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 (427)

  • As a woman who was in a past abusive relationship, I find it a bit hard to watch, but it just a TV show, and a very good show, one of my favorites. Showing what a beating can be like may help someone in a bad relationship get out before they look like what Clay did to Gemma.

    Comment by owlmother – November 9, 2011 07:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was wondering if the S.O.A is a real MC ?

    Comment by Nanooke – November 9, 2011 07:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love SOA! Could careless if they killed Tara off though. Would like to see Jax try and work things out with his first wife and the mother of Abel. They atleast deserve that. Don’t like Tara’s character. She’s too flip floppy. She wants with Jax, then she don’t. She needs to go away. Just my opinion.

    Comment by Donna – November 9, 2011 07:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Are you KIDDING me?!?! “juice brings vulnerability and compassion”
    The S.O.B. KILLED a fellow club brother and deserves a painful death, along with a shallow, unmarked grave, right next to Clay.
    btw, the club brother(sorry, I forget his name), shot by juice, currently in an unmarked grave,needs to be redeemed at some point.
    He deserves more compassion than juice EVER will.

    Comment by Tiger IOOB m/c – November 9, 2011 07:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post



    Comment by bEN – November 9, 2011 07:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Well I know the show can be brutal at times but that’s why its tvma for mature audiences kurt shutter is telling the truth on how everyday life is with gang crews . Biker clubs . N the cartel I think its best show ever its a drama show that is for the mature only

    Comment by dominic – November 9, 2011 07:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So is this the last season?

    Comment by jamie – November 9, 2011 07:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think Unser will still pin Piney’s murder on Clay and Clay will go to prison. That way the show still has Clay (in cameos) and maybe Otto will knock him off in jail. He is still pissed about being lied to by the club as he feels he deservers retribution for Luanne’s murder. Who knows! Sutter is brilliant and I love the show!

    Comment by Fiery red – November 9, 2011 08:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I hope clay is killed for all he has done.. he has gone way too far.. it makes me sick just to look at him

    Comment by Michelle – November 9, 2011 08:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was informed that there will be a season 5 that fx has already made the deal for it.. is that true

    Comment by Michellr – November 9, 2011 08:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Clay has become a very scary person, Gemma has become torn emotionally, and to see those two go at it brought back some hard memories. I myself had to take a “beating” to finally get the point that it was over. Gemma basically stood by Clay until that point so now I am curious to see what how the rest of the club react to the fight and the condition of Gemma. Remember she has been the “queen” to two “kings” I don’t see HER going anywhere.She is still being a strong mother because she could have never said anything to him and just been an ole lady.

    Comment by kathy – November 9, 2011 08:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love this show and tonights show was great. I can hardly wait to see what happens next. Clay will get his. Jax is just going to freak when he sees his mom.
    You have the best show on t.v.

    Comment by Marg H – November 9, 2011 08:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • do any of you guys think that homeless ladie jax saw is gunna play a role cuz that scene was way to random to mean nothing at all right ?

    Comment by Hamza G – November 9, 2011 09:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The homeless lady did probably see Jax fire a gun which could send him back to jail.

      Comment by Danny – November 10, 2011 12:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There is tons of things that clay should pay for. But I also want more soa. I really think we need a “bad guy”. For the show, but clay went too far. We can get a new bad guy, hopefully one that doesn’t beat their old ladies half to death…

    Comment by Nikki – November 9, 2011 09:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I totally agree with your comment.

    Comment by Mish – November 9, 2011 09:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • it’d be cool if Jax and Opie argue over who lost more and decided to take Clay out together. But in the end which would get to Clay first?

    Comment by thomas Jackson – November 9, 2011 09:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Clay needs a dirt nap……. Need I say more?

    Comment by sherry delgado – November 9, 2011 09:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • how awsome would it be if J.T came back and killed clay and he was never really dead?

    Comment by patrick – November 9, 2011 09:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Just wanted to say what a great job you all did on this show. I was skeptic when I originally heard about this new show starting, but after the first episode I have been hooked! I am always excited the night it airs and love seeing the story and how it always twists in ways you do not expect. I think the suspense and passion in it really helps hold our attention. It is always intense and each episode is like a mini-movie! I think this show is very different from other shows and is not just a violent show with bunch of random crap , it keeps things in balance and evens out to enjoy. Too much bloodshed all the time is not entertainment. I like how all is well fitted. Even the characters. Just a great show!

    Comment by T. RodrigueZ – November 9, 2011 10:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think more like a mother, I guess. Gemma is going to protect her son and grandsons. No man can touch that instinct. Not even Clay!

    Comment by Michele – November 9, 2011 10:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ughh, why does that Junkie chic gotta return!!!!

