I don't know what terribly damaging thing happened to me as a child that resulted in most of my favorite television shows being horribly violent, but I get quite a rush from FX's Sons of Anarchy. I attended the show's panel at Comic-Con on Sunday and was probably really annoying to the girl sitting next to me with all my yelling and clapping. Sorry, girl, I just really love me some outlaws.

In addition to series creator Kurt Sutter and director Paris Barclay, the entire cast was in attendance, including Charlie Hunnam (Jax Teller), Katey Sagal (Gemma Teller-Morrow), Ron Perlman (Clay Morrow), Maggie Siff (Tara Knowles-Teller), Kim Coates (Tig Trager), Theo Rossi (Juice), Mark Boone Junior (Bobby Munson), Tommy Flanagan (Chibs), and Dayton Callie (Wayne Unser). And even though his character was killed off last season, the crowd went wild at the mention of Ryan Hurst's name. And a piece of my heart died all over again.

The panel opened with a rather subdued scene from Season 6 that showed Jax writing a letter to his boys (aw) and contemplating the moves he's made in life. A brief shot revealed that he's now wearing a patch in Opie's memory. Sigh. We also saw Tara and Clay in orange jumpsuits, and Happy helping to care for Abel. Oh, and Chibs wearing the VP patch, which we all knew would happen but was great to see anyway. Then the video launched right into an action-packed trailer showing ridiculously violent things happening to/being done by our beloved characters. It. Was. Awesome. And it got me super-pumped for the new season, which will premiere September 10. Along those same lines, the show will also be releasing a series of Sons of Anarchy graphic novels that will run parallel to the show and feature our favorite characters as well as some new faces.

When asked about whether or not Sutter plans to stick to his original seven-season timeline if the show—which is the network's highest-rated drama—could continue past that, Sutter said that in order to remain organic and for the story to be believable, the sh*t has to hit the fan and it has to find its endgame. So I guess that means no. 

He was also asked whether or not he had the show's final scene mapped out, and in typical Sutter fashion he told the crowd, "Big pool of blood." On a more serious note, Sutter said he has a sense of what he wants it to be, but he's still not sure of how to get there. He also couldn't tell us whether or not everyone present for this year's panel would be at next year's, meaning someone's probably going to die (please not Juice!).

So what did he tell us? Well, we know that Season 6 picks up just a few days after the events of the Season 5 finale, and that SoA will continue to follow Jax's journey, and to explore whether he can be both the leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang and a devoted father and husband. The question still remains: Will he end up like Clay, or will he end up like his own father? Can he be both? It'll be interesting as hell to watch, I know that much.

After that, each of the panelists spoke about where their characters are headed...

Jax: Hunnam believes that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and last season Jax fell into a trap in that regard. This season he's trying to mature and find his feet as the leader of the club. Opie's death will continue to lead him and affect the way he acts as a leader: "It was a driving force [last year], but as we've been going through this season, he's letting that loss inform him in a more positive way." Hunnam also mentioned that Jax is letting the death of his best friend try to inspire him to turn the club into what John Teller always wanted it to be.

Speaking of Opie, Hunnam spoke very highly of his former co-star, and about how hard it was for Hurst to let Opie go. "Ryan had a hard time saying goodbye," he said, "he couldn't kill the son of a b*tch." Hurst eventually cut off the signature beard he'd grown for the role as a form of catharsis, and even wrote an essay that Hunnam said was called "The Last Rites of Opie Winston." In it, Hurst described how every actor carries a graveyard of characters they've had to bring to life and then kill off—which, hey, pretty deep stuff, man. 

Hunnam went on to say that Opie's death and Hurst's subsequent difficulties in letting go of the character affected Hunnam as well, because he'd always anticipated it would be Opie and Jax at the head of the table at the end, and that Hurst's experience really brought home the fact that pretty soon they're all going to have to say goodbye to these characters. 

Clay: This season will be about Clay's redemption (groan), and that Clay knows he's finally out of options. "Season 6 is knowing that there is no more leveraging, no more maneuvering, no more choices," Pearlman said. "He's no longer in control of how many minutes he has left." As to what exactly Clay's doing with all his free time in prison, well, I've got nothing, though it might be kind of fun to see him stage a coup in the cafeteria.

Gemma: According to Sagal, the power struggle between the women in Jax's life will continue. She also said that since Tara is now in prison, Gemma has what she wants: her son. "Gemma's motivation is to stay close to her son. She did what he asked, made all those moves on Clay, and has no regret about it." Gemma is finally in her son's good graces (yeah, we'll see how long that lasts) and that "always makes her happy."

