Sons of Anarchy wrapped up its fifth season last night with the FX drama's most watched finale ever, so it's fitting that the episode, called "J'ai Obtenu Cette," ended on a strong note. It's obvious creator Kurt Sutter has a clear vision for the next two seasons, and that it's probably going to get a lot worse before it gets better for Jax, Gemma and the rest of SAMCRO.
Sutter held a post-mortem conference call earlier today to discuss the end of Season 5 and also where Sons of Anarchy is heading. This season has been overshadowed by the early death of Opie, and Sutter said that major moment has defined who Jax is as the president of SAMCRO.
"It's always a challenge doing something larger at the beginning. ... I didn't want to drag it out," Sutter said of Opie's death. "I really wanted it to be shocking, come as a complete surprise, and kind of knock the wind not only out of the audience but out of the club as well."
He added that the death gave Jax a "life-altering circumstance" that accelerated his journey. It forced Jax's hand and showed "what kind of leader Jax would become."
As we've learned this season, Jax ended up being not so different from Clay. He was very effective, if ruthless, as a the SAMCRO president and managed to tie up all his loose ends nicely, but not without cost. As Tig pointed out in the finale, Damon Pope easily could have killed him -- but he didn't, so Jax came out on top.
But at the same time that Jax was succeeding as a leader he was also failing his family. He couldn't keep the promises he made for Tara and, according to Sutter, wasn't ready to leave Charming, California, like he said he was.
"There's an allure that comes with power and prestige that he perhaps wasn’t aware of ... and he got to the end and as much as he said he wanted to leave, perhaps he wasn't ready to leave," Sutter said. "[Jax had a] very successful although bloody and tragic and painful run as president of the club, but to have all that stuff come out almost flawlessly [made him proud]."
Regardless of whether he wanted to leave, Jax and his family aren't going anywhere. Tara has been arrested for providing Otto with the weapon he used to kill Nurse Toric because Gemma turned her over to the police. While Sutter calls Gemma a "cockroach," he cautioned that SAMCRO's real cause for concern is with Donal Logue's Lee Toric, the brother of the dead nurse.
"We definitely have him locked up for seven or eight next season, and most likely it will be more than that," Sutter said. "[Lee Toric is] probably the most dangerous threat the club as ever had."
As for Gemma, she at least "has her balls back." Sutter said his intention was always to have her "crawl her way back up," and now she has by betraying Tara. In her mind, Gemma can rationalize her actions by saying that she's doing it for the sake of her family, but even Sutter -- who is married to Katey Sagal, the actress who plays Gemma -- said he has a hard time liking the character sometimes.
"It's hard to cheer that on, but at the very least, there's that sense of fuck man, she always fucking lands on her feet," he said.
Gemma's storyline with Jimmy Smits' Nero was complicated for the better at the end of this season, but Sutter said Smits' return hinges on whether he has availability. When they last talked, the conversation was open-ended with Sutter saying he'd love to have Nero back as much as he can.
The same goes for Drea de Matteo, who plays Wendy. She is signed up for a new pilot, so if that's picked up she might not have much time to complete Wendy's arc. Sutter said he has more story he wants to tell with her character, though.
The plan is to have Sons of Anarchy run for seven seasons, and Sutter wants to stick to that as much as he can. There is an option to potentially extend the episode orders for the next two seasons or even have an eighth, but he said he'd like to steer clear of that as much as he can. That way, Sutter explained, he is less likely to risk jumping the shark.
The one character who likely won't make it through to Season 7 is Ron Perlman's Clay. He wasn't in a good place at the end of Season 5 as Jax placed the blame of Damon Pope's death on him, and Sutter implied that the character has finally run his course.
"I'm not quite sure where Clay's end date will be, but I do think that it needs to ultimately be near. I still think there is more story to tell," he said, adding that he doesn't want Clay to have another "almost-death."
As for Otto's little tongue stunt last night, Sutter -- who plays the character -- joked that that was his way of not having to learn any more lines.
"It was my way of writing my way out of having to learn dialogue. If Otto comes back, it will be a lot of grunts and me scribbling on paper," he said, claiming he's been trying to find a good excuse for Otto to bite off his tongue all season. Well, he definitely did.