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By Mandi Bierly
Updated December 20, 2019 at 12:19 AM EST
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Credit: FX

Sons of Anarchy‘s series finale airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on FX. With the end in sight, EW takes a look back through our weekly postmortems to go inside some of the final ride’s most memorable scenes.

• Jax (Charlie Hunnam) slowly tortures and kills Chris Dun (Tim Park), the Lin Triad member his mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal), fingers for her murder of his wife, Tara (Maggie Siff).

Director Paris Barclay: Charlie said, “I want to come in with my clothes on, and I want to take them all off.” There was a movie that he really liked, it was a Paul Bettany movie [Gangster No. 1]—he was a gangster who eventually becomes a killer. And it has a long murder scene in it, and we emulated that with Charlie’s slow measured pace, the blood on his body, the time it took. And we thought that whole thing was going to be three minutes—it ended up being seven minutes. It wasn’t boring. It ended up being really, really compelling.

I think it took most of a day [to film]. There’s actually a model of the Chris Dun character [made by W.M. Creations, Oscar and Emmy winner Matthew W. Mungle’s company] that was unique and had to be manipulated a certain way, and it looked so believable. The actor came in, he saw himself, and he just went, “Oh my God.” The hair was perfect, and that’s what we actually plunged a fork into. It has a blood cavity in it, so we had one take….The other interesting thing about that was we had to film the guys watching it first because there’s only really the very first time you see that happening that you get a really raw, original reaction. So before we did it to the dummy, we had Charlie actually act it out as passionately as he could with the real actor for the other actors, and we filmed them first just to get their various, complicated responses. Anytime we put the camera on Tig [Kim Coates], Happy [David Labrava], Bobby [Mark Boone Junior], Chibs [Tommy Flanagan], any of those guys, it was fascinating.

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Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Tim Park, who didn’t know Chris Dun’s fate when he won the role: Once you’re in character, on set, and the guys come in, you’re tied up, you see all the blood on you—it helps you go into that make-believe state and believe it’s real: This is it. This is it. You’re dying. Jax has that ability to become completely emotionless. That stare, that tone of voice. So in that state, he goes into the kitchen drawer, and he pulls out all those tools that he’s going to torture me with, and I see it, and he comes up to me telling me that he’s going to do to me what I did to his wife. I’m gagged, and I’m trying to say, “It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me!” But he has that stone-cold look on his face, that neutral monotone voice where there is no negotiating here—it’s done. It’s terrifying. And then oh yeah, looking around for some kind of sympathy from his boys and getting none, that really helped. That was kind of a frightening experience.

Creator Kurt Sutter: The thing I love about this season is that with everything that’s happening, they’re just sort of very united. It’s not like the dissention we’ve played, which was fun with Clay. Everyone gets it, everyone understands, everyone’s behind Jax. Not that they all agree with him, but they’re behind him. As individual events happen, there will be moments where Bobby and Chibs will counsel Jax in terms of, “You’re sure you want to do this?” or “Is this the right thing?” But ultimately, when Jax makes the decision, there’s no dissention. They’re making these decisions as a united club, which I think is the blessing and the curse: Yes, they’re united, but at that point, do they need the dissenting vote? Do they need somebody to say, “Hey, this is a mistake”? And perhaps their love of Jax and their desire to be supportive ends up working against them.

• Unser (Dayton Callie) discovers Juice (Theo Rossi) hiding out from the club at Wendy’s (Drea de Matteo).

Sutter: You know every season, I never quite know what I’m going to do with Unser, and ultimately every season, he ends up intrinsically tied to all of our characters and prominently in the mythology. We had an opportunity to do that this season with Juice, and then Unser becomes aware of what’s going on with Gemma—but doesn’t become aware of anything obviously that really happened [with Tara’s murder]. It just puts Unser in this position of wanting to honor his promise and his commitment to Tara in terms of taking care of those boys, and yet he’s thrust in the middle of these other relationships, and his love he has for Gemma, and the connection he has to the club—so he gets pushed and pulled in a lot of directions this season. He’ll ultimately have a connection and a professional dynamic that happens with the new sheriff [Annabeth Gish, introduced in episode 2]. So it’s just so funny how he ends up becoming the glue for the entire season year after year, and every season, we’re like, “Oh, what the f–k are we going to do with Unser? Maybe he just has cancer.” It’s just ’cause Dayton is so f—king great. You can just do anything with him. He has a gravitas.

Read the full postmortems with Sutter, with Barclay, with Park, and with Bob Thiele Jr., the show’s composer/music supervisor responsible for that “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover.

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Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

• As the club’s moral compass Bobby looks on, Jax tells Jury (Michael Shamus Wiles) his plan to destroy Henry Lin (Kenneth Choi), whom he believes ordered the hit on Tara—by first crippling his business and taking out his men and family.

Charlie Hunnam: The guys playing those characters struggled with that a little bit in the moment. It didn’t necessarily feel like it was the instinct that they’d come to know from those characters to behave that way. We just all had to bear in mind through those moments that it was gonna go somewhere. It’s supported by pretty easily understandable psychology: They know Jax. They know how much Tara meant to him. The way I was thinking about it, almost from their point of view, is, “We know this is f–ked. We know this is probably gonna cause some pretty tumultuous [monstrosities] to come, but ultimately this is what this kid needs, so we’re just gonna support him because this is his darkest moment.”

• After hitting one of the Triads’ meets, Chibs, Bobby, and Jax go see the two locals who helped with the ambush, shoot them dead, and make it look like they’re the ones who stole Lin’s guns and heroin. The guys don’t know it yet, but one of those young men was Jury’s son.

Tommy Flanagan: That one guy was such a sweet guy, and he got one right through his head. I don’t know. I have a feeling we’ll still get sympathy from the fans. I don’t think that’ll turn them off because we are on this mission to avenge the brutality that was done to Jackie’s family. So I hope they don’t start hatin’ us for being just downright evil. We wear the white hats. It’s like an old cowboy movie: We’re the good guys, you’re the bad guys, and that’s that.

• Juice lets Unser go.

Theo Rossi: I think at that point, one, there was that massive glimmer of hope, where it’s like, “Wait a minute, this guy is saying that he might help me.” Let’s be honest, who’s the only communication he’s had up to that point? It’s Gemma. At the same time, I think he’s so exhausted. Truly. I think he’s so exhausted that he’s just like, “Get out of here. What else can happen?” He has nothing that he holds onto, he has nothing that he cherishes anymore. There’s no joking. He has nothing.

Read the postmortem with Flanagan and Rossi and interview with Hunnam.

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• Juice uses Unser to get Chibs alone and asks him if there is anything he can do to earn his way back into SAMCRO. Chibs’ response is brutal: “If I were you, I’d get that gun, put it in my mouth, and pull the trigger.”