Tara: Siff said she's always asked whether Tara has any regrets about coming back to Charming, reuniting with Jax, and becoming involved in the club. She said she's also asked whether she thinks Tara is becoming too much like Gemma. Her answer is that there are certain roads a person must take in order to survive, and Tara's finally realized that. She also said that while her methods "pretty deeply resemble Gemma ... what she desires is totally different." Tara remains herself by holding on to those desires—which, of course, are her children. Siff said another way in which Tara is different from Gemma is that she's aware of the cycle of violence surrounding her family and she wants to break that cycle. 

Juice: Rossi couldn't say much about how the events of the last two seasons would affect Juice in Season 6, but he did say that Juice's allegiance has always been to Jax and that his time with Clay last season was a result of looking for a father figure, someone to lead him. "Juice is definitely a soldier," he said.

Tig: Coates didn't have much to say other than that Tig is back on the leash in Season 6. The Jax leash, that is.

Bobby: If you'll recall, Bobby removed his VP patch at the end of Season 5, so it remains unclear as to what role he'll play in Season 6, but Boone thinks he won't go down easy. Whatever that means.

Chibs: Flanagan said Chibs has a blind loyalty to Jax, and it's always been that way. He also mentioned that the Jax and Chibs dynamic you see on screen is completely real. Hunnam and Flanagan are old friends, and Hunnam considers the actor a big brother.

Unser: Callie was asked whether Unser would ever get the girl (he's harbored feelings for Gemma for awhile), and his answer was a rather depressing, "I doubt it." 

Otto: Sutter said that Otto's physical pain is a reflection of whatever mental anguish he deals with while writing the show. Though he joked that Otto's running out of appendages, we probably haven't seen the last of his mutilation.


ONE FINAL NOTE:

A fan asked Hunnam what he thought drove Jax and his answer was better than anything I'd probably ever come up with, so I'll leave you with it: "Jax is on the precipice of total existential crisis. The club and his family give him purpose. It's making sure he's as functional and healthy as he can be. The club, to him, is his greater good. If the club has a future, then Jax has a future and a purpose."


And there you have it. Now, who's ready for September?

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Clay is so far past redemption at this point, just kill him off already.
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I agree. The only way for him to completely redeem himself is by suffering a worse fate than death....and that's dying from boredom. Kidding, he dies from smallpox.
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Had no idea Kurt Sutter has an end game and end date in sight. This is fantastic news.

Hope everyone has seen this. Kaitlin mentioned that Opie (Ryan Hurst) had a hard time letting go of SOA. I don't blame him. He did a fantastic job.
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Thank you for posting this. I meant to link to it in my post but it slipped my mind. It still makes me sad to watch it.
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Shouldn't it be "The Last Rites of Opie Winston"
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Ack! It should be. Thanks for pointing that out. Must be sleep deprivation.
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"Tara remains herself by holding on to those desires—which, of course, are her children"
Doesn't that actually make her MORE like Gemma?

I'm laying odds Chibs or Bobby are dead by season's end, if not both.
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Please not Chibs...he's one of my favourites!!
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can prison somehow be total hell for clay? can he get shanked, beaten, bullies, raped and more
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It has become completly evident that Sutter doesn't have the guts to kill of Clay. It;s sad really, if he knew he wasn't going to ever kill the character he shouldn't have dug Clay such a huge hole.
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SoA is easily one of the best shows on television, and I can't wait for the new season. It should be epic!
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This is for Sam20. I wouldn't want to disappoint

There is no redeeming Clay. None, zero, zilch, nada. What he did was unredeemable and 10x worse than anything any of the other previous big bads did in previous seasons. He should be deceased as per the rules of their universe. The major rule, being that despite them all being killers and scum. The people in their world that do unredeemable things, die, usually horrible deaths. I have said it before, I will say it again. Good shows keep things in a virtual stasis they will push it here and there but they won't upset the apple cart, so to speak. And no matter what happens beloved characters are safe. But great shows will take that risk, they will risk pissing off their viewers and they will kill off beloved characters. The Shield did it, Justified did it, I am told the Wire did it, 24 did it (a lot), Luther just freaking did it last week! (still recovering from that by the way). SOA didn't, Sutter blinked. And also wrote in a sweeping savior out of the blue with that BS CIA plot, when he wrote himself into a corner. He violated the rules he put forth in the show. Compromises characters intelligence when they have to to further the story and have to dumb them down in order for the story to work. You know another show that did that. True freaking Blood. Other shows, The Following and other dregs that Fox and networks like NBC put out.

And as for the quote that he isn't in control of the minutes he has left. Of course not, Sutter is, and he is going to ride that should be dead horse likely to the very last episode.

I am on till the end of the show. However he can do two things. Killy Clay, save the show and make it the great show it once was. Don't kill Clay and ride one step above TV mediocrity till the series finale.

