In Defense of Sons of Anarchy

Spoilers of the Season 6 Premier

Last night’s Sons of Anarchy premier contained standard SOA fair as well as a shocking ending leaving fans reeling. sons-of-anarchy-season-6-premiere-strawResponsibility dictates that I inform you that this essay contains massive spoilers for the Season 6 premier.  There is a lot of material in the premier episode including Chibs getting straight with Juice, Tig’s remorse about his daughter’s death, and Tara’s transformation in jail. But it is the school shooting that is at the heart of the controversy. Many say the show has gone too far. But I’m going to tell you why the event is just right.

Creator Kurt Sutter did not use the scene as a stunt. If you watched the promo for next week, the shooting has a huge impact on the club and on Jax. It seems the club has indirectly supplied the gun that was used in the shooting. Sutter told Entertainment Weekly, “My desire to do this story just felt very organic to the world: These guys deal guns, and there’s a certain amount of disconnect once you put those guns out on the street not really knowing whose hands they’re gonna end up in and what violence that they create…And to have a father who’s struggling with boys of his own and questioning the violence of his life, and is this right for his kids — it just seemed like a very organic story to tell”

The emotional implications of this are huge for character development as well as the show’s end game. “I knew if we did it, it would really have to be at the end and, ultimately, I realized it was a good way to take us to the end,” Sutter says as the show plans to end after Season 7. “It’s not being done arbitrarily. It ultimately becomes the final straw in their relationship with the gun business and the domino that takes us to a fairly tragic and epic conclusion.” The events move the story; it’s not there just to drop jaws.

-sons-of-anarchy--seSecondly, the scene was very well done. Sutter kept the depiction of the violence to a minimum. The scene focuses on the child and his mental state. The child is shown looking through a notebook. He rolls back his sleeves breaking the illusion that he is a clean cut boy in a school uniform. He has cuts up and down his arms, probably self-inflicted. The boys pull a gun from his back pack leaving his journal on the bench. The viewers see drawings of a very disturbed mind. The scene cuts to guns shots and flashes through a school window. Viewers never once see him actually shoot anyone. The scene is done tastefully keeping any actual violence shown to a minimum.

The scene depicts real life and this is why it hits so hard to viewers. For those like me, it’s an emotional impact that I know will change every aspect of the show. For others, it’s linked to a personal past experiences that can be very emotional. This is not his first instance that SOA has dealt with such emotional topics. Season 2 dealt with Gemma being raped, a violent affair that happens to thousands of women every day. In Season 3, Jacks son is kidnapped. These three events are all very real but have been used in other shows as plot points. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer dealt with the issue of schooling shooting but the episode was cut because soon before airing Columbine happened. Criminal Minds has also dealt with the after affects from school shooting victims. It’s not taboo; its real life presented in art.

The events of the premier will resound through the last two seasons changing Jax and bringing the club to its eventual demise. Powerful, tasteful, and though provoking, the shooting is the epicenter of everything that the club does now. Like in the real world, it will change every life it touches.

 

 

Read the original Entertainment Weekly article here.

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