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Sons of Anarchy: The Complete Final Season
I've been a supporter of Kurt Sutter for years, I loved his work on The Shield and I vehemently believe he wrote some of the series best episodes. I thought his work with the first 4 seasons of SOA was incredible, and truly felt it was one of the better shows on television. Since then, however, the series has steadily been dropping in quality to "guilty pleasure" levels. To put it bluntly, the Sons final ride takes a total nosedive in its final season, reaching Dexter levels of disappointments, with the same amount of filler, boring subplots and a tedious main story.
Please be aware that there will be spoilers for past seasons, especially the biggest moment of the entire series. If you're not caught up, turn back now.
Major spoilers for the previous season!
It seems like every major television always has that one death where you exclaim "Holy ****!", and are legitimately blown away by what you just witnessed; SPOILERS for various shows... LAST WARNING... Dexter had Rita, Breaking Bad had Gus, The Wire had Stringer Bell, The Shield had Lem. All of these were deaths that either were total shockers (Rita), ball to the wall epic (Gus), or you seen it coming but prayed with every bit of your soul it wasn't (Lem.) Not only were they all shockers that either ruined your soul or made you stand up cheer, but they were also crucial moments for the series' turning point to be propelled into its endgame. Well you can add Tara Knowles-Teller (played by Maggie Siff) to that list.
During Season 6, the loyalty of all of our characters were tested as we watched Jax rise up through the ranks and emerge the leader of the SOA after putting the previous leader, Clay Morrow (played by Ron Perlman), out of his misery in glorious fashion. However, one person's resolve was put to the test moreso than any of the others, and that was Tara. However, she chose to stand by her husband, and flat out refused to give him or the crew up. Gemma however, couldn't take that chance. In the confrontation of the series, Gemma murdered Tara in brutal fashion using a meat fork while simultaneously drowning her.
In the final season we pick up pretty quickly after the previous seasons events. Jax (Charlie Hunnam) has been left reeling in the wake of Tara's death and is looking for someone to take it out on. Gemma, the real murderer, is quick to point the finger in any direction but her own, she puts Jax on the trail of Henry Lin (Kenneth Choi) and his crew, with whom they had a run in the previous season. The first 9 or so episodes is literally Jax just going nuts murdering pretty much anyone who stands in his way of finding out the truth. Eventually the path leads to August Marks (Billy Brown), who immediately makes it known in commanding fashion that he won't be screwed with. After all of the logical leads Into Tara's death have ended up in total dead ends, Jax realizes that the real killer may be closer to home than he thought.
While the main plot of the season revolves around Jax hunting down Tara's killer, there are also a multitude of subplots layered throughout the season to pad the time as well. We get a lot of time dedicated to Gemma trying to come to terms with killing Tara, which is nice for character development, though it's grating to try and listen to how she rationalizes staying in Charming only for the convenience of the plot. We get a little bit more of the awesome relationship between Tig (Kim Coates) and Venus Van Damme (the masterful, Walton Goggins.) Juice (Theo Rossi) is in hiding and desperately wants to gain redemption with the club, no matter what the cost. Chibs (Dayton Callie) begins to date a cop who digs into SAMCRO. Also showing up from previous for the occasional appearance are Tyne Patterson (CCH Pounder) and Charles Baronsky (Peter Weller.) The show also takes a bit of time focusing on Abel being a lunatic, and Kurt Sutter pimping out his wife for her post Sons singing career.
The writing is shaky throughout, as only a couple episodes in you can tell that the writers are already having pacing issues. The reason why my section discussing Seasons 7 is so "to the point", is because that's all it is. It's literally 10 episodes of Jax killing random gangs/clubs because he finds out they may or may not be involved with Tara's death, there is no depth to it, it feels shallow and empty. On top of that, more than half of the subplots I mentioned above are boring. The acting is wonderful throughout, and the obvious standouts are Charlie Hunnam (who was award worthy IMO) and Katey Sagal, since she takes the brunt of the emotional weight for the season and pulls it off well. There were several things about this season that I'd love to vent about, but simply can't for the sake of spoiling the season, but the main one is trying to turn Gemma's story sympathetic, I thought that was an extreme copout on the part of Sutter, who has an extreme bias toward Sagal due to their real life marriage.
