If you’re exhausted after last night’s Sons of Anarchy Season 6 Episode 13, imagine being Katey Sagal and Maggie Siff.
I was invited to a special press screening of the incredible finale and Sagal and Siff - who had yet to see the finished episode - joined us to watch along with series creator Kurt Sutter, who co-wrote the episode with Chris Collins and also directed.
[Spoiler Alert: If you have not watched last night’s finale, know there are major spoilers discussed here]
When the installment ended, both actresses were shedding tears and took a few moments before answering questions about what they had just witnessed. Here are the highlights from the post-episode Q&A:
Maggie Siff’s Reaction: Just moments after watching her final Sons of Anarchy episode, the actress said "it was really hard" to film, expounding:
"The character kind of ends my experience of shooting it [and] was really about kind of feeling everything around me, which was Katey and Charlie and that was really painfully hard. The sense that loss is really the people you leave behind and I was so aware of their loss but it wasn’t about me, it was sort of about them. It was very surreal.”
Mythology Shift: Sutter is well aware that Tara’s death at Gemma’s hands is huge for the entire series, but it's necessary for what’s coming next. “I wanted to remove [Jax’s] true north for that last season,” he shared. “For a person like Jax there needs to be this major psychic and emotional shift that has to happen and whatever direction you push him in, and we will see next season, what happens to a guy like that? Now he’s lost both people who he loves the most and who centers him.”
When Was It Decided Tara Would Die? Sutter explained he always knew Tara would have to die before the final season. “I didn’t quite know exactly, obviously, how it was going to happen in terms of story but in terms of a mythology mile marker that that was when it was going to happen.”
Siff shared that she and Sutter, “had a conversation at the beginning of the season and we sat down and Kurt told me so I had some time to wrap my mind around it.”
Sagal, on Gemma’s Act: “It was really hard. I was nervous about it the whole time,” Sagal revealed, joking that she hoped Sutter would change his mind about the murder. “I think the biggest struggle for me was to remain truly with Gemma because the truth of that is she was not aware of all those things going on behind the scenes and I think that’s maybe why it was so hard to watch because it was clear…all I knew was that [Tara] had ratted, she had betrayed me, she had betrayed my son, she was taking my grandchildren away, all the things that were Gemma’s, her center wiping out, so I think in that moment there is sort of a blind rage that goes on. It’s not a premeditated act.”
“It Was Awesome…” Sagal seemed torn in the loss of her co-star but also feeling some excitement over the acting challenge she had experienced.
“First of all,” shee said, “I love Maggie. We’ve been the little female island in this testosterone world…as an actor, it was kind of awesome to do things that you haven’t done. I’ve never killed anyone violently in anything before…that was really beautiful. it was hard to watch, really hard to watch.”
The Murder: Sutter explained why Gemma taking Tara’s life went down the way that it did. “I wanted it to be sort of simple and pedestrian and of Gemma’s world,” he said. “I know I didn’t want it to be a gun or knife and there’s just something almost more horrific in terms of we see Gemma in that opening montage washing dishes and the idea that something as simple as the tub of dirty dish water and a carving fork would ultimately be used in some sort of death…I liked the idea of it staying simple and pedestrian and Gemma sort of just reacting…Gemma is wired to react. We’ve seen her just react, react, react and she’s not unlike her son, and then clean up the pieces later.”
What’s Next For Juice? Juice is now on the outside of the group but he also was the one to help Gemma post-murder. So what is Juice’s journey next season?
“I’m not quite sure exactly where that’s heading,” Sutter said of the Theo Rossi fan fave. “Obviously, knowing that he’s betrayed Jax is not necessarily a place you want to be in in the outlaw community, being known as a rat or a betrayer but it’s an interesting thing.
Sutter added that, like Gemma killing Tara, the act of Juice killing Eli was not calculated. “I think in the moment [Juice] did what was expected of him, which is there’s a law enforcement guy about to bring down the matriarch of the club and no matter where he was at that move could be justified so helping Gemma in the moment isn’t necessarily a calculated move as much as it is that’s what’s expected of him. But now, the great thing is we get that rich dynamic between the two of them.”
Gemma’s the Ultimate Survivor: We’ve all seen Gemma go through more than any human being should have to in the course of the series, but will she survive killing Tara?
“I will say that she is a survivor and she has survived against all kinds of odds and she’s the woman in the bunch, which I tend to believe has a strong position,” said Sagal. “Whatever your definition of survival is. Is it truth like what she just did? Is that surviving? That you live through something like that? How do you live? I don’t know how deep her denial goes. I don’t know how you bury that.”
Jax’s Choice: How did Jax come to the point of deciding to turn himself in to save Tara? “The beginning of the episode in the journal entry,” Sutter explained, “it’s the most honest and revelatory we’ve ever heard Jax and that’s the beginning of it that he has that awareness at the onset of the episode and a few things along the way cemented that choice…I think he had to have that somewhere in his consciousness in terms that that was an option and in the moment it became the awareness that this was the only option.”
That Jax-Tara Park Scene: Siff said the scene in the park when Jax finds her and the children was the most important scene for her. “That was the only moment for Jax and Tara to really penetrate each other in a sense and it was very tricky because I think coming to the point where I think it was possible that Jax could really kill me was a long, hard and scary place to get to and then to sort of turn around and see all those guys approaching and knowing the jig was up, it was scary.”
Siff added: “I also really felt like she had to believe that her time was up and so it was about saying all the things that she had to say to him and reckoning with herself and saying goodbye to her children so it was kind of a lot to carry and I don’t know how I feel about it. It was a hard day of work but like whenever I work with Charlie, I feel like we find our way together and I just hoped for the best.”
Time Jump For Season 7? “I don’t want to lose the weight of what’s happened,” Sutter explained of where we’ll start the final season, “so there may be a little bit of a time, sort like what we did this season which was a few weeks.” He also added that we’ll see Jimmy Smits back as Nero and Peter Weller as Charlie Borosky in the final season. They’re currently working on having CCH Pounder return as Patterson, too.
Sons of Anarchy will return for its final season in the fall of 2014.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.