TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the “Sons of Anarchy” series finale, titled “Papa’s Goods.” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.
The series finale of FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” is titled, prophetically enough, “Papa’s Goods.” The war within Jax Teller grew out of more than the pull of his moral and emotional obligations to his blood family and his patch. It also raged under the weight of striving to fulfill his father’s legacy. In the final episodes, all of this fell away as Jax realized the terror wrought from his misdirected, vengeful rage and how it endangered his SAMCRO family, and his sons. The ultimate truth Jax spoke of himself was that he was not a good man, and that he thought it best if his sons Abel and Thomas grew up hating the thought of him.
“Papa’s Goods” was full of portent and Biblical imagery — bread and wine, Jax becoming shadow of death as he waited on the white steps of a courthouse to execute one of his enemies. Yes, Jax swept up his messes and secured what he believed to be a temporary peace for his club, and for Charming, by turning his gun on the men as bad or worse than he was. He left the club in the hands of an honest man and made one of his last acts patching in T.O. as the club’s first African American member.
But this series finale was not flawless. It was capped off by a long, indulgent final montage of Jax’s planned suicide by cop that, in the end, turned into suicide by truck completed as he spread his wings in a Christ-like pose. Jax’s death felt like an apt one; the computer graphics-enhanced garnish on the parade of state troopers following in the wake of his serene last ride — crows, and more crows in flight! — was a bit much.
In case all of the previous symbols and portents went over our heads, “Papa’s Goods” nodded at the show’s place FX’s history: series creator Kurt Sutter, who directed the final episode, cast “The Shield’s” Michael Chiklis as the truck’s driver — “The Shield” being FX’s first critically-acclaimed drama, a show Sutter was involved with. One can also credit Chiklis’s morally-conflicted cop Vic Mackey as the progenitor for SAMCRO’s dark hero Jax Teller. As such… Father, into thy speeding truck’s grille I commend my spirit. Amen.
But like all good car chases, we never turned away from it. Not once. And in case all of the Christ-like visual parallels seem odd or inappropriate considering Jax’s last road trip came after a murder spree, remember that “Sons of Anarchy” is Hamlet at its soul, and the Dane’s final act was to save Denmark. Jax may have done so if only for a day or a season; this world is too violent for Charming to see a lasting peace. With “Papa’s Goods,” Sutter has wrapped up the series ably enough to satisfy fans, if not perfectly, and well enough to make us interested to go back and start the journey over at episode one. That’ll just have to do until Sutter’s next project, “The Bastard Executioner,” is ready to ride.
Keep reading for the full blow-by-blow recap of this episode, which was submitted by IMDb user DetectiveBriscoe.
“The final episode of “Sons of Anarchy” doesn’t offer many surprises, but it isn’t trying to. Instead, loose ends are violently tied up as the themes of family and fate that have run throughout the past seven seasons come to a head. Jax Teller found his revenge for his wife’s murder, now he’s just looking for peace. But what peace can there be for a man says of himself: “I’m not a good man. I’m a criminal and a killer”?
The final episode suggests that peace can be found by proxy as Jax strives to ensure that his own sons won’t live the life of chaos that he has. And just how does a murderous outlaw ride off into the sunset? On his own terms, of course.”
Jax wakes up in bed with Wendy and puts on his “SO” “NS” rings. He pulls out his box of journals, throws away his bloody shoes and says goodbye to his sons. He goes to the storage locker Gemma told him about and finds his dad’s manuscript, old family photos and stacks of memorabilia about the club. He burns it all.
He heads to TM and finds more documents there, including a quitclaim deed.
Jax heads to the cemetery and says good-bye to Opie. He leaves his rings on his gravestone. Then he visits Tara’s grave and leaves his wedding ring.
At Red Woody, Jax greets T.O. and promises to let him know how it goes. Jax says “I love you” to Lila, but it sounds more like good bye.
At church, Chibs reports that Tyler has left messages for Connor, but hasn’t heard back.
Then they turn to T.O. and Jax relays that Packer said everyone was in favor of opening the Sons up to black members on a charter by charter basis. Chibs nominates Taderious Orwell Cross and it passes unanimously. They agree to make him a full patch.
They break the good news to T.O. and present him with the cut. Jax announces change is good.
