Sons of Anarchy, Season 6: Episode 13 – “A Mother’s Work”
Written by Kurt Sutter and Chris Collins
Directed by Kurt Sutter
Well, there you go. That was the season six finale of Sons of Anarchy. Are we better off as viewers of this show thirteen episodes later? I don’t know, but my gut instinct is this: not really. What I get from the deaths of Clay and now Tara is that these actors were fantastic talents caught in a rut of a tragic show – tragic not just in the Greek, dramatic tragic sense, which this series certainly exemplifies, but tragic in how misused many of these superb elements have been lately. Maggie Siff, especially, displays how high the standard of quality Sons of Anarachy is on paper in “A Mother’s Work.” Even though a lot of the magnetism between Jax and Tara had been gone and seeing the two on the screen together had become just an ordinary scene, their exchange in the park is filled with such captivating power, at least on Siff’s part, that you wonder why the story has to be so mundane. Why has Sons of Anarchy not been able to find a season arc that’s worked really well since its third (I would argue third, anyway; some people would go back as far as its second season to give Sons any kind of legitimate recognition)? It’s a worrying question. With what will probably be its final season, Sons has to find something that the audience can care about, because all of the moments in “A Mother’s Work” that were played as if they were heavy, important moments fell short of their mark because of how misguided some of the storytelling has been this year. Does everybody remember the episode where Walton Goggins reprises his role Venus Van Damme? That was literally the most emotional resonant episode of this season, and all of that centered around someone who isn’t even a part of this main cast.
It might be too easy at this point to say what’s not been working that well for Sons of Anarchy, and I’ve been slightly on the apologist side of it all season. So, I feel I owe it to myself to say that Jax’s arc in “A Mother’s Work” makes no sense whatsoever and is lazy, bad writing on Sutter and Collins’ parts. Is Patterson’s little speech about owning one’s place really the catalyst that causes Jax to turn himself in? Really!? I get that the whole narrated monologue that opens the episode is meant to remind us just how important his sons (“sons” – see what they did there?) are to Jax, but Jax’s decision to throw himself under the bus for Tara, who has just stolen his kids, essentially, and made a deal with the feds behind his back, is so inconsistent that it’s inexcusable. What’s worse is that the whole going away to jail farewells that he gives to his boys happens after we see Gemma kill Tara, which makes it lose all of its impact. Dramatic irony is fine and all, but at the expense of the one scene that might have made the viewers feel something? Ugh.
In any case, there’s still some interesting threads that need to be wrapped up as we see Sons come to its conclusion. For my part, I would ignore all of them and bring back Ethan Zoebelle, because hey, Adam Arkin and whatnot. The cast is still strong on its own, though. And it was a smart move to keep Patterson around and position Nero semi-against both Jax and Gemma. Those two characters bring a lot to the table and will hopefully make us forget at various points next season how much of a mess Juice and some of the rest of these characters and stories are. Hopefully.
– Sean Colletti