Desperate times call for desperate measures. In the case of Tara Knowles-Teller, those include framing your mother-in-law for the death of your unborn child. You know, just another day in Charming, California.
Now in its sixth season, Sons of Anarchy has never shied away from extreme violence and remarkable acts of betrayal. Those ingredients are in heavy supply this season, as Tara, a surgeon by trade and an outlaw by marriage, plots to move her children away from the increasingly dangerous dealings of their father Jax Teller, president of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club: Redwood Original. After five seasons of hostage situations, assassination attempts and abductions, Tara has finally had enough: She will stop her two sons (one her biological offspring, the other her child by law) from growing up in Jax’s violent shadow, no matter the personal cost.
Tara’s plan requires plenty of moving parts, including the participation of heroin addict Wendy, the biological mother of Jax’s first son; hospital administrator Margaret Murphy, one of Tara’s closest confidants; and Ally Lowen, legal counsel to SAMCRO, now advising Tara in her attempt to get the kids out of Charming.
“Being a lawyer for a member of a house divided is a lot more dynamic than being a lawyer for a member of a house united, and this whole season has been about the fracturing of that family,” Robin Weigert, who plays Lowen, said during a recent conference call with reporters. “Early on, I had to take a side. It was said in no uncertain terms in that scene with Gemma [Jax’s mother and Tara’s mother-in-law, played by Katey Sagal] whose side I was going to take. I think the line was, ‘I guess I’ll have to figure out which innocent is in need of a good defense,’ with the word ‘innocent’ loaded with irony.”
“Really, none of them are innocent,” she continued. “To be a lawyer and sign up for this job, you’d have to know that you were doing a little bit of a dance — a careful dance.”
Weigert views Lowen’s relationship with SAMCRO as “the same as being a lawyer for the mob,” in that her character is constantly “working the law to help her client.” But until recently, Lowen wasn’t privy to all of the specific crimes committed by the various members of SAMCRO. Now, as she works with Tara to remove her kids from the outlaw life, the extent of the club’s activities has come to light — and what she sees isn’t pretty.
“She’s seeing for the first time lists of atrocities that have been committed by various members of the club, because Tara’s been building this case with her,” Weigert said. “I think she may realize for the first time that anything is on the table.”
In other words, Lowen realizes that helping Tara puts her own life at risk.
“She’s had to create a kind of hierarchy of what’s more important than not, even at some risk to herself,” she explained. “Lowen’s walking into deeper and deeper waters here, where she stands to be even more threatened, because the situation is becoming unbelievably volatile, and the potential for volatility is just escalating. She has to recognize with each step she takes that she’s committing more and more.”
But Lowen’s assistance in Tara’s escape effort isn’t entirely altruistic. After all, she has a career to keep in mind.
“It’s a question at this point whether my fear is more for myself in terms of my literal physical well-being, or more from an ego place of having worked very hard on a case and built a case,” Weigert said. “I think, in terms of just non-altruistic fears that she might have, is it coming from this sort of animal survival part, or is it coming from this sort of lawyer ego part? I think it may be a mixture of both.”
Lowen’s concerns about her own survival and the case are certainly justifiable, given her client’s actions: In an effort to keep Gemma from ever gaining custody over her children, Tara faked a pregnancy and framed Gemma for an assault that killed the nonexistent fetus. It was a bloody display of theatrics, the kind of tactics one would expect to see from Gemma, not Tara. Worse still, Tara kept the plan from her confidants, including Lowen, leaving the lawyer with a difficult road to navigate moving forward.
“I mean, [Lowen] had built such a careful case, and this was a huge bomb that Tara dropped right in the middle of it,” Weigert said. “You can understand why Tara would want total security, that she could keep Gemma away from the kids, but at the same time, she’s wrought havoc on my work to try to prepare the way for us to have a solid case in court.”
“In so many ways, what Tara’s done could be investigated and be punctured,” she continued. “If that happens, then it damages all the rest of what I’ve carefully orchestrated for the trial. I think that’s a lot of what’s going through my head as Lowen: I have no choice really but to stand by Tara’s side in this chapter — but it’s a tough one.”
It’s dark times indeed, not just for Lowen but for Sons of Anarchy. The club’s future is uncertain, but most certainly bleak. This season alone, Jax and friends lost fellow brothers, partnerships, and even their headquarters. The club’s activities as gun-runners directly led to a school-shooting massacre, putting a tough-as-nails district attorney right on their tails. Members of the IRA want their heads. With so much already lost or otherwise hanging in the balance professionally, the last thing Jax needs is for his personal life to come crashing down as well. Like it or not, that’s exactly what’s happening to the Prince of Charming — and as Lowen, Weigert’s getting a front-row look at the fallout.
“At this point, the audience is just rooting for the light to stay inside of Jax somewhere,” she said. “He’s done so many dark, dark things. But for that light at his core not to be extinguished, so much of the source of that life and light is Tara. As we watch their relationship become more and more in danger, I think we’re wondering ultimately what will become of Jax’s soul, really. His heart. And I’ve gotten all tied up in that storyline this season.”
Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.
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