    Comment by Raye – November 9, 2011 10:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The Shield was great, Sitter was one of the writers and I’ve seen several cross over actors and MC’s.

    Comment by Ann – November 9, 2011 10:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am glad they are not going to kill of Tara, at least not yet. I really do not like Clay. Haven’t since the show began (Sorry Ron). What do you all think of Drea de Matteo who played the role of Wendy Case, Abel’s biological mother in Season 1, coming back onto the show??

    By-the-way, I have to say that I almost died laughing in season 1 when Jax told her he was not going to Adrianan her! Almost choked on my diet coke! My husband could not figure out what I thought was so funny!
    Absolutely wonderful!!


    Comment by s_northam – November 9, 2011 10:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Sutter (damn auto correct!)

    Comment by Ann – November 9, 2011 10:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Clay lives. Disfigured (hands. so he cant ride). Broken back (so he cant walk or ride) Devalued & demoted. But lives to see what happens with him not in charge AND everyone knowing what he did. Oh. And its Tara who does the damage by paying some hit guy to do it but no one finds out who did the hit because there’s so many on the “who dun it” list! But Clay lives. Jezzzz….cant wait for next season now!!!

    Comment by Onederwoman – November 9, 2011 10:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Show was intense! The scene with Tara and the Dr and her reaction, understandable for her to be upset, but she can still be a Dr with the bad hand just not a surgeon. Also they can’t do surgery to repair damaged nerves, they have 18 months to try to heal themselves once damaged, then it’s permanent.

    Comment by Ann – November 9, 2011 10:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really believe Clay will be killed this season. Kurt wouldn’t script the Gemma beating scene if he wasn’t planning on writing Clays character off for good. Itl’ll make his death that much more gratifying to us viewers once it does go down. Also, I think it helps put Gemma on our good side (for now) because she’s just as evil/instrumental in JTs death as Clay, and she could potentially play the next villain in future seasons. We all wanna see Clay die but are afraid to see that chapter come to an end. But it will – and we’ll finally get to see Jax deal with the territory that comes with being King. And that’s what we’ve been itching for since episode 1. Props to Kurt Sutter for not being afraid to push the show forward – even if it means killing off characters were so attached to.

    Comment by Ess – November 10, 2011 12:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really hope Sutter doesn’t think Clay can be redeemed after this. He is really running on empty and retribution is the only climax that would make any sense. He still deserves to die for what he did to Donna in Season one and now Piney, Tara and Gemma. He has turned into a total scumbag and betrayed the whole club, got them into the drug business and dragged them down. Not to mention he killed Jax’s Dad. I understand the whole anti-hero thing and that he compares him to Tony Soprano but honestly it would be very unrealistic to have Jax work by Clay’s side next season after learning what he did to his Mom, his birth father and Tara. Unless of course they keep it all a secret from him and drag this out for another season which I really hope they don’t do. The show can go on without Clay.

    Comment by Danny – November 10, 2011 12:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think what happened to Gemma had to happen. She’s just a members old lady who had too much to say about things of no concern to her. Clay just reminded her who was boss. Before any claims im condoning violence against women, What you all need to remember is that they are just characters in a tv show.

    Comment by bhoyle80 – November 10, 2011 02:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Let me just say I don’t believe in Domestic Violence. With that said I do believe there is good in Clay I have seen the love he has for Gemma, and family. The thing is people have done thing so Clay can’t trust them then he does stuff so he is not trusted. A big downward spiral. If Luke can save his father I believe Jax can save Clay. I hope SOA goes on for a long time awsome show keep up the good work.

    Comment by Corey – November 10, 2011 04:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The show is awesome…Kurt knows how to keep you at the edge of your seat……and I don’t know how the show will go on with out Clay but I see it coming whether it be death or him just disappearing till next season then offed next season that’ll give it time and more episodes…..but I can’t.wait to see how the end of the season is gonna play out to keep us waiting till the next….

    Comment by abe – November 10, 2011 05:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think that Jemma should be the one to kill Clay by slowly slicing his throat as she looks him square in the eyes perhaps after another failed attempt on Tara’s life and jax get injured because jax catches Clay red handed and defends her .

    Comment by Tess – November 10, 2011 06:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • After growing up in home where a LOT of wife and children beat downs were a regular activity, I have watched my last SON’s show until something is done with Clay…

    Comment by RCH – November 10, 2011 07:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i look for tig to be the one to take clay out…hes been on the back burrner this season but i think when he sees what clay did to jemma its going to put him over the top…….dont see much redemption for juice…pretty sure he will be the next one ‘offed’, either from the club or his own hands

    Comment by bill jenks – November 10, 2011 07:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • did anyone else notice that the guys that tried to kill tara were WHITE????? and why didnt they shoot jax and tera at the van…the guy had the gun right on them and did nothing…and if these guys were hired to kill tara why didnt they just shoot her when they had the chance???? hmmmmmmmmmmm????????

