Last night, the fourth season of “Sons of Anarchy” came to a screeching halt amid a glorious pile-up of power struggles, dramatic montages and unanswered questions. To clear the air about some of the unresolved issues in last night’s season finale of FX’s biker drama series, the show’s creator Kurt Sutter phoned a few television journalists this morning to discuss the kill-off conundrum he found himself in when writing the finale, Jax’s lingering dependence on the club and the future of “Sons of Anarchy.”
Warning: Sutter’s conversation contains major season-end spoilers.
The series creator started by explaining why he decided to go against viewers’ predictions and not kill off two problematic characters — Tara and Jax.
“As the story developed, we got a sense that — at least with Tara — we weren’t going to kill Tara,” Sutter said. “I’m all about surprising and I have no problem killing off main characters. But I also have to protect the show and I think it would be very difficult to continue with Jax and tell that story without Tara. [...] I just think, for me sometimes, whacking somebody is just too easy and you’ve got potential for a complex, interesting story when you take away what defined Tara.”
In what ways exactly will this present compelling story lines next season?
“[Tara] was a healer,” Sutter reasoned. “What happens when you kick that away? Who does she become. Same thing with Clay. It would have been way too easy for Jax to have that reveal about his father that we have been playing towards and have Jax kill Clay two scenes later. [...] We get to play this out with Jax and Clay now and I think that’s great turf for potent storytelling.”
But some frustrated viewers may be wondering why characters like Jax continue to stay so loyal to the club even though it destroys their lives. Sutter has an answer for those concerned fans.
“I think it’s really all these guys know. For me it’s the crux of the drama — at least with Jax — he was raised in this world and it’s all he knows. Can he abandon it, and if he can’t, can he fix it?”
Sutter also took a moment to shed some light on Opie’s arc last night.
“For me, I know there were some questions in terms of what happened to Opie at the end of the episode,” Sutter said. “It was just too neat and simple for Opie to come back. Opie’s a complicated dude and one of the thing that was fun about him this season, which is fun about some of these guys, is they’re not very self-aware. It took marrying somebody else for him to actually be able to grieve his wife. I think it’s just all sort of catching up with Opie. He’s not a guy that processes things quickly. In my mind, it’s going to take Opie a minute to get back to that table — if he does get back. That’s something we get to play out next season. He’s not necessarily ready to be at Jax’s left. Especially with Jax not being able to be completely honest with him.”
Sutter also touched upon a few other “Sons of Anarchy”-related subjects, including Tara’s creepy physical transformation this season, what next season holds for Gemma and whether “Sons” could outlast the seven season prediction that Sutter made for the show.
On Tara’s transformation into a Gemma look-alike:
“We’ve really been playing with that idea since season two. We had conversations with wardrobe and hair about slowly — the more Tara spent time in the world — having it rub off on her. She couldn’t help but become part of it. [...] I think that’s inevitable, her coming around and morphing into it.
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On Gemma next season:
“It’s this world about the men but more often than not, we see it through the window of the women. We see Clay through the window of Gemma because she knows his secrets. We see Jax through the window of Tara, which is why I ended it the way I did. [...] I think it’ll be an interesting season for the two of them. Gemma makes this decision at the end of the season that is somewhat hasty but as she says, she is a survivalist and isn’t going to throw away 20 years of work. So she makes this decision about Clay and didn’t see the ramifications of what that might create with Tara and that she has ultimately created a little bit of a Frankenstein. It wasn’t going to be her behind Jax pulling the strings. [...] But I don’t think Gemma will be usurped. Tara is not Gemma — she’s not there yet. Not that I’m going to take a step back next season and bring her back to the wavering Tara that she has been to a certain extent but she will have her struggles in that role. I don’t think the struggle will be ‘Am I in or am I out’ but ‘How do I stay who I am and navigate in this world?’ Not unlike how Jax has in this season. Tara is not Gemma. The example I give is when she slides over that syringe and says, ‘This is how you do it.’ If it was Gemma, it would have already been done. I don’t think Tara, if push came to shove, has the ability to put a bullet in someone’s head whereas Gemma could do that pretty much without giving it a second thought and then go and hit Starbucks on the way home.
On the future of “Sons of Anarchy:”
“I have no desire to run a show that only a couple thousand people will watch. If I want that kind of an audience, I’ll go do theater. It is important to me to keep the show fun and entertaining. [...] In terms of the fan base and the seven seasons, I threw out the seven-season milestone just because that was my experience on ‘The Shield’ just because that was the point when the above-the-lines cost became too much. I knew I could tell the story that I wanted to tell in a seven-season arc. I’m hoping we manage to have that length of time to do that. If for some reason, FX came to me and told me that we could do two more seasons, I would have to get that information before episode 710 to figure that out. I’d be open to exploring that.”
On Wendy’s arc next season:
“I’m not certain yet what the Wendy [role] will be. She’ll certainly be back. I love the character very much and I love working with Drea [de Matteo]. We were able to make a deal with her for six episodes. We played out two of those so I think we have her for four next season. I’m sure if we expand upon that we might be able to get her for more episodes. It’s interesting — people who have asked where Wendy went — I wasn’t sure exactly when but I sort of knew that it be through the evolution of Tara, it would be interesting to bring her back. We were able to do that this season at a really awkward and inopportune time for Tara. I just think she will be [...] very interesting to throw into the mix with Gemma and Tara next season. Whether or not Gemma will try to use her as a wedge — I don’t know what that will look like yet but I definitely know that she will come into play in the Gemm and Tara arc.”
What to expect from “Sons of Anarchy”’s fifth season:
“Obviously the internal threats and dynamics with Jax and Clay and the rest of the club will continue. My sense about next season is that it will be a slower boil. It won’t be as fast and kinetic as this season was with the cartel and Jax wanting to get out. This season, everyone was sort of out of breath at the end of every episode. [...] Next season will just be a slower boil if that makes sense.”