I tried to imagine a different outcome, one with a sensible moment of peace and reflection without the need for bullets and mayhem. What I got, and what everyone watched got, was the most bittersweet form of retribution I think I’ve ever witnessed on television. It wasn’t cold, yet it was unquestionably necessary in the eyes of a man who loved to love those closest to him. His loves are nearly depleted, and soon, everything ends.
Tonight’s episode of SOA “Red Rose” ends a season’s long quest for absolute truth and unyielding woes. The facts are simple: Juice is dead. Wayne is dead. And Gemma is dead. Those are the harsh segments of truth that stick me right in the brain. For a split-second, the reasons why don’t matter. Then, slowly, the reasons do matter and they surface bit by bit until the moments return and you see the bodies lay as ice. I’m not angry or surprised, except that in the end, I hate the fact I wanted to see this since Tara’s passing. I speak on each of the departed as the filler moments of this episode matter little save for a few cameos and the climactic foreshadowing of Mr. Mayhem calling on a club president. Shall we begin?
Right up to the end, Juice maintained his dignity and kept Samcro in high regard for Tully and his group. He wasn’t angry, or defiant, or lethargic. He simply ate his pie and nodded. In the closing moments of his scene, I wondered still if there was some strange agenda he’d been saved for. But he wasn’t. No goodbyes from Samcro, no final request, he just bid the world adieu and let everything happen. In a way, he became Otto, someone destined to endure the sins of everything he had wrought in prison. I won’t expect much a sendoff in next week’s final episode, save for possible Chibs finding out from Jerry about Juice’s murder. Chibs will have a look on his face, that distant look that he’s keeping something buried inside, but he won’t let it out. He’ll simply move the conversation where it needs to go and breathe like he always breathes. And that will be that. Goodbye Juice, you met your end the best way you knew how, on your feet and ready.
We move to the more unexpected fatality, in that of ex-officer Wayne Unser. My SOA watching buddies and I would joke that Wayne was a dark mastermind who would somehow outlive everyone on the show regardless of how many times he had succumbed to injuries and his condition. Yet, it was Jax who had no choice but to put him down for trying to save Gemma from a dark fate. Wayne wasn’t a complete stranger to that kind of violence as only recently he had to take a life. Yet, he tried as best he could to resolve the situation at gun point. The problem was he was too involved and couldn’t accept what Gemma was about to go through. To put it bluntly, this death sucked. To hang on for so long and never waver from the person he loved from a far, only to be gunned down because he couldn’t let go. This is ultimately what separates him from Nero as they both loved Gemma with different hearts. Nero knew all too well what was going to happen but he sent Wayne after her. Did he really think Wayne would succeed and put Gemma in a place she was safe? I don’t honestly think Nero had those kind of high hopes and Wayne suffered for it. In the end, Wayne’s legacy is that he always protected and defended his morals even when they were scratched to hell. Gemma didn’t shed a tear and moved on to a conversation unrelated to Wayne. That makes his death as tragically sad as they can get.
And now we move onto the moment where my hands covered my mouth till the black screen and the logo bled onto frame. The moment Jax settled on his vengeance and shot his mother in the head. Gemma’s life came to an end just as our minds predicted when she ended Tara’s life. What everyone also knows if Gemma gave Jax the strength to do it. He faltered and lowered his guard, yet the caring and loving mother gave him tender words of acceptance. What came next was the shot and the echo and a vision of bloody flowers, just like Jax’s white shoes. This wasn’t innocence being stained, it was the blood of family raining on untouched futures. More than anything, I wanted Gemma to confess her role in John Teller’s murder. But the truth is, it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe she left him something in that locker along with the manuscript that Jax will come to realize more on the truth of JT’s death. I’d like to wonder on this next piece of hypothesis and see if it strikes home.
I’m almost 100% certain the club will end Jax’s life before or by the end. The evidence is stupidly overwhelming which leads me to truly wonder if Jax accepts that end, that it made it easier for him to end Gemma’s life. If knew his life was over, how hard of a decision would it be to handle what he felt he needed to do about his mother? Without that certainty of death looming, I don’t think it would have been as easier a decision not withstanding the support Gemma gave him in the end. As morbid as it was, I know Tara’s death deserved equal treatment. Did I love Gemma? Absolutely not. Her choices led her down a surreal darkness there was no coming back from. Do I love Katey Sagal? Absolutely. She brought a character to life that is a mainstay in her career. Forget Peg and Leela, Gemma is who she soared with and she did an amazing job as a cunning and manipulative force on this show. For the wrong reasons, both Clay and Gemma were taken away by the son who never knew he was getting justice for the death of his father. Will Jax ever really realize that in the end? Does it really matter? We know, but we’re just the audience.
