Exclusive: Sons of Anarchy Boss Kurt Sutter Sheds Light on This Week's Very Dark Twists

[The following contains major spoilers from this Tuesday’s episode of FX’s Sons of Anarchy. If you have yet to lay witness to it all, turn back now.]

If you thought FX’s Sons of Anarchy came in hot this Tuesday night and let loose with a bevy of dark twists, series creator Kurt Sutter needs you to know this: “Things will only continue to spiral downward” for Jax, Clay and the rest of the SAMCRO crowd. For viewers, he does promise an imminent chance to “breathe” (though, he notes, the show will stop well short of serving up “a lot of laughter”).

In the wake of all that transpired during the episode aptly titled “Hands,” TVLine invited Sutter to discuss the storytelling avenues he steered his Sons onto, including why he let one character cheat death, if another major player is now beyond redemption (answer: not necessarily), and how this mayhem led to the next episode getting super-sized.

FX Extends Sons of Anarchy‘s Fourth Season

TVLINE | I wanted to first talk about the decision to not kill Tara, at least for now. Is your school of though that it will be harder for Jax to live with a destroyed wife than a dead one?
[Killing Tara] was never my intention. As the season progresses, you’ll see that it’s about creating parallels that relate back to Jax’s father, to Gemma, and we see that arc continue to play out. Tara truly loves Jax, but it’s always sort of on-again, off-again in terms of her being supportive of the club and not supporting the club. I knew that if she were to continue on this path that we really would have to knock her off the fence, and in Episode 10 I think both she and Gemma get knocked off the fence. As she says in that one scene with Jax, her skills as a doctor were her “way out,” and now that’s been taken away from her, so it was just really about creating this circumstance where we could do that. I know I didn’t want her to get kidnapped again, because we had done that. And that king-and-queen parallel that we have with JT and Gemma and Clay and Gemma was something I wanted to continue to play out, so I knew that I didn’t want to kill her or do that to Jax at this point. His conflict of club and [doing right by his family] will continue, and without Tara, you take some of the power of that away.

TVLINE | Tara’s not necessarily out of the woods yet, though.
Obviously Clay will remain a threat throughout the rest of the season – and there’s almost another third of the season to go.

TVLINE | Turning to Clay/Gemma: How do you script that brutal assault scene without thinking, “I’m hereby painting this guy into a corner”?
Well, I think that’s point. I’m a big believer in committing, and rather than sort of seeing Clay sort of go to the dark side, we needed to see him basically cross that line. The reality of it – and we have this discussion in the writers room – is this is not the first time Clay has hit Gemma, and it’s not the first time Gemma has hit Clay. We have seen the passion and the violence in their relationship in the past, but I do believe this is the first time it was not just a smack and a push and a shove and a scream, but it manifested into absolute rage where he close-fisted and brutally beat her. There are some opinions in terms of why Gemma gave Clay the chance that she gave him [at the end of last week’s] Episode 9, and for me it’s because these two had this life together … and I really do believe that Gemma thought she could bring Clay back. She has been his guiding light for such a long time, at the end of [Episode] 9, when she looks him in the eye and says, “Promise me,” she really believes that she got through to him. Clay ultimately making that decision [to order the hit on Tara] is about his own fear and his own ability to trust, which is really his tragic flaw. Once he does that, Gemma feels like, “OK, he can’t be trusted and he is no longer an advocate of moving my family in the right direction.” But it took that act of brutality for her to really get to that place.

TVLINE | And the immediacy with which he betrayed that promise spoke volumes. There’s no bringing him back.
No, there isn’t, but you know what? Here you have these really strong, complex characters. And not to draw this parallel, but look at the things Tony Soprano had done over the years – the lies and the cheating that he did with Carmella. And yet there were times when he came back to that relationship where you really believed that at the end of the day he still loved her and maybe they had a chance. And I think that’s the case for Clay. Obviously he’s definitely gone to the dark side here and he’s done some horrendous things, and that’ll continue to play out, but as I watch these last three or four [upcoming] episodes, Clay has got a lot of demons and there’s a lot of reasons for the things that he does, and there are moments where I honestly believe people will have compassion for him — maybe not forgive him, but absolutely have compassion and understanding as to why he does the things he does. That’s what we do on this show, is show the extreme swings we in humanity all exhibit.

