“I love you, Jackson, from the deepest, purest part of my heart. You have to do this. It’s who we are, sweetheart.”
Throughout the first six seasons of the show, the word that kept popping up around Jax Teller was “legitimacy”. He wanted to move the club in the right direction, distance himself from John and Clay, and raise a family after he got out of the gun business. As we head into the final episode of the series, that has all changed; he seems to be on a suicide mission of sorts, an eerie calmness pervading his every fiber as he digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole of no return. Any plans to go legitimate were crushed under the weight of Tara’s death, and the fallout–the lies and betrayal and skewed notions of justice–seal the deal. Jax Teller has fallen hard.
One of the major themes of “Red Rose” seems to be the idea of acceptance, the idea that sometimes, you just want it all to be over. Given Kurt Sutter’s penchant for writing in sustained and unnecessary suffering–Juice, anyone? Otto?–at this point in the series, it’s all just so exhausting. This has been one of the major problems of the series, but it also fits in well with the themes surrounding the penultimate episode. Here, everyone is simply ready, accepting, and perhaps even welcoming, desiring the release that comes with death, finally free of the suffering endured.
These deaths, therefore, serve as anticlimaxes in a series that usually pairs violence with cathartic release. When the blade or the bullet enters the body here, what results is not justice or satisfaction or revenge; it is pain and exhaustion, the death seemingly just inevitable, something that was bound to occur no matter what. As a result, we could even argue that Juice and Gemma died while in control of their lives, encouraging the other person to kill them rather than letting death come to them. In fact, if Jax truly wanted to destroy Gemma, he wouldn’t have killed her, therefore leaving her to wallow in misery in that garden. By taking the shot, we see just how past the point of no return he is, just how finished he is with this life.
Sadly, he also takes Unser down on the way. Unser has been anything but a good character for a while now, but he has always represented loyalty and friendship and true love. He always stuck by Gemma, and his final line is fitting: “This is all I have.” Then, because he is in the way, he takes a bullet in the chest from someone he has known for a long time. He is the ultimate victim in this unrelenting cycle of violence.
“This isn’t about saving Gemma. It’s about saving Jax.”
As Jax Teller stands in the garden, pointing a gun at his mother’s head, we see a man who is long past saving. He can’t help but hesitate, but as we already know, Gemma has come to terms with her fate. She has left behind her bags, visited her dad, and admitted her wrongdoings, and she is ready. Jax shoots. His shoes are stained for the first time, stained with his mother’s blood. Gemma now lies among the roses in the garden, and her son is nothing but a shell of his former self.
-The first 50 minutes of this episode is a slog to get through. I get that the show likes to show us the various deals being put into place, but the fact that we’re spending this much time on this kind of stuff right now is just inane.
-So, Wendy looks to be a Tara replacement here, and we’re coming full circle. Knowing Sutter, I predict that Jax, Wendy, and Abel will get out untouched, but then they’ll get hit by a truck, fall off a bridge, show a few bare asses, and get shot 50 times each.
-Looks like Vic Mackey got fed up with his day job and decided to become a trucker. It’s always nice to see Michael Chiklis in any show, and here he is as Milo, the trucker Gemma comes across at the rest stop (she also sees the homeless girl again).
-Speaking of cameos, there’s Charisma Carpenter (Buffy) as the receptionist at the nursing home, and there’s Hal Holbrook as Gemma’s dad. Also, Robert Patrick shows up again.
-The unwritten bylaw Jax wants taken down is most likely the one prohibiting black members.
-Well, Nero and Unser, that’s what you get for not calling the cops. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the conclusion of his storyline next week, as Jimmy Smits will most likely do a fabulous job with it.
-Unser died as he lived: useless.
-The montage at the end is set to Ed Sheeran’s cover of Foy Vance’s “Make It Rain”. I expect there to be a 150-minute montage next week to close out the series. As long as it isn’t a Katey Sagal cover…I’ve jinxed it, haven’t I?
-One more episode next week. Part of me hopes Sutter can deliver a good ending, while the other part of me hopes he goes crazy and reaches a new level of awfulness. I’ll be covering “Papa’s Goods” right here, next Tuesday, December 9th. Predictions? Share below.
Photo credit: FX, Sons of Anarchy