Rossi: That scene was tremendously heartbreaking because all he wants is for Chibs to say, “Hey, listen, we’re going to make this right. I’m not saying that you’ll be in the club, but I’m going to get you outta here. I got your back.” He’s hoping he’s going to say that. And what I love about that scene is the moment after, with Chibs’ reaction. You see that he has this compassion, but he couldn’t do it in front of Juice. I don’t think Juice went in there with any expectations, I think he just wanted guidance. He wanted him, mainly, to tell him Jax is doing this on his own and that it’s not the rest of the club. Because in Juice’s mind, then he’d need to convince just one person, not everyone. So when Chibs tells him to put the gun in his mouth and take his own life, basically there’s no hope, that’s when I believe everything changes. I believe that one line dictates Juice for the rest of the season because at that point, he doesn’t care about anything anymore. I’m not going to come back. I can’t talk to anyone. You just told me the way it is: Stop trying. It’s over with. You’re gone, you’re out. Because of that, everything starts to go haywire.

Flanagan: Juice was my prospect: I brought him into the club, I looked after him his whole life, and for him to betray the club and to betray me in such a foul and stupid and dumb way, it’s just become unforgivable. I’ve tried to help him and tried to save him, but he just went down that path. There’s no redemption, that I can see. Maybe there is, but I don’t see any redemption for old Juicey…. If [Chibs] followed him out, I think he’d probably have shot him. You know, you can’t be a rat. I mean, it would break old Chibby’s heart, but he would’ve shot him. I think when Unser stops me, he’s not really stopping me. I’m stopping myself, you know what I mean? It’s like, “I wanna go after him, but I don’t wanna go after him. Thank you, Unser, for stopping me.” Dayton was so great in that scene. We did one take, and they went, “OK, let’s do another one,” and Dayton said, “What do you mean, ‘Do another one?’” He looked at both cameras and said, “You focused?” And the guy said, “Yeah.” “You focused?” “OK, we’re done!” That’s one of my favorite quotes, actually, of Sons of Anarchy: “You focused?” “Yeah.” “You focused?” “Yeah.” “Well f–k it, we’re done! Moving on!”

Read the full postmortem with Rossi and Flanagan.

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Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

• When Tig is injured tracking down the pantyhose preacher’s wife and stepson—who Jax will later use as leverage against gangster August Marks (Billy Brown)—Venus (Walton Goggins) helps nurse her “dear friend Alex” and the two share their first kiss.

Walton Goggins: I think she’s really seen Tig quite a bit. I think it has been glasses of wine—a chardonnay or a rosé in the afternoon, with his bike kind of coming up. I think they have talked at length about their childhoods and what their respective lives are like now. I think they’ve talked about politics. I think they’ve talked about everything that two people would talk about to further their intimacy and a friendship…. It was all there with the two scenes that Kurt [Sutter] had written. It was two people who had spent enough time together off-screen in order to get to a place where Tig would ask for Venus when he’s hurt and he needed to be comforted, and Venus would come and tell him what she tells him. It’s not a gender thing, it’s a heart thing. When we’re understood, regardless of who we’re understood by, we’re understood. There’s no replacing that. It’s outside of the confines of gender.

• Juice breaks down in front of Gemma and Wendy and admits he can’t be alone.

Rossi: Not even close to the low point, sadly. I think it’s the true expression of what I felt he always was, which is just lonely. His loneliness, his wanting this family so bad, has been the reason for all his errors. This has never been a malicious guy, and some people don’t understand that. There are people who I challenge when they say, “Oh, Juice is a rat.” I’m like, “Where?” He’s actually talked to the cops less than Jax, less than Chibs, less than anybody. Anything he’s done has been to help other people, even Gemma: Before he processed what was going on, he was shooting someone [Sheriff Roosevelt] that looked like he might be hurting Gemma. This is why Kurt [Sutter]’s doing such an incredible job with this character: it’s almost like this trick that people believe that Juice has done these things wrong. He has, but if you really think about it, everything he’s done wrong is trying to make things right. When I’m playing him, I don’t ever feel like, “I’m going to really hurt this person.” It’s always just, “I gotta get myself out of this situation.”

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• After someone rats to the Chinese about SAMCRO stealing their guns and heroin, Lin’s men massacre 16 people at Diosa, including Colette (Kim Dickens).

Sutter: Obviously it impacts Nero [Jimmy Smits] deeply. I think it’s the game-changer for Nero, it’s what pushes him to that point of, “I know I’ve threatened about getting out before. But I have to get out.” It impacts Nero much deeper than it does Jax. We see in another episode, Jax talks about, “We’re gonna clean the place up and hire some more girls.” And Nero says, “Really?” For Jax, it’s business. I think that it f–ks with Jarry: Here she is, two weeks on the job and she’s dealing with this. We really begin to see the ramifications of Gemma’s lie—not just impacting the club, but impacting Charming, impacting the community at large. One of the things I’m very conscious of is, as pulp and as absurd as this show can be sometimes in the violence, that it never happens in a vacuum. We always see the ramifications. That’s definitely the case with Diosa.

Read the full postmortems with Sutter and with Goggins, and the interview with Rossi.

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• Jax and Lin, who of course denies he ordered the hit on Tara, finally come to blows. Lin survives the lengthy beatdown, but is headed to jail on drug and gun charges.

Kenneth Choi: When I work, I like to just kind of stay quiet, stay to myself. I like to walk around a lot and figure out what’s gonna happen in the scene and try to get my head straight. I’ve watched Charlie throughout the years, and he kinda does the same thing. He stays by himself, and he walks around, and you can see he’s generating whatever emotion or whatever he’s gotta go through in the scene. And with this fight scene, it was no different. He was on one end of the street, I was on the other end of the street. I could catch glimpses of him walking and pacing, so I knew he was really trying to get to the emotional state he had to, and I was doing the same. You get little things in between the takes: He’ll come over, and you just kind of look at each other, and there’s a little bit of, “You okay?” “You okay?” “Okay good.” And then you go to your separate corners. You watch him when he does these performances, and he brings so much heat to every moment. He’s really trying to live it as authentically as he can. So when I know that he’s about to fight my character, and the reason why, that makes me want to up my game and really get into it as well.

At the end of the fight scene, Jax has pretty much gotten the upper hand and he’s just wailing on my face. You don’t really get to see it while you’re on set. But afterwards, when you go to your trailer, it looks amazing and horrifying. They have to clean up all the blood, and I asked them not to—I wanted to just walk down to like a 7-Eleven and say, “Hey, do you guys sell Band-Aids?” (Laughs) They wouldn’t let me do it. That’d be the greatest, right? “I cut myself shaving. Do you guys have any Band-Aids?”

• Gemma drives fragile Juice to a location where she can presumably kill him, only he figures out her plan and ends up pointing her gun at her as she begs for her life.