Nero comes by Jax’s, desperate for information about Jax and Gemma but not sure how to ask. Wendy can tell he’s climbing the walls. He hasn’t heard from Gemma.
The Sons check in with Tyler, who finally heard from Connor. He asked Tyler to double the order. Tyler feels the streets are turning his way after the Sons helped with the assault last night, but he’s worried about August Marks getting out this afternoon. Jax assures him it’ll be fine. They make plans for the Sons to join him when Connor shows, but those plans are quickly ruined when Connor shows up early to scope things out.
Connor leads Jax, Chibs, Tig and Happy on a chase down the docks and into a warehouse of doll parts, then back out onto an access road where Connor finally gets away when a dump truck pulls in front of the bikes.
Later, Tig calls Declan.
Nero goes to TM and pounds on Unser’s trailer. Chuckie tells him Unser’s not back yet and some sheriff’s deputies were looking for Gemma. Nero goes into Unser’s trailer and finds his evidence board on Tara’s murder. Nero’s heart sinks.
Jax summons Chibs to the roof of Red Woody. “I need to tell you some things you’re not going to want to hear. I need you to listen. Trust that what I want is the best thing for me and my family, for our club,” Jax says.
He tells Chibs he came clean to Packer about Jury and they recommended a mayhem vote.
Declan brings Hugh by Red Woody. Tig tells Lila to pack up for the day.
On the roof, Chibs tries to process whatever Jax has told him. “This is how you learn to be a leader, brother, doing s— that hurts the most,” Jax says. Chibs is near tears. Jax asks for his word that he’ll do as he asked and Chibs gives it.
Tig brings the Irish up on the roof: Hugh, Declan and a soldier. Jax asks Hugh to call Connor and say he got away. Hugh finds this totally implausible. But Jax explains by waiting for Tig and Chibs to shoot Declan and the soldier. Tig takes pictures for Hugh to send to Connor to sell the story.
DA Tyne Patterson (CCH Pounder) visits Althea Jarry at the substation. Patterson asks if Jarry has any idea why Jax set up an appointment with her in the afternoon. She suggests an APB on Gemma and tells Jarry she’s doing a good job navigating streets owned by outlaws.
Hugh waits for Connor to pull up to an old workshop then disarms him when the Sons come in. Hugh suggests Connor listen.
They’re interested in his access to all the AKs he wants. Connor freezes when Declan and his guys walk in, as expected by the Sons. But then the Sons turn on them and kill all the late-arriving Irish. Jax presents their new plan for Connor: Marcus Alvarez will distribute all the guns in Northern California for Connor while his guys back in Ireland work with the Sons there. Oso is with them and explains that Connor will distribute through Stockton ports now. The Mayans will protect him from the IRA blowback.
Connor tries to process the enormous bullet he just dodged. He agrees to the plan.
“Jackson, you just killed an IRA King. There’s no coming back from that, lad,” Connor says.
“My old man tried to sever that tie 20 years ago. Better late than never,” Jax grins.
Back at TM, Nero meets up with Jax. He asks Nero to handle some business for him — Jax is giving Wendy the garage and the houses to sell and he asks Nero to take her and the kids, and leave town.
“What are you doing here, Jax?” Nero says.
“What I should have done while my wife was still alive,” Jax says.
He’s giving his piece of Diosa and Red Woody to the club, to use the profits to buy Scoops and set it up as home base.
Nero asks where Jax is going. “I’m leaving, Nero,” Jax says.
“Why?” Nero says.
“You know why,” Jax says.
Nero knows. “Gemma.”
“I’m sorry. I did what I know how to do. What Gemma knew had to be done. The lies caught up to all of us, man. I tried to hide from it, make it legit, run away from it. This is who I am, I can’t change,” Jax says. He asks Nero to promise to make sure his boys leave this place, “so they don’t become what I’ve become.”
Jax says he’s not sure where he’s going. He tells Nero to tell Wendy everything, and that she should tell his sons when the time comes. “I’m not a good man. I’m a criminal and a killer. I need my sons to grow up hating the thought of me,” he says.
Wendy arrives with the boys. She catches Nero with tears in his eyes. Jax takes Abel’s hand and tells him it’s OK to call Wendy mommy. He tells him Nero is daddy’s best friend and to listen to him. Nero tries to keep it together as he watches Jax say what only he and Jax know is his last good-bye to his children.
