This review contains spoilers.
4.14 To Be, Act Two
So here we are. Sons Of Anarchy series four comes to a close in the second part of the finale.
I had expected that, given the build-up, the series would finish with a bang. Instead, it starts with a bang and finishes quietly with a terrible cutaway. If I sound slightly disappointed, then it’s because I am. The truth is that, while we’ve had a great series (it was definitely miles better than the third one), this finale seems to whizz through all the plot arcs, trying to close them – and the problem is that a lot of the conclusions aren’t very satisfying.
The opening was pretty shocking. Lincoln Potter and many, many police officers are lined up, ready to catch the Irish Kings and the Sons right in the middle of the deal, only for the CIA to arrive and shut them down. It’s then revealed that Romeo and Luis are working for the CIA – badges and all. Romeo explains this to Jax and says in no uncertain terms that the deal with the Irish must go through. I did like this reveal because I don’t think anyone saw it coming, but yet it felt a little bit late in the game. The problem is, however, that the Irish don’t like Jax, and will only deal with Clay.
Which, of course, means that Jax can’t kill Clay. Instead he has a heated confrontation in the hospital with Clay and forces him to step down and allow Jax to become president. Jax even goes as far as to spit on Clay in disgust, which I found pretty disgusting. It goes as a no-brainer that Jax would reluctantly end up becoming the club president, but the way it happens is just so underwhelming. Clay is still a member who can sit at the table and have a vote, but isn’t president. It felt like he was rarely calling the shots when he was president – there was always Jax, or Gemma, or some external factor making his choices for him.
After that tense stand off between Jax, Opie and Clay two weeks ago, and the reveal last week which made it look like Jax was definitely going to kill Clay, I felt like we deserved better. I didn’t really want Clay to leave the series yet (given the Shakespearean influence, I think he’ll be there until the very end), but I can’t help but feel that this arc could have been resolved in far better ways.
The way that characters were being killed off (or thought to be killed off, and then brought back in the next episode) with reckless abandon, would make you think that there would be at least one major death in the finale. However, the only thing that was killed off was the Mayor Hale’s plans for Charming Heights. This was, by quite a way, the most satisfying moment in the episode. After Lincoln Potter’s RICO was shut down, he admits that “the bad guys won” this time, so takes a win for himself by provided the court with a dossier about Charming Heights, along with a lot of sex paraphernalia and a child sex doll – created by the sole investor of Charming Heights. When Hale asks Potter why he is doing this – Potter supplies us with the best line of the whole episode, which is “because I don’t like you”.
The rest of the arcs are resolved like you would check off a shopping list. Gemma learns to live with Jax having to become president, Roosevelt gets to go back to being a normal cop, Juice is released – and the file on his black father is destroyed (I felt that after the brutal mid series episode where Juice tried to kill himself, this arc sort of faded out and went away), and it looks like Bobby will probably be released soon too.
One of the few plot points that remain unresolved is the conflict with Opie. Jax has asked him to come back, but in the final scene in Church, Opie is not there. I would have been disappointed had he been there. After all Opie has been through, it would have taken a very forgiving man to sit at that table. The only other large unresolved plot point is obviously that Clay is still breathing, but I can imagine that particular point will take a back seat in the next series.
Then, right at the very end of the episode, there’s this terrible shot – laughable, actually – where Tara is standing behind Jax, while he’s sitting at the gavel, and the shot fades to the picture of John Teller and Gemma in the same pose. The picture was one that we saw briefly in the previous episode. Given that this is the series finale, you’d think the decision would be to end with something poignant. It felt like this final shot was in there solely because Kurt Sutter thought it would look cool.
So, all in all, a very weak final episode to a very strong series. I’ve said time and time again that series three was not particularly good, which is why I’ve found this one so refreshing, but at least series three could muster up a very exciting finale where Jax played everyone for fools. However, given the seeds this final episode has sown, I don’t doubt that there is still a lot of life in Sons Of Anarchy yet. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of leader Jax will make next series, and how the newly demoted Clay will act.
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