On Sons of Anarchy, Gemma stoops to conquer

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Maggie Siff as Tara Knowles, Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller Morrow
  • Prashant Gupta
  • Maggie Siff as Tara Knowles, Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller Morrow
I've watched Sons of Anarchy since it debuted in 2008, to my various roommates' bemusement and my own surprise. I'm no real fan of motorcycles or lawlessness. But the series' premise was said to be inspired by Hamlet, and I am a sucker for all things Bard. Six years into a seven-year bid (creator Kurt Sutter has said season seven will be Sons' last), we've strayed from the Shakespearean blueprint, only to return to it with a vengeance in the season finale. "You knew this was coming": these words are the refrain of the episode, and really, the show's entire run.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The episode opens with Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club president and Danish prince stand-in, journaling once again about his inner turmoil. Jax has spent the last six seasons trying to establish a legitimate business base for the Sons (from gunrunning to brothel management), evading prosecution, and remaining mostly oblivious to the machinations of his wife, Tara Knowles-Teller (Maggie Siff), and mother, Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal). Everything's out in the open now, though, and he writes to assure his children of his best intentions. Then he runs over a white dove in the middle of the road.

The show's writers and audience have always had a template to follow: early on, it was a love triangle/power struggle involving Jax, Gemma, and Jax's stepfather, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman). Gemma and Clay schemed to kill Jax's real father, but since Jax knew only about Clay's involvement in the plan, he first framed him for a single murder, and then shot some other people to death and framed him for that, too. Oedipus complex conquered, right? It's time for Jax to focus on heading his own household and taking care of his wife and sons.

Sadly (or not, depending on how much you hated Tara), no. Gemma's attachment to—hell, obsession with—her son was still very much present in this series recapitulation. Gemma faced losing all of the men in her life: her estranged husband was dead; her boyfriend dumped her in a halfhearted attempt to stick to the straight and narrow; and she was led to believe, erroneously, that Tara has ratted out Jax and the club (in an effort to get her sons away from the Tellers' life of crime). Drunk and stoned, she broke into the Knowles-Teller home, then beat and stabbed Tara to death. "It had to be done," she gasped when caught by the sheriff.

Despite the high double-cross and body counts, nothing about the finale was surprising. Whether you've read Hamlet or simply followed the show, you knew this was coming.

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