Sons of Anarchy has never been for the faint of heart.
But the gritty FX drama somehow managed to push its own limits Tuesday, with a sixth season premiere that featured an eww-inducing murder, a handful of uncomfortable prison-set sequences (poor, poor Otto) and, most notably, that previously discussed “controversial” scene featuring a young boy shooting up his elementary school.
Here, Sons creator Kurt Sutter explains the rationale behind the episode’s shocking final moments and further discusses how what happened in them will inform the remainder of the series. The EP also talks Clay’s redemptive journey, Jax and Tara’s latest obstacle, Toric’s plans for SAMCRO and much more.
TVLINE | The secret’s out: There was a school shooting in the Sons premiere.
The timing of it is somewhat controversial, but it is something I knew I wanted to do for a couple of years now, and I knew it would be a series of events that would have to [occur]… as we kind of slide towards the end of our mythology. Things are never done in a vacuum, meaning there are ramifications to everything, whether it be legal consequences or emotional consequences or familial consequences. There’s sh-t that always happens; sometimes it happens immediately, sometimes there will be a season or two before stuff comes back to haunt them. It all comes back around, and this series of events changes all of their relationships.
TVLINE | Can you tease the fallout of the shooting?
It changes their relationships with the Irish, because now Jax has the emotional catalyst he needs to motivate [everyone]… to not be in guns. It impacts his relationship with the DA and with Toric, and we’ll really see the relationship shift within the town of Charming and how suddenly the favorite Sons, or at least the accepted Sons, are seen as a danger and potentially more of a pariah than a savior.
This takes [our characters] down this path that perhaps they won’t be able to come back from. It was a fine line; I didn’t want it to become this big political storyline where I had to acknowledge it and have everyone have an opinion about how bad it is and who’s responsible, and blah, blah, blah; that’s not what this show does, nor is it why people watch it. And yet I couldn’t completely ignore all those things and still feel like I handled it responsibly.
So, I tried to layer in my point of view in terms of why I think these things happen. And what I hope is that people come away with [the idea that] if there is a social and political point of view about the shooting and a moral point of view, it is not one particular party that’s responsible for these tragedies, that it is a combination of gun laws, mental health, schools, parents, media… It wasn’t about seeing dead bodies. It was more about the emotional impact of what happened, and you just really get it in those few pops in the aftermath, when we come back from the act-out. So, I feel like that suggests a certain level of responsibility in terms of how we were telling the story and what our goals were.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about Toric. How would you describe him? A junkie? Insane? Desperate? None of the above?
The most dangerous kind of cop is a cop that thinks like an outlaw… In terms of what’s going on with him and the drugs, it’ll reveal itself ultimately. We’re playing with the idea that he himself has some medical issues that he is struggling with as well, and perhaps he is also operating under a sense of a ticking clock. To me, it was interesting to have a guy who had the relationships, the access to information, the skill set and yet… he didn’t give a f–k about breaking the rules, because he didn’t have anybody looking over his shoulder. And we’ll see ultimately what he does to get access to these guys… A guy like Toric, he almost needs the Sons and what happened. They’re feeding him, they’re giving him what it is he needs. So yes, it’s vengeance and he’s motivated by that, but it’s almost like giving him this gift, because now he’s got something to hold onto and pursue.
TVLINE | Given the redemptive nature of Clay’s journey, can we assume that he’s maybe not working with Toric strictly to save himself?
I don’t want to spoil where all that’s going, but I think that Clay is trying to navigate his own end. Yes, he’s willing to help the club. Is he willing to help the club to the point of his own death? That remains to be seen. Will he try to somehow orchestrate both? That remains to be seen as well… Clay’s been around the block a few times; he knows guys like Toric. So, there’s an interesting chess match going on between the two of them, more so than anybody else. Even Jax.
TVLINE | What is Tara’s journey now that she’s essentially stuck in Charming? Is her quest still to free herself and her boys from this life?
I think so. Her quest will always be about: What’s best for my family? There’s a line in Episode 3 where she’s talking to Unser and he mentions something about her and her prison friends, and she’s just looking at the boys and says, “You know, it’s not about me anymore.” I really think that’s how Tara feels. She has that higher sense of what’s best for her family, and that will be her motivation for the season — and very much in a Gemma, bigger picture kind of way.
TVLINE | Talk a little about Jax’s relationship with Kim Dickens’ Madame moving forward.
We’re still discovering that… Right now, Jax has this disconnect from Tara. He feels shut out by her. There’s just something [there] – not to get weird and incestuous, but I think his connection to her is almost maternal in those moments.
TVLINE | Oh yeah, that was very apparent — particularly given the laundry aspect of it all.
[Laughs] She’s a little bit older, there’s just something about her that he needs. My intention was never to have it be this big, love-triangle thing. It’ll be a complication for him emotionally. She will ultimately become a business partner at some point, so it continues to complicate his life emotionally and professionally.
TVLINE | What exactly does Bobby “going Nomad” mean for the club?
I don’t want to give it away in terms of how long he’s away or what that means… But Bobby’s a substantial guy. He’s not like Juice. He’s got almost as much time [in the club] as Clay, so when he gets dismissed like that, he feels like he’s not needed… He’s dedicated to this club, and he’s going to move on and find a way to find what it is he’s supposed to be doing and that’s best for the club. And that’s really his quest this season. He’s not in it a lot, but we’ll continue to play out his storyline in terms of the MC and what that means.
TVLINE | Nero seems to be returning to his old ways. Will the shooting further inform that?
Absolutely. He’s intrinsically tied now to the club as a result of that shooting… and it will have a deep impact on his relationship with Gemma and Jax and the club.