The thoughts and work of Sam Witt

Sons of Anarchy — The Final Word

SOA_POSTI came to Sons of Anarchy late. I’d always wanted to watch it, but I was so caught up in Breaking Bad that I just never got around to it. When I realized Sons of Anarchy was in its final season, I hied off to Netflix and spent the next few months devouring the show one episode per day.

I think, maybe, that’s why I’m one of the few people that wasn’t pissed off by the Sons of Anarchy finale.

Over the past few months, I rode alongside the Sons from their meager beginnings as a sort of community welfare club. I watched their daily struggle as their domineering, self-centered president steered them toward the edge of oblivion so he could line his own pockets. In the span of a few short weeks I saw Clay’s plans put him in the crosshairs of his own stepson and witnessed the bloody fallout of his betrayal. In a matter of days I saw the club move into straight business, piss off all the wrong people, only to have to retreat to their clubhouse with the burnt-out shell of their legitimacy smoldering in their wake. Their rise and inevitable fall through the ranks of the criminal underworld took place, for me, in a few months.

And maybe that’s why I don’t feel that the finale was a cheat or disappointment. I didn’t invest seven years into the show. I watched it in such a short period of time that every episode was fresh in my mind, and I could see how things had to play out. There was no lumberjack escape, no fuzzy focus heavenly reveal. In the end, what we got was what we’d been watching all along: one flawed man’s attempt to make sense of a life he was born into, to make the best of the spectacularly shitty hand he was dealt. There were no shocking surprises, no last-minute twists to let our antihero ride off into the sunset in search of new adventures. We got the ending that Jax deserved.

One of the things I really enjoyed about watching Sons of Anarchy was the way pieces of the plot fell into place. People made choices and stories flowed from the outcomes of those choices. From the moment Jax chose to pick up the gavel and put an end to the madness Clay had started, this ending was inevitable. His every attempt to pull the club away from the darker side of the outlaw lifestyle served only to enmesh them deeper in a fucked-up hell of their own creation.

Do I wish things had been a little different? Sure, everybody does. That ridiculous CGI at the end was totally unnecessary, and the homeless woman pay-off was more than a little bit too much. But the end result? No, there was no way to change that. Jax was clever and cunning and utterly ruthless, but he didn’t have the tools to build an escape hatch for himself. When he saw what all of his machinations had brought, when he saw how he was busy burning everything he purported to love to the ground, there was really only one way for things to end.

“I did what I know how to do.” That line, that cold explanation of his mother’s murder at his own hands, sums up Jax. He always wanted to do the right thing, but he never had the ability to do it. He was raised in a broken environment, by horribly broken people, and in the end the only possible redemption for him was to break free of that broken circle with enough force to throw clear those he loved the most.

For me, this wasn’t Dexter or True Detective, where the final episode guts the message from the rest of the series. We got what we were promised, even if it’s not what we thought we wanted.


About Sam

I am the author of the popular Pitchfork County series of horror novels. I also write a newsletter with great reading suggestions and free fiction.