Tuesdays 10:00 PM on FX
Sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy Season Finale Review: Rising of the Son

by at . Comments

Not a single shot was fired on the fourth season finale of Sons of Anarchy. No one died. There was no major cliffhanger or shock to conclude the hour, as the driving force behind the episode was revealed in the opening minutes, leaving viewers to simply watch as characters reacted to the impending shake-up of SAMCRO.

And I loved every second of it.

For weeks, we've been wondering just how Kurt Sutter and company would write themselves out of a corner that claimed Jax would leave Charming and made it clear that Clay could no longer remain in a powerful club position. How would the show keep Jax in town? How would it deal with a President who had gone too far over the edge to ever return with the gavel? Would it take the series-altering step of killing Clay? And, if not, would the outcome feel like a cop-out, given all that's gone down?

Jax v. Clay

These questions were answered almost instantly, via a simple reveal hinted at a week ago after Romeo reported that the coast for the cartel's transaction with the Irish was clear, despite viewers knowing much better: he has been working with the CIA.

Surprising? Yes. Totally and completely shocking? Not really, but that's what I appreciated so much about the development and the finale in general. It didn't rely on any out-of-nowhere game-changer. Sutter respected his audience enough, and had enough confidence in his storytelling, that he could announce right away just why Jax was staying and why Clay had to live... and then spend the next 45 minutes focusing on various characters, their interactions and the impact of this new arrangement.

I won't argue with those who think the Romeo reveal was a cheat, a desperate way for the show to keep Jax around. But we knew something had to happen, didn't we? And by inserting the surprise so early, Sutter was admitting this as well. He wasn't trying to pretend there was a real chance of Jax leaving; he was making it clear that the real story here is how Jax's continued presence in Charming will affect the character and those around him.

It didn't come out of nowhere, either. Now we know why SOA took that seemingly random visit to the baby-selling house a couple weeks ago, to make it clear that the Irish will only deal with Clay.

Charlie Hunnam simply dominated the hour, often without saying a word. He shed tears during his confession to Tara, his eyes burned with rage during his confrontation with Clay. He pleaded honestly with Opie and he asserted his new power at the end with one word to Tig when he tried to sit in his former seat at the table: No. Welcome to Jax Teller's reign, where a reluctant, vengeance-filled President has now taken up residence in the spot his mother already dreamed he would... but without his mother by his side.

What a jarring closing shot of Tara standing proudly next to her man, Gemma silent on the sidelines. Jax started the season by labeling his mom as just an "Old Lady," a seemingly misguided reference that - through numerous machinations and manipulations on various sides - has now come true. It's hard to imagine her remaining in that reduced role for very long, but this finale was less about plotting for the future and more about the completion of a riveting journey, one that has resulted in lost lives, lost friendships and the forced transfer of power.

Again, that's what I appreciated so much about it. SOA told a complete story in season four. Yes, the finale planted seeds for season five - Leroy's dead girlfriend, the absence of Opie, the return of Clay, the continued connection to the cartel and the Irish - but too many shows use their closing episodes to tease what's about to come. Sons of Anarchy used this one to tie together all that's happened.

This was one chapter of an ongoing story and now it's been closed. Kudos to the writing staff for not resorting to any desperate, last-second measures in order to make sure we tune in next fall.

Some might feel cheated that Clay survived. But I'll only take issue with that decision if he's back to calling shots and sharing shots with the club next season. Assuming he really is marginalized to dealing with the Irish, I'm satisfied with this conclusion. Might it mean the last we've seen of Opie, though?

I hope not because I adore Ryan Hurst in the role, but then I sort of hope so because it would be make sense for the character. There's simply no believable way he can sit at any table with Clay again. I'll miss the man and the actor, but his arc does feel complete right now, doesn't it? I'd imagine Ope returns, that some sort of deal is arranged where Clay isn't allowed in the clubhouse maybe. If this actually was the final time we see Hurst, his bandana and his intense scowl, though, allow me to say: job very well done, sir.

And that same praise can be passed around to the entire cast and crew. This was one of the most intense seasons of any show I can recall, a thrilling ride that proved SOA can do a lot more than just blow stuff up. This is a drama about a family that started the season reunited... spent weeks tearing itself apart.. and concluded its 14-episode run as one unit again. One cohesive, profitable, safe unit? I doubt it. But that's for us to worry about next year.

As the show itself accomplished so well on the finale, now isn't the time to look forward. It's the time to look back and evaluate all we've just witnessed. I'll have more to say in our season-concluding Round Table, but now it's your turn, TV Fanatics: What did you think?