TVLINE | But as I watch him go to these increasingly dark places, I must wonder: Can there be a Sons of Anarchy without Clay?
I never think of it in terms of, “OK, who can I do this show with? And who can I do it without?” I really try to tell the stories organically. Take the death of Piney. To me, that’s an arc that’s been building since the first season, and it really made sense this season for it to go down, in terms of moving this show along and moving the body of the other characters forward. That death will be a mile-marker in the mythology of the show. I try to let the stories manifest, and then I get to the decision of, “If it makes sense for this character to go, what does that mean for the rest of the show?” A perfect example is Juice this season. We brought him to that point where he was swinging from that tree and we thought: “What if the branch doesn’t snap? What if he does kill himself?” I could have gone either way, but he’s a character that has a lot of vulnerabilities and brings a lot of compassion and lightness, for lack of a better word, to the show, so I made the decision creatively that I didn’t want that character to go away.

Sons of Anarchy‘s Rockmond Dunbar on the Sheriff’s Efforts to Save Tara, Juice — and SAMCRO?

TVLINE | After “Hands,” will we have a moment for the color to get back in our knuckles, or are you going to keep on keeping on for this season’s final four episodes?
It was an intense episode, and obviously the manifestations of that will play out. It’s why I think Episode 11 [airing next Tuesday] ended up being 90 minutes. I organically had to have people respond and react. You’ll see the ramifications that it has on Jax, as he sees Gemma, and on the rest of the club. Things will continue to spiral downward, in terms of the relationships within the club. We’ve released some of the tension in terms of going after Tara — she is being guarded by the Prospects, so at least that threat is somewhat diminished — but the emotional impact continues. I don’t think there’ll be a lot of laughter in the next three or four episodes, but perhaps people will breathe a little bit.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. nascarett says:

    Agreed, AWESOME episode last night, as the screen blacked out I sucked in a breath of air and didn’t let it out for a few moments…said, “WOAH!” so loud, my hubby came in from the other room and said, “What happened?” You know where I’ll be next Tuesday night!

  2. Neo says:

    “He’s not going down by law. He’s going to die by the hand of the son.” — favorite line from yesterday’s episode.

  3. Shannon says:

    Best Show on TV. Kurt you are an amazing writer. Keep up the good work. This was the best show of all seasons, it just keeps getting better and better. I feel Emmy’s this year. I love Katie (Gemma) she just brings so much to the show. Thank you for Sons of Anarchy!!!!

  4. Michelle says:

    I’m still in awe and shock over last nights episode! Great writing by Kurt Sutter to keep all of us fans majorly guessing!!!!!!

  5. oldmanlalande says:

    Clay is evil and can’t be trusted, like a junkyard dog, plus he’s “old” time for a new dog!! I see a jail cell for him.

  6. ICW says:

    I think Clay should go to prison for the rest of his life instead of being killed. Spending the rest of his life in a cage with no club and no hands would be a much more fitting ending for his character.

  7. veronica says:

    I agree Opie should be the one to take clay out, he has list sooo much, wife, father and pretty much his best friend and the way its looking maybe the whole club!! Awesome, AWESOME, SHOW.. EVERYONE is unbelievable actors/ actresses. They all deserve awards as well Kurt!!!! Love this show so much it kills me to have to wait a week, and to have to wait till the next season!!

  8. Ryan says:

    I was literally on the edge of my seat…. Sutter is genious!

  9. Jennifer says:

    I love the Sons of Anarchy,but it’s killing me not to know what’s going on.

  10. Louise says:

    The idea that this is grounded on Hamlet allows the freedom of the Prince to agonize over the manner of King’s death. And the now brutality of not only the rape of his mother but the beating of her by his step father pushes him even further into the dark side of the club. The love of his life has had her destiny altered which altered his and his sons lives, which takes him into his destiny after all. Even though it was he who seemingly initiated the porn into the club, it is he who despises it. He believes that the men should be faithful to their old ladies. And the old ladies are to be faithful to their men. He even chastises himself for falling from grace. When he beats that trash for coming after his best friend he seals his moral line. John Teller had a vision. Jax is on a journey to find it. Will it be he or one of his sons who can finally bring John’s vision full circle. Sutter will take us on that journey in the deepest darkest recesses of the soul and in the lightest sides of humanity to get there. It will be the journey that will be the test of the greatness of this show. Can he match Shakespeare or surpass the Shield? I think he can.

  11. Kristin says:

    I am waiting for Jax to off Clay!!

  12. Nell says:

    Unfortunately Mr Sutter, I don’t have any sympathy for Clay. I hate him. Perlman is fantastic in the role, but I hate Clay. As for Jax and Opie, that scene was beautiful and it was so refreshing to see the anger, love, and maybe a little betrayal in Opie’s eyes. As for Piney, I’m not afraid to admit I cried. Clay’s gone off the deep end, and he’s losing his Club. Personally I think Gemma will kill him before Opie. She’s got more invested in the Club. In season two she said to Tara “I’m a mother just like you are a healer.” The Club is her family and she will do whatever it takes to save her boys.

