Flowers for my enemies…
Sons of Anarchy packed a lot into this (yet another) supersized episode. “Red Rose” definitely had a finale feel to it, which makes one wonder where they’ll go from here for the actual finale. Given everything that went down, and the way characters interacted, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something akin to an epilogue. Much like Breaking Bad did with “Granite State” and “Felina”. Now that things have gone this far there is no happy ending, for anyone.
The running theme in this penultimate episode was making amends. Each of the stories we followed dealt with people knowing things were coming to an end, and wanted some measure of control over their situation. Even if it was only being able to say goodbye or go out on their own terms. This was one of the better uses of the extended time, as each story got the proper time to breathe, and each person was able to to truly convey what they needed. To their loved ones, and to us.
I’ll always appreciate cable shows for allowing things to play out in a truly dramatic fashion. Moments of silence and brevity take place, and gives the actors a chance to really deliver. One such moment was Unser finding out the truth about Gemma. Dayton Callie did a great job showing the pain he felt because of the woman he loved. That unrequited love has always driven his character, so much that his concern was getting her to safety more so than bringing her to justice. Which was the exact opposite of Nero, who had made his peace with her sins and wanted to save Jax from himself.
Then there’s poor Juice. Broken. That guy has been dealing with demons and trying to find someone to put himself back into the good graces of the club for about three years now. After one more threat on his life, and another round of prison rape, he’d finally had enough. He knew he was going to go out, and his final act was to make sure that he did whatever he could in his power to protect the club. He knew that with Gemma’s secret out, and his hand in not only covering up her murder, but killing a police officer, there was no way out for him. He got the acceptance he’d wanted in death, that he couldn’t find in life. A sacrifice in the name of SAMCRO.
Speaking of club business. Since the big story is pretty much wrapped up, “Red Rose” set up what could ultimately be the fall of SAMCRO. Yet another President from Charming that has upset the balance with the Irish. “Mayhem has to fall”, and it will fall on Jax. Of course, the olive branches that Jax attempted to extend were met with some resistance thanks to the Irish, because this is Sons of Anarchy and the club needs side quests. And just like old times, the favor could either offer a semblance of salvation, or damn the entire club.
So we finally made it. The confrontation this entire season has been leading up to. Jax meeting Gemma at her childhood home. The sequence could only end in tragedy, and in this case it was the loss of both Unser and Gemma. Unser died because of his duty as an officer, and his last act of love for Gemma. Damn shame, the guy couldn’t just take the hint that she never felt for him that he did for her, and he died on the floor because of it. The real meat of this scene was Gemma, accepting her fate, reassuring her son of a few things before pretty much begging him to kill her. First, Jax knows where his father’s manuscript is, and potentially has something else to pass on to his sons. Second, there love and disappointment was spelled all over both of their faces. This was a tragic scene. We’ve finally come back around on the whole Hamlet motif that the show was built on. No shying away from it anymore.
With “Red Rose” closing out the Jax/Gemma story line, and both Gemma and Jax effectively moving Wendy into Tara’s place. There were subtle and not so subtle things that made the transition official, from Wendy mentioning her comfort in the home, to Gemma making her the next of kin for her father, and finally Jax and Wendy having sex in her bed. Wendy has taken Tara’s place as much as she could, and through no fault of her own. It’s still not clear how this all will end, and hopefully someone can walk away from this in tact (i’m routing for Nero here), but Sutter and company know how to break hearts, and “Red Rose” was a prime example of this.