SOA Finale Pic

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
  • 5.0 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (485 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

Tags: ,
Like Us On Facebook

Want more Sons of Anarchy?

Sign up for our daily newsletter and receive the latest tv news delivered to your inbox for free!

More From TV Fanatic

Facing-off-against-kate

Teen Wolf Review: No One Else Dies

Scott decides to get tough on Teen Wolf after rescuing his Beta by declaring he won't sit back and watch more deaths. Find out what else went down in the review!
Debating-at-dinner

The Real Housewives of Orange County Review: Pity Party, Table For One

Heather and Tamra consider making peace with Shannon on The Real Housewives of Orange County. See what went down in our TV Fanatic review!
Winding-down

Murder in the First Review: And the Verdict Is...

On Murder in the First, the trial of Erich Blunt reaches its conclusion. But what is the verdict? Find out when you read the review.
Andi-dorfman-on-the-finale

The Bachelorette Review: Andi Dorfman Is Engaged To...

Andi Dorfman chooses between Nick Viall and Josh Murray. Find out who she chose now on our The Bachelorette review!

Avatar

@J.F.L....um......do you even watch the show? First let's get the names right
Tera not Teri
Gemma not Gemmi
Chibs not Chips
Opie not Opia
and
Otto not Outa....
Did I miss any? Next let's work on the plot line. Romeo is a CIA agent under cover. The CIA needs the Irish deal to go through. The Irish wont deal with anyone but Clay. If Jax killed Clay, the Irish would walk away and therefore the CIA would crush Samcro, placing the whole club in prison.... oh I forgot I was dealing with the slow kid...SAMCRO is the club....now, are we all caught up?

Avatar

J.F.L. - why couldn't your dad shoot you in the right hole, you should have been swallowed. You are oblivious to this show and to comment on people that actually know the show, shows how ignorant, immature, racist, & uneducated you are. You can't spell, you don't know that tig was loyal to clay as to chibs was to jax. You think clay is the money maker, well maybe to you.....but if they lost jax & Gemma.....I'm sure the ratings would change. Do us all a favor & don't comment on anything. I didn't go to Iraq twice for your freedom of speech!!!!!!

Avatar

The greatest moment is at the very end, with Tara and Gemma Looking at each other, the fight between them never
ends and when it seemed that Tara won, last night Gemma expression, watching Jexi seated at the table and Tara behind him, seemd to say "This is exactly what I wanted, My son to be the president of the club and you to be his old lady, cause he is going to need you"
That also rehabilitated them feding into JT & Gemma photo, otherwise being a little cheesy.

Avatar

Loved the look on Happy's face when he saw Jax at the head of the table...there is a whole lot of respect there. i think it's just going to take a whole lot more truth for Opie to come around, if he ever does. No way Opie leaves...just like there was never any doubt Jax would never leave. Brilliant writing all the way, the acting just keeps on getting better by all but Charlie and Ryan have been outstanding. i continue to hope Phil's character will get more screen time.

Avatar

OH..yeah, and the expressions on Jax's face in all the situations are priceless....LOVE IT....He plays the horror face perfect, the sad face perfect, the forgive me face perfect...he's got it down. Great job...And I think Gemma got what she wanted, her son at the head of the table...she will no doubt try to "run" the club, but he won't let her...it's a new era...but I bet she can be pretty darn helpful...;)

Avatar

The only way you can undersand the show as it is written is if you know the lifestyle. The fact that the founder of HA is actually on the show, shows that this is a true to life depiction of the brotherhood. Unfortunetly in the 1% clubs crazy stuff happens....but the way things went down at the end of the season, is no doubt how business is handled. In REAL life. Everything must be in order or things get out of hand....simple just like anything else, there has to be order. But...we must remember....Real life is crazier than TV...TV is TV....looking forward to next season! And who knows????? Maybe the cop IS JT????? Years change a person. Wouldn't that be a hoot....LOL...

Avatar

Ur a Sons fan & can't spell any of their names right? Outo,Opia,Chips,&Piny??? Not 2 mention Duish!! Haha, get a education (or start by just learning 2nd grade spelling) then maybe we can view the same shows on the same level!!

Avatar

@j.f.l
What seems to be ur f'n problem? I have 2 assume u were talking 2 me b/c of the Dexter reference. & what the hell is a "Duish" ? LMAO

Avatar

Hey Duish with a capital BAG you have no idea about sons or dexter go do everyone a favor and slice your wrist the long ways

Avatar

Has anyone read Hamlet? Halmet was THE BIGGEST pussy, he knew his uncle killed his dad from basically the start and kept debating about what to do until the end. To be or not to be? The play was all about action vs. inaction and Sutter seems to be really telling this story the same way.