Also, for you fans of The Shield, look out for yet another alum cameo!
- The acting is exceptional, one scene in particular between Charlie Hunnam and Theo Rossi was absolutely gut wrenching.
- Despite the poor build up, the finale I thought was quite good. That final montage was excellent, especially with the song.
- The character arcs are wrapped up nicely for the most part.
- If you like random killing to make up for a lack of plot, this is for you. The action scenes this season are abundant and look slick.
- It's a bit better when you don't have to wait a week in between episodes when each week you're left with the feeling of "that's it?"
- Katey Sagal, while great, is forced down our throats more than ever. This isn't the "Gemma" show, Kurt.
- Jax is apparently Jesus. Thank you for that ridiculous and completely unnecessary symbolism to pull me out of the very last wonderful and moving scene, Sutter. Great song though.
- They had about 7-8 episodes max worth of material that they stretched to 13 double length episodes. There is far too much filler in this season.
- Abel's actor is the worst child actor in history. I'm trying really hard to think of one worse, but I legitimately can't. Also don't think I'm trying to nitpick here or "He's a child actor, what do you expect." There are brilliant child actors, look at Pierce Gagnon from Looper and Extant, phenomenal kid, and Kurt Sutter decided to put this kid in one of the biggest storylines to date. Big mistake.
All 13 episodes are included on the box set:
1. Black Widower
2. Toil and Till
3. Playing with Monsters
4. Poor Little Lambs
5. Some Strange Eruption
6. Smoke 'em If You Got 'em
8. Separation of Crows
9. What a Piece of Work Is Man
10. Faith and Despondency
11. Suits of Woe
12. Red Rose
13. Papa's Goods.
Video and Audio:
The video quality of Sons of Anarchy is presented in its original 1080p 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and the presentation is beautiful and showcased to perfection on this outstanding blu-ray. The image onscreen is sharp and well detailed with no visible defects.
For Audio, just look at the previous SOA releases, Sons of Anarchy: The Complete Final Season is presented in a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and it's wonderful. The mix perfectly utilizes the surround channels that picks up and takes you right into the action, be it during a showdown or on the open road, while the dialogue remains crisp and clear throughout. There were no noticeable audio dropouts or distortions throughout the set.
- A few deleted scenes that amass to approximately 6 minutes.
- Carpe Diem: The Final Season of Sons of Anarchy - a 72 minute behind the scenes featurette that celebrates the final season of the series. Behind the scenes footage of every episode of the season, cast and crew interviews, cast wrap ups on their final day of shooting. It's an excellent documentary.
- Anarchy Legacy - Kurt Sutter and various others discuss the lasting power of the series.
- Motorcycles of Mayhem - The cast and crew discuss riding, the stunt work that goes into it and their favorite bikes from the series.
- Guests of Anarchy: Season 7 - Exactly what it sounds like, interviews with the guest cast of the final season.
- Tattoo Stories - The cast and makeup department discuss the characters tattoos and the process of applying them.
Sadly no commentaries are included this time round, which is a bummer because I would have atleast liked to hear from Charlie and Kurt breaking down the finale.
In terms of quality, Sons of Anarchy unfortunately goes out with more of a whimper than a bang as it slogs to the finish line. To be perfectly honest, this was one of the most boring and lifeless final seasons to any show I've ever seen. Instead of good storytelling, hid its faults behind a plethora of violence and random killings, which disappoints me greatly, because of what it could have been. Even the moment every single person watching was waiting for that I didn't think possible to screw up, the Gemma/Jax inevitable confrontation, turned out to be unsatisfying, which again, I didn't think was possible. The only real highlight in an otherwise empty season was the acting and the finale itself. Rent it.