‘I was raised Catholic enough to see the significance of those images,’ director Paris Barclay told the News of the ‘Sons of Anarchy’ finale. ‘It was a very elegiac way to end.’ (KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/NBC/NBC VIA GETTY IMAGES)
“Sons of Anarchy” couldn’t have ended any other way for Jax Teller.
That’s the opinion of Paris Barclay, executive producer and principal director of the dark and popular FX series that ended its seven-year run Tuesday night with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) running his motorcycle into the grill of an oncoming truck.
Jax wistfully suggested at one point that he should have left the outlaw life back when his wife Tara (Maggie Siff) was still alive and begging him to do just that.
Barclay told The News Wednesday it was never a real option.
“I don’t think it could have happened,” says Barclay, who was involved in shaping the show with creator Kurt Sutter from the start.
“Jax tried to resist” the outlaw life, says Barclay, “but he was too driven by the impulses of it – the violence, the vengeance. They triumphed over logic and his better impulses. He couldn’t make the sacrifice of power that would have meant.
“I think he was fated to be who he was. He was never going to be an electrician or a lumberjack.”
That said, Barclay only partly agreed with Jax’s declaration to District Attorney Tyne Patterson (CCH Pounder) that by the end of Tuesday’s episode, “The bad guys [WILL] lose.”
In Jax’s mind, that included himself. He had said several times over the last several episodes, “I’m not a good man.”
In Barclay’s mind, Jax had that wrong.
“I think there was a good man in Jax struggling to get out,” says Barclay. “I don’t think he was a bad guy. I think he did bad things.
“To me, the bad guys were August Marks (Billy Brown) or Charlie Barosky (Peter Weller) or the IRA men. When they died, Jax was right. The bad guys did lose.”
Sutter structured the final episodes of “Sons” so Jax’s mother Gemma (Katey Sagal), pragmatic cop Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie) and the tortured Juice (Theo Rossi) all died a week earlier, directly or indirectly at the hands of Jax.
Kim Coates as Tig Trager, Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller, Tommy Flanagan as Chibs Telford, David Labrava as Happy from the second to last episode. (BYRON COHEN/FX)
Barclay says that timing was deliberate.
“Having those deaths [last week] meant the final episode could shift to Jax, which it had to do,” he says. “It wouldn’t have served the whole mythology of the show not to focus on him.”
Barclay also agrees with those who say that once Jax killed Gemma, he had no other options himself.
“She had a hold on him even after he killed her,” says Barclay.
He adds, though, that even though Gemma embedded her son in the outlaw life, she herself might have been able to escape it.
“I think she had a better shot than Jax,” Barclay says. “When you saw her with Nero [Jimmy Smits], which was the first time she’d really loved someone since Jax’s father John Teller, you could see that he might have been able to pull her away. But it just didn’t take.”
Barclay also shares many viewers’ trepidation about the fate of Jax’s sons, particularly the older Abel.
Jax’s priority as he tidied up the loose ends of his life Tuesday was to get Abel and his younger brother Thomas into the hands of Wendy (Drea de Matteo), who would take them far away from the outlaw life of Charming.
Abel already has shown disturbing signs of anti-social tendencies, though. As Wendy and Nero drove them out of Charming Tuesday, Abel was absent-mindedly fooling with Jax’s “Sons” ring.
“I think Abel may need some counseling,” says Barclay. “The way he was fondling the ring was a little creepy.”
That said, Barclay is skeptical about the idea of another series that checks in on these characters a few years down the road – or to do the prequel for which some fans have been hoping.
“I wouldn’t want to,” he says. “I don’t think it’s ever a great idea, because you’re almost always compared unfavorably to what you did before. That’s what happened with ’24’ this year, people saying, ‘Oh, it’s not as good as I remember.
Director Paris Barclay (l.) with Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, and Kurt Sutter at the LA premiere of ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ in September. (PAUL A. HEBERT/INVISION/AP)
“I think Kurt made a statement on that by killing Jax, saying hey, this is over, he’s not coming back.”
But Barclay adds that he “completely understands” why fans would like the idea of another series.
“You miss the characters,” he says. “They’ve been your TV entertainment friends for years. And as favorably as people see the show now, it will get even more favorable as time goes by, because they’ll forget the scenes or episodes they didn’t like and just remember the ones they did.
“But if people want to go back, I’d say it’s better to just get the original series and watch it again.”
That’s not a bad idea anyhow, he says, because the full scope is rarely apparent on first viewing.
By the second wave of commentary and blogging Wednesday, Barclay notes, discussions were already starting to focus on different aspects of the finale – including the symbolism at the end.
“I think Kurt did something very important with all the images of communion,” he says. “You had the crows flying, you had the homeless woman with the blanket. The very last scene had the piece of bread with the blood trickling in.
“I was raised Catholic enough to see the significance of those images. It was a very elegiac way to end.”
Barclay and Sutter will reunite next year for a different project, Sutter’s “The Bastard Executioner,” which is set in the Middle Ages.
Meanwhile Barclay has moved to a rather different world, directing episodes for the upcoming final season of “Glee.”
Asked if there were ever consideration of crossover episodes between “Glee” and “Sons,” he says several “Glee” actors, including Matthew Morrison, “lobbied hard for it. But the most we ever got was Lea [Michaels] into one episode of ‘Sons.’
“Otherwise, for some reason, the idea never got much traction.”