As his errands are checked off, there’s only one person left for the SAMCRO president to meet: Mr. Mayhem. The hushed discussions hinted at from last week’s episode with the charter presidents trickle throughout the finale, as Jax’s parting act is revealed. For all of the sentimentality that these biker brothers share, their ultimate goodbye is a restrained affair with a neat twist. Hugs are thumped, and the SAMCRO brethren stage a fake shootout, allowing Jax to bow out on his own terms. His last words to his club? A perfect homage to Opie in three simple words: “I got this.”
Sutter has stated that he has envisioned the final shot of the series way before it appeared on our TV screens. And it’s a fitting end to a rock-n-roller of a show, that’s challenged its central figure from day one. Hitting the road on his dad’s bike, Jax reaches a kind of catharsis to his constant struggle as he addresses his long-dead father at the place he was killed.
A word should be said here about Charlie Hunnam’s performance, which is as note-perfect as it’s been all season. It brims with sadness, as the prospect of what could have been is never clearer to Jackson than on the cusp of his demise. His attempts to reconcile the demands of the club with his familial responsibilities have been nothing less than tragic and his realization is the last nail in his coffin.
Approaching his impending end with a light heart and glint in his eye, the show’s final outro montage finds him on the open road with a fleet of police chasing him. Crows soar in and out of shot high above the action – a nod to Sons’ outlaw nature – as he chooses a head-on collision with a truck as the best way to end his life. Of course, this circles back to the mantra ‘history repeats itself,’ as keen fans will recall that this is how his own father died.
While it makes a statement about Jax’s growth as a man, the episode as a whole felt like one long, inevitable build-up to his death. Lacking the impact of last week’s triple-whammy death blow, the final act of SAMCRO’s troubled leader could easily have been tagged onto the end of episode 12 in a two-hour extended finale. Really, the last ride was the one he took up north to confront his mother, Gemma, which ended in the deaths of both she and Unser. It was his continued battle with her that instigated his end.
Trying to bow out in a way that would satiate fans was no short order for Sutter, and the final impression leaves more than a few questions unanswered. How will Chibs forward the Sons into a less violent mode of operation? Will Wendy and Nero live out their days happily ever after on Nero’s uncle’s farm? What the hell happened with Althea and Chibs? Lest we forget, the characters littering the periphery of the story in this season were sorely underused, and merely cropped up as set dressing for our hero’s bloody antics. But this isn’t their show, it’s Jackson Teller’s. Who, despite being a flawed leader, patchy father and absent husband, sacrifices himself so that his children may have the chances he was not afforded.
As the final ride to a seven-year show, the last episode of Sons Of Anarchy is far from perfect. But as the last moments of “Papa’s Goods” fade out in a spectacularly gory fashion, they echo Gemma’s last words to her son with an eerie precision; “This is who we are, sweetheart.” Imperfect and selfish, but captivating to the very last second.