“GOTTA LIVE THIS LIFE, UNTIL YOU DIE.”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
I can still remember watching through the first season of Sons of Anarchy and enjoying it, while also doubting whether it would ever take that next step and become a truly great show. The pedigree was certainly there, with show creator Kurt Sutter being heavily involved with excellent cop drama The Shield, but there was something a little bit lacking in those early days of the show. I personally felt there was a little bit more style than substance at play, with shootouts and heavy rock music more commonplace than twisting narratives and character moments. Fast forward to Sons of Anarchy’s seventh and final season, and I can firmly laugh at just how wrong I was.
One of SOA’s greatest strengths has been the care which is taken in crafting each story. It took several years before the full truth about John Teller’s death was revealed, and other similar secrets have been given plenty of time to build up to a satisfying conclusion. It is mainly this reason why I’m so optimistic heading into this final send-off, as six carefully crafted seasons (and a whole load of horrible decisions by Gemma) all led to these final 13 episodes. With every beloved show’s final season, there’s always some nerves involved due to the chance that something could be royally screwed up, but following on from this excellent extended episode, those nerves have been obliterated.
I’m understating it a little bit when I say that Gemma has made a whole lot of horrible decisions over the course of the series. Actually, when you think about it, every single thing that has gone wrong can be traced all the way back to the murder of John Teller. Now here we are, nine days after her brutal murder of Tara and she’s weaving another web of lies to keep her family whole. Gemma has always thought about keeping her family around her first and dealing with the consequences afterwards, and when someone such as Tara, John Teller, or even Clay threatens that, she won’t hesitate to remove them from the equation. With this being the final season, though, we will more than likely see Gemma’s house of lies come crumbling down around her at some stage.
We first see Jax in prison beating the hell out of a fellow inmate, right before carving a swastika into his victim and removing a few of his teeth. It was quite a brutal way to start the episode, but it’s not long before we learn that Jax is already thinking about business. His attack on the inmate was a calculated move to gain favor with the Aryan Brotherhood. There’s a war brewing, with the One-Niners and SAMCRO on one side and the Mayans and Chinese on the other, so Jax knows that any additional allies could be important. He is immediately different here. We’ve seen several different sides of Mr. Teller over the years, but this one is cold and calculated, focusing on getting revenge and changing the fortunes of his club again. By the sound of it, he won’t be looking to continue the Son’s move away from the outlaw life, which may end up leading to the club’s downfall.
Jax finding out about Gemma’s role in Tara’s death, and possibly everything else she has done, is the most anticipated moment going into the final season. There seems to be a few options already about how the truth will come out. Juice is the most obvious culprit at the moment, with the club actively hunting him and his knowledge of how Tara died. The fact that he’s staying with Wendy, and now has Unser held hostage, adds a little more credence to Juice leading to Gemma’s downfall. Wendy has shown herself to be a lot smarter than a regular “junky wh**e,” so she could unravel the mystery. Or perhaps it will be Unser using his detective skills again, unless Juice goes through with killing him. The least likely option for me though is Gemma actually coming clean and confessing, although perhaps the guilt will force her to unburden herself to Nero.
That last option seems highly unlikely right now, as her scheming led to another death this week. After Jax throws a big party to smooth things over with the Mayans and the Chinese, we learn that Gemma has weaved another tale about a Chinese man she saw leaving Tara’s house the night of her murder. Having the whole party be a ruse to identify the man she saw was a clever twist, as it looked like the party may end in a blood bath instead, which would have ended the great tension this possible war is creating. There was certainly no lack of violence in the premiere, as the random Chinese foot soldier at the party who Gemma picked out found himself tied up in a kitchen with a vengeful Jax. The fact that we didn’t see the torture helped the scene have a lot more impact, as a drawn out torture scene was replaced with a signature SOA montage, featuring an oddly fitting cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Jax finishing off his victim with the same type of fork that killed Tara was another nice touch, but this is only the beginning of Jax’s retribution. Everything he said and did in this episode points towards him tearing through the entire Chinese organization and anyone who stands in his way.
“Black Widower” was a wonderful opener for Sons of Anarchy’s final season, with the extra length allowing us to catch up with all of the stories we needed to as we head towards the series finale. Jax is in a place we haven’t seen him before, motivated purely by revenge and not even considering going to see his children once. I kept my eyes peeled for any hint of a Sutter swerve hidden in the episode, as we all know Kurt loves to mess around with our expectations. For now, it seems like Gemma’s lies are holding up, and her son is hell bent on destroying the men that she says are responsible. There’s twelve episodes left in this Shakespearean tale, so hold on tight.
Will someone else seal Gemma’s fate, or will her own guilt lead to her confessing? Let us know in the comments below.
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