The fuse has been burning down all season, and now it's time for this powder keg to blow up!
Apologies for missing the last two weeks. A night of late-night drinking followed by some technical difficulties here at The Outhouse prevented a couple of articles. Thankfully, we're back at it for the season finale.
After an exceptionally relentless, hard-driving season that was exhausting (in a good way) at times, "To Be, Part 2," which serves as the fourth season finale actually turns out to be a quiet, artful resolution to all the chaos and intensity we've been hanging onto with white knuckles these last thirteen weeks.
It's resolution by dissolution, really. The RICO investigation, for example, that had been hanging over SAMCRO's head all season gets blown up right in the cold open, when AUSA Potter, Sheriff Roosevelt, and all their assorted officers are interrupted by Romeo, Luis and...their contact in the CIA. Yeah. After visits from the ATF, FBI, and DEA over the lifespan of this show, Sons of Anarchy finally decides to bring in the mother of all the Washington-based alphabet soup agencies. It turns out the CIA has been underwriting the Galindo cartel, basically allowing them to function so that they can put all the other cartels out of business (They even gave Romeo and Luis badges and have them acting as agents). And so, the threat of the RICO statute just fades away. "It goes up as easily as it comes down," laments Potter. "The bad guys won," he goes on to say to Roosevelt, though he believes that it's SAMCRO who's going to get the worst of it. He gives Roosevelt a cover story for Juice so that he can let the poor guy out of jail already without SAMCRO learning about his father. Roosevelt walks into Juice's cell (interrupting his viewing of The Shield, or course, showing us once again that Kurt Sutter really, really enjoyed working on that show) and tells him "you're a criminal, you do bad shit. I'm a cop; I stop you. I just want to get back to that." He likes to keep things small and simple, and it's written on his face how much he hated having to deal with the larger political bullshit (not to mention personal compromise) that came with a federal investigation. Potter, for hs part, walks into the city council meeting set up to approve Hale's Charming Heights plan with a duffle bag full of sex toys and a child version of a sex doll ("for the discerning pedophile") to tell the council exactly who Hale's new investors really are and where their money comes from. When Hale demands to know why Potter would pull a stunt like that; "Because I don't like you," Potter sneers, following that under his breath with "and the good guys need a win."
So the Feds are (mostly) out of SAMCRO's hair, but they're still up against it, particularly Jax. After Opie finds out the truth about Piney's death, he guns down Clay, putting him in the hospital. Gemma hands over the John Teller letters (except for the ones that might implicate her in any malfeasance, of course) and tells Jax how JT died. She basically arms him and tells him to go kill Clay, and Tara, just wanting to be free of it all, hands him the murder weapon: a syringe filled with a blood thinner. It seems like everything will go according to plan, were it not for the Galindo's and their CIA affiliation. When the Irish Kings make it clear that they refuse to deal with anyone other than Clay in their deal with the cartel, they walk and say the deal is off. Romeo and Luis tell Jax that he has to make the deal go through, or else they greenlight the RICO arrests. Not only can Jax not kill Clay, he can't leave Charming either. He can't tell anyone about Romeo and Luis working for the CIA either (they also answer the question of why it was that a bunch of white dudes tried to kidnap Tara – they were CIA guys who were actually trying to get Tara into a safe, undisclosed location and debrief her).
Jax has been, more than anything, a prisoner of circumstance. He was basically born into the club, and was kept there for his entire life as a consequence of some manufactured fealty, and now his one ticket out of that life dissolves in his fingers. Recognizing this, Jax tells Tara all about the CIA and tells her to take the boys and go north. From there, he takes his seat at the head of the table (he earlier took a special trip to the hospital to put a knife to Clay's throat and basically tells him he's out, except for as a figurehead to the Irish/Mexican gun deal) with Chibs (the new Sergeant-at-Arms), Tig, Happy, and Juice sitting down at the table with him. He wants Opie to sit at the table to as VP, but he doesn't show. Instead, Gemma walks into the chapel just in time to see Tara walk in and promise to never leave Jax.
"To Be, Part 2" took an unexpected tact to end the best season of Sons of Anarchy. It was almost a given that circumstances would contrive to keep Jax in Charming (and keep Clay alive), but it's all about execution. This finale eschewed the gun fire, high-speed chases, and shouting in favor of a pretty organic and introspective series of events that flow together to create a compelling and exciting whole. It's surprising, sure, but it's also and effective ending.
See you next season!
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch