It was a good thing that Sons of Anarchy took a breath last week, and paused before its final two episodes, because Lord, they were (and are going to be) incredibly intense. The carnage continued in “Red Rose,” but the deaths were all from choices that those characters specifically made. Yet, among all of the emotional moments, there was still business to take care of. The chaos of the streets doesn’t ever take a break, not even for family trauma (which, in this case, also happened to cause it). Hit the jump for why “I’m ready.”
There have been many deaths on Sons of Anarchy, and there are sure to be many more, but Gemma’s may be the most surprising. No one would have thought, during the show’s first seasons, that such an outcome could be possible. But Sons of Anarchy, like Jax himself, had no other choice after Gemma killed Tara. “It’s who we are,” she tells Jax, encouraging him to kill her, saying it’s ok. “It’s time.”
Even still, it seemed impossible that Jax really would kill her (although the show gave the appropriate space to his conflicted feelings and his sadness as it happened. The same was true for Gemma, and her final moments with her father, before heading to her eventual death, which is why I assume she didn’t take her bags when Milo gave her a ride. She had come to terms with her fate). Nero and others counseled Jax against the damage it would do to him. But on the other hand, how could he have lived knowing that Gemma was free to live her life after murdering Tara? Surely, Jax and Gemma could never had had a relationship again, which would have broken Gemma’s heart beyond a desire to live, anyway.
Juice, too, was ready. Juice’s storyline over the years has been a disappointing one, as he went from a carefree hacker to a snitch, to a double snitch, to a liar and fugitive from the club. There was never a chance he would be patched back in to SAMCRO, because that’s not how the club operates. But Juice choosing to have Tully kill him — choosing the time and the place — also was a final act for the club and their business. He sacrificed himself, in a way, but also did one of the few brave things of his life by encouraging Tully to do what needed to be done, just like Gemma did with Jax.
It was only Unser, really, who didn’t necessarily see his trip to Oregon ending like it did. And yet, what is Unser’s life without Gemma? It was almost a mercy for Jax to take him out quickly, in that regard, as much as it was also a necessity. Unser wouldn’t leave, and when he made that stance, he put his life on the line. Jax just called him on it. There was some justice to it, though, as it was Unser who fed Gemma the false information that led her to attack and kill Tara.
Somehow, that wasn’t all “Red Rose” was content to explore — SAMCRO is still dealing with getting the Irish on board with the Mayans, and carving out territories to appease them and Tyler (who had SAMCRO help clear out the remaining Chinese so that they Niners could take over). The Irish, of course, are never easy to deal with, and Connor (the club’s post-Galen contact for guns) is now their target, as he was skimming money off the side from the Kings. Now, to get the Kings on board with SAMCRO’s new gun plan, they have to kill Connor. It never, ever ends.
Then there’s this interesting coda about the Mayhem vote on Jax from the other charter Presidents. Jax admitted everything to them, including him lying about Jerry’s last words. He still claimed self-defense, but it was all pretty damning (which Jax did not try to suggest otherwise). We don’t know what the Mayhem vote was, though Jax told SAMCRO it would all be ok (which tells us nothing). He did request of them, should things go that way, that SAMCRO be the one to carry out the Mayhem.
There’s a good argument to be made that if the vote wasn’t unanimous Mayhem, that Jax would have let the club know. As for what his plan is if it was unanimous, I have no idea. Would the series really end with Jax’s death? Sons of Anarchy has always been a fan of reflexivity and repetition when it comes to history, and that would more or less set Abel and Thomas on a path similar to Jax, with the early loss of JT (with Wendy as the replacement, tough-as-nails Mama Bear to the club).
As for “Red Rose,” though, Gemma’s death did solidify that Sons of Anarchy is not afraid (and has never been) to adhere to “live by the sword, die by the sword.” There have never been easy outs for its characters, from Opie to Clay to Otto to Tara to Bobby. Tara, like Tig’s daughter, Otto’s wife Luann, and Opie’s first wife Donna (among many others), were casualties of SAMCRO’s chosen way of life. They loved these men, and this came with that. Gemma, somehow, survived it all, but in the end she was swallowed up by the same violence that she both lived alongside and actively participated in. She didn’t shy away from it in the end, though. It was sad, but it was time.
Episode Rating: A
— Inteeeennnnnnse. The way they framed the final conversation between Gemma and Jax, with the headshot being so visible … eeesh.
— Some interesting cameos in this episode: Michael Chiklis as Milo, Charisma Carpenter as the receptionist at the nursing home, and Hal Holbrook as Gemma’s dad.
— I really couldn’t find myself caring too much about gun deals and territories in this episode, but I have a feeling this is going to have major repercussions next week. There’s still so much to wrap up!!
— “We got horses and cows and goddamn goats!” – Nero, poor guy.
— Not sure how I feel about Jax and Wendy getting back together (at least for a night, though she’s been increasingly included in the family now for awhile). I guess it fits with the show’s circular theme, though, and Wendy has earned it.
— “This isn’t about saving Gemma, it’s about saving Jax” – Nero. Can they still be close after this, though?
— I really like Nero and Wendy’s friendship, and was glad was got one short, fun exchange; Wendy: “I’ll keep that in mind next time I see you standing out front of a Home Depot.” Nero: “Don’t piss me off, junkie girl, or you’ll be riding back in the trunk!” Wendy: “Yeah, wouldn’t be the first time…”
— “I know there’s no apology that can touch what you’re feeling, Jackson” – Gemma.
— Lin’s second-in-command: “Do you know who I am?” Juice: “Jackie Chan.”
— More gang rape for Juice … of course …
— “Just let me finish my pie” – Juice. Juice’s eventual death has been drawn out for so long it didn’t really have much of an impact on me, except being happy for him that his struggles are over.
— “My mother killed my wife” – Jax.
— R.I.P., Gemma. I really can’t believe she’s gone.