Perhaps there are many occasions when a Sons of Anarchy recap just can’t do justice to what it’s describing. I’ll go ahead and tell you all the things that happened in the Season 6 finale, but it can’t match the power of seeing it. But be warned, this is going to hurt, and probably make you mad and want to go into a Jax-like rage of spitting out your words then yelling uncontrollably for a sentence or two then kicking something.
Tara (Maggie Siff) is the subject of everyone’s curiosity, with most of the club assuming she had cut a deal with Patterson (CCH Pounder) to turn on SAMCRO and go into Witness Protection. But the fact that they’re not all arrested yet gives them pause. Except for Gemma (Katey Sagal) who seems pretty convinced her daughter-in-law is a rat. But then Patterson shows up to the ice cream shop and wants a private chat with Jax (Charlie Hunnam). In more ways than one, this resembles that famous Al Pacino-Robert De Niro coffee shop scene in Heat, where the adversaries take a time out to talk about their situation not in their assigned roles as hero and villain, but as people trying to do the right thing. Whatever happens, Patterson tells him, it’s going to be on you. She says this fearing that Jax is planning to hunt down and murder his wife for taking the boys, but Jax’s wheels seem turning in several directions. Later, when the club meets to go over the possibilities, he doesn’t dismiss the idea of Tara being killed. But then he really can’t do that, can he?
But Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) scales all that talk back a bit, saying they just need to find her first. And they do, pretty quickly, as they simply tail Tara’s lawyer to a meet-and-greet she sets up at a Lodi playground. (Remember that whole thing about Tara not being a great schemer.) Turns out she was still just thinking when she took off with the boys, which, OK, seems a bit of a cop-out. Why didn’t she just ask Patterson for more time? Now she has to repeat the whole, I-want-my-lawyer-to-look-over-my-deal shtick and put herself and her boys in horrible danger for what? And say she decided not to go to them, how was she going to go back to Jax after pulling a gun on Unser (Dayton Callie) and Wendy (Drea De Matteo), much less lying to Gemma to get her out of town. You can pull the whole bit about her not thinking straight, but I’m afraid I must call b.s. on the writers here. In retrospect, it really just seems like a ploy to drag things out and provide the previous episode with a much more dramatic ending than it deserved.
Moving on. Yes, Tara is soon horrified to see some Sons, including her husband, walking toward her at the playground. Jax is cold to her, and she pretty much assumes that the only way this can end is with her death. Don’t hurt me in front of the kids, she pleads. It’s not certain when this happens, or whether it’s Jax remembering Patterson’s moralizing to him, but when he sees his wife almost matter-of-factly accepting the fact that he will kill her, he makes a decision. Jax is going to take the fall for the gun used in the school shooting and allow Tara to take the boys wherever she wants.
While there is sadness at the thought of Jax going away for up to a quarter century, by some of their estimates, the man seems more at peace with the decision than we’ve ever seen him in the series. This will be how he truly makes it right. He has sinned. He must pay for those sins. But I think all of us watching know he won’t get off so easy as just a prison sentence.
Word of Jax’s decision doesn’t make it to all the necessary parties right away. Namely, his mother. Gemma is already pissed at Tara, of course, and then she has to endure Nero (Jimmy Smits) awkwardly, kinda-sorta breaking up with her. (More on that later, although not sure you’re really going to care about such petty stuff as that after everything else that happens. … Actually, you won’t, so let’s just get all that out of the way now. Nero accompanies Alvarez [Emilio Rivera] and some Mayans to their first gun sale with Marks’ people. Not Marks, whom it is made clear will never be at these transactions. Everything looks fine, the deal goes through, but then Alvarez has his men gun down Marks’ men. So we have a great Oakland Race War to look forward to next season. Nero, knowing this is a bad, bad, bad situation, figures he has to make a change in his life. Gemma is one of those changes.)
OK, back to the main story. Gemma knows only that Jax is going to be arrested later that night, so she assumes it’s because Tara made a deal. While Unser tries to comfort her, she diverts his attention and steals his truck to take over to Jax and Tara’s house. Who should be heading over there later but Tara and Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) to collect some of her things. They see Unser’s truck there and find it a little odd, but not too alarming. They call for him in the house, and he doesn’t answer, so Tara assumes Unser is off helping Jax somewhere. Again, this dismissiveness seems a bit off, as one would think heightened awareness would be of the utmost importance right about now. But Roosevelt just tells her he’ll wait outside while she gets ready. Only Tara never makes it outside. Instead she sees Gemma, and it all happens from there very quickly. And tragically. Gemma snaps and fights with Tara, obviously determined to kill her. She manages to get Tara’s head and keep it under a sink full of dirty dishwasher then grabs a nearby carving fork and plunges it into the back of Tara’s head over and over and over again.
Tara is dead, splayed out on the kitchen floor. We’re still wondering if maybe she’s just injured when Roosevelt comes in and he is shocked to find the scene. Dead Tara, with Gemma mumbling that Tara did this, it’s her fault, she ratted. Roosevelt tells her no, Tara didn’t rat. Jax turned himself in. Then, in an instant, Roosevelt is gone, too, as Juice comes in and puts several bullets into him. While we could be forgiven for missing the significance of this in the moment, we have to be reminded of the history between Juice and Roosevelt, back when Juice was worried about the Sons finding out his father was black, and Roosevelt threatening to divulge that information.
Why did Juice do this? Well, he is starting to remember about how he blabbed to Nero about killing the shooter kid’s mom at the behest of Jax. Jax learns this, too, after Nero confronts him about it and Jax gives Juice one of those “I know it was you, Fredo” kisses to basically let him know that he’s dead to him. So he’s in a bad place, and he views Gemma as some sort of savior. He kills the cop and begins to cover up the murder.
Later, Jax makes his way to the house and soon finds the bodies. He loses it, of course, cradling Tara’s body and giving her one final kiss as he wails in mourning. Moments later, Patterson and the crew walk in to find the scene, and what can they think other than Jax lost it and committed these murders himself.
All right, let me just say that I’m glad this is the season finale, because I can’t really take being with these people anymore for a while. For me, and I’m sure for a lot of people, all shading has been lost with Gemma. She cannot be redeemed. She is truly the villain of the story now. Yes, Jax plays a huge part in the tragedies his life contains, but it is now him vs. Gemma and her lackey Juice.
We all remember how SOA is really a modern take on Hamlet, yes? Well, my own dime-store literary analysis here leads me to interpret Tara’s murder as the poisoned sword that has already killed Jax, it’s just that he won’t die until his vengeance is carried out. Not for nothing, we also have Tara dying in water, which bears some parallel to Ophelia’s demise. Granted, Ophelia wasn’t stabbed in the head with an eating utensil.
Is this a creative triumph for the series? Can you still muster any emotion for these people? Whom do you want to survive, if anybody?
Like I said, I’m just thankful for a break, because I’m pretty mad right now.
Photo: © 2013 FX Networks Credit: Prashant Gupta