TODAY'S PAPER
64° Good Evening
64° Good Evening
EntertainmentTV

'Sons of Anarchy' review: Final season gets supersized launch

From left, Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller and

From left, Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller and Marilyn Manson as Ron Tully in "Sons of Anarchy" episode 701, "Black Widower." Credit: FX Networks / Prashant Gupta

THE SHOW "Sons of Anarchy"

WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 10 on FX

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The seventh and final season begins, with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) seeking answers to the murder of his wife (Maggie Siff). That answer, Gemma (Katey Sagal), is right under his nose, but mommy dearest has no intention of telling anyone. Meanwhile, Juice (Theo Rossi) goes into hiding.

MY SAY What's wrong with "Sons of Anarchy"?

Seriously, what? You're a fan, or you wouldn't be reading this right now. Maybe you know, but I've puzzled over the question for years -- never coming up with an answer because "SOA" has done so many things right: insane production values, vivid characters, excellent acting and direction -- often by the legendary Paris Barclay -- and superlative writing, with creator Kurt Sutter at that helm.

It has long flirted with Shakespearean and biblical themes, such as how cycles of violence beget more cycles, even brother against father. It is about the base, mindless avarice of humanity, the male part of humanity especially -- inspired perhaps by director John Cassavetes, who once observed, "I love men -- we're so stupid."

"SOA" could've been one of The Great Ones, but it's not, won't ever be, and I want to know why.

A possible answer: It can be a punch to the face, a knee to the groin, with nothing particularly compensatory in return. The sixth season was very nearly a commentary on Newtown -- the horror of gun violence, leading SAMCRO to pull out of the grisly trade, which led (complicated story shortened) to the horrific slaying of two key characters in the finale. Now, the cycle begins anew, with a vengeful Jax and his crew blindly following him.

It won't end well for Jax -- we already know that. He's too dumb for it to end well.

Mostly, though, I wanted something deeper, more resonant from "SOA": Maybe a meditation -- wrong word for this show, of course, but it'll do -- on the horror of gun violence. Maybe an urgent message that something has to be done about media violence, too. Instead, I'm left with a bitter echo of Cassavetes: I love this show