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Sons of Anarchy: Papa's Goods

And so we've come to the end of the road. Still I can't let go.

After seven years, Sons of Anarchy is over. Jax came clean about everything, got SAMCRO out of the gun business (I think) -- or at least left them clear of legal repercussions for the time being, the Irish Kings, August Marks and Robocop have been eliminated, Chibs is the new President of Redwood Original, Tig is the new V.P., Jax has left a golden parachute and escape route for Wendy and his children and ultimately, the main character of the show -- who spent so much time trying to avoid the mistakes of his father -- went out in the same way as John Teller, driving his bike under the wheels of a semi.

This recap will probably be longer than most, but I ask that you indulge me.

Ridiculousness for the sake of ridiculousness:

- One last porn scene for the road. Why not? This one featured actual facesitting. Like, a lady put her butthole on a guy's nose on basic cable. And there was one last fake porn title for the road: "Fat Ass In My Face." Not their finest porn hour.

- So many leather-slapping hugs. A ludicrous amount.

It was warranted, though. Honestly, it was warranted. Still, though: LOL.

- After the surprisingly good moment of the first black SAMCRO member getting patched in, Jax strolls up to him and gives him a big, shit-eating, "My brotha." CASUAL RACISMMMMMMMMMMMM for the rooooooooaaaaadddd.

- A few last daytime shoot-outs for the road. The first one includes a chase that ends up going through a doll warehouse, just for shits and giggles. That chase also features a ton of process shots and blatant this-car-is-not-actually-on-the-road shots like the one below. It's so bad.

bad car

At least it was set to a pretty radical punk cover of "Can't Help Falling In Love." The badness of that chase scene and a couple other bad CG blood moments, plus the awful last two shots I'll discuss below, make me feel like they may have run out of time during production and had to rush some things. This stuff happens, but it's really unfortunate, considering how much good work they did in the rest of the season, production-wise, leading up to this episode.

- Just going to do a catch-all for the gratuitous violence in this episode: the two Irish group murders, the shooting of Robocop in the Eagle Rock Deli (which I think is the first time it's established that Robocop actually worked at the deli, like slicing ham and shit), Jax gunning down August Marks ON THE COURTHOUSE STEPS and ambling away without any real sense of urgency. It was all goofy. And after Jax goes on a one-person rampage through the streets of Charming and/or Stockton (while wearing his kutte and driving his father's vintage chopper around), as well as essentially admitting to CCH Pounder that he murdered Unser and Gemma and the subsequent discovery of their bodies, somehow NO police manage to track down this gentleman over the course of a day in a small town and small radius.

- The Magical Homeless Woman is revealed to be some sort of angel of death. Perhaps the Grim Reaper hisself. She is revealed to have been eating bread and wine just before Jax asks her who she is. It's just one of a handful of the most heavy-handed symbolism the show has ever trafficked in. (The truck where Jax mirrors his fathers maybe-murder maybe-suicide belonging to a company called Papa's Goods, a number of crows taking wing during Jax's final ride, Abel wearing a ring that says SON.)

- Happy gets shot in the arm by Chibs in order for SAMCRO to have a cover story that Jax opened fire on them before riding off to his death. The first problem is how nonchalantly and without incident Happy takes a point-blank 9mm round to the forearm. The second problem is that instantly becomes the LEAST believable part of that cover story, because SAMCRO has been engaged in firefights with entire gangs of soldiers before and they never, EVER, catch a bullet. Come on, guys, THINK.

- Ugh Jesus Christ the penultimate shot was just atrocious and it came after some of the most visually striking stuff the show has ever done.

bad shot

- The final shot of your show is a couple of crows eating the Magical Homeless Lady's wine-soaked bread, which then gets touched by Jax's blood? Seriously? What a spectacularly awful way to end your series and what had been a pretty pitch-perfect finale up to that point. It's not even in keeping with the aesthetic of the show. It had trafficked in heavy-handed symbolism throughout, but this low-angle CG composite shot was just SO jarringly out-of-place ... it honestly upsets me, because it undermined what could and SHOULD have been a very powerful final moment. It doesn't retroactively ruin the entire series or finale, or anything like that ... but boy howdy was that a stinker of a coda.

Things that don't make any sense:

- Jax is seen during the opening montage loading dozens and dozens of his little notebooks into one place. The "previously on" reel reminds us that he has been recording his thoughts and the club's activities in these books. Still, that is SO MANY NOTEBOOKS. This show presumably takes place over the course in far fewer than the seven years in real time in which it ran. There's no way he could have filled that many books, even accounting for tons of illegal activity we DIDN'T see. If he really filled that many notebooks, he's past mass murderer status and is closer to, like ... Stalin.