Jax says good bye to Wendy, telling her she’s a good mom.
Jax watches them go, then gets on his dad’s old bike.
Jarry drops by Red Woody to talk to Chibs. She tells him about the APB on Gemma and ends things with him. He tells her it’s a mistake, because cops who land on the wrong side of the club “tend to go away.”
Tig and Chibs take a moment to steel themselves before coming clean to the club and Jax’s mayhem vote.
Jax reports to Patterson’s office. He thanks her for trying to help Tara then suggests she record what he’s going to say.
He tells her everything: That the Chinese didn’t kill Tara, Gemma did and Juice killed Roosevelt to protect her. They both admitted it.
When Patterson asks where Gemma is, he says she’s with Unser and gives her his grandfather’s address.
She asks about Henry Lin, he makes her turn off the recording. He tells her that everyone who will be impacted by finding out the truth of Tara’s murder is “either informed or has moved on. By the end of the day, the violence in Oakland and Stockton will be over.”
He won’t say more. “What happens at the end of the day?” she asks again.
“The bad guys lose,” he says.
Back in church at Red Woody, Chibs tells the Sons they can’t let their hearts be louder than their reason. He chokes back tears as he calls for Jax’s mayhem vote. They solemnly vote unanimously in favor.
Jax walks into Charles Barosky’s bakery in broad daylight and, without a word, shoots him through the head in front of customers, then he leaves.
Up in Oregon, police find Unser and Gemma and start cataloguing the scene.
Jax walks behind the courthouse and sees the homeless woman he sees everywhere. He stops and smiles at her. He finally asks who she is. She hands him her blanket and says only: “It’s time.” (We zoom in on a close-up of the crust of bread she leaves behind.)
August Marks walks out of the courthouse later, right past Jax shrouded in the woman’s blanket on the courthouse steps. Jax stands up and throws off the blanket and shoots the men with Marks. Then he unloads into Marks and races off.
Jax goes to meet his club at the abandoned shop where they took out the Irish. Without saying anything, he cuts the President patch of his jacket and gives it to Chibs. Chibs gives his VP patch to Tig.
Jax hugs Chibs and puts his cut back on. He puts down his gun and says he’s ready. Tig and Happy hold Jax by each shoulder as Chibs picks up Jax’s gun and faces him.
Then Chibs lifts the gun and shoots Happy in the arm, as he apparently expected. “I’ll tell Packer you laid down some fire and got away,” Chibs says.
“I would never put this burden on you….” Jax says. They know.
“I love all of you,” Jax says.
He hugs each man, saving Tig, then Chibs, for last. He goes to bike, then tells them all: “I got this.” He rides off.
At the station, Jarry orders an APB on Jax for multiple homicide.
Jax rides to the place where his dad crashed and talks about being crippled by fear and guilt and realizing, as his father must have, that a man can’t be a good father and good outlaw at the same time. He keeps talking as a Highway Patrol car pulls up behind him, promising his boys won’t know “this life of chaos.”
“I know who you are now, and what you did. I love you, dad,” Jax says.
He gets back on his bike without his helmet as the cop orders him off the bike. Jax fires wildly past the cop, not trying to hit him, then gets on his bike and rides off.
(Final closing montage to Eddie Vedder “Come join the murder/come fly with black, will give you freedom, from the human track”.)
Nero rides peacefully in the car with Wendy, Thomas and Abel. Tig seeks comfort with his love, Venus Van Damme. Jax rides serenely with the cop chasing him as more cars join the chase. Patterson joins Jarry at Barosky’s bakery. Chibs sits alone at the head of the table, the president’s patch in his hands. Deputies load Gemma’s corpse into a body bag. In the car with Nero, Abel wears the “Son” ring from Gemma.
Out on the road, a crow flies off a freeway sign as a Papa’s Goods truck driven by Milo (Michael Chiklis) passes by. A dozen cars and motorcycle cops follow Jax down the road as crows fly overhead.
Jax sees the semi round the corner and smiles. He guns his engine, then releases his throttle. He lifts his hands into the air and aims straight for the truck. He shuts his eyes. The last word of the series is Milo realizing what’s about to happen: “Jesus!”
The camera cuts away. Crows feast on the homeless woman’s crust of bread on the side of the road as blood slowly seeps into frame.
A quote appears:
“Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt thou that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.” — Williams Shakespeare