‘Sons of Anarchy’ Series Finale Review: “Papa’s Goods”
‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 7 roars out its 13th and ultimate episode of the final year, series finale “Papa’s Goods,” as Jax deals with the fallout of last week’s brutal deaths, trying to spare SAMCRO another visit from the reaper in the war with the Irish, Charlie Barosky and August Marks.
Last week’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ installment, “Red Rose,” saw Jax wrestling with the decision of his mother’s fate, while external pressures threatened to tear the club apart. So how does “Papa’s Goods” roll the series roll into its inevitable conclusion?
Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 7 episode 13, series finale “Papa’s Goods”!
Amid the highs and lows of ‘Sons of Anarchy’’s final ride, I’ve found myself turning over the finale season of ‘Dexter,’ both series that seemed somewhat uncertain of their overall identity by the end. ‘Sons’ has always billed itself as a pulpy soap opera permeated by thugs and motorcycles, often aspiring to far grander dramatic alliterations, and while most of the seventh season’s major plots had been resolved by the many deaths last week, at the end of the day, “Papa’s Goods” wants to reflect more on the legacy as a whole. That’s certainly a fitting end for Jax Teller, moreso than Dexter Morgan ever had, though I’d understand complaints of last night’s finale feeling more like an epilogue than any kind of specific cap to the final season.
Jax enters the final episode in a state of peace, a reminder of something Kurt Sutter told us before the season began, in that we’d never seen the character with as much drive and focus as depicted in the final season. Granted, we opened the year on the wool of Tara’s death pulled over Jax’s eyes by his mother, that same determination and mad genius emerges once more do what’s best for the family and club, rather than bloody revenge. The show pulls few punches in telegraphing Jax’s ultimate fate, saying heavy-handed goodbyes to Lyla and Nero, or cutting away from Jax’s conversation with Chibs to the point that a Mayhem vote had to have some surprise resolution.
Likely the most effective of these goodbyes arrived in the opening minutes ,as Jax burned away decades full of family history, even tossing his many journals into the fire, ideally as to prevent either of his sons from following into a life of violence. “Papa’s Goods” wasn’t quite ready to dismiss any lingering darkness or tragic implications, as Abel still possesses Gemma’s ring and more than enough years worth of memories with his father, but the closer at least elegantly arrives at its final thesis, pushing Jax to give up the ghosts and break the cycle* altogether.
*I am now vaguely convinced that the entire poetry of the series emerged from a fixation on the “break the cycle” pun. It’s literal, and it’s figurative. Symbolism, man! Art, and stuff!
As expected with a 19-hour runtime to ‘Sons of Anarchy’’s swan song, “Papa’s Goods” also afforded one last stab at the show’s more stock plot devices, including a cleanup of all the inter-gang politics and one last spirited motorcycle chase, but the series has earned something of a victory lap, to go out doing what it does best. Barosky and August Marks’ deaths ended up feeling a bit swept under the rug for it, and one would need a Carrie Mathison conspiracy board to keep track of all the political maneuvering set into place by the club’s attack on the Irish Kings, but a saving grace of the series has always lay with casting, and CCH Pounder’s Tyne Patterson returns for a neat, gravity-laden bookend of Jax’s convoluted wheeler-dealing.
His legacy largely secured, with a brighter, more racially diverse future on the horizon for SAMCRO, “Papa’s Goods” frees Jax for his final ride, allowing the outlaw one-last monologue to make peace with his father’s spirit, before joining it in the grill of an 18-wheeler (hey again, Vic Mackey!). Symbolism flies in every direction, literally and figuratively, as crows weave through the elegant series of shots that sees Jax peacefully careening into his final collision, outstretching his arms in a crucifix pose before a pool of blood scares off crows pecking at wine-soaked bread. It’s a fitting and satisfactory end to the series, one that held the good grace to no lean on any surprise character returns or dramatic swerves, though the scattered nature of season 7 overall somewhat muddies its impact.
The cycle of violence doesn’t entirely seem to have broken, what with Abel poised to hang onto his grandmother’s ring, or the newly-crowned Chibs turning antagonistic to Jarry once more, but Jax’s death at least puts the spirits of the series to rest, and offers a strongly symbolic conclusion to a series whose broader strokes often earned more admiration than dirision. And while the Shakespearean quote flashed behind the closing tag hearkens to a different ‘Hamlet’ sentiment, I will offer one last “Goodnight, sweet prince. And flights of angels, sing thee to thy rest.”
AND ANOTHER THING…
- Hey, the homeless lady was back! And she’s Jesus! Or something. She was eating bread and drinking wine, so…yeah. Take that, allegory.
- I might have liked to see Tara or Opie as spirits one last time, though Jax’s goodbye and ring-setting on their graves provided a fitting enough coda for the character’s only real sources of untainted love.
- It also seems a bit short-changed to have Wendy kept mostly in the dark on Jax’s fate, even through her final escape with Nero, but the series at least inspires hope she’ll keep her act together as a mother.
- Did…did Jax really need to kill those first two Irish thugs? Would a cell-phone photo of them on the ground with fake blood not accomplish the same end? Poor guys.
- Nice that we got to see Venus one last time, even if we needed another musical montage to do it.
- “Good choice” of Tig as the new club VP…was there really any other, from a senority standpoint?
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of road-rashing ‘Sons of Anarchy’ action? What did you think about “Papa’s Goods”? Stay tuned for more ‘Sons of Anarchy’ series finale coverage as we bring you additional features on season 7 from cast and crew!