Rossi: [Katey and I] were so excited by [the scene]. There’s that turn, and you go, “Oh my God. These are two of the most unstable people. This can’t be good for anybody.” You know what’s coming, and there’s so much tension leading up to it. When it all goes down, it was just so much fun.

Read the postmortem with Choi and the interview with Rossi.

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• Juice ends up face-to-face with Jax after he tries to make an ill-advised deal with Marcus Alvarez (Emilio Rivera) to offer intel on SAMCRO in exchange for help getting into Mexico. Instead, Alvarez agrees to help SAMCRO deal with Marks and provide heroin for imprisoned Aryan Brotherhood shotcaller Tully (Marilyn Manson) to distribute in Stockton in exchange for a promise that the Mayans will inherit the Irish gun business from Marks.

Director Guy Ferland: We took a lot of time filming that. I wanted it all to take time. I staged it so that Juice could be surprised, he wouldn’t see [Jax and the guys] too early coming through the door—he’d see them when they’re already in the room. I think it’s important to see everybody’s different reactions and feelings. You could understand everything without one word. When the scene got up on its feet and we knew what it was, that’s when the weight of everything really hit the cast. It was tense. Everyone wanted to get it right. What’s great about that show and that cast is everybody knows how to find their moments. You just have to cut to the faces and the audience, as you saw, has to stop and catch their breath. It’s really not technically that difficult of a scene, but it just shows that when you know when to cut to somebody and capture their feelings while something else is going on, it makes it kind of thrilling. It’s a perfect example of a Sons scene working at its best.

• The Grim Bastards and Mayan Stockton charter help SAMCRO ambush the East Dub crew working for Marks.

Ferland: You know what’s kind of interesting, I believe I filmed Jax’s first [non self-defense] kill in Season 1, where he killed that creepy agent from Chicago who stalked Tara. So I got to take him from there to here. It’s fun to go on that journey and see him now where he can light up a cigarette as 10 people get killed right in front of him…. It was a big scene. There are a lot of bikes, a lot of guns, and a lot of people who could get hurt and fall. So it’s always a little stressful, but it really went exactly as I wanted it…. I love seeing that line of the Sons all firing those guns—and doing it as one of the last times that we’re probably ever gonna see them as a club.

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• SAMCRO gets into a fistfight with Tully’s local AB crew, led by Leland (Brad Carter). But first, Leland fires a shotgun and holds it at Jax’s chest and throat.

Carter: I’ll be honest with ya, I forgot to put in my earplugs the first time I shot that sawed-off shotgun. The dumbest mistake I’ve ever made. I’m tellin’ ya, I was scared. I thought I had permanently lost my hearing in my left ear. They had offered my earplugs, and I didn’t think to put them in right before we started. And then holy s–t, I’ll never make that mistake again.

• SAMCRO shows the Aryan Brotherhood the bodies of the East Dubs to prove they can be trusted.

Ferland: If I think too hard about any of that stuff, I get really unsettled and I start asking myself strange questions. With Sons, you just have to go with it, and do it great, and then really try not to think about it too much. Thinking will just get in the way. You gotta go for it—and I think that’s what the audience is responding to, is just going for it. “You’re showing us something we’ve never really dreamed of seeing before.” (Laughs) It’s so horrendous.

Carter: It’s a little shocking and a little awkward, too, just to open a van up and there’s all these poor guys stacked in there. And it was hot. But they took care of them: they’d put them in there and then let them get back out in between each take. I felt kinda bad for them, just all stacked on each other like that. And then the one guy, the blood had dried and he was stuck to the floorboard. (Laughs) They all had a good sense of humor about it. Everybody was down.

• Alvarez hands Juice over to SAMCRO.

Ferland: It wasn’t scripted [for the last shot of the episode to be Jax’s face as he walks past the camera]. It just sort of happened through rehearsing. I had just seen the skull promo for the season, and I thought, wow, we could make his face turn into the skull kind of at the end of this. (Laughs). It’s tricky: The club feels a lot of hatred toward Juice, but we don’t want to give away everything right now and have them start beating up on him right there. I think Kurt was the one who told me “dead man walking,” so that’s what I tried to do.

Read the full postmortems with Ferland and with Carter.

NEXT: The beginning of the end

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• The episode opens with Juice being handed back his cut at the site of John Teller’s accident (he’s been tasked with getting himself arrested and sent to Stockton, where he can kill Lin). The club members pay their respects to JT.

Mark Boone Junior: Bobby had the most connection to John of the ones left there. And yes, I spent a long time there. It was cut [laughs], but that was a huge moment for Bobby. The troubles that were going on at that moment were very heavy on Bobby’s mind, and I definitely talked to John while I was there. I was asking for strength and guidance through what was going on at that point.

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• After Jax attempts to blackmail Marks into submission, Marks’ head of security, Moses (Mathew St. Patrick), gouges out Bobby’s eye with a grapefruit spoon and delivers it in a box with a video of the assault to Jax and the guys.

Director Paris Barclay: They didn’t see the video before we actually filmed the scene. We don’t do that because they’re super method actors, but just because we wanted to be filming when they actually saw it for the first time, so they could actually live in their first response to seeing Bobby having his eye gouged out. Tommy Flanagan just broke down, and some of it is in the episode. Sometimes you can’t recreate the authentic reaction that these actors who’ve bonded so closely together, not just as actors but as friends, have. Sometimes you just need to be rolling the cameras. I think what you’re seeing is a large part of the first take, and then we did a reverse where we show Jax walking away, which was done later. So Tommy’s reaction is his reaction to seeing the video for the first time.

What I do remember is we got to the park, and it was filled with about 200 people. When we shoot nights, we usually shoot towards the end of the week. This ended up being the last scene to shoot on Friday night. Friday night in this North Hollywood park is very popular. We don’t really close the park to shoot Sons of Anarchy. It’s a big ass park. We had an area that was coned off, but we do not have enough security or really PAs to control the entire park and make everyone be quiet for our filming. It was very difficult to get the actors in the mood, and get them protected, and to get the fans to respect the fact that we’re filming an episode. They wanted to take pictures. A lot of what we did was shoot in one direction and try to move all the people around to the other side of the park, and then shoot in another direction and move all the way back to the other side. It took a lot longer than it needed to, and it also tested my patience and some of the patience of the actors. A lot of what they had to do was driven by just the crowd. We could control the street, so we shot toward the street first, but it’s really tough: People love their Sons of Anarchy, and they feel like if we’re on the street and we’re in a public place, they should be there, they should take pictures, and they should ask Charlie Hunnam to take a selfie with them. We can’t really explain, “I’m sorry, but I’m about to look at a box with Bobby’s eye in it. I don’t really want to take this selfie with you right now.” Because we don’t want to be rude.

• Nero asks Gemma to come with him to his uncle’s farm when he buys it, and tears up telling her they deserve something better.

