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?