Buyer Beware May Contain Spoilers!
The wife and I just wrapped up watching Sons of Anarchy’s seventh and final season and it was long overdue. It is in my very own humble opinion that this show dragged on for way too long. Now I am not going to throw my hands up and say the show wasn’t any good, I hung in there after all for seven seasons to complete it. I will say that it did end in a way that I am completely happy with, more than I could say for a little show called LOST! I don’t think there was one story-line that they left open, and there was no fade to black with a premise of you go figure out for yourself! See a long running highly popular HBO gangster show!
Over the seven seasons the show just became silly to me with the amount of violence one motorcycle club could fall into episode, after episode, after episode, after episode, you get the point. Not a moment went bye in the show where the club wasn’t stepping into some serious shit. I longed for a filler episode, much like the 4-5 episodes per half of season you get with The Walking Dead, just to give the boys and surrounding community a break! Nope this show racked up a body count over the years that rival Rambo or Chuck Norris!
The show featured the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Originals or more commonly known as SAMCRO. The setting was in Charming, a fictional town in California’s Central Valley. The motorcycle club however had chapters that spanned the west coast and surprisingly enough a chapter over in Ireland! Some minor spoilers from here on out in italics. Don’t say I didn’t warn you with the above header!
In season three the club has an associate smuggle them over to Northern Ireland. Jax is chasing down one of his kids – and the show almost lost me here – with the trip to Ireland, as the show was semi believable in the states but to take it across the ocean and continue the upswing of violence was almost a show stopper for me. I guess I would classify season three to be the filler season as it gave Charming a bit of a break!
SAMCRO were originally a majority white’s only motorcycle club that featured an automotive garage and legitimate tow truck business – and of course ran guns on the side! This club however branches out throughout the years and ends up getting into drugs, escort services, and pornography! The club is run by a President, a VP, and a council that holds Church around The Table to vote on club matters. Of course you can imagine how well this democracy runs by a gang of thugs, I guess otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a show!
Besides the various chapters of SoA the motorcycle club interacts with a number of various clubs, gangs, law enforcement, and corrupt politicians. The major opponents or allies – depending on which way the wind is blowing – boils down to the following list:
The Mayans – A Hispanic heavy motorcycle club run by Marcus Alvarez. Another club that spans various chapters located throughout CA and Nevada. They specialize in controlling the heroin market and we see them sparring with SAMCRO and the other various factions throughout the show.
I really enjoyed watching the transition of this club go from antagonist to allies in the end. During peace time and war it always seemed there was a true respect between the Sons and Mayans. They were another brutal club that stopped at nothing to protect their own and make buck!
The One-Niners – AKA the 9’ers of Oakland California are the predominately black street gangstas on the show. These hip hop bangers are led by a variety of leaders throughout the show and are overseen by a business savvy drug kingpin Damon Pope. As you may guess they are Drug runners as well, specializing in Heroin, and one of SAMCRO’s biggest gun customers on the street.
The Byz Lats – This is another Latino faction street gang that shows up in season 5. This cast of characters is led by Nero Padilla for a time whom eventually passes the torch. They are allies to the SoA and to me just seem like a backstory for the character of Nero. They have a few issues that the Son’s help them out with street wise but no real thick plot points revolved around them other than their affiliation with Nero. Funny enough the One-Niners and Byz Lats also appear as street gangs on another FX series, The Shield.
The Lin Triad – This was a Chinese American organized crime syndicate based out of San Francisco and headed up by Henry Lin. They specialize in prostitution and counterfeiting, and of course are a high paying customer of SAMCRO for guns. They are seen throughout the span of SoA but are heavily leaned upon for story-lines towards the end.
White Supremacists – A show with such a diversity of culture, ethnicity, and violence could not be complete without these guys showing up and causing some hate and discontent. There are a couple of different groups throughout the seasons, one is the Nords led by Ernest Darby who specialize in the crystal meth arena. The other group worth mentioning, Aryan Brotherhood, plays a larger role towards the end of the season and is led by Ron Tully who is portrayed by Marilyn Manson!
Now with all the factions out of the way and after seven seasons I may have missed one or two, it’s time to talk a bit about the supporting cast of characters that drive the main story through. There is a huge list of starts and characters for this show, and I won’t be able to cover them all, so here are a few of main players and some of my favorites.
Jackson Teller aka “Jax” the main character of the show. Jax is the heir apparent to the throne of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club. Jax grew up watching this club as a kid and becomes the vice-president of the club at a very young age. Jax is fairly street smart, tactical, and ruthless if you’re on the wrong side of him. The show loosely revolves around him finding the memoir’s that his dad, a SAMCRO former founding member, wrote about how the club had gotten out of hand and needed a change.
Unfortunately John Teller was never part of the show as he lost his life in 1993. The vision of how the club had grown into something – a violent gun running killing machine maybe? – that was not his original intention of building a brotherhood in the post-Vietnam era may have led to his death, I am not 100% clear, but there’s a lot of history there within the manuscript that Jax’s finds and reads aloud at times. Personally I like Jax at the beginning of the show but over time I watched him become a cowardly douche-bag who clearly had no intention of being a good husband or father. The moves he would make, the promises he broke, the constant showing of his ass and not enough of the escorts, the unnecessary killing – of what may as well been his grandpa in the second to last episode of season 7 – motivated me to root against him towards the end.