Barclay: It just reminds me of the joy of Jimmy Smits. Having known him since the early nineties, back in the [NYPD Blue] days, he just needs more things like that, where it’s not just that he’s crying and emotional, but there’s real stakes there, there’s real heart for him to play. He really, really wants her to come with him, and she wants to go. The two of them just really played off each other. By the time that we were done shooting it, that scene felt that it had never been written, that it had only been said by the two of them. That’s just so hard to accomplish…. You know, I was talking to Charlie yesterday about this: I was thinking that maybe it was Jimmy coming to the show that really has given us just enough glue emotionally to keep this whole thing spinning after we lost Clay Morrow. His father relationship with Jax, and his sexual and love relationship with Gemma, I just think it was just so brilliant that we found a guy that could actually do it and help us get through it.

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• Abel overhears Gemma confess to Thomas that she accidentally murdered Tara.

Barclay: I knew at the beginning of the season that Abel was going to be the first person in the family to find out. That’s part of the Abel story that’s been developing, and I have been giving little hints on the Twitter and other places to “keep an eye out for Abel.” I think Abel finding out becomes part of the twist that sends us into our final spiral… The scene where Happy and Ratboy [Niko Nicotera] come to get Gemma at Teller-Morrow, I love her face. I love her scrambling. She’s tired, she’s drunk, she hasn’t slept, she think she’s going to die, and then they come and say “Jax wants to see you.” And she goes, “Oh. F–k. I need to stop at my house and get some guns out of my hat box!”…. In their minds, Jax just needs her to help this junkie lady, but she reads all of her guilt and everything into it and is like, “The end. I’m toast. Take me up to the cabin, that is where they whack people.”

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• Jax meets prostitute Winsome (Inbar Lavi), who tells him and Chibs where to find her pimp, Greensleeves (Christopher Backus), who’s extorting money from the preacher’s wife and stepson and who ultimately gets impaled when Jax throws him through a window. Nero offers Winsome a job at Diosa. (The chemistry between Lavi and Hunnam is so good, Sutter writes her into episode 10, which finds her sleeping with Jax.)

Inbar Lavi: I think Winsome has to have some kind of idea of a Prince Charming that will come and sweep her out of the situation that she is in, whether she was aware of it or not. I had to put that in the back of her head, and I think Jax and the gang come in at a perfect moment when she’s really ready to drop out of her life as she knows it and make a run for a better one. They give her a ray of hope for a brighter future. She’s timid, but something about these guys, and I think specifically with Jax, makes her feel safe, and they do gain her trust. I don’t think the alternative would have been any better, so she just decides to go along for the ride. I will also say the relationship that is built between Jax and Winsome is somewhat healing for both of them. They were both hurt and disappointed by life’s course. They’re both in some kind of agony, and they’ve experienced loss in different ways, so they allow each other to be vulnerable for a minute together. I think they allow each other to mourn their mistakes and make peace with them. There’s no judgment when they’re together.

Read the full postmortems with Barclay and with Lavi, and the interview with Boone.

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Jax and Jury have a showdown that starts with Jury insinuating that JT would’ve known there was something wrong with his bike that day in ’93 and essentially committed suicide by riding it, and ends with Jax taking a punch at Jury, Jury reaching for his gun, and Jax shooting him in the head. Jax lies and tells Jury’s VP that Jury admitted to being the rat.

Director Charles Murray: It was a joy to film because we went for a very Western, two guys about to have a gunfight kind of deal, and I feel like we completely accomplished that. While a Western scene may not go on that long, I felt like we were able to hold attention long enough and get both point of views and information out in a way that helped move the scene along instead of making all that information the thing that got in the way of the scene.

• Gemma’s birds are slaughtered and placed in her bed, while the message “No Son is Safe” is written on the wall in Abel and Thomas’ bedroom.

Murray: The birds and the message were tied into each other, even though they happened in separate rooms. That had nothing to do with Abel. He ain’t that vicious. That would put him right up there with Moses—he’s a baby Moses. (Laughs) There’s potential for blowback from several different arenas, but I think if you go back to episode 703 when Jax is sitting in the car with Marks, Marks very pointedly says I have no remorse killing any Son. If you know one thing about Kurt, he’s very particular about his phrasing and language. He charted that from 703 forward.

• Bobby still refuses to tell Moses where the preacher’s body is buried, and Jax makes the mistake of thinking Moses’ terms are negotiable. Moses cuts off the fingers on Bobby’s clutch hand.

Murray: I don’t know if you remember that scene in The Departed where Nicholson says, “I’m just gonna check you for bugs,” and DiCaprio has that cast on his hand, and then [Ray Winstone] starts smashing the cast and the broken arm onto the pool table. You’re like, Ohmygod. It’s such a violent moment, but the violence made sense, because you know, he could be wearing a wire up there. The violence of cutting Bobby’s fingers off is not about making sense or not, it’s just definitively about cruelty because Moses knows this guy will eventually have to leave the thing that he believes in the most because he’s crippled him in a way that he’ll never be able to come back from. Think back to when Clay was dealing with his arthritis in his hands. It was like, you gotta ride a certain number of times or you’re out of the club. They go for the thing that would take him out of the club for good, whether he survives or not. Even though it’s just his hand, it’s very cruel.

• Abels tells Gemma his latest school incident was an “accident,” and she asks him if he knows what that word means.

Murray: “Do you?” (Laughs) That was his best line reading. I think that the one thing the show does well is show the fragility of being in a violent family. Whatever direction your family takes, it always filters back into how the next generation sees things. It’s like, if you’re around a family full of funny people, and you have this baby who is absorbing all this, that baby turns out to be just as funny as everybody else. Everybody looks at the family dynamic and says, “Well, of course the baby is going to be this way.” The father-son dynamic could never take hold through Jax until Abel was able to hear what was going on, somewhat understand what was going on, and then act off the impulses that seem normal in his family. That’s been a great addition this season, because you have the person who should be innocent, and loving, and kind—as we all think children are—and it’s very much the sins of the father being revisited on the son.

Read the full postmortem with Murray.

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Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

• Jax finally agrees to Marks’ terms, but at the private exchange, Marks pulls a gun that he’d hidden on Bobby—whose jaw Moses had broken so he couldn’t tip Jax off sooner. Marks shoots Bobby in the head.

