After seven seasons, Sons of Anarchy has come to a close. “Papa’s Goods” gave Jax, and creator Kurt Sutter, the space to give the club and the show the ending they wanted (thanks also to FX’s generosity when it came to episode length). It was a long goodbye where Jax was able to get all of his affairs in order, and set SAMCRO on the path it needed to be; one free of the corruption of the past, and free to choose its own future. It’s something he had wanted to achieve these past few years, but his connection to Gemma and Clay prevented it from ever being able to happen. Hit the jump. “I got this.”
After “Red Rose,” it seemed pretty certain that the show would end with Jax dying. Jax closed the book on Clay and on Gemma, and knew that the only way to keep his own sons out of the murder and chaos of the club was to sacrifice himself as well, clearing out all of the old Teller guard.
“Papa’s Goods” was a way for fans to say goodbye as well, alongside Jax. He settled affairs with Wendy and his sons, and also drove by some Sons of Anarchy landmarks: the old clubhouse, T M, Opie and Tara’s graves, out past the Charming sign, and on to highway 580. He said goodbye to SAMCRO, the Redwoody and Lyla, to Chucky and what was left of his hands, as well as Nero. Business was settled with Barosky, Marks, and the Irish, and Jax gave Patterson all of the answers about Tara’s death, and the other deaths that had recently — and were about to — happen.
Each of these was, in its turn, heartbreaking, and Charlie Hunnam has never been more affecting. He was emotional, but never let it fully break through. His smile when he emphasized “RedwoodOriginal” to Patterson was a beautiful thing, and him taking his death sentence in stride was brave. He didn’t burden the club with his actual death, preferring instead a death by cop, presumably. But when he saw the opportunity (or the plan that he would, eventually, see a semi on the road), he approached it open-armed and with relish (in front of a horrified Michael Chiklis). Jax’s final scheme.
“Papa’s Goods” also focused on a lot of self awareness for Jax. He finally saw the full value of what Tara had been struggling against for years, and admitted that “a good father and a good outlaw cannot settle in the same man.” Despite what Jax may want, though, and assuming Wendy can stay clean and raise the boys up right, Abel pawing at his father’s SONS ring suggests that the circle may not really be broken. Jax wanted his children to know he wasn’t a good man, but what will Abel take from all of it? What have we?
Sons of Anarchy has been good, and it’s been not so good at times. It’s had brilliant character moments, and a lot of filler. The show has featured some fantastic actors, who have sometimes been saddled with really unfortunate dialogue and arcs (none moreso than Tara). Like Jax, Sons of Anarchy was many things, and struggled for balance. It was never in the top lists for prestige television, but it has always had a passionate fanbase, and been respected as a show that was never afraid to take risks, for better or worse.
When Sons of Anarchy began, Sutter likened it to Hamlet. The show often careened a lot farther into Macbeth territory, though, particularly in the last few years (and even this season, with Gemma displaying very Lady Macbeth-like qualities when it came to guilt and paranoia). The bottom line is not about which characters match up with whom on either side, but that Sutter’s aspirations for the show were always Shakespearean. Seen in that light, Jax’s demise, and the demise of almost every other beloved character, should have come as no surprise. Sons of Anarchy was built to be a tragedy.
Jax says to Nero before his goodbye that, “this is who I am. I can’t change.” For several seasons, that’s exactly what Jax wanted to do — to be more like JT, and less like Clay. Then, it was about being his own kind of leader, until revenge blinded him, and his mother’s betrayal undid him. Jax couldn’t escape his outlaw nature, which has always made him the best kind of anti-hero. He ended his life knowing fully who he was, and what he was leaving behind, and that the choice he was making was the best thing he had ever done, because it was in selfless service to his family. In the end he chose them over the club, which puts the rest of the series is an interesting light. Though the club meant everything to him, it also had to end with him (at least, the Tellers role in it). Sutter’s Shakespearean-inspired ending of tragedy and suicide was just right. “Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.”
Episode Rating: A
Season Rating: B+
Series Rating: B
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Jax burning all of the old pictures and documents surprised me, but it also makes sense that he would want to leave nothing personal behind for Thomas or Abel to latch onto and want to emulate. That past is truly gone now.
— Of course SOA had to get one last bit of Redwoody in there with “Fat Ass In My Face.” “We’re all about the poetry, man” – Jax.
— I was so relieved that Chibs didn’t have to kill Jax. That would have been awful.
— Nice, inventive camerawork on the series’ last car chase with Connor. Also, a nice twist (can’t have an episode with a Jax-schemed twist!) about them killing the Irish King and protecting Connor, who is now totally in charge of the guns.
— However, could those cops have been driving any slower during that “chase”?
— The homeless woman ghost returned, as a harbinger of death. It’s one of my least favorite motifs on the show, and the bread and wine was way over the top. But, she served her purpose in this episode, giving Jax back the blanket he gave to her at the cemetery forever ago. His disguise on the courthouse steps with it was so Assassin’s Creed, too.
— “Change is good, my friend” – Jax.
— All the points for a reference to Tig’s fear of dolls.
— Jax: “You ready for this?” Chibs: “Always.”
— “Papa’s Goods” was a surprisingly buttoned-up episode for the show. Despite a few murders, a lot of restraint was shown, grotesque-wise.
— I don’t get the point of yet another scene of Jarry’s indecisive insecurities with Chibs. Is she supposed to be the new Unser?
— “Can’t allow our hearts to be louder than the reason” – Chibs. The mayhem vote SAMCRO took almost ended me. The emotion! Especially from Chibs.
— “I got this” – Jax.
— Great final song. Matched up well with our old faithful, “riding through this world …”