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Sons of Anarchy Review: “Red Rose”

(Episode 7.12)

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<i>Sons of Anarchy</i> Review: &#8220;Red Rose&#8221;

This week was all about Jax’s “to do” list, and it was packed. There seemed to be an awful lot on Jax’s agenda, probably because this is the penultimate episode of the series. First, Jax has to meet with the Irish to convince them to deal guns with the Mayans, then he has to meet with the other charter Presidents to learn if he’s meeting Mr. Mayhem. Jax also has to track down his murderous mom, all while he’s locked down because of Unser’s APB. As if that weren’t enough, Jax is tasked to kill Connor (who betrayed the Irish Kings), and help Tyler take control of Chinese-held streets. Whoo! I’m tired just writing about it.

All this action made for a pretty decent episode. The story moved along nicely, and we wrapped up some loose ends. And by “loose ends,” I mean three major deaths, and a metaphorical one.

First, let’s talk about the real deaths—Juice, Unser, and Gemma. Poor ol’ Juice has finally accepted his fate, and advises Tully to kill him quickly before the Chinese can torture him slowly. I was totally on board with Juice’s decision. Even though I like him, he was a dead man walking, and at least this way he got to eat pie first.

Unser’s death genuinely shocked me. He has been with us since the beginning of the series, and I thought he’d out-live everyone on the show (seriously, he’s a sprightly cancer patient). Sadly, Jax and Gemma were so nonchalant about Unser’s death, I became that way too. Instead of feeling emotional or devastated, I just kind of shrugged. His death only served as a stepping stone to Gemma’s death, and I just wished more for Unser’s character as we ended the series—like maybe him living out his final days with Nero and Wendy at the farm? I don’t know, Unser just deserves something more than rotting on a living room floor.

And that leaves us with Gemma. Last episode she was on a farewell tour, and it continued this week up north to Oregon. We watched a melancholic interaction with Gemma and her ailing father (brilliantly played by Hal Holbrook) at his nursing home. We learned that young Gemma used to play in the garden for hours, “she was the girl who loved the flowers.” Now that Gemma’s final goodbyes are covered, she heads to her childhood home to sift through family photos, reminiscence, and wait for Jax.

For those of us loathing Gemma, it was a relief to see her finally give up. No more lies, no more fighting, no more costume changes … Gemma is ready to die in her fabulous black boots and I’m ready to see it happen.

Even though Gemma has accepted her death sentence, she’s still the head matriarch in charge. She dictates the location (her beloved garden) and the time (“It’s ok baby boy, it’s time, I’m ready”) and dies a merciful, quick death. Was anyone devastated by this? I’m not. Actually, when Jax put down the gun the first time, I thought, “Good boy, stop first to put on the silencer!” (Which he didn’t, but I guess that doesn’t matter because police work doesn’t exist on SoA.) Yes, I felt slightly tortured for Jax, but overall I was just relieved to finally see Gemma die. And that’s how far the series has taken me this season—to actively root for Gemma’s demise. I can’t believe I’m there.

Let’s move onto the metaphorical death—the end of Jax’s spotless white shoes. They are now stained with Gemma’s blood (just like the white flowers in her garden). For seven seasons we’ve watched Jax’s shoes remain pristine through massacres worse than this, but Gemma’s death has finally ruined them.

Oh, I see what you did there with your metaphors Kurt Sutter—even though Jax has been a murderous thug for seven seasons, his soul (and sole) has somehow remained pure. However, since this is Hamlet on Harleys, Gemma’s death finally besmirched Jax’s spirit, and we see it on his immaculate shoes. I wonder if he’ll be wearing a fresh pair of sneakers next week or… leather boots? I bet leather boots.

Why? Because Jax is now a different person. He’s killed his mother. He’s come clean to the other charters about Jury’s death. He’s waiting for a date with Mr. Mayhem.

And let’s talk about Mr. Mayhem. I thought Mayhem meant death, but could patching out be an option too? Could they rip off his patches and black out his tattoos à la Clay? Or will the charters decide to kill Jax for killing Jury?

Either way, I think Jax is a dead man. Either the club will kill him, or he’ll kill himself. I rhapsodized about a Jax suicide before, and this episode made me think he might actually do it. First, he seemed like he was saying goodbye to Nero, and giving him permission to take the kids. Then, he asked his mom about JT’s manuscript. Plus, he killed Unser in cold blood, and that doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you’d do if you cared much about the future. No, Jax seems awfully Zen about his current situation, and I think it’s because he knows it will end soon. He might just be planning to ride off the road and into JT’s rock. (Forget that he has two boys to live for, because it stopped being “all about the boys” last season.) Oh, and he’s got a weird limp now, which I hope will be explained next week.

So where else does that leave us for the final episode ever of Sons of Anarchy? We’ll learn which “unspoken bylaw” Jax wants stricken from the club. I believe it has something to do with race, like SAMCRO being more inclusive. Perhaps patching in black members, so Bastards can merge with the club? Maybe Jax is just angling for Chibbs to be President when he’s gone? Whatever it is, I know Kurt Sutter will want us to remember Jax positively, so the character’s final wish will be something race-related and favorable.

We still have a few loose ends to deal with too, like the rat Barosky, and sorting out the guns and drugs business between the Irish, Mayans, and Niners. I’m honestly less interested in that, but I’m sure the episode will be two or three hours long, and that’s a lot of time to fill in between Dodge commercials. I’ll tune in just to see what happens to Jax, and I’ll surely be watching out for his footwear.

?So what do you think? Were you shocked by Unser’s death? Did Gemma get what she deserved? What are your predictions for next week? Sound off below!

Emily Worden is a Boston-based freelance writer and author of Make. Sell. Repeat. The Ultimate Business Guide for Artists, Crafters, and Makers. You can follow her on Twitter.

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