Billy Brown: (Laughs) I’m laughing because the gun was to be tucked into the back of Bobby’s jeans. It’s a large-caliber handgun, it’s heavy, and what ends up happening is, as we’re playing the scene out, Bobby’s lost some fingers, the eye’s been gouged out, and he’s f–ked up in bad shape. I am helping him as he stumbles toward the spot to be handed off to Jax, knowing that I’ve stashed the pistol where I can easily get to it unbeknownst to Jax. (Laughs) The problem was, in one of the takes, the pistol worked its way down the crack of his butt, and then down one of his pant legs. I’m fishing down there. My elbow’s deep in places I don’t want to be and I never thought I would be, in 101 degree weather out in Disney Ranch. Of all places, Disney Ranch, two grown men, my hand down the back of Boone’s pants lookin’ for his f–kin’ pistol. (Laughs) And then Boone, he’s trying to stay in the moment, and he’s shakin’ his right leg like he’s shakin’ change loose, until it finally works its way down under the top of his boot, and I gotta bend down. I was laughin’ with Coates and Flanagan later on—they could not keep it together as they saw me fish around the backside of homeboy’s pants for a pistol. Charlie’s keepin’ a straight face. He can sense something’s off. I haven’t broke—I’m holdin’ on to it. But the whole thing got real farcical.

Director Peter Weller: The real emotional event is massive loss—the loss of camaraderie, the loss of everything they wanted the club to stand for, and the personal loss of a great friend. If you get too dramatic about it right away, then you show your cards. You gotta stand away and choreograph it like a dance. The only tone note from Kurt [Sutter] was that the gun comes out of nowhere, i.e. Bobby’s back, so you’re surprised at the gun and you’re surprised at the killing. That was his only comment, just to make sure that happens quickly. That said, it happens quickly, but the great event in it is the collapse of Jax in the end.

I shot one camera at 46 frames, so it was a little bit slo-mo. It wasn’t Ralph Fiennes coming out of the cave in The English Patient, which was so overdone I almost left the theater. You could do it super slow, you could do it medium slow, you could do it a little bit slow just to have a bit of collapse on it. Charlie’s gotta a lot of music in him, and when I saw the kind of music he was cranked up to do, I shot the shooting and the collapse in one with several cameras. I shot right up to Bobby’s head being blown off, and then I turned around and shot Jax and Bobby at the same time. It was really, really sad….

Boone: I just think the scene between Charlie and Tommy [Flanagan] over the blood is really indicative of how brutal they took it. And then you got DL, David Labrava, literally sobbing in the back of the van. (Laughs) I don’t think any of that was acting, really.

Weller: If somebody gives you a tone note saying, “Okay, make sure nobody’s crying,” you have to say, “Horses–t.” Kurt wisely just said, “Whatever happens, happens.” You don’t want to over crank it, but you’ve got to let these guys live with the seven years they’ve been together as actors, not just the 20 years or so their characters have been together as a motorcycle club. When they’re loading the body in the truck, whatever went down went down: Tommy’s tears, Jax and Happy, and Tig sort of taking care of Happy there—it’s kind of sweet. Those guys are just so wonderful.

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Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

• Jarry, who’s had a working relationship with Chibs, asks him if their previous sex romp was just part of the game or something more. They end up having sex on the hood of her patrol car, in front of Quinn (Rusty Coones).

Weller: Well, look, let’s get really pornographic here. It was suggested that he bends her over the car, right? I told Kurt, “I don’t want to do that. You’ve gotta look somebody in the eye if you’re gonna do that kind of passion immediately.” The quickie against the car, that ain’t gonna work there. I suggested to Kurt that it be on the hood of the car, and they just pull their pants down and have it eyeball to eyeball and not some sort of, like, midnight thing in the parking lot. I loosely gave them physical adjustments. I suggested to Tommy that you want to help her out but you can’t, and let the vulnerability of her saying, “If it’s no, take me here”—let the embarrassment of that land, and then have at it. He was just really, really great. The only adjustment I suggested to her was, “Don’t dare him or threaten him with it. Just invite him.” You know what I’m saying? It’s not like saying, “If you love me, f–k me.” It’s not that confrontational. When you say to somebody, “Put up or shut up,” you can get in their face about it, you can push and shove, you can get cocky, you can get chippy. Or you can just lay back and say, “If you’re the real deal, do it.” That’s all it needs. You just want to invite someone to prove it and not push it. She was really, really good.

Annabeth Gish: I think that is her moment of really revealing her vulnerability, and also, she obviously doesn’t have an issue with sex in public. I think it speaks to the fact that cops and criminals walk very fine lines of the gradations between danger and what is right and wrong. To be a cop, you have to be an adrenaline junkie, you know. So I think that was fitting for her. I think she really has these feelings for Chibs, and with the extreme stakes of where they both come from, it was like, “If you want me, take me now….” It’s not like they can have a normal relationship. They can’t just go have dinner at a restaurant and go on a date. They gotta get busy when and where they can, in the quagmire of all the conflict of the club versus Charming’s law. So I think going forward, it sets up how much of a battle it is internally for both of them to find and feel this real attraction—I don’t want to say love, but I think that they have a real chemistry, for sure—and how to express that chemistry in this messed up world.

• Jarry visits Unser and informs him that Dun was picked up by Vegas PD on the night that Tara was killed—so Gemma and Juice, who both identified him, are lying.

Gish: That scene in particular is a crucial turning point because it reveals so much. I literally had to draw my own map so that I could coordinate all of where Dun was, where Lin was. It’s a huge turning point for the Charming Sheriff’s department: Last episode, s–t starts to unravel, but now the law is on to the unraveling and the truth is gonna be told.

Read the full postmortems with Boone, with Brown, with Gish, and with Weller.

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Credit: FX

• Following Bobby’s death, Tig takes comfort in Venus’ arms, but the next morning, he pulls away. Later, the two have a conversation that will remain one of the series’ finest moments.

Goggins: It was just two people becoming friends organically. They had pain in common, and laughter and humor, and a zest for living. And one probably never refrained from having sex—meaning Tig would f–k anything—and one only gets paid for it, for the most part. So their relationship wasn’t about sex, and then it happened. It was so beautiful, and it happened at a point in their relationship where it’s like, why wouldn’t domesticity be the next logical step? It would have been if not for the parameters that our society places on what is allowable as a relationship. It was only after that came into the room that there was ugliness. Therefore the mirror: I suppose the mirror is kind of like society, metaphorically speaking, looking at it. And then it was one person who said, “And all that being considered, f–k that. F–k it. This makes me happy, and this completes me as a person….”

When I read [the conversation at the end of the episode], I just thought I’ve never really seen honesty in that way, with what is a perceived way of life that would be unacceptable to another person. Venus is understanding of that, and in some ways, accepting of the limitations of that kind of commitment from another person. And she is graceful enough to let him out, but she was also vulnerable enough to say, “But I let myself believe in it, and I do believe in it. And I’m not a fool for allowing myself space for that emotion. I’m a better person for it.” Because she was able to say that, Tig came around. I mean, I’m gonna cry right now talking about it. It was so organic and so beautiful, and that comes from the mind and really from the heart of Kurt Sutter….

