Sons of Anarchy’ season 7 roars out its 12th and penultimate episode of the final year, “Red Rose,” as Jax wrestles with the decision of his mother’s fate, while external pressures threaten to tear the club apart.

Last week’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ installment, “Suits of Woe,” saw Jax learning the truth about Gemma’s role in Tara’s murder, while Juice took care of club business in prison. So how does “Red Rose” keep the series rolling toward its inevitable conclusion?

Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 7 episode 12, “Red Rose”!

I’m going to attempt to keep this mercifully brief, as despite the major series-long ramifications of “Red Rose’’s three deaths, ‘Sons of Anarchy’’s runtime has bloated to the point that tonight’s events could easily have been shaved down to 60 or so minutes before commercials, without necessarily losing any of their emotional impact. True to that spirit, I’ll make my points as quickly and concisely as possible, and ideally get some sleep on a given Tuesday this century.

It’s hard not to feel as if ‘Sons of Anarchy’ has officially drifted into a ‘Dexter’-esque finale mode, as character shields inevitably lift, and deaths arrive more fast and furiously than they might have ever before. Of course should be one of, if not the final obstacle for Jax to tackle in a narrative increasingly divorced from its ‘Hamlet’ inspiration, and while Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal certainly give their all toward humanizing their characters one last time before the bloody end, there’s a certain undercurrent of resignation to each death that I couldn’t quite escape.

Gemma seeks out a return to her childhood, poring over family photos before one last trip through the garden her ailing father reminded her of, while Juice indulges in one last simple pleasure before accepting fate, and even Unser seems somewhat resolute in his end by standing up for his beliefs of protecting the law. The only thing that somewhat undercuts either end is that Jax too has accepted his own fate with an inevitable Mayhem vote, and we know the checked-out character won’t truly have to live with the weight of his actions for long, somewhat muddying their impact. Not only that, but Gemma’s role in Tara’s murder would have been much better served to unravel weeks ago, while Juice has been spared the reaper several seasons over, and Unser’s looming doom has become so much of a running gag that we’d been all-but-assured of his ironic series survival.

Now that Gertrude Gemma has fallen, we’d likely expect that next week’s 19-hour series finale will pivot more toward Jax’s legacy as a whole, a point neatly foreshadowed by the inquiry into J.T.’s old manuscript, ostensibly the series’ main drive from the beginning. Not only that, but “Red Rose” no doubt intended to draw out the hidden club byline that Jax asked stricken before his inevitable end, something we’d expect to involve the descendants of club members and leaders.

Unless SAMCRO has a hidden '50 Shades' clause, which might explain some things.

There’s still plenty of lingering club business to tie up as well, between SAMCRO’s ultimate showdown with Charlie “RoboCop” Barosky, or the apparent resurgence of Irish guns bringing the fabled Kings out of retirement. Nero too may have pressed that he hoped to save Jax’s soul moreso than Gemma, but given how far we’ve dragged out and tantalized that idyllic farm on the horizon, we doubt if Nero will be so eager to leave Jax be once Gemma’s fate comes to light.

It’s hard to imagine what fertile ground ‘Sons of Anarchy’ has to tread, now that Jax has completed the Oedipal implications of killing his own mother, but given how resigned to fate (and deservedly so, considering his admission to the other charter presidents) the character has proved, it would take yet more unspeakable tragedies to build up a more significant end than unfolded over “Red Rose”s 80 minute, 7-year run. Powerful work all around, but to paraphrase the Shakespearean influences looming over the series, I can’t help but turn a suspicious ear toward the sound and fury.

AND ANOTHER THING…

  • Hey, Michael Chiklis showed up! He was a trucker. It was fine.
  • Cordelia Charisma Carpenter too! And the homeless lady! Victory laps all around!
  • Unsung hero Dayton Callie really put in some strong moments before the end, including Wayne's breakdown after learning of Gemma's true guilt.
  • So, who wants to place bets on Clay, Tara, or Opie spirits popping up next week?

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of road-rashing ‘Sons of Anarchy’ action?  What did you think about “Suits of Woe”? Join us next week for another all-new ‘Sons of Anarchy’ review of season 7's series finale, “Papa’s Goods,” and stay tuned as we bring you additional coverage on season 7 from cast and crew!