Monday, December 15, 2014

What I’m Watching: Sons of Anarchy (Series Finale)

Sons of Anarchy: Season 7, Episode 13 “Papa’s Goods”

As far as series finales go, I think this one probably won’t be as talked-about, mainly because it’s pretty solid and shouldn’t create much controversy. It’s not the series’ best episode, but that’s because the show has already delivered numerous devastating and unforgettable hours, or in the case of this season, much more than an hour. Getting what probably amounts to an extra 120 or so minutes of this show this season has been worthwhile since there has been considerable storytelling to do, and good for Kurt Sutter and FX for having a partnership strong enough that allows him to get the time he needs to wrap up his plotlines (Aaron Sorkin deserved similar treatment from HBO for “The Newsroom” and certainly didn’t get it).

Breaking down this episode requires an examination of what Jax did and what he didn’t do, and whether those things make him a good person when all is said and done. Confessing Gemma’s role in Tara’s murder to Patterson was a noble move, one that places all blame firmly on his shoulders and makes sure that there is no continued collateral damage. Killing Marks was an obvious choice, one that protects his club from further retribution, and offing Barofsky was a way to show that loyalty is valued above all. Executing the Irish and endorsing Conor showed that they’re looking for business deals and not to kill people just for the sake of it. He had his sweet parting moments with his sons, with Lyla, with Opie and Tara at their graves, and with his club. Not meeting Mr. Mayhem makes it so that his sons won’t blame the club for killing him but instead he gets them to see him as cowardly for driving into a truck instead and not facing the consequences of his actions.

To have Michael Chiklis return as the driver of the truck that he crashed into is an interesting if not fully necessary move, and my only curiosity would be what happens to his character, since sending an innocent man to jail for manslaughter is hardly a worthwhile final act. I suspect, however, that the long trail of police cars following Jax would support the fact that he turned into the truck’s path and that Chiklis’ trucker in not to blame at all. Having Chiklis there at the very end helps to underscore this as a serious contender for the title of best FX show since “The Shield,” and series regular Walton Goggins’ presence in the series finale of “Justified” this spring will do the same for the other top contender. Looking back at my season finale reviews over the years, I gave season two an A and every season since then an A-. That’s pretty solid. This has been a wild, violent ride, and a very worthwhile contribution to television from a singular mind.

Series finale: B+
Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Charlie Hunnam as Jax
Series grade: A-
Series MVP: Some combination of Katey Sagal, Maggie Siff, and Charlie Hunnam
Best Season: Season 2
Best Episode: TBD

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