  13. Kandi says:

    Clay wasnt always awful when he helped kill Donna he felt horrid and when he could have killed the guy who ordered weston to gang rape Gemma He put his anger on the back burner to get his grandson from the irish so maybe there is somethin we dont no of yet driving Clay

  14. Liz says:

    OMG where do i begin this was intense i can’t imagine what next weeks episode will be like but i know Jax will be heated and so will Opie when finds his dad! I just hate to have to wait for next week i wish it could be everyday thing, Kurt your freaking awesome and i love you thanks for giving us this wonderful show to watch every Tuesday! You have so many ideas for the show i know but please don’t let it end so soon! Unbelievably Brilliant….

  15. Joey says:

    This is some amazing work! SOA all the way and keep em coming! my vote for best acting is definately Katey Sagal

  16. debra loustau says:

    I live for Tues Nites – think Sutter is one of a kind! This last episode, I could not leave my seat! It is such serious stuff.
    I could not believe Tara getting hurt,but I new something was gonna happened – BUT – Clay & Gemma OMG it was such a surprize! You write such increddible scenes – It is hard to think who should be noninated all of you r so good – Go S.O.A.

  17. Mindi says:

    Best show on TV…My husband and I love this show….Last nights show was one of the best by far…We look forward to Tuesday nights and will contiue to be fans of SOA always….I truly do hope Tara isn’t killed she is amazing as is the whole cast…

  18. George says:

    Opie could have enough motive to kill Clay but, once Jax sees Gemma’s condition, and god forbid, he sees JT’s letters he will carve clay up into small bits

  19. Ryan says:

    I think they have Clay leave in the middle of the night and disappear for the remainder of the season.. Another international manhunt goes down for him just like the one to track Abel down. I think its too predictable to kill him and hes to big of a charachter to just kill with 4 episodes left. Maybe Jax decides to stay and be president to avenge the attacks on Tara and Piney.

  20. SHUGIE says:

    I agree with the decision of not killing “Juice” its something about his character that bring life to the show. Tara dying is not a good a decision i think but putting her in a position of no longer being able to be a doctor was great. Far as everything else, I really think that there could be a Sons of Anarchy without Clay

  21. rory says:

    Didnt it seem like when jemma and margaret were in the chapel that the had some kind of deal going on.. Like with margaret trying to get tara to transfur somewhere else. And I do remember seeing a full back peice tatoo on margarets back in one of the previous episodes. Does margaret have something to do with the clubs history or what? It never really said much more kinda left us hanging. But I guess thats why we watch the show huh?! Great show. If it keeps going like this it might become my favorite of all time before sopranos.~!

  22. Nadine says:

    I would like to see the season end with Clay physically disabled and powerless, Jax President and Opie VP. The acting and writing are both equally powerful in all the episodes so far this season. I hope there is another season after this one!

    • Larry says:

      I agree with Jax being pres…and Opie ,,,V P,,,, I think they need to confine Clay and give him a slow and painful torture,until he dies…

  23. Dawn says:

    I love SOA! My husband got me hooked after the first cpl of season 1 episodes. Now we cant wait for tuesdays! All the cast are awesome n def award worthy! Even the ppl u hate(clay) we still cant wait to see what he does next or if hes finally gonna get whats coming. Wish sons wasnt ending. Best show ever!

  24. SOA is going downhill says:

    I am just curious when so many soap opera fans started watching SOA? Last nights episode was pathetic, torturous to watch. I haven’t something drag out with so many plot twists that make absolutely zero sense to the series. Juice has become a completely different character than he was in any previous season. The old Juice would of never made the decisions he has this season. John’s letters are now just becoming like Abel when he was over in Ireland for basically the entire season. It is being dragged out way too much. Get to the point and stop with all the melodramatic bull. I know women have now become a big target audience, but are they the only target audience now? This show used to be great, it was my favorite show. Now I find myself watching just because I used to like the show, and hope each week it somehow gets better. I will finish out the season, but I doubt I will pick it up again next season, and however many seasons they continue to drag it out after that.

    • kimi says:

      I really think you are wrong about the show and it takes time to set a story and play it out. Kurt Sutter is an awesome story teller with twist and turns in his characters depth and emotion. The fact that it takes longer then an hour to wrap a plot line just tells me you are more of a network tv person and not a series watcher. sorry but SOA ROCKS!!! BEST SHOW ON TV!! Its new and fresh and full of excitement. Network tv us soo predictable. You need to stick to stuff that is done in an hour like CSI or something like that!!