- Jax leaves his SO NS rings on Opie's gravestone. I think he already left those rings on his father's tombstone in a past season finale, didn't he? Did he retrieve them at some point? Did he have more made? He probably had a whole drawer full of them. He fuckin' loooooves rings.

- Nero, despite being told by Gemma that she killed Tara, really only seems to come to terms with it when he sees Unser's investigation board.

- Chibs suddenly being a threatening asshole to Jarry. I assume this is to set up some sort of something and/or get her free of the club and/or to get the club free of her, but it's not fully explained away and serves to eliminate any chance of Jarry having a meaningful summation of her arc.

Actually good things:

- Jax has fake scars! I assume these are show-accurate to injuries he has suffered. The makeup on the show has always been incredibly on-point. Even now, I have no idea whether Drea De Matteo really has the worst tattoos ever, or they've incredibly convincingly given them to her.

- Opie got a GREAT headstone.

headstone

They paid to have that headstone made, y'all. That bad boy is going to sell for SO MUCH at auction.

- Tadarius gets voted in as the first black SAMCRO member and it actually has weight and is treated with importance. It has a pretty emotional, uplifting feel to it, which is an impressive feat that in a scene that is actively reminding us that this is a big step forward for the protagonists of the show -- lifelong racists -- the show can feel progressive.

- Unser's sad little corkboard. In any other show, from The Wire to Homeland, they get entire walls or at least chalkboard-sized corkboards to map out intricate crimes. Unser has one sad little board with like three pictures on it and a Post-It reading, "MURDER WEAPON????" It's very pathetic, just like Unser.

- The rise of Chibs. Chibs slowly became such an important and relatable character to the show, one almost feels as though he occupied the space that Bobby Elvis should have occupied. His character also leaves us feeling a bit unresolved and although there have been no plans for a spinoff -- nor should there be -- Chibs would seem to be a natural focal point for any sort of follow-up. Now that they're doing SOA novels, let's give Chibs one, shall we?

jax and chibs

- CCH Pounder. Every show can always use more CCH Pounder. Of all the authority figures on the side of the law over the years, it's nice that she's the one who gets to come back and put a bow on things.

- Jax and Nero's perfect moment in Teller-Morrow. It couldn't have been better. Jax explains his reason for killing Gemma perfectly: "I did what I knew how to do." At long last, Jax has come to terms with the person he is. Not the person he's telling himself he's going to be, ostensibly to live up to his father's secret wishes, but the person that he is and always has been.

jax and nero

He tells Nero, "I'm not a good man. I'm a criminal and a killer. I need my sons to grow up hating the thought of me."

- Nero's restrained cry-face:

nero cry face

Been there, bro.

- Tig whispers inaudibly in Jax's ear as they say goodbye. It's nice that Tig is the one who gets a  Lost in Translation moment.

- For all the marketing and tie-ins the show did on Twitter and elsewhere for #OneLastRide, it felt natural. This was a show about motorcycle enthusiasts, so Jax of course found a way to lead the cops one one more broad-daylight chase. The ending montage -- of course there had to be one final multi-minute montage -- was perfect, all the way up to those last two horribly unfortunate shots.

- Wendy and Nero are the survivors. Ultimately, they're the only ones who get away. That's very fitting and something nice that happened for the fans. We deserved this, y'all.

- Venus. Always Venus.

- Abel in the back seat of the car, leaving Charming, idly twisting the ring that belonged to his father. Twisting the ring was something his father did often, of course. It's a nice, maybe not-so-subtle signal that these kids might NOT grow up "hating the thought" of Jax and that -- in the case of Abel, at least -- the damage has already been done. Abel is all kinds of fucked up and no amount of distance from Charming or truth about his father might be able to put him back together again. Kudos to Sons of Anarchy, after all the absurd violence and school shootings and every other sensational thing, to find a subtle (for them) way to say: hey, we have no idea the harm we can cause that no amount of good intentions can ever resolve.

- MICHAEL CHIKLIS CAMEO.

- What an amazing set of helicopter/drone shots at the end of this episode. Visually stunning and technically impressive. Up to those last two shots, anyway.

- Seeing the actor that played Opie on Anarchy Afterword really made me realize just how much he meant to the show and that the soul of the show genuinely did die with him. Which makes the ensuing carnage and calamity make a bit more "sense," but doesn't make it any more fair.

But then, this was a show about outlaws, isn't it? None of it is fair.

Thanks for keeping us entertained and frustrated for so long, Sons of Anarchy. Ultimately, you were worth it.