Sons of Anarchy just completed its 4th season on FX Tuesday, December 6. The season has been hailed by critics and fans as one of the series' best seasons yet.
As a fan and a critic, I agreed. After a highly disappointing 3rd season, it was great to see the show get back on track. The series was back in Charming and focused on the rising tensions between SAMCRO leader Clay and VP Jax. As the season went along, we saw Clay go deeper and deeper into the darkness.
I remember around midseason thinking "This is so amazing, I HOPE they don't screw it up!"
Sure it might be cynical but let's face it; brilliant series have managed to blow their endings thus tarnishing the season.
The Killing is a great example. The AMC series started off as a critic-darling thanks to its unbelievable acting and heart-wrenching scenes. But as the season went along that love slowly turned sour for several reasons (useless sub-plots, over-milking the drama, too much rain). No matter what though, we stuck with it. We wanted to know who killed Rosie Larsen. It was the question we've been asking since the premiere. It's the actual question AMC decided to promote the show with. Look at the poster it actually says "Who Killed Rosie Larsen?"
It was no surprise when there was no reveal during its 1st season finale, angry mobs gathered and pitch-forks were lit. We were pissed! We wanted answers! We weren't asking for all the answers, but we wanted something to make the season we watched worthwhile. We didn't want it to feel like it was just one big tease.
The Killing failed to deliver and the image of the show has suffered. It remains to be seen how many will be tuning into Season 2 where we WILL find out who killed Rosie Larsen. It remains to be seen how many still care.
Now back to Sons of Anarchy. After a full season of Clay going to a place of no return, all signs lead us to believe he would not survive the finale. How could he? Jax knew that Clay killed his father John Teller. Everyone knew Clay beat the crap out of Gemma. Opie knew Clay killed his wife AND his father. And let's not forget that hit on Tara.
After all that, we wanted blood. The show pretty much promised us blood. But could the show actually pull the trigger? Does Kurt Sutter and crew have the balls to kill off one of its main characters?
Apparently not! The 4th Season Finale started with the first reveal that Romeo is actually a CIA agent. Wait... what? That seemed to come out of nowhere, but ok we'll accept that for now. The CIA wants the deal with SAMCRO and the Irish to happen. But guess what, the Irish for some reason doesn't want to deal with Jax. They will only deal with Clay, meaning he HAS to live. YOU ARE SERIOUS? That's the best they could come up with? After all the evilness we saw in Clay this season, he gets to live because one Irish boss for some reason doesn't want to deal with Jax? And we're supposed to swallow this.
What makes this even more maddening is that Jax, despite all the rage and wanting revenge, did not kill Clay. Because the deal had to be done or they would go back to jail (which was where the season started).
The season ended with Jax taking his spot as the leader, with Tara at his side.
After reading several interviews Kurt Sutter has done with EW, TVLine.com, and TV Guide, he states that he never had any plan to kill Clay. So why jerk the audience around? Whether Sutter wants to admit it or not, Clay's character cannot be redeemed.
When a series waits too long to pull the trigger on something we know will happen, it loses effect. Look at House for example. For years, the show teased the sexual tension between Dr. House and Lisa Cuddy. But they waited SO LONG for them to pull that trigger, that when it did actually happen, it was a trainwreck. Showtime's Nurse Jackie is another example of a series that can't seem to pull that trigger on their big story. Will Jackie's secret ever come out? After this long, I don't really care anymore.
Season 5 of Sons of Anarchy will no doubt have some interesting dynamics. But really, how much more tension do we need to see between Jax and Clay? It was already at the boiling point, there's nowhere to go but down. What about Clay with the other characters? Will all that be eventually swept under the rug?
Don't get me wrong, this season was brilliant, which makes the finale even more disappointing. After all, a ride is only as satisfying as its climax.