END OF THE ROAD
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
I find myself struggling to think of some appropriate words to describe my feelings about Sons of Anarchy’s series finale. As with many recent episodes, “Papa’s Goods” had a largely extended running time, and every single minute was powerful and emotionally charged. Several important plot points had to be tied up, but everything revolved around Jackson Teller’s firm commitment to his final plan. The biggest question was whether Jax would make it out alive or not, but the show didn’t even try and give us a big twist here. From the very start it was obvious that Jax was resigned to his fate, so “Papa’s Goods” was more about the journey than the destination in that regard.
After so much bloodshed caused by a single lie, Jax knew there was no going back. The body-count rose significantly again here, but it was all in the name of righting past wrongs and preventing further bloodshed. I was impressed with how the show managed to wrap things up so neatly in the end. The IRA problem may seem like it could lead to major repercussions; it fit perfectly with the club’s plan for a unified “outlaw” future. With Jax freed of all inhibitions, he was quite simply able to walk up to Borowski and gun him down in his store. The same applied to August Marks where Jax casually riddled him with bullets outside the courthouse. After years of complicated plans that span several episodes, seeing two villains dispatched in this fashion was a different kind of satisfying.
While these action packed scenes were great, they took a backseat to some incredibly powerful conversational moments between various members of the cast. Jax’s talk with Nero and subsequent goodbye to Wendy and his children were tough to watch. It was one of several moments that almost brought me to tears throughout the episode, and it is another example of the sterling work Charlie Hunnam and Jimmy Smits have done on the show over the years. Other tear-jerking moments in the episode include the “Mayhem Vote,” the club’s last goodbye to Jax, and Jax’s visit to the graves of Opie and Tara. All across the board there were great performances, with Charlie Hunnam anchoring every scene he appeared in. While I think it’s unlikely, I’d love to see some rewards recognition come the show’s way.
“Papa’s Goods” did a great job of bringing the show full circle in a way, along with giving us a few call-backs to earlier seasons. Amongst the call-backs were Tig’s hatred of dolls and a cover of “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” which Bobby sang in the very first episode of the show. The final image of the crows at the side of the road was also a mirror image of the very first thing we see on the entire series. The mysterious homeless woman also returned, handing Jax the blanket he returned to her way back in the first season. The imagery involved here pointed towards a biblical answer for her identity, with the camera lingering on the bread and wine she had been consuming. If Brooke’s mother was indeed killed in the same crash as Jax’s father and hasn’t been living rough on the streets for all of this time, then perhaps this homeless woman really is some sort of apparition. Her penchant for only showing up around the shows darkest hours has led people to speculate that she is the angel of death. We’ll probably never get a definitive answer on this, but I’m looking forward to re-watching the show with these events in mind.
“Papa’s Goods” also showed us that life continues on after the end of the show. Chibs now sits at the head of the table with Tig as his vice-president. Jarry split things off with Chibs, leading to Chibs threatening her. I have to say that I liked their relationship at the start, but it quickly took a turn and became one of the least interesting aspects of this final season. Her turn away from the club towards a more honest career was a positive step for the character and also evoked memories of earlier season’s David Hale. More troubling was the fate of Jax’s children. With Jax ultimately deciding to send them away to save them from following in his footsteps, seeing them heading towards Nero’s mythical farm (which I honestly thought was going to be Nero’s “one day from retirement” death sentence) should have filled us with a sense of relief. Seeing Abel playing with the ring Gemma gave him could though possibly be symbolizing that SAMCRO’s pull is very strong, and Abel may end up back there one day. Or it could have just been a kid playing with a shiny object, which I hope is the case.
I’ve left the discussion about the final moments of the episode until the end of this review, because I’m actually still processing everything. Jax’s death wasn’t a shock to me at all. The pieces of the puzzle were there for everyone to put together throughout the season, from Jax having J.T.’s bike fixed to numerous mentions of how his father died and showing us where the “accident” happened. Having it being slightly predictable didn’t impact the ending at all though, and I actually believe that it improved it. Just like Jax, we were able to accept the inevitable outcome before it arrived. “The Forest Rangers” (regular contributors to the SOA soundtrack) provided a classic, original song for the final moments, which were unsurprisingly shown in montage form. Every character was touched on here, but the main focus was of course on Jax, as he took his final bike-ride. As that trucker (Chiklis returned!) rounded the corner in his big-rig, the look of freedom on Jax’s face was incredible. There was a bit of dodgy CGI in use here, but that shouldn’t take away from the finale in any way shape or form. The crows took flight, Jax’s blood covered the ground and the sound of an exhale accompanied our final look at the reaper. Fade to black.
I feel like Sons of Anarchy hasn’t always gotten the respect it’s deserved over the year. It may not have been as consistently good as shows like The Wire or Breaking Bad, but there weren’t many shows better than Sons of Anarchy when it was in top form. This final season may have veered into more outlandish territory for some people, but there can be no denying that “Papa’s Goods” reeled everything in and provided a proper finale that gave every fan the closure they wanted. I have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the SOA world, but I hope it is the last we’ve seen of these characters. For me, “Papa’s Goods” was the perfect send-off for the show and gave Jax a twisted, bloody moment of redemption that looked impossible for him one week ago.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to start that re-watch.
Was the finale all that you hoped it would be or were you let down? Let us know what you think below, and please feel free to share your favorite moments from the series too.
100/100 – ‘STELLAR’
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