Good night, sweet prince
“I did what I know how to do.” A very telling line from the tragic hero of SAMCRO. This finale was to be the culmination of seven years. An ending to both, the events of the last two seasons and the last seven seasons for Jax Teller. There were definitely hits on both counts, but “Papa’s Goods” wasn’t the home run that many may have hoped for. Some on the nose imagery, and a too many neat coincidences, exposed the try-hard nature Sons of Anarchy.
The episode picks up right where it left off. Jax laying in bed, contemplating the events of the previous day. Head heavy and weary from having to kill his own mother. Even worse, being instructed by your mother to execute her. There was a calm that seemed to wash over Jax, a calm the followed throughout the episode and accompanied Jax as he continued to tie up loose ends. It was as perplexing as it was foreboding. The more he maneuvered, and interacted with members of the club, it became clear that this was the calm before the storm.
“Papa’s Goods” was Jax’s chance to say goodbye, to everyone. Fans included. Each moment was clearly telegraphing a man that was making peace with his fate. From the shows outset, it followed the Hamlet storyline, Jax was always the prince, and was addressed as such. Making his ending a foregone conclusion. It was almost as if he was finally let in on the secret that we all knew. It was a nice stylistic choice to never really reveal what his plan was, instead we watched him the President of SAMCRO put things in place to keep the club alive, but severe ties from his family. Starting with burning his fathers manifesto and history. For so long, Jax wanted to bring his father’s dream to life, to remove the club from all illegal activity, and make them legit. The dream the got his father killed also started him down the path of destruction. He had the goal in mind, but Jax always put the club’s well-being above all else. He could never rectify the fact that there was no way to make both sides happy. He was always going to take the loss. It’s unfortunate that he couldn’t cut ties when he still had something to show for it, but in his mind, at least he was able to set his family up to be safe in his absence. Fulfilling both his father and Tara’s dream for the family.
Jax laying out the financial future to Nero for both the club, Wendy and the kids was a great scene. Jimmy Smitts, you’re the real MVP. He’s been killing the subtle game lately. Slight sighs, fumbling to quickly put on is shades before Wendy could see him crying. It was all great. Heartbreaking, but great. Nero became the father Jax never truly had, but also the brother he’d lost when Opie died. The old pimp became the conscience for the torn prince.
The episode also gave us a view of SAMCRO’s future. There was a high moment, when the club patched in T.O.. Finally allowing a Black member and ending the racism that had been simmering under the surface of the club due to the Irish control. It’s a little bittersweet since fear of being outed has half-black, and losing his position in the club is what sent Juice on his spiral. It was another super convenient element that under the smallest amount of inspection didn’t sit right.
It wasn’t the only one either. “Papa’s Goods” was full of deus ex machina, and overt religious imagery. To go along with these things, plot was allowed to play out as if good fortune was on Jax’s side while he tried to make things right. The homeless woman who’d popped up periodically just handed over a blanket for Jax to cover himself with, while he shot the recently released Marks on the courthouse steps. While sitting next to wine and a loaf of bread. MESSAGE! No cops, no nothing. Shot dead in broad daylight. He then went to Scoops and uncerimoniously killed Borovsky, because he was a seemingly ignored loose end for the show. Boom. Dead. This was then followed by the club making the Mayhem vote to kill Jax in a heartbreaking scene, which lead to a sequence that was mostly to mislead the audience. We were lead to believe someone in the club would kill Jax, more than likely Chibbs, but it was just a cover so he could handle things his own way. It was weird to see them go through these motions when they could just as easily had let him go. Poor Happy, that arm will never be the same.
So after all this, Charming PD finally put out the APB on the man who’d killed at least 6 people that day. One on the courthouse steps, and riding a bright blue motorcycle through the city. He said his goodbyes to his father, and almost completely recreated his death, by riding head on into a big rig. A truck driven by the same man who’d helped his mom just one day earlier. What a twist. It’s unfortunate that they had to squeeze in just one more Christ image, of Jax’s arms outstretched, because the green screen effect paired with it came off really cheesy. I’m sure my chuckle was not the desired effect.
For all the crows and tidy bows in this finale, Sons of Anarchy did wrap up the stories. We’re left to think that Jax did leave the people he cares about in a better place. Well, the ones he didn’t kill himself anyway. It was nice to see Nero, Wendy and the boys ride off to a better future, but Abel may have seen too much already, and the ring is symbolic of the family heritage of violence and destruction following him. “Papa’s Goods” was just that, a good finale. The seven year run had more highs than lows, but I feel good with how things wrapped up. It painted itself into a bit of a corner, but I didn’t feel cheated. Jax became the bad guy, and he said that the bad guys had to lose, but at least in that loss, he was able to save the part of himself that will live on. His family and his club.