This review contains spoilers.
6.13 A Mother’s Work
The season finale is finally upon us. An action-packed sixth season, which was ushered in with one of the most explosive premieres in recent television history, starts its final episode with a much-needed voice over narration from Jax. It is in this opening segment that Jax bears his soul the only way that he has ever known how, by putting his thoughts down on paper.
The major theme of the season has been about Jax’s ability to accept personal responsibility for his actions and this is precisely what he finally acknowledges in this inner monologue. Moreover, the fact that he is fully aware he has turned into the man that he hated, Clay, and that ever since Opie died he has lost his moral centre, tells us that Jax is very much aware of the destructive path he has been on. He even realizes that his “self-hate is so deep and so palpable” it is affecting every decision that he makes and this is a character flaw he has had ever since the pilot episode.
Additionally, Jax is pretty clear that the fear he experiences actually motivates him. “I thrive on it. I crave it. I need that rush of terror to get my out of bed in the morning.” This destructive impulse has served him surprisingly well as SAMCRO’s leader but it has not served him well as a husband, a father, or as a “good” man. A fact that the DA is more then happy to point out to Jax when she says “what you are, crashing into who you are. Are you willing to let your family pay the price for your mistakes?”. It appears that for once, Jax did take some constructive criticism to heart. This narration was also strategically placed in my opinion to make us aware that personal responsibility has always been at the forefront of this season and it also helps to get the audience to reconnect with Jax as we have spent so much time this series being deliberately kept out of Jax’s head. This inner monologue finally lets us back into Jax’s mind and his motives become clearer to us for the first time in quite a while.
“I can’t ask my wife to take the hit for us.” Here, Jax finally accepts not only personal responsibility for his actions but decides to sacrifice himself to save his “true” family. He hands over the gavel to Bobby, which is actually the best thing for the club and with Chibbs as vice president SAMCRO really has never had stronger leadership. Arguably, ever since the first episode we have wanted to see Jax not only set the club straight but set himself on a path to legitimacy. Jax reminded us of why we, on some level, have always rooted for him because deep-down he has the ability to be “good” and he always manages to defy our expectations. Jax has saved his family and SAMCRO, while at the same time he has managed to leave the streets in the hands of August Marx, who is more than capable of keeping everyone in line – after all there is more than enough product to go around and everyone will have their place.
Perhaps in an attempt to interrogate certain questionable business choices that certain people make solely based on greed, Marcus Alvarez is not too happy about this new arrangement. Alvarez confronts Jax about SAMCRO giving up their role as the “referee” or the “keepers of the peace” in the Northern California gun business. We find out that since Romeo was able to crush the resistance to his cartel that Alvarez and the Mayans are hurting for money because Romeo is no longer in need of their services. As such, Alvarez wants the Mayans to ally with the Chinese and take control of what he sees as a new opportunity for growth and profit. On top of this, Nero has officially joined with the Mayans and with the new Mayan charter setting up in Stockton this will undoubtedly cause major problems for SAMCRO. Nero has decided to renter this mess because he feels betrayed by Jax as he knows that Jax had juice kill an innocent women. The fact that Jax looked him in the eye, lied to him and had the nerve to call him brother really sent Nero over the edge. Nero tells Jax that the past comes back to haunt us and that our actions carry serious future implications.
We had a final confrontation between Jax and Tara that turned, as many people suspected, into a reconciliation. A reconciliation I did not see coming but was ecstatic to see happen. It was such an intense moment of honesty between these two characters that it reminds us of the connection that they had to each other in the first place. Tara tells Jax, whom she is convinced is there to kill her that “I’ll die if I have to, at least I’ll know I tried to save them from what you are.” Hearing this, Jax reacts by saying “I never forced this life on you you came back to me.” Tara admits that she really does love Jax but made the mistake of thinking that their love could transcend Jax’s love for the club and she tells Jax that she knows his pain and that she cannot understand how by knowing this pain how as she says “condemn your sons to that same torture. They will suffer.” Jax understands this and knew all along that the boys needed Tara and that they needed out of this life. Remember that he tried to let go of Abel back in season three, so Jax’s decision to sacrifice himself to save Tara and the boys did not come out of nowhere, rather it was carefully placed there all along.
After this moment of reconciliation, the DA shows up more then a little surprised to see Jax in the hotel room. Jax was also positioned in much the same way as Michael Corleone during the pivotal scene in the first Godfather film when he sits down in his father’s chair for the first time. Jax who clearly seems to have taken Tyne’s advice, says “this is me owning my place”. Jax offers to give himself up as the man responsible for the guns used in the school shootings and only asks that his club, Tara and the boys be left out of it. Jax defied our expectations and acted in a truly heroic and selfless manner. Who else but Gemma would screw the whole thing up? But who could have predicted the insane way that this went down?
Gemma is convinced that she will never see her grandchildren again because Tara has made a deal and ratted on the club. She then tricks Wayne into leaving her alone so that she can steal his keys and take his truck to Tara’s house. Upon entering the house and Tara finally thinking that her life is going to work out, Gemma in an almost unreal fit of emotional rage brutally murders Tara, using an iron as a weapon. Do we really believe that Gemma’s rage is only because Tara wants to take her grandchildren away? Gemma has always had more “love” for her son then any mother should have and she murdered Tara in the way that a psychopathic ex-lover might murder someone that they view as a threat. Tara has always been a great character and an important contrast to Gemma and now the stage is set for Jax and Gemma to have a final confrontation in season seven.
Since this is Sons of Anarchy, the shocking scene we have just witnessed will naturally only get worse. Juice has gone completely over to the “darkside” and this once lovable character’s true nature as a turncloak and as a vicious psychopath manifests itself as he murders Roosevelt. He then inexplicably helps Gemma by cleaning up the murder scene and we are unsure if Juice or Gemma was the mastermind behind Jax being found with the bodies or if that was just a happy coincidence that the DA is more then happy to jump on? Juice, this show’s version of The Godfather‘s Fredo, was always a loose cannon and Jax realized his mistake too late. It was ironic that his act of compassion towards Juice came back to essentially destroy him.
Initially I thought that the scene between Jax and Tara at the park was the most emotionally powerful moment of the episode and then I was proved wrong because Jax gets to be the one who finds Tara’s body. How a show can at one moment make you want to turn away from the horrific violence that you are seeing in one scene and then almost immediately be able to manipulate you emotionally to the point of tears is a feat few, if any, other shows can pull off. It was a brilliant end to a brilliant season that has left me thirsting for more and completely devastated by what I just witnessed. As a married man myself the last scene was hard to take and perhaps waiting a year for the seventh season is a blessing. This was possibly the best season of the entire series!
Read Matthew’s review of the previous episode, You Are My Sunshine, here.
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