The end is very, very near.
Sons of Anarchy starts to rev up for the final time tonight, with Executive Producer/Director Paris Barclay here to provide scoop on the FX drama's concluding ride.
When he recently sat down with me to discuss crafting the final season, Barclay had a hint of sadness in his voice as he spoke of where we'll find everyone on Sons Of Anarchy Season 7 Episode 1 and where the various journeys may take SAMCRO and company.
Will we see any past characters pop back up? Will Gemma get her due after killing Tara on the Sons of Anarchy Season 6 finale? And what big plan is Jax setting up when we find him in prison to kick off the opener? Let's find out...
TV Fanatic: Was it helpful knowing it’s the end of the run in crafting this final season?
Paris Barclay: You know, it was helpful and hurtful, because we feel like we want it to end the way that we want it to end. We have a vision for what the ending’s going to be and it made us sad. We wanted to make each of these episodes great episodes and I think we’re in the middle of six now, and each one has topped the next one. So we’ve succeeded so far, even though it’s been exhausting but that’s been the challenge to say, “Okay, this is where we’re going. Let’s make it great,” and everyone’s come to play.
TVF: Starting up, we know Jax is in prison. What’s his goal there?
PB: Jax is always thinking. He’s always trying to figure out what he can do next. He’s always trying to figure out who to bond with, and that’s where [Marilyn] Manson’s character comes into play as the head of the Aryan Brotherhood. So, he works out an arrangement with him, which is going to reverberate through the entire season. It’s not just a one-off. It’s going to have echoes that go all the way down the line.
And it’s always about the big plan, and Jax has some information, which you’ll find out by the end of it. He knows a little bit more than you think he knows about what happened to Tara, and then, as that develops, that’s going to set a lot of sort of mistaken, Shakespearean, wrong-man situations that will cause turbulence with the whole club.
TVF: Seeing the season premiere already, all that Shakespeare that Kurt’s talked about since day one has been just reeling in my head.
PB: Yeah, there’s a little bit of Mama Macbeth in there.
TVF: Oh my gosh, a little?
PB: There’s a little bit of Two Gentlemen of Verona in there if you think about it and a lot of Hamlet.
TVF: Now that we’re in season seven, we’ve seen these characters do some really horrific things, Gemma included, yet we’re still interested in her. She has a great scene with Jimmy Smits in the opener where I'm like, “Oh, I just want them to be happy,” but then, “Wait, she killed Tara.”
PB: I think it has something to do with Katey Sagal too. It’s hard not to love her because the struggle is so apparent. She’s not the person who is cold-hearted and that villain that would be in a Batman movie that has just decided “evil is what I'm all about.” She makes it so complicated. So she’s making the choices. She’s telling herself it’s about family. She’s telling herself it’s about love. Even when she killed Tara in her sort of drunken confusion, she was telling herself, “This is what I have to do to protect myself,” and then she was working on the information she knew, and like a lioness, she attacked. So, she’s not just an arbitrarily two-dimensional evil bitch. She’s somebody who really is caring and maybe to a fault.
TVF: Is there going to be a side we’ll see where there maybe is some guilt?
PB: Well, as you’ll see in the first episode, it’s starting to unravel a little bit. The compartments are starting to crack open, and so, while she’s great in the scene we show with Jax, she keeps it together. When she talks with Juice and tries to lay out a strategy, and later on, when she’s in the kitchen again, you’ll see the beginning of...it’s not an unraveling as much as maybe it’s a slight bit of emotional...I think she’s losing her mind a little bit.
TVF: What can you tease or say about Juice’s journey? Because, in some ways, he could’ve been hiding anywhere - but he’s stayed close by for some reason.
PB: Yeah. Juice is in trouble. If I, Paris, were talking to Juice, I would say, “You've made a number of big mistakes, and number one is you stuck around. You should have gone,” and you will see, as the episodes unravel, that he will come back, and he will regret the day that he made that alliance that kept him in Charming. He should have gone.
TVF: How solid is the club moving into the last season?
PB: The club is solid. The club is very solid and I think when Jax has that come-to-Jesus moment with them and you look around the room, I felt, in their faces, that they mean it when they say they’re all in for him, and that’s going to become important too, because, unlike The Last Supper, all those guys are going to stay in for Jax to their detriment.
TVF: What can you tell about Gemma and Nero? Is there hope for them at all? Because they say they love each other, but there’s also a lot of other circumstances going on.
PB: I’ll tell you, they have such great chemistry as actors that you really believe they belong together, and Jimmy, obviously, I’ve known for 20 plus years [on NYPD Blue]. He’s a terrific actor and great guy to have around. I think that might work out. If Gemma can pull herself out of this situation that she’s in, which is 50/50, then there’s a possibility. Nero’s probably the first guy that she had that’s really a decent guy. I mean, Clay wasn’t, really, and certainly John Teller wasn’t. I think Nero’s the first guy who really is substantial, and so, I'm hoping. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they make it to the finish line.
TVF: Using the Never My Love (by the 60s group, The Association) song was awesome. Who was responsible for that?
PB: I’ll tell you who’s responsible for that. It was in the script and I thought, “This is a really, really bad idea.” First, as an Association fan and someone who actually had The Association’s greatest hits playing in his basement stereo forever and I still have it on my phone. I thought ‘that is just when worlds collide to a fault,’ but when Bob Thiele (Jr.) redid it with his singers, it was beautiful, and it was right. It still has the feeling of the old song but it’s taken it to a new dimension and we tried to sort of work the picture with each line of the dialogue so it had some resonance to it, too.
TVF: For the viewers that have watched since day one, there are so many characters that we grew to love that are now gone but is there going to be any reason to bring anybody back? Either in a spiritual way or physically?
PB: Well, we do do that but we’re trying to do it in a subtle say. I mean, when you saw in the first montage that Unser was at Tara’s grave…we wanted to just remind [the viewers] that this is part of the texture of it but we’re not going to do any flashback episodes. They’re not going to come back. Once they’re dead, they’re pretty damn dead.
Sons of Anarchy Season 7 airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.