  25. Tiffany says:

    Im a huge fan of SOA after last nights episode I couldnt watch anything else, nothing else compares, I actually caught myself falling asleep during “House” which at one point in time was one of my favorite shows till I started watching Sons. Amazing writters and amazing casts, I catch myself asking after every episode “how can it get better then this?” and every week it gets better and better! My favorite thing about mondays..its closer to tuesday which means closer to Sons! Amazing work keep it up! oh and I really cant imagine Sons without Clay…but thats what the writers are for to make something great even after someone so important to a show is lost! Cant wait to see what transpiers next week! only 6 more days!

  26. NC Gal says:

    I think the show was amazing last night… I don’t want them to kill Tara off, she plays a vital role for Jax, and the boys.. However, if Clay does get killed off, I think it should be BY JAX! I think Jax should find out about what really happened to this dad, find out about Clay beating the crap out of his Gemma, and of course that he put the hit out on Tara, and then Piney too!! Then he would be so mad at Clay that he would take him out.. yea, that would be awesome! I think Jax wants out of the club so bad, but really, we all know it can’t really happen because where would the show be without JAX??? so obviously he’s not going anywhere, and now that Tara’s hand is messed up, she has to stay there and be with him.. even though it breaks her heart to do it.. She loves Jax, and both the boys, but she wants out, and she just lost the only chance she had at getting out… her hand.. I can’t wait until next week to see what else unveils! SOA rocks!!

  27. Stephanie says:

    I really enjoy watching S.O.A.. I would like for Kurt Sutter and the cast to receive EMMY Awards.. The show is outstanding!!!!

  28. Quiz says:

    The “son” you guys are thinking is not what you think. There is so much more to the letters than you have seen or are thinking. If it were that simple, Tara would’ve already shown them to Jax. The letters ………the letters ………the letters.

  29. John says:

    So now Clay will work for the Man and not the man we think is in charge of taking down all the players. This way no drugs or dealers as the show first started out and the Sons did not want them in their town and tried to keep them out..

  30. Bayda says:

    Last night show was AMAZING!!!! I was afraid of Clay n thought he was going to kill Gemma – kept gasping through entire episode – I love this show- the writing n acting are superb n no other show comes close to it. No compassion for Clay – but I do feel for Opie n Juice

  31. jason says:

    Best show ever seen wish it was all year long. Can’t get enough

  32. Sky says:

    Gemma says a son not the son!!! Pay attention please before you post dumb comments . Tara and jax fit together I think if you didn’t want jax to grow up and see he wants his family more then the club you shouldn’t have had him do a 180 with Tara and ask her to marry him cause it’s like he really stepped up this season with wanting her and his kids to have a better life ! If they kill her off it’s just going to be random hoes? Cause that would be dumb because you have shown him grow closer to her overtime it makes no sense! And for clay to do all he has done and them not kill him off is not realistic for a real club !!!!

  33. Mandy says:

    CLAY NEEDS TO DIE!! He’s going overboard and jax needs to kill him.. my opinion. . Just saying.. but other than that that stupid ATF Guy is annoying and kills the show for me he’s a horrible actor!

  34. Ryan says:

    Well 99% of the people on this board disagree with you. Juices charachter changed because of what he was threatened with. And all the plot twists are why we watch. If you cant keep up watch cartoons!

    • SOA is going downhill says:

      What was he threatened with, having the club find out, that he just found out he is actually part black? I would think he would rather deal with the backlash from that, than the backlash of now being a snitch.

    • Kimi says:

      well said!!!! absolutely agree!!

  35. Sue says:

    That was a tense night this last episode, but then it seemed to be so real . brought back some memories i can tell you that. Sutter i would have to say , You are doing a a Damn Great Job !!!! keeps on edge because in real life , it would be the same . Jut saying what i feel .

  36. Dave says:

    After what was kind of a let down for me last year with season 3 of SOA, season 4 had hit it out of the park.

    I initially thought it would be Jax to kill Clay, but then thought about Opie, and how Clay had his wife killed, Clay’s actions made his second wife leave, and when he finds out about Piney, Opie is going to go postal on his ass.

  37. Amy says:

    I gotta say. This was my favorite, favorite, favorite show – the one I looked forward to watching every week. I can barely watch it any more, and I don’t care about watching it on Tuesdays at all. It was always intense, but there was tenderness and humor infused in the violence and the strife going on in the show. The show has lost its sense of humor, totally, and also a lot of its human-ness. I agree, the storyline last season with Abel being gone was too slow and was fixated on too much, but this is the opposite extreme. Characters I really liked have turned into mindless thugs, a really great actor’s character has been killed off, and a lot of great talent is being wasted. Danny Trejo is actually a great actor and can add a lot of humor and depth when used correctly, and he has had literally nothing to do in his part, which is basically a walk-on role at this point.