Now I want to speak of the elephant in the room. That’s right, I’m talking about you Michael Chiklis, resident supporting star of American Horror Story-Freak Show. The second he spoke, I knew exactly who I was looking at even though that hat and sunglasses tried to mask it. After all these years, the frontrunner of The Shield made it onto the penultimate episode of Sons of Anarchy. And what’s more, there’s every single reason to believe that “Milo” is actually Vic Mackey. I know, I know, enough Shield alumni have appeared and none of them played their alter ego’s from that series. While that’s an easy out, there is one significant fact I can’t turn away from. Milo mentioned he had four kids last he knew. Vic also has four kids which includes Cassidy, Matthew, Megan, and Lee. If Vic ever wanted to leave the ICE and disappear, becoming a truck driver is one avenue he could go. It’s wishful thinking but I applaud Sutter for at least dabbling in the insane possibility that The Shield and SOA are set in the same universe. I’m happy Michael got to be on the show and he performed with notably the best actress on the show. Kudos to the team for making it happen. I approve.
I also want to remark on Charisma Carpenter’s appearance. I had read she was going to be in an episode but having been so long I had nearly forgotten until she showed up. It was good to see her outside of the obligatory horror straight to TV movie. Again she got to interact with Katey and for what it’s worth, she guest starred as fashionably well as was expected. It’s nice to see Charisma again even if it’s for a short time.
There’s no question, literally no question. Jax and Gemma’s final scene together. The gun shot made me put my hands over my mouth and I’m a guy who watches Game of Thrones with a stupid grin when every crazy thing happens on that show. Jax was so quiet and distant it’s so incredibly sad that there wasn’t more conversation between the two. They hung on simple memories and short sentences. She wanted to see the flowers and Jax allowed it with the sentiment that he was going to let her fall in the garden. Showing her body in the end was also equally sad because she didn’t get any kind of burial. Of course Jax couldn’t take the time or effort for reasons I suppose, but it just felt even colder than normal to remind us that she’s lying alone in a garden with no one to find her for who knows how long. That also includes Wayne. Still that scene was super intense because we knew it was going to happen and it kept hanging on all these threads of possibilities including when Jax broke down. What I commend is the effect of showing the shot and not just pulling away to some object or close-up of the gun, or just Jax’s face. It was Jax, and Gemma, and the bullet, and the rest of how it played out. The director showed respect for those two by making it clear, their faces were planted on the lens when it happened.
As a last act, I have no doubts that Gemma deserved tonight’s spotlight. She reflected, said goodbye, and if anything, seemed very peaceful with her end. It was so eerie that when she comforted Jax at the last moment, I was a bit stunned that she didn’t use that to her advantage to change his mind. Like Juice, there was absolutely no fear. In true Gemma fashion she lived her last day gaining a new friendship, saying goodbye to an ailing father, and telling her son she loved him. In a way, her being at peace meant Jax couldn’t really take anything away from her except her life. She deserves the MVP for tonight and for being one hell of a close quarter villain. Misunderstood, maybe, but she never backed down from a fight and knew how to get what she wanted. Gemma will always be known as a dirty fighter, but a very charismatic one.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
Looking back as the homeless woman, Emily Putner, I really struggle to understand if she’ll have any more placement at the end of the series. I looked up her appearances and her history to better understand where she came from and considering she’s basically a ghost who was a direct result of John Teller’s untimely death, I wonder if the spiritual moniker is rooted in the supernatural, or if she really is a lady who can get around from place to place when Gemma and Jax are having their emotional moments. I just want Brooke to find her now, if nothing else.
Chibs and Tig won’t stand by and let Jax be executed by anyone, club or not. I just can’t see anything short of chaotic club bloodshed occurring, with the exception of what Jax is changing within the club. We don’t know what it is, but it’s entirely possible we won’t know until that ugly moment when they end Jax’s life, if it happens. It’s horrible to think about, but it’s a strong possibility.
Jax and Wendy are now back together. I doubt their coupling was a one time thing. Jax gravitates to what he needs and how he needs to feel. Being with Wendy is fine. It’s one of the many things that has and will probably come full circle as we wait impatiently for the final episode to air.
9 out of 10. When you get my heart pumping and you make me really sink my brain into the moment, I can forgive almost any lack elements the episode may have missed. Everything was riding on Jax finding Gemma, and it didn’t disappoint. I was glued and it takes a lot to make me that tuned in. The losses were enormous and there’s no telling if it will end by next week. Jax will save his club, that’s what he wants and that’s what he needs to do. His life doesn’t matter to him and that it was gave him the final push to put his mother in a place where he put Clay and many others in the past. There’s only one thing left to do. Yes yes, take out Barosky, but then after, there’s the final settling between himself and Mr. Mayhem. Who will come out on top in the end? Jax is a son of anarchy, and we all know how anarchy and mayhem get along. We’ll see you on Dec. 9th, when everything comes to a close. Keep riding, sons. keep riding.
No more words