Gemma Teller Morrow the matriarch of SoA. Gemma is Jax’s mother and starts off the series married to the club president and pseudo step-father Clay Morrow. Gemma is portrayed by Katey Segal and she may as well have matched her cigarette intake from the Married with Children days. Gemma basically runs the show behind the scenes; she is a ruthless biker ole lady, a self-proclaimed loving grandmother, but again is someone who obviously puts the stupid motorcycle club first and family second. Some may argue that she does not, but I beg to differ she is too worried about herself, any harm that would fall upon poor Jax and his status with the club, to really care about the grand-kids. I can honestly say it was nice to see her up front on the show, she played her role and did it well, but altogether I got sick of her constantly meddling with affairs after a while. Katy Segal, who portrays Gemma, was also the wife of series creator Kurt Sutter. She contributed, quite well, as a singer to the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack.
Harry “Opie” Winston is the son of one of the original 9 members of SAMCRO and season one starts off with his reluctance to re-join the club, after a five-year stint in prison for a botched arson job. He has a wife and two kids who are struggling to make ends meet, and at first he attempts to go legit, but Jax and the club are there pulling him in the more lucrative, yet volatile, outlaw career. It’s hard for Opie to ignore his long time club brother and best friend, and his father Piney Winston is still kicking around as a member as well.
Opie took part in one of the most prolific story-lines in the show. Clay Morrow, the then President of SAMCRO found it necessary to take him out after Opie was framed as an informant. He sent Tig to do the honors but the hit went very very bad as the truck Opie was supposed to be driving was being driven by his then wife Donna. On-top of this brutal murder, Clay also takes out Opie’s father Piney Winston as he learns news that Morrow may have had a part in Jax’s father’s death in order to keep the club in running guns.
This leads to several ins and outs with the club, in the end Opie ends up back with his best friend Jax and the club only to end up sacrificing himself in prison to a rival opponent who expected payback for some of the clubs misgivings along the way. In a move to prevent Jax from volunteering to be on the receiving end of an epic to the death prison beat down, Opie takes the lead and puts himself on the line for his friend and goes down as one of the most horrific moments for SoA fans everywhere. RIP Opie! You were too good a friend to Jax and not enough of a husband and a father, you should have stuck it out at the lumber mill and avoided all this mess!
Alex “Tig” Trager was your lead SAMCRO soldier and one of the most violent members. Tig, with his wild eyes, hair, and attitude was constantly on edge and wouldn’t think twice about shooting your nutt-sack off just to make a point. As the show takes you on a wild ride, Tig is a big part of it all the way through, he gets put through a lot and somehow retains a funny wit about him that you grow to love. There was some serious laugh out loud moments with Trager involved.
He becomes twistedly infatuated with a tranny-hooker towards the end. It would seem the writer may have been trying to drive home a point on his mental state, but I am not so sure this was the way to go. I really wanted to see Tig go out in a blaze of glory. At times during the show I thought it was definitely was going to happen, but Tig turns out to be quite the survivor.
Wayne Unser was the first in-line of Charming Police officials that had dealings with the Sons of Anarchy and their blood bathes. Wayne becomes a very familiar character on the show; he has great intentions, but also a strong love and bond with Gemma, the grandkids, and at times Jax that result in him bending the law a few times. He eventually retires, and is suffering from cancer although he doesn’t go far and sticks around the Teller/Morrow campus in his RV smoking pot. At one point in time Wayne also owns Unser Shipping, a trucking business. This man would do anything for the town and at the same time Jax’s wife and kids.
It truly killed me and drove my hatred for Jax to new heights watching the way Wayne was inducted into the SAMCRO body count hall of fame. This man had more love for Jax’s family then Jackson himself. The end for Wayne was utter bullshit in my opinion, why didn’t he just go away like he was always told to do, and did, throughout the show??
Nero Padilla is introduced later on in the SoA timeline. He arrives just in time to breathe some fresh life into the show. Nero, portrayed by Jimmy Smits, is an OG Gansta and leader of the Byz Lats. Nero is heading towards retirement throughout his tenure on the show, but always gets sucked back in to assist or clean-up some sort of mess. He runs a high class escort service and becomes business partners with the club. He has a big heart and unfortunately lets the wrong family in.
Poor Nero, if he could only have known how it would all turn out! Mano you got in bed with the wrong woman! As a close mentor, and another pseudo step-father to be, this poor guy becomes the middle man for not only the gang land lifestyle between factions, but also winds up in the middle of mother/son relationships gone wrong. Every episode I hoped that Nero would ride off into the sunset and get out before it was too late. It was really nice to see him do so, with Wendy and the boys in the end.
Again there is a whole cast of characters, and some really big ones, that I have not even touched on. Everyone plays their role well; even the creator gets in on the action as Otto Delaney, a Redwood Original, who is serving time in prison. I honestly can’t believe the stuff that happens, as he wrote it, for that character! Overall I liked the series, it provided strong emotional twists, had some characters you love and hate, and an ending worth sitting through. I still believe it ran on for way too long, and feel a college humor wrap up, similar to the one they did for Lost, would be funny. You could probably pick a couple episodes per season, meld them all together, and come up with one or two seasons of a very excellent show. For now we will give it a good rating – 4 out of 5 stars – and recommend you blitz it sometime on Netflix!