We sat down to rehearse it with Paris, who Kim and I trust implicitly, and it’s all right there. I turned to Paris [Barclay, the director] as Venus and said, “Can you shoot this at the same time?” And Paris said, “Absolutely. That’s exactly what we’re gonna do.” Paris set it up so there was a camera on both of these people as they were going through this emotion‚ and I say “these people” in third person because I don’t believe that I was there or Kim was there—it was them. It was their relationship. And Paris just let the camera roll. He came in and tweaked us as needed, and that was it. We did it maybe three times total. It was so pure and so without ego and so not result-oriented. It was just outside of all of us: Just let these two people heal one another, and then let’s walk away. It was one of the most cathartic experiences of my life as an artist….

Barclay: There was really true love there, and when it was done, the crew just stopped and applauded them. The camera assistants were crying. People were just clapping because they brought something new to them, a new feeling: People hadn’t really experienced Tig in that way, as deeply serious and as honest and as direct as he was, and Venus really telling you how she became this way and what it’s like for her.

Goggins: I think [Venus] got dolled up. I think they went to a very expensive, conservative restaurant—her in her beautiful outfit with color, and him with his leather cut. And they sat and ordered the most expensive bottle of wine. And then they ordered another bottle of wine. And they had a seven-course meal in front of all of these people and were more in love and more themselves than anybody in that restaurant.

• Jax schemes with Niners leader Tyler (Mo McRae) and Grim Bastards president T.O. (Michael Beach) to send Moses to an Aryan Brotherhood compound. Tyler gets his hands dirty to free captive T.O. and Rat.

Mo McRae: 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 T.O. 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.

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Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

• Ambushed at the compound, Moses’ men are all shot dead before Jax rips out Moses’ eyeball with his hand. Chibs then cut off Moses’ fingers before Jax puts a bullet in his head, mirroring the fate Bobby had suffered.

Head of makeup Tracey Anderson: We’ve done some crazy stuff: We’ve carved swastikas into people, we’ve burned them alive. People really enjoyed the guy who had the nails in the face—there was quite a bit of novelty to the Nail Face Guy, but definitely nothing compared to the swinging eye. That was hours of excitement. Everyone wanted their picture with him and the eye. It was so disgusting. Just watching it on the monitor—he’d flop over and it’d flop over. And the way Mathew played it: You felt like he was an animal that had had his eye pulled out. The way he was flailing and resisting, it was awesome.

• After Abel cuts his own arm with a fork and blames it on Gemma, Jax decides telling Abel that Wendy is “first mommy” will bring his son some stability. (And while it does, it also leads to Abel later asking Jax if Grandma killed his other mommy to make room for his first mommy.)

Drea de Matteo: I think my first take, I cried so much in it, and it was such a mess—snot pouring out of every hole of my face—that they didn’t end up using that one. The minute they let me out of the gate of the scene, I was so emotional. I remember Paris saying to me, “I don’t know how we’re gonna duplicate this from every angle.” Normally when you cry in a scene in a show, everyone’s like, “Ah, wow, that’s amazing. Thanks.” This time, it was like, “Are you kidding me?” (Laughs) Like on The Sopranos, the more insanity of the crying, the better. And on this one, I had to really temper myself towards the end…. I have two children, and I’m separated from their dad. So all I had to do was think about my own experience and play it in that scene and it was right there for me. As an actor, we just keep that stuff inside until they open the gates when they say, “Action!” So you walk around all day with all of these emotions (Laughs), and then boom! But as an actor, we have to orchestrate it and temper it. But in that moment, I lost it. It could have been years of sadness that just exploded into the scene. It was probably just too much for that moment.

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Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

• After Abel’s comment, and hearing from Unser that Gemma and Juice both identified a man who couldn’t possibly have committed Tara’s murder, Jax visits Juice in jail and finally hears the full truth about Tara’s murder.

Rossi: What was so powerful about it—and what the reaction has been—is it was just two characters talking and telling information. There was nobody blowing anything up, there was nobody cutting anybody’s arms off, there was nobody stabbing each other. It was just two people talking. Sometimes we forget how powerful that is with really, really, really good dialogue. What I’ve gotten from people is them saying that every pause, they were waiting for the next word. “What’s he going to say next? Oh my god, what’s going to happen?” There were people who went through 15 different emotions in the nine minutes. They were standing up and sitting down. There were people who wrote me on Twitter and Facebook who said they watched the scene like 20 times. That’s incredible for a TV show to evoke that kind of passion. You’d hear people be like, “Oh man, it was so cool when you jumped those cops and jumped on the bike.” There’s that kind of passion. But to have these kind of fans who are really into that giant explosion, adrenaline type stuff sit down and go, “Whoa, that was really heavy.” I had heavy dudes, people who don’t react like that, saying, “I couldn’t stop crying and I didn’t know why. I was a mess.” I have such a love for Juice. Because I’m a fan of the show, I look at him and I get mad at him, and happy for him, and sad for him. To see him get that moment to just say it all, to just lift that weight—god everybody loves that. If you notice, he almost has that smile at the end of the scene, because, “Oh, it’s all out there. I don’t have to hide it anymore.” That’s powerful stuff.

Charlie and I, we have a pretty similar way of going about things on the set. [Like] the characters, you keep your distance a little. Most of the time I was shooting, he wasn’t. Most of the time he’s shooting, I’m not. So we’re very separated since the end [of season 6]. Going and doing that scene, there was no rehearsal. There was just light it, set it up, let’s shoot it. I think we did two takes each only. It’s probably the shortest amount we’ve ever done. It was all right there. It was on the page and it was in the eyes. It was just a long time coming for us as these characters…. It’s funny, because I haven’t said this out loud, but what crossed my mind as a character, as Juice sitting across from Jax, was that I don’t want Abel to be corrupted like us. If I can be any part responsible at all for this kid not going down the road of us, I’m going to tell. Because the second Jax mentions Abel is an innocent kid, and you’re the only one that can give me the answer and the only one who can help me figure it out, Juice just says, “Enough is enough.” First, Juice says, “I’m sorry about Abel,” and you still don’t think he’s going to tell Jax. He makes that choice after he thinks about this kid: Jax says about him being poked and prodded, having his brain twisted and asked all these questions when he’s the only one that’s right in this situation. To hear that maybe Abel can have a different life, that, I think, was the, “Just let it go, just let it out, it doesn’t matter anymore.”

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Credit: FX

• Gemma meets Nero to say goodbye, though she won’t tell him why. Jax phones Nero and reveals that she murdered Tara.

Director Peter Weller: Kurt said as a tone note that he would rarely give an actor a beat where we don’t hear what he’s hearing, so it’s all played on his face, but he would definitely give that to Jimmy Smits because Jimmy Smits is unbelievable. I’ve worked with some unbelievable people: I’ve been opposite Diane Keaton, Judy Davis, and Dianne Wiest—there’s no one equal to those three in their age group. I just had to throw my car into neutral and say, “Wow, these women have so much music in them, there’s nothing that I’m going to bring up that could compare to what they got.” And when I watch Jimmy Smits, it’s the same deal. He’s just got a symphony in him. The best thing you can do with somebody who’s got a symphony in them is listen.