    Comment by bill jenks – November 10, 2011 07:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Screw Emmy. SOA doesn’t need no stinkin’ award to confirm is badassness. SONS for Life.

    Comment by Pete – November 10, 2011 08:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Screw Emmy. SOA doesn’t need no stinkin’ award to confirm its badassness.

    Comment by Pete – November 10, 2011 08:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by al – November 10, 2011 08:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • movie movie movie a 2hr movie would be nice you have millions of ppl around the country your show my hat goes off to you GREAT JOB keep them comming but a movie on how the sons became the sons and show the plot againt john ttyl GOOD LUCK AND CONGRTS ON A FANTASTICAL SHOW FROM ROCHESTER NY …..

    Comment by TONY MORALES – November 10, 2011 08:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think Clay may have a brain tumor that is causing him to make bad decisions. Perhaps Tara will recover and remove it for him.

    Comment by DAWN – November 10, 2011 08:40 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Are thay ever going to get otto out of the can so he can be of some help to the club

    Comment by russ miller – November 10, 2011 09:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Please don’t kill Tara off.

    Comment by sandy – November 10, 2011 10:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Clay is gonna pay. And the one to do it is not going to be an obvious choice. I think it will be Tig. He has always had a thing for Gemma, and would protect her to the death. I think his alliance to Clay will disolve once he sees Gemma’s face. His reaction is going to be something to watch for sure and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
    On a side note…Wayne is going to try to avenge Gemma’s fate, but it is only going to get him killed.

    Comment by Tasha E – November 10, 2011 11:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love SOA. A friend girl of mine turned me on to it. I have been in love with the show and its characters ever since.

    I actually spent a whole day and half the night catching up on the first three seasons so that I knew what was going on.

    I knew Clay and Gemma were heading for trouble because although Clay
    continued to profess his love for Gemma his actions and words have been increasingly negative,mean,and dishonest.

    The “Hands” episode gives new meaning to “it’s a thin line between love and hate” I can’t wait until next week. I am still screaming WOW

    Comment by Gee Gee – November 10, 2011 11:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by Amanda – November 10, 2011 12:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I hate to say it, but there really ARE motorcycle, as well as other clubs that treat women EXACTLY this way. Its scary, but I have witnessed it firsthand.

    Comment by michelle – November 10, 2011 12:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 4 episodes left and Wendy’s back, what the… She wants her kid back or what, like that’s ever gonna happen. She isn’t really fitting into the series, never has. That’s why you use condoms so she doesn’t have to be around Jax, i mean c’mon.
    There’s no way to finish all this, gotta be a 2 season arc, so like 5 cliffhangers incoming. Life really doesn’t cut any breaks for samcro. So basicly with so many variables anything can happen. Absolutely anything.
    Hate cliffhangers, it would be okay if it continued in like 2 weeks, but no have to be holiday break every winter and summer, the only actual time when there would be could time to watch tv and lot’s of it.

    Comment by Rede – November 10, 2011 04:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • S.O.A. absolutely blew me away when I saw it for the first time (near the end of Season 1); Season 2 was amazing and the wife had to have Season 1 on DVD [now we need 2 and 3...]. My first thought was, holy crap, this isn’t just a wannabe bunch that always gets their way — these are flawed characters, in a flawed world, dealing with a flawed system, as are we all. I have never seen such a truly believable show on TV. The humour is very present, very off the cuff, very dry, as it would be amidst a bunch of ragtag toughs as the S.O.A. are.

    I love how Jax has evolved as a character. He wants better, he wants to make sure the club is OK before he takes his leave, but he also is putting his family first.

    The character I worry about being taken out too soon is Unser. He’s an undercurrent, but he’s the one steel wire in the cotton thread. He adds strength and stability, even if not in an obvious way. If Unser goes, that will undo Gemma somewhat, and that will cascade out to Jax and the rest of them…

    Comment by Greywolf – November 10, 2011 04:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The homeless girl who witnessed Tara’s abduction…..
    The homeless girl in the graveyard at Donna’s funeral……

    I wonder where this one is going ……….. someone’s daughter perhaps….

    Comment by John – November 10, 2011 06:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This last episode Clay tells Gemma that she is just an old lady who should know her place & is NOT part of this club. WELL, I think Gemma should kill Clay. She maybe able to redeem herself by covering up Jax’s dads death & many other secrets. She is the mother of this club & she should protect it as a mother would. I think that would be epic.

    Comment by MGG – November 10, 2011 06:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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