Sons Of Anarchy series 3 episode 13 review: NS: season finale

After a mixed season, Sons Of Anarchy storms out on a high. Here's Stu's review of the big finale...

This review contains spoilers.

I’m starting to think that one of the constants in this world is that Sons Of Anarchy will always deliver with its season finales. You might argue that last season’s Prison Break-esque gargantuan cliffhanger was a bit cack-handed, but aside from that ending, it was a fantastic episode. As a rule of thumb, things get resolved, major characters get killed off, and we get a small taste of what might be to come next season.

This week’s finale was no different. I haven’t minced my words much about this season. There was a huge dip in form that infuriated me at times. Infuriated because I was not only frustrated at how badly some aspects of the plot were being handled, but also because I was deeply concerned that my favourite TV show had jumped the shark. Fortunately, it hadn’t, and the last four or five episodes have spelled out a very enjoyable run. Really, the success of this entire season rested on the quality of the finale. And it delivered. By God, did it deliver.

This week ties up most of the loose ends, dealing mostly with Jimmy O and Jax’s deal with Stahl. The Sons are able to set up a deal to buy Jimmy O from the Russians for $2 million. Most of the money is counterfeit, aside from the $250k borrowed from Stahl, the same money used for Tara’s ransom. However, by the time the Russians realise this, the Sons are pretty far down the road with Jimmy, who has been transferred to Tara’s car before the ATF could get their hands on him.

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There’s a large chunk of the episode where Jax and Stahl feel like two boxers in the first few rounds of a fight, where they are just feeling out each other. They are constantly asking each other “How do I know you’re not lying?”, but Jax signs the confession and leads the ATF to the SAMCRO clubhouse so they can collect Jimmy. The Sons reluctantly hand him over, and when Clay asks how Stahl knew that SAMCRO had him, she tells him that Jax has been informing her. A scuffle breaks out, and the Sons are all arrested for the gun charges, albeit reduced from 15 years to 14 months, due to Stahl and Jax’s agreement.

What follows was incredibly well played. I was convinced that the Sons were all going to jail, and that Jax would be exiled from the club. I had no idea how the club, or the show would recover from such a blow. Just as well that the whole thing was a triple bluff.

Following the arrest, the Sons who were absent from the clubhouse, Opie, Piney, Chibbs, and Kozik, arrange for Unser to send some false intel to the ATF that there is a gang planning to ambush them. Stahl sends her lackeys off to check that the road is clear, leaving Stahl with Jimmy and Unser and also leaving the Sons clear to exact their revenge.

Chibbs has his way with Jimmy first. Their rivalry goes back a long way and it was a fitting end that Chibbs gave Jimmy a Glasgow Smile in the same way that he had been given one years before.

As it was Stahl’s fault that Donna was killed, Opie makes Stahl sit in the front of the car before telling her, “This is how she felt”, and shooting her in the back of the head.  It’s not often that we get to see Opie get his hands dirty, but it was clear that he had wanted retribution against Stahl since season one, and with him announcing his engagement to Lyla, this was a fitting end to that chapter in his life.

It was a bit of a shame to kill off such a formidable villain as Stahl, but there wouldn’t have been such a satisfying conclusion without it. Jimmy had to go. There was no way that Sutter could have dragged that character out for another season. 

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It’s not until the prospects start riding alongside the ATF prison vehicle holding some of the Sons and pressing the horns that we discover that the whole thing was a bluff. 

We are then shown Gemma reading a letter from Jax, apologising for dragging her into the bluff, and that the Sons will be doing short time due to Stahl arranging it. This is interspersed with footage of Tara reading letters that John Teller sent to Maureen, the letters again stressing that John did not want this life for Jax.

I’m not sure how Sutter is going to handle the next season, considering the Sons are going to do around 14 months in jail. He could either set the whole season in jail, or the aftermath when they are released.  I’d imagine that, upon Jax’s return, he’ll be shown the letters from his father and his estimation of him may go back from a cheating lowlife, back to the hero that he previously viewed him as.

The finale to the season was pretty much everything I could have hoped for. The cynic in me wanted to say that the triple bluff was a little cheap, and had an almost Dallas-esque ‘and it was all a dream’ feel to it, but, to tell the truth, it was handled excellently. I felt my pulse racing for most of the episode and felt giddy after it finished. It could have been terrible in the wrong hands, but somehow had pure punch the air brilliance. 

The best kind of finale walks the fine line between offering resolution, but also leaving enough loose threads to build another season on, and this finale did that excellently.

And thus ends season three. It had some rocky moments, but turned out fine in the end. With this kind of momentum going, I can’t imagine that season four will be anything but great.

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Read our review of episode 12, June Wedding, here.