deserved? Whatever that may be.
Whether or not you have become repulsed by Jax’s behaviour in the last… well, since the show began, his devil-may-care attitude has wooed half the ladies of Charming and a flock of dedicated SOA fans. With that in mind, it stands to reason that his inevitable romanticized downfall would be squeezed for every inch of drama. The decision to over-extend this season to practically 90-minute episodes has been lambasted, but for the finale, all is forgiven, as we’re in the last stretch of Jax’s journey, so it’s expected that the bromance embraces should linger a little longer.
The theme of history repeating itself became a benchmark for Jax’s development in early seasons – with the discovery of his father’s manuscript detailing his dashed hopes for the club – and was later dropped. The decision to pick up those loose threads kickstarts the episode, as Jax incinerates the notebooks he’d originally penned for his sons along with the remaining copy of JT’s manuscript. Putting to an end a question our antihero has struggled with throughout the show – can I change so my children may have a better life? – the rampant parallels between Jax and JT are made clear from the outset. It leaves little doubt in one’s mind precisely what his plans for the end of his last day are. Twinned with the tune-up of his father’s old bike and it’s foreshadowing without the shadow. We know what’s coming.
What Sons has brilliantly mastered during its run is creating a protagonist to root for, while he wreaks carnage and treats women like disposable objects. It’s hard to sympathize with Jax as he pleads with Nero to set his two boys straight on their father’s wayward life, but you can’t doubt his pragmatism. It’s certainly the only time this season he’s showed an ounce of self-sacrifice, but it feels like too little too late. His chief objective has always been: club first, family second, everyone else third, and that selfishness has pervaded every one of his choices.
Watching him say goodbye to his sons is empty of the expected emotional pull because quite simply, he’s been a shitty father to Abel and Thomas. He’s constantly shirked responsibility for them, passing it onto unnamed club groupies and various hangers-on and putting his club’s business at the top of his list of priorities. It’s due to this that the dominant feeling in this moment stems from Tara’s hopes for her boys, that they could escape the path of the patch. It’s testament to Jax’s stubbornness that it took him losing his wife, his mother and his mind before the wellbeing of his kids became a chief concern. An imperfect hero, who was at times immensely unlikeable, he finally gets it.
With his offspring safe in the care of Wendy and Nero, so begins his day of retribution. Taking care of business, Jax ties up his loose ends, which in this case means gunning down his outstanding enemies. Baraski is taken out and Marks is gunned down moments after being released from prison. In broad daylight no less, which makes the intended impact of his final act all the less surprising because he’s never before taken action without considering the consequences.