I would make a suggestion and have him watch the first season of The American's or The Bridge, all of the seasons of Justified and have a look as to the type of quality SOA used to put out. Because they are eating your lunch right now.
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Hehe, I knew you'd have a strong opinion on that. There's very few things we seem to disagree on but this is one thing that we completely agreed on right away. Clay getting "saved" by that bullshit CIA plot was the worst thing this show has done, and frankly, that's about the time SOA started falling down the rankings of my favorite shows. Season 3 wasn't all that great, but season 4 was on the path and had the potential of being such a spectacular season of TV... then that finale. That finale alone made what was supposed to be such an incredible season into an average one and a great show into an above-average one. It was a fairly momentous season finale, but not in the good way.

Also, OMG last week's episode of Luther.
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I agree with your points as well. But Luther last week! Even though I kind of saw it coming especially with the uncharacteristic first part of the episode. I still screamed no when it happened. And that is what makes Luther such a fantastic show. For me it is Sherlock and Luther in their own separate categories and then all other shows.
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Oh Mate,
Why did you have spoil Luther to make your Point. I think it is ok to use Spoilers from Shows like the shield. They are some years old. But freaking Luther was Last week, and there are some People who have not seen it yet. You sound like a reasonable guy. So please use a Spoiler warning next time, if you Need to make an argument with a fresh seen Show.
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Sorry. I thought I kept it vague enough.
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While I personally don't like Clay very much, I don't understand why you call the show one step above TV mediocrity simply because Sutter doesn't want to kill Clay.. I agree that Clay should be dead but I don't see how the death of 1 character will make a difference in quality. Personally I think that SOA has been 1 of the most underrated shows from the very beginning of the show. (Same goes for Justified, I guess most Americans don't like these dark crime shows on FX) There were some elements in the show that felt a little stupid or felt like a mistake, but I am confident that Sutter will end SOA on a great note. I'm not sure about the possible prequel about the first 9, but maybe it could be awesome for 1 or 2 seasons..

Also, I liked The Americans a lot, but that show also made many mistakes in it's 1st Season. And I will always prefer SOA over The Americans.
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Ok, perhaps I misspoke when I said above mediocrity. It still is a good show compared to what else is out there. But it lost its greatness around the time Sam, David and I are discussing. For me every moment Clay is on the show degrades in quality, because of the constant reminding of the flimsy excuse to why he is there. That Irish reasoning that they are using just is stupid. I think they should have gone darker with Clay and it would have been good. Have him take out a hit on Tara and Gemma and that if he dies then they die kind of a thing. Something other than the Irish.
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The Shield and Justified seem to stick to their origins/universe, I just hope we get a strong SoA ending, I still get chills when i think of the ending of The Shield, especially Vic in those final two shows, and the menacing of the ending!
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The Shield and Psych are two shows that I tend to view from start to finish or to current season in regards to Psych at least once a year. Vic Mackey was one of the greatest characters in TV history.
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I'm not making an excuse for Clay living, but they did kill a beloved character last season; Opie. I'm curious, when exactly did the show lose you? Forgive me if I asked this before and forgot.
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Yea, But Opie felt like tragedy for tragedy's sake. Opie could have died, it could have been after Clay. According to the universe that they built Clay should have died in the hospital when Jax had his knife on him. And also when Opie shot him. They could have used Opie's death to spawn off a whole new war with a rival club or gang and made that the catalyst for Jax to go really dark.

I know the exact moment when they lost me. It was when they wrote in the CIA to sweep in and make everything better. That seemed to me as a huge cop out, easily written to clean up scenarios they ended up in and either didn't have the time to properly write a good clean up or the talent, and it something lesser shows do. And then there poor excuse for keeping Clay alive. The Irish? They don't want cartel money and will only work with Clay? Because one irishmen won't work with Jax, despite what the man he killed did to his Son? That is complete and utter BS and excuses that lesser shows use to keep characters around.
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I was actually loving that season up until Opie failed to kill Clay. The whole cop out with the magical CIA agents was even worse, and pretty much brought down what was shaping up to be a great season.

I started losing love for the show during season three, the season of the Irish. I understood his need to kind of delve into the mythology, but it felt like such a waste of time. The opening and ending of that season was excellent, but everything in between was a waste.
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@sam20 yeah agree about season 3 completely, it just didnt connect with me at all. looking back its a chapter in the story, but tbh i wouldnt have minded that played out in one or two episodes. i think last season was very good, i think the cia angle is very very weak, i think as you rightly say in their universe Clay would have been dead and gone by now.
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I'm not sure what to make of any of this. I bet Mate is going to love that paragraph about Clay. lol
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