All Kurt Sutter wants to say about the much-anticipated conclusion of his “Sons of Anarchy” series Tuesday night is that he hopes that’s not the only part fans will remember.
“When I saw the finale of ‘The Sopranos,’ I initially wanted a little more,” says Sutter. “But in hindsight, respecting (‘Sopranos’ creator) David (Chase) as a storyteller, I understand what the job of that finale was.
“After all he’d done with the show, he didn’t necessarily want the ending to be the focal point.”
Sutter acknowledges that “Sons of Anarchy” (FX, 10 p.m.) faces some of the same challenges as “The Sopranos,” since its central characters are the same kind of dark antiheroes — people to whom viewers have become attached although they’ve done awful things that would make punishment appropriate and seemingly almost inevitable.
Despite an inadvertent leak of some spoilers late last week, Sutter and the rest of the “Sons” team have generally kept the finale under wraps.
Several key characters were killed in last week’s penultimate episode, including Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal), Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) and Juice (Theo Rossi).
That leaves in the balance, primarily, the fate of Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the tortured, sometimes insightful and sometimes near-psychotic central chararacter, plus his key lieutenants and other people around them.
The show had previously killed off several other major characters, including Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) and two of Jax’s closest friends, Opie and Bobby.
Sutter says he always intended for the ending to continue the primary theme of the show’s seven seasons, which is family in a broad sense.
“It’s been a show about family,” Sutter says. “It will be about family at the end.”
That concept has always had starkly ragged edges in “Sons,” and it’s not likely to change at the end.
Several episodes ago, Jax pointedly contrasted “the family I was born into,” which he loves despite its dysfunction, and “the family I chose,” which is the motorcycle club.
If that suggests there won’t be one clear, neatly defined ending here, Sutter seems to acknowledge that’s the case.
“Whenever you come out of any show,” he says, “whether it’s television or movies, you don’t want to come away feeling everything has been explicitly defined. You should be allowed to have your own interpretation.”
Sutter cites his previous show, “The Shield,” in which Michael Chiklis’s disgraced cop character finishes his last scene by tucking a gun into his belt and walking out the door.
“We wanted to end it,” says Sutter, “in a way where you can form your own idea of what happens to this guy now.”
With “Sons,” Sutter says it’s important for viewers to remember Jax’s whole arc.
“I loved the idea of his seeing everything that Clay did wrong in running the club,” says Sutter. “That set him up to say, ‘I’ll do it differently,’ and then he gets that chance. He gets to be different from Clay. But that doesn’t mean he necessarily will.”
For much of the show, Sutter notes, Jax was “reactive,” responding to situations he had inherited. For the seventh and final season, all that changed. Driven to near-madness by the murder of his wife Tara (Maggie Siff) at the end of the sixth season, Jax set out on a course of pure vengeance.
That he went for all the wrong targets, based on a lie by which Gemma hoped to hide her own guilt, compounded the problem. It set up a season-long series of killings and tragedies that will presumably climax in the finale.
“This year, everything for Jax has been personal,” says Sutter. “It’s the first time it’s been personal just to him. Only his family and his children matter now.”
Going into the final episode, Jax is a combination of the gambler who still thinks he can draw the inside straight and a saddened warrior who senses on some level that all the blood may have spilled in vain.
Fans of the show have sometimes tagged it “Hamlet on Harleys,” and Sutter readily admits Shakespeare is a great resource to have available for tapping.
“I play with different Shakespearian themes,” he says. “At the end of last season I ripped off ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ with all that f—-d-up irony.
“But it’s not just one thing. It’s more like a lot of little chips all along. You have different people in different acts, and you try to tie things up.”
He did, he says, think the seventh season was the place to wrap up the story.
“I do think it’s time,” he says. “And I wanted to go into the last season knowing it was the end, that I didn’t have to be wondering about a next season.
“I’ve had a general idea all along where I wanted it to go. But I didn’t go into the last season knowing the specific final moment. You can’t know that until you know where everyone has gotten to.”