STORY WRITTEN BY CHUCK BARNEY/Contra Costa Times
(SPOILER ALERT: The following post contains key plot developments from “Red Rose,” Tuesday night’s episode of “Sons of Anarchy” on FX):
Those were the last words spoken by Gemma Teller. The last words before her son, Jax, raised his gun and deposited a bullet in the back of her head, leaving Mommy Dearest to die amid the beloved flower garden of her youth.
Yes, he did it — just like most of us thought he would. He killed his own mother in cold blood because, well, as Gemma explained just moments before, he had to.
“It’s who we are, sweetheart.”
Yes, that’s who they are/were. There’s no changing this late in the game. No last-minute stay of execution. No forgiveness of sins, even for a “good Christian girl on the road to see Daddy.” There are only one-way streets in this sick, twisted SAMCRO world. An eye for an eye, even if revenge sometimes isn’t so sweet.
That’s how it all unfolded in “Red Rose,” the poignant, heart-wrenching next-to-last episode of “Sons of Anarchy,” an episode that also bid violent farewell to Juice and Unser. An episode that set up Jax to take a major fall.
Or will he?
Did it go down the way you thought it would? Were you convinced from the start that, once Jax learned who Tara’s real killer was, he would take his own mother’s life? Or did you hold out a slim ray of hope that Nero’s words of advice last week — that a son killing his mother opens a “wound too deep to heal” — would sway Jax to spare Gemma?
For a brief instant, I thought he might, indeed, spare her. After tracking Gemma down at her father’s home in Oregon — and after doing away with the obstacle that was Unser — he accompanied her to the rose garden, where, with tears in his eyes, he hoisted his gun …
… and then lowered it.
Would he suppress his killer instincts?
Said Gemma, with her back to her son: “I love you, Jackson, from the deepest, purest part of my heart.”
Surely, he would spare her after such a moving piece of dialogue, right?
Nope. Gemma lowered her head and Jax again raised the gun.
And so we parted ways with one of prime time’s most riveting shady ladies — the manipulative, malicious, murderous Gemma Teller. We’re you deeply saddened — or did you break out into a chorus of, “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead?”
Of course, Gemma was resigned to her fate. By the time we joined her on the road at the start of the episode, she had already said goodbye to Nero, and was now seeking some form of family closure. She made it up to Oregon with the help of a good-hearted trucker (Hello, Michael Chiklis!), and once there, she made a beeline for the nursing home to see Nate, now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s.
In the company of her father, Gemma was in confessional mode, apologizing for all the trouble she put her parents through over the years (“I hurt you, and embarrassed you. … I’ve caused so much pain in my life.”).
Nate: “God forgives everything, sweetheart.”
Gemma: “I hope so.”
She came hoping that she could illicit a little hint of recognition from her father and was briefly rewarded for her efforts. When Nate heard Gemma utter her name, he recalled a “good girl” who loved flowers and would play in the garden forever.
And it’s that peaceful, happy image she will take to the grave.
So now what, “SOA” fans? How do you think this engrossing series wraps things up? Do you get the sense that Jax has one more trick up his sleeve leading up to the mayhem vote? Or do you think that he, like Gemma, is resigned to a bloody fate?
While we bide our time for one more week, here are some random observations:
— It makes some sense that Unser would go down trying to protect Gemma, the woman he always loved from afar. But was anyone else peeved that Kurt Sutter and his writers took poor Unser out that way? Couldn’t the old man live out his last days in peace?
— Oh, Juice. A martyr at the very end. Like Gemma, resigned to his fate. “Just let me finish my pie.” Perfect.
— It was great to see Chiklis pop up. One last tip of the cap from Sutter to his old show, “The Shield.” Bravo.
— Jax winds up in bed with Wendy. I’ve been seeing that one coming for weeks.
— Interesting how Sutter and his writers have Jax keeping his SAMCRO brothers in suspense about what happened during the table meeting of presidents. (“I’ll fill you in later. Trust me, it’s going to be fine”). Oh, and we, too, have been left hanging. What’s the bylaw Jax wants thrown out? It’s all leaving enough doubts in our mind about Jax’s fate going into the finale. Then again, “Mayhem has to land.”
— Are you taking any sides in the pending street war? Do you think we’ve seen the last of August Marks?
— Gemma’s final words of advice to her son: “Nero is a good man. Stay close to him.”
— Gemma on Tara’s death: “I barely remember what happened that night.” Jax: “But it happened.”
— All those blood splats on those pristine white shoes. Yikes.
— Tonight’s send-off song was “Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran:
When the sins of my father
Weigh down in my soul
And the pain of my mother
Will not let me go …