Sons of Anarchy Season Finale Review: Rising of the Son

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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


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (486 Votes)

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


For the people wanted Clay dead. U would have enjoyed it happening, but the show would have declined tremendously without Ron Perlman!! Not comparing Julie Benz to Ron Perlman's great performances, but just for example look whats happened to Dexter since she was killed. Everyone wanted it & It was great when it happened & I don't think any show has ever had me so pumped 4 the next season 2 see what happens than that, but total decline since.


I have been watching the Sons since day one it came out. And Kurt Sutter is great and I actual like that he is Outo but I think he is making Jax a wussy come on you kill his dad you try to kill his wife and then you beat his mom and Jax o I can't kill you because we need you for the IRA please when there is money and guns they don't care who sells them the guns and I hate Opia but least he has balls unlike Jax and what did Tig do to get demoted and who is going to be the new VP if Opia dose not come back Juice half nig half NARC or Chips who has Irish blood in him or Fat Bobby who ran a bus load on one of his brotherhoods wife there not a club a club is when they don't screw each other over and that's all they do all I know is this I hope Clay gets back on his feet and kills Gemmi and Teri and Jax all in that order long live Clay the original Son of Anarchy and I think every fan would agree thank god he shot that oxygen tank drunk old wussy Piny Clay looked out for the club money whores drugs that's a club not Jaxs way with Jax taking over the gavel the club will be a bunch on #ussies rise Clay rise back to President and take control


Potter is not John Teller but he is his brother. He hated SOA because he blamed them for his brothers death. He couldn't understand how his brother could get involved with a MC. He has a curiosity the whole brotherhood thing like he's trying to understand why someone would be drawn to it. He says something at one point to Otto I think like he doesn't understand the brotherhood thing, he wishes he did. If you lost someone close like a brother wouldn't you want to understand why? And especially if it was a brother you'd wonder why he had to go somewhere else for that feeling of brotherhood. He also seems to have a personal interest in Juice, kind of like he wants to see him get out and do something else with his life. A lot of times when a person couldn't save one person they try to save another almost as an atonement. Maybe he wants for Juice what he couldn't do for J.T. He really wanted to put them all away, a vengeance for his brother but now he's torn because he is understanding the draw of it and he knows those guys loved his brother. (well most of them)


Recorded it on my DVR and watched it again tonight. Music at the end (re-work of the House of the Rising Sun) was particularly awesome. Great open questions for next season. Will Clay tell Jax Gemma was involved in killing JT? Will Wendy show back up and try to take Able? Will the Real IRA deal with Jax? And what's the deal with Opie?


What a cheat to have Clay just get off with just a slap on the wrist just so they could keep Perlman. Why have a story like this without a satisfying ending to what they have set up all season.


How can Potter be John Teller? Let's ignore the fact that Juice wouldn't recognize THE founding member of the club despite seeing his picture on the wall of the clubhouse everyday. Then let's ignore the fact that there are hospital records showing that John was deceased. If John was in witness protection all this time then he would have had to give up the club and they wouldn't have been able to operate all these years. If John wasn't in witness protection, then we're supposed to believe that he changed his name, his identity, stayed under the radar for 10-15 years, completed a law degree, AND became the assistant district attorney. Can we please lay this stupid argument to rest?


didn't expect the season to end quite like that,but how did Jax know about the CIA involvement? what did I miss? left with unanswered questions,guess that's why I'll be watching next season.still a fan!


I not only think Potter looks like John Teller I believe he is and has been given some new Identity. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS SHOW HATE THAT THE SEASON BREAKS AT WEIRD TIMES.I think it should run from at least fall to spring and were are all the reruns they used to play on Friday nights?


Loved the finale! I wish I had figured out Romeo was CIA earlier than To Be: 1! Rest your mind about Clay sitting at "the table" next year-- the Sons have a clear "you don't ride, you're not a member" rule. It's even posted on the wall in one of the later episodes this year-- can't remember which one.


Does no one besides me think Potter looks alot like John Teller??? Or am I just imagining it?? Loved the season, glad that wrapped it up the way they did and can't wait for next season!!!

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