I usually try to save this blog for humor, but I had to rant a little about Tuesday's season finale of Sons of Anarchy. Spoilers on the way.
Sons of Anarchy, you make me sad.
I watched the first three seasons pretty attentively. Like a lot of folks, I thought season three was disappointing overall. I watched the premiere of season four and thought...eh. Looks repetitive and crappy. I then forgot about the show for weeks.
Then, just after Piney died, I caught an episode. I got sucked back in. I mean, sucked in like the portal at the end of Evil Dead 2. I was obsessed. The domino pieces that were falling blew my mind. I couldn't figure out how the show could go another episode, much less another season or three! I was re-hooked.
During Thanksgiving week, when Opie shot Clay, I was in narrative heaven. Fuckin' amazing. Yesterday, I was giddy for the season finale with a giddiness currently reserved for Breaking Bad and formerly reserved for The Shield (the greatest show of all-time, FYI).
Unfortunately, Tuesday's finale was the biggest cop-out I have ever seen. Every huge event that was building--the ATF sting, Juice as a rat, Jax's vengeance, Clay's need to be DEAD--was wiped away as irrelevant. Nothing mattered. It was a cop-out-pocalypse. Dominoes that needed to fall just vanished into the air, because of contrived Irishmen, CIA-cartel alliances, and assorted silliness. It was a MacGuffin-geddon.
The biggest cop-out--Jax not killing Clay--is the worst. This is the guy (Jax) who put a bullet in Kohn's head in season one, just like that, but he won't kill Clay, who killed his father, and Piney, and tried to kill his wife, and probably killed JFK and puppies too? Are you fucking kidding me?
There is nothing that could make Jax--a hothead, with amazing motivation, and even approval from his mom and wife!--not kill Clay. This is not buyable. This is not swallowable. The contrived, out-of-left-field reasons not to kill Clay could've been fine as part of the story: they would've laid the groundwork for a shitstorm next season after Jax wasted Clay. But they don't come close to making narrative sense. Sorry. Clay had to go. If you weren't going to kill Clay, don't make the whole season feel like a rip-off without Clay's death! Don't let Jax (and Opie) find out about all of Clay's sins. Maybe dial down Clay's mustache-twirling. Save that shit for season seven.
You screwed the pooch, Kurt Sutter! You brought me to a peak of narrative ecstasy and then left me in an alley with my dick in my hand. It was a familiar feeling. No, not because of personal issues, but because of season three's finale, now that I think about it. After being shown the devastating story of Jax ratting on the club, that was all wiped away in a second as an unseen club manipulation. Poof! In season four, problems again went away. Poof! That is shitty storytelling.
In her review, Maureen Ryan made a great comparison, which I'm paraphrasing here: This show could've been in the same league with Breaking Bad, but it's stuck in the Dexter zone, building huge stories with small endings that just reset everything. Nothing matters. Poof!
I miss The Shield.