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Credit: FX

• Nero tries to caution Jax that there’s no recovering for a son who kills his mother. Jax admits he still loves Gemma, which is the worst part.

Weller: Jimmy and Charlie have a very unique relationship. You cannot do anything other than admire Jimmy Smits, and Charlie’s smart enough to know that he’s with Jimmy and Jimmy will give him the world. So all I did was suggest the staging, that he goes and sits in this area and then Jimmy comes and sits next to him. So we rehearsed the staging of it a couple of times, and then I realized there’s only gonna be two takes of this, just like we did the other scene. So I set two camera angles up: one favoring Jimmy, one favoring Charlie. We shot them both at the same time, and then we pushed in and shot them both again at the same time. Because they were next to each other, I could do that. If they were across from each other, I gotta do one and then the other. Paul Maibaum [our director of photography], bless his heart, set it up so we could shoot like that, and they gave me gold, man…. They know what it has to be: There has to be a guy from the bottom of his heart trying to help another guy he can’t, because the other guy is at the bottom. That’s it.

Jimmy Smits: The relationship has to do with the fact that it operates on a lot of different levels. There is a paternal aspect to it. There’s a brotherly kind of thing—they’re both in this outlaw world, that kind of bro thing that they have. I think the fact that they both have children and there’s a lot of guilt there that they haven’t been the fathers that they could’ve been. I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s an emotional bridge between them. It’s okay for them to have these softer moments.

Read the full postmortems with Weller and with Smits and the interview with Rossi.

Theo Rossi
Credit: FX

• Having previously killed Lin, who revealed Barosky (Peter Weller) was the rat, Juice finds himself stuck between the Chinese, who want him to kill Tully, and Tully, who is tasked by Jax with making Juice’s death quick. In the end, Juice tells Tully his dilemma, hands him the scalpel, and asks that Tully just wait to use it until he finishes his pie.

Murray: “We don’t necessarily talk in terms of plot when we’re in the room, where we go, ‘Oh, and then Juice gets stabbed.’ How we discuss it is, ‘Where’s his loyalty? Where’s his loyalty to Jax? How does that play itself out?’ Once he realizes that his loyalty has served his purpose—and again another character who, without the club, without that connectivity, has no purpose—how does he see his end? There was always discussion of him dying in prison or dying in jail, it was just, ‘Does he relinquish his power or does he go out aggressively?’ So there was a discussion about, ‘Does he grab a knife and go after [Marilyn] Manson’s character [Tully], and meet a demise through that? Or does he do what he did?

Rossi: This is the first choice he’s made on his own. No one pressured him into it. No Clay, no Gemma, no Jax, no Tully, no Aryans, no Chinese, no nobody. He said, “You know what, I’m exhausted. I’ve told everybody what I’ve had to tell them. I’ve gotten everything off my chest. My conscience is clear. It’s now time to end the madness. I’m done. This is it. I just want to finish my pie and let’s just end this.” That’s why he seems so happy and at peace. Because he’s exhausted by it all. His thought process was if he takes out Lin, then he’s going to be back in the club. Obviously that didn’t happen because of the whole nine-minute thing with Jax and telling him about Gemma [in episode 11]. After that, he says, “Well, Juice is never going back to the club. It doesn’t matter anymore.” Yes, if he kills Tully, it’s a betrayal of the club 100 percent, but at the same time, it’s just his decision. He finally made a choice, and his choice was just to go. I love that because he had to.

[The pie] symbolizes everything. Kurt is such a genius for so many reasons, and when it comes to writing, there’s so many subtexts and undertones. At that moment, in this mayhem of prison, looking across from this heinous individual and looking around at how he got there, cherry pie is everything. It’s the hopes and dreams. It’s his full innocence. You picture him as a youth eating pie, and at all these celebratory things in your life, you eat pie. This was him saying, “I’m going to have my cake, my pie, and then that’s it. Then I’m going to go wherever that next place is. Hopefully it’s not here. Hopefully it’s not with Tully. And hopefully it’s not with Clay and everybody manipulating me.” I thought the, “Just let me finish my pie” line is such a classic line because he’s making his one last declaration to no one. It’s just himself. I never want to say that dying is celebratory, but you see the beginning of the episode, it’s like there’s no way out here. This is it.

Barclay: I just came to work on a high for this whole episode because I knew what every day had in store. But the day that Juice was going to die—I think we did everything in prison on that day, including his rape—I was so looking forward to that [death scene]. I said, “Let’s make this as late in the day as possible.” I think it was the second to last scene. He was just an incredible trooper, even lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood so I could get the camera just right, which isn’t the most fun thing for an actor to do. Unser had to do it, too, like, “Just lay down here and be dead for about an hour while we photograph.” He was such a gentleman. We had a robust round of applause and a send-off from our crew. Juice has been a huge part of our love affair with SAMCRO.

• After brokering what he hopes will be peace between the Mayans and Niners—and knowing that he would later tell the truth about Jury’s death to the Sons forum and that they’d call for a Mayhem vote—Jax tells Nero he hopes his boys will make it to his farm often.

Episode director Paris Barclay: Once again, it was not in the text but it was the intention: I saw Nero hear, “You would be okay to take care of my kids if something happened me.” You could see it. I think Sutter has a Pinteresque streak: One of the things [Harold Pinter] does is he never likes to have the words carry the scene. It’s always what’s in between the words or what’s under the words. So they’re talking like, “Oh yeah, take them for a weekend trip,” but what’s clearly being communicated by the way Jax is looking at him, and the way Nero receives the information is, “If anything happens to me, I want you to take care of my kids.” I just thought it was incredibly moving. I hadn’t felt that deeply about the scene when I read it, but when they performed it, especially when we turned to Jimmy’s side and his vulnerability was there and the way he heard it, it was just awesome to me. The two of them were very proud of that scene when it was done because it seemed simpler than it was.

The show is so underrated, because despite the fact that it has the veneer of extreme violence and chaos and high drama, the thing that really makes me get attached to it is those scenes, where the unspoken is spoken through emotion. Just like the Tenus scene, which people really responded to. (Tenus! Tig and Venus! I coined another phrase along with ‘f–ktage.’) The show really operates great when it’s working on this level of, “We don’t need to say this, we’re just letting each other know how much we love each other.” It’s hidden a lot by the mayhem, and people don’t really see it if they’re not really invested in Sons of Anarchy, but for Sons of Anarchy fans, we get it. We get that there’s so much between the brothers, the way they look at each other, the way they speak and don’t speak about things, and when they speak, the way Chibs follows Jax around and says, “What’s going on?” and the way Jax is like, “It’s going to be fine.” All those moments are, to me, what makes this one of the greatest shows I’ve ever worked on. Aaron Sorkin would probably find words to describe these feelings; Kurt Sutter doesn’t seem to have to.