    I loved the first two seasons of the show and I liked Season 3, especially the end of the season. I watched all three seasons about four times, in rerun, and on DVD/Netflix. I am not sure I will ever rewatch this season or that I will watch the fifth season at all. I guess it depends on how this season winds up.

    • Billy says:

      opinions are like askholes everyones’ got one!! if the show sucks so bad why are you on this site?????????????? SOA rocks best show on tv for me & my wife!!!!

  38. Antonette says:

    I’ve watched SPA from the first show. Last night’s episode did not disappoint. I am very curious to know how Opie is going to deal with now the death of his father. How he will react since he still held loyalty to the club after Donna’s murder. I have gotten so many people hooked on this show and we talk about the show the next day. Mr. Sutter, please continue this show; the academy my not see your genius. But, u have millions of views that see it and appreciate your impeccable work.
    -Thank You,

  39. JR says:

    Mr. Sutter, let me be the first to say, thank god you finally came out with a man’s soap opera….lmao after all these years of us watchin women watch them, you know how us men hate drama…HANDS DOWN, this is truely the best show I have ever seen in my 50 years of life….Keep up the awesome work….I don’t think you could have found better actors anywhere…..


  40. Antonette says:

    I’ve watched SOA from the first show. Last night’s episode did not disappoint. I am very curious to know how Opie is going to deal with now the death of his father. How he will react since he still held loyalty to the club after Donna’s murder. I have gotten so many people hooked on this show and we talk about the show the next day. Mr. Sutter, please continue this show; the academy my not see your genius. But, u have millions of views that see it and appreciate your impeccable work.
    -Thank You,

  41. N.S. says:

    Sons of Anarchy is Amazing! The story line along with all the characters makes for the best hour on t.v. all week.

  42. julie says:

    I just wish this show didn’t have to end so fast love love this show…

  43. Steph says:

    Tara has always been my favorite character on the show and I love how Sutter makes her relationship with Jax complicated yet loving. Maggie Siff was INCREDIBLE and Katey Sagal is always amazing to watch. This show is so underrated that it’s sad. I agree Opie should kill Clay…first his wife (which he forgave Clay for) and now his father. But Clay also killed Jax’s father, tried to have his fiancee killed, and savagely beat his mother. I think it’s a toss-up. Last night’s episode should be used for award nominations, hands down.

  44. landonsmom says:

    i watch this show when my kids are obviously in bed and last nights episode and when piney died i litterally could not contain my self from yelling at my tv and saying oh my god oh my god or no this show is so intense i dvr it but still stay up to watch because its adicting there are people portrayed as bad but in reality this is a show and parts are very well played i heard soa may only go into 6 seasons and i REALLY hope that it doesnt go away because this is one show hands down i cant get enough of

  45. Jason g says:

    I agree SOA and breaking bad are amazing. The suits that produce crap like glee And the stupid fat comedy have no clue to entertainment. Amazing writing and shows. The power of cable let’s you expand and get real. Desperate housewives is a joke of a show like most of them

  46. Russ says:

    I think dexter and sons are the two greatests shows…great writers

  47. Terri says:

    I have felt since the 2nd or 3rd ep of season one, Gemma rules that club. Clay may hold the gavel, but she has been behind the scenes all the way. She didn’t like the way it was headed with her husband John, she had Clay take over…he knows his roll in it and has been making suggestions as to what her’s was.

    Yeah, Clay beat the stuffing out of her, but I would think that a woman like Gemma could hit her target from across a room. She was antagonizing him. She needed him to beat her. She needs the club angry with him. She was more than willing to take that beating to get what she wants, it was a means to an end…Clays!

    She’s not “just an ol’ lady” as Clay suggested. Heck, she’s been my hero since she smacked the sour outta that little tart with a skateboard!!

  48. Jake says:

    Since I first heard about this show I was excited and knew I was hooked in episode 1. And with each episode and each season it gets better and if that is the continued trend I think my head is going to explods by the time the finale’ actually airs. I could literally watch this all day.

  49. Marisa says:

    SO so intense!! Gotta agree w the comment about katie segal deserving an emmy!! Amazing season! Hungry for more!!!!!

  50. Sean S. says:

    WOW ! Can’t wait for next week . Congrats on season 5 …