Hamlet in Leather: The Sons of Anarchy series finale
After seven seasons and lots of mayhem will ‘Sons of Anarchy’ ride into the sunset or crash and burn?
Who would have thought a drama about a biker gang would last seven years? Who would have thought a drama about a biker gang would be riveting, well-written television … for five of those years. Yes Sons of Anarchy has grown a bit long in the tooth and finally taken out to pasture, and while it was a wild ride it petered out in the end. Without a clear adversary like Clay Morrow, the show has felt unfocused for the last two years. Where the first five seasons felt like they had a clear direction, Jax struggling with his outlaw ways and the wishes of his dead father to legitimize their club, these last two seemed to forget that and dive headfirst into the seedy criminal world of Samcro. The series finale tries to rectify this somewhat, returning to a Jax who knows that he and his brothers in arms are bad men that do bad things. If it did nothing else, this change redeems the mess the series had become. We get to see our anti-hero reconcile what he is and what he’s done and finally take responsibility for his sins… on his own terms of course.
Kurt Sutter has been more and more self-indulgent with the show; he could easily be called the Peter Jackson of television. Where the first seasons were packed to the brim with character development and action, we now spend most episodes — including this finale — with three-minute bro hug-offs and discussions of finances. Not what we expect from a show that started with gang wars and burning tattoos off of mens back with a blowtorch.
There is a good finale buried in this mess though, one that is an hour, maybe an hour and twenty minutes long.. Once Jax gets his house in order we get to see him clean up the neighborhood one last time. One more trip with mister mayhem and while not the most violent or bloody battle the show has had Jax seems like the focused man with purpose he started the show as. We get another visit from the strange homeless girl who always seems to pop up before pivotal events on the show. While her appearance had never been explained before, there are allusions to her being some sort of angel. Whether a guardian or an angel of death is left up to us, she is definitely an otherworldly guide of some type for Jax. While this character’s mysterious appearances and motives are effective for the most part they also come off a bit pretentious. The leader of a vicious biker gang has a supernatural entity watching over him … when you read it out loud it’s almost laughable. To their credit they kept it vague and grounded enough that people could interpret her comings and goings in a number of ways.
After all of his battles, losses, trials and tribulations, Jax’s fate is pretty much inevitable at this point. He rides off into the sunset but also go out in a blaze of glory: Jax visits the site of his father’s fatal crash. The crash that has been called an outright accident, blamed on his mother and Clay as murder, and suggested as a possible suicide. How fitting that Jax speaks one more time to his father, the man whose writings and teachings gave him such turmoil in his soul. Also fitting that from here he launches, after firing at a cop, his last ride. On his fathers bike Jax takes off down the highway and eventually is chased by what looks to be easily a hundred officers. The show has one of its greatest shots here as the camera flies above the action swerving from left to right just over the police cruisers. It is the kind of staging you’d expect from Breaking Bad or True Detective. Jax sees an eighteen wheeler coming in the other direction and has a beautiful moment of clarity. Just like his father, on the same bike Jax goes out riding free.
Most longtime fans have always assumed there would be no happy ending for Jax Teller and while they were right. Jax was able to fulfill his father’s wishes and get his club out of guns and get his children away from the club. While the show may have lost that objective for the last two years it was a fitting, perfect way to cap off the show. Sons of Anarchy may not go down as one of the greatest shows of all time, but it sure was one hell of a ride.