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'Sons of Anarchy': Mo McRae talks Tyler's loyalty

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Mo McRae
Byron Cohen/FX

Going into the Nov. 11 episode of Sons of Anarchy, 49 percent of readers thought Tyler (Mo McRae) had already turned on SAMCRO, per an EW.com poll. But spoiler alert: They were wrong. Moses demanded Tyler help him find out where the club was hiding the dead preacher’s wife and stepson, so Tyler led him to TO (and Rat). It was, however, all part of Jax’s latest plan, which ended with TO sending Moses and his men into a SAMCRO-led ambush. Fittingly, since Tyler’s been a double agent in Sons‘ final season, McRae is now in Detroit shooting an indie film called Destined in which he plays two versions of one character: a guy in the streets attempting to avenge the death of a friend, and a member of the mayor’s cabinet. He phoned EW to talk about Tyler’s journey, the TSA agent in Detroit who seriously loves Sons, and whether we’ve seen the last of Tyler.

EW: What I love about Tyler’s arc following Jax in season 7 is how much it tracks when you consider how reluctant Tyler was to be a leader when he inherited the job for the Niners back in season 5. When you were reading scripts at the start of the season and seeing the Niners get in bed with SAMCRO against Marks, were you nervous about Tyler’s fate?

McRae: Yeah, based on the way season 6 ended—setting up that gun trade deal and then everything went awry. And it’s the final season, so everybody kinda feels as though their clock is ticking on this show. You never know when your number’s gonna get called. So the more I got involved in the middle of SAMCRO and Marks, I felt like, “Okay, I’m probably gonna get killed soon.”

I talked with Kenneth Choi, who plays Henry Lin, earlier this season, and he said he was hoping Lin would go out in a blaze of glory. Regardless of what happens to Tyler, what were you hoping would be his fate?

I wasn’t hoping for the big death scene. I wanted to take other people out in a blaze of glory and stick around. Outside of the character, there’s also the environment—I’ve gotten so close to everybody on the show, I wanted to be involved as long as possible.

Basically half of fans thought Tyler had turned on Jax.

Yeah, people have been stopping me on the street like, “You’re gonna kill Jax, huh?” People formulate these crazy ideas about where the characters are going.

Who’s been the most rabid fan you’ve encountered in the final season?

I’m in Detroit right now doing this film, and I swear to god this TSA employee put his job on the line. He ran up to me at the airport and yelled, “Tyler! Are you gonna kill Marks?” [Laughs] Everybody’s lookin’ like, “Dude, bring it down.” He didn’t care. His next thing was, “Damn, I don’t have my phone on me. But what’s gonna happen?” I’m like, “I can’t tell you.” He was ready to have to hang up his uniform the other day to get that information. He was so passionate.

Why do you think Tyler has stayed loyal to Jax, even in the face of Moses’ kill squad?

I think it’s a pick your poison kind of scenario. And because Jax had thrown some bones my way and looked out for me, I’ve kinda sought guidance and mentorship from him. I feel like he’s always been fair with me in our dealings so far. Even though his plans don’t necessarily go the way he desired them to, it wasn’t because he had any malintentions toward me specifically. So I think as we continue down a path, I’ve just felt like, “We’re working together. I have an ally. We look each other in the eye. We strategize. We figure thing’s out. He’s upheld his end of the bargain, for the most part. So you can trust him, or trust the person I saw kill my friend in front of me in season 5.”

In this episode, Tyler shoots and kills a guy to break TO and Rat free. That felt like a big moment for the character.

That was a huge moment. For the character, it solidifies my end of the bargain in terms of the relationship between Jax and myself. Everytime I’d look him in the eye, and he questioned me, “Well, who are you with?” I would say, “I’m with you guys.” I could have taken out Ratboy and TO and hung everybody out to dry. But that moment solidified the bond—at least for right now. Because you know how this show goes: Friends one day, enemies the next. But at least for now, through the end of episode 10, I am legitimately in the corner of Jax and SAMCRO.

Especially this season, it feels like we can’t predict anything: You can have one theory at the end of an episode, and it’ll have to be something entirely new the next.

I love to tell people you think you know, but you have no idea. And even the things that you expect to happen that actually do happen, they never happen in the way that you thought it would happen: It’s not done by the person you thought would do it. Nobody thought Bobby was gonna go out the way he went out. Even once he was in jeopardy and his life was at risk, you kinda thought, oh great, Bobby made it. Boom! No he didn’t. No one’s ever safe. Kurt Sutter, Charles Murray, Paris Barclay, those guys—the way they handle the storylines and the twists and the turns, it’s really something incredible to get to be a part of.

So we haven’t seen the last of Tyler?

No, this is not it for Tyler. There’s more terrain for young Tyler to cover.

Last question: I talked with the show’s head of makeup, Tracey Anderson, who said the crew was very excited to take photos with Mathew St. Patrick and Moses’ dangling eye. Did you take one?

Did I take a photo with Mathew St. Patrick when his eye was hanging? I might have. I might have. His eye was hanging by his cheekbones, so I think everybody on set that day tried to take as many pictures with him as we could.

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