• Gemma visits her Alzheimer’s stricken father (Hal Holbrook) at the nursing home and says goodbye. While he doesn’t recognize her, he does remember his sweet girl who loved their garden. He tells her god forgives everyone.

Barclay: First, I love Hal Holbrook. We were so fortunate to get him back because he’s constantly touring, even at his age, doing Mark Twain and going all around the world. I was just thrilled that we finally got him for this one day to do the scene. We were not able to get back to the actual [nursing] home, so we had to build that home on another location, and it ended up being the best thing that happened to us, because that scene got separated from the rest of the episode, and we came back and did it after Katey shot her death, when Hal was available. The first time that they read it, it was like, “Okay, we can’t rehearse this anymore, we need to just go start shooting it,” because he had the voice down. He had the misdirection of thought. He had everything in there, and Katey just responds to him, and she’s frustrated that she can’t say all the things she wants to say, and it’s complicated and kind of wonderful.

Katey Sagal: I’ve always looked at [Gemma] as having sort of a spiritual journey. Coming from that very strict dogmatic way she was raised, she’s spent a lot of time questioning, “Is there a god? Is there not a guy?” I’ve always imagined she’s walked away from the church, walked away from any kind of spiritual life, and ultimately, through the course of the entire series—even from before, with the killing of John Teller—she’s questioned all that. So I would like to think that at the end of her arc, she has made some kind of peace with knowing that there is a god, knowing that there is a spiritual order to things.

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Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

• Unser finds Gemma at her father’s former home and threatens to have her arrested so she’ll come with him, but she won’t go. Jax arrives. He begs Unser to leave, but he won’t. Jax shoots him.

Sagal: Well, I would say to Kurt, “Well, she should just blow her brains out.” (Laughs) The mounting of the lie was so just intolerable. I think she could justify things up to a certain point. I think once Bobby went down, it had gone too far. But I don’t think she even knows that Jax is going to be the one to kill her. I don’t think she’s thinking that when she gets to her dad’s house. I think she’s just been really in the moment of saying goodbye to Abel, saying goodbye to her father, saying goodbye to her life. Do you know what I mean? Like, she’s not waiting for Jax in that moment, but she’s also not surprised when he gets there. She knows that eventually he’s going to find her, because he’s Jax. He’s that guy. But I don’t think she knows when.

Dayton Callie: I went up there to save two friends. I’m the only guy that I think could’ve gone. Nero says it’s better if I go, because if he goes, he doesn’t know how he’ll handle it. So it’s me wanting to stand between two friends with my arms out saying, “Listen, calm down. We can do manslaughter. Crime of passion. There’s a lot of s–t. I don’t think it was premeditated murder, so she doesn’t have to go get the electric chair. She doesn’t need to go away for life. I mean, unfortunately people kill people all the time and get out in five years.” So I went up there trying to get her to surrender and take her in. If Jax came in, I had no intention of ever shooting Jax….[Unser] just pulls his gun out to front, in my head….It’s like, let’s just stop and talk about this. Let’s put the guns down. I said, “Look what we came to—a bunch of jerkoffs with guns pointed at each other? We love each other. We’re family.” I know Jax since he was born. I’m not gonna shoot him. He didn’t do anything—yet. I don’t know he killed all those people. The audience does. I don’t know what he would do, but I didn’t think he was gonna shoot me until Kurt wrote it. (Laughs) Prick.

Episode co-writer Charles Murray: If [Jax] had just killed Gemma without Unser being that middle step, I think think you would have come to a conclusion of like, “Oh, of course he had to do that.” I think putting Unser in the way humanizes [Jax]. And in the way that the scene carried out, Jax was like, “Go home. Go away. Get out of here. Let me do what I have to do.” And I think Usner saying, “This is all I got” doesn’t make Jax a monster. I mean, it’s monster-like. But it doesn’t make him as much a monster as him understanding that they’ve all signed a deal with a devil. And at the moment, Wayne is sayin’, “If you’re cancelin’ her contract, you might as well cancel mine.” So there’s a humanistic aspect to it in that it’s almost kind of a mercy killing, because without Gemma, what would Unser do?

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• Gemma and Jax talk. Finally, she asks to go to the garden and manipulates him one final time: She tells him he has to shoot her because it’s who they are. And he does.

Barclay: The funniest thing—I hope we get this on the outtakes in the DVD—was after Jax kills Unser, and he sits down on the chair, and the next act starts and he’s talking to Gemma. They had a great conversation, and they did it on almost every take where they looked at pictures of Jax and they said, “Oh, look at your hair, it used to be so long.” “Yeah, I like that look.” “You were so sweet.” And Unser’s lying there on the ground, and they have this super trivial conversation that just flowed into the conversation that you see about the old pictures of Hal Holbrook. It was kind of weird and beautiful, and when we actually did it, it was a lot of fun, but when I watched that, I thought that was just going to make people laugh. But it kind of got them back into the place where they could have a conversation at all.

Charlie’s idea was, “I’m going to keep my gun in my lap.” I didn’t focus on it, but the gun just stays on his lap, with his hand on it, ready to go, at the time he think it needs to go. When she says, “I’d like to go out to the garden, please,” he understands exactly what that means. And then he can’t do it. We didn’t do that final scene a lot. I mean, we did it three or four times, but it was very cold in the rose garden. It was so emotional for the crew and everyone else, and with Katey’s performance there. I used split diopters, where the person in front and behind can be in focus at the same time. If you know anything about filmmaking, that they’re both in focus, because one is way closer than the other person, is odd. I want you to see them both at the same time, to have you clearly see the emotion on their faces. I didn’t want to drive them through this a gazillion times, and they killed it. Katey knew without looking where Charlie was. She felt it. She knew that Jax couldn’t pull that trigger and she just spoke up at just the right time to encourage him to do so. Great performances by both.

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Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Sagal: I could feel Charlie. There’s a certain rhythm to the way the scene’s written. We have worked together for a long time, so you just sort of sense that. Charlie and I, when we shot this episode, were both just pretty much a wreck. It was very emotional for Gemma and Jax. It was extremely emotional for Katey and Charlie. It was a lot of tears. I think we’d just been sort of happily in denial.

Read the full postmortems with Sagal, with Callie, with Rossi, with Barclay, and with Murray.

Episode Recaps

Sons of Anarchy | ''I watched five seasons of Sons of Anarchy . I resisted for ages because I had no interest in watching a show about a motorcycle…

Sons of Anarchy

Kurt Sutter’s original series, starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, and Katey Sagal.

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 7
rating
status
  • Off Air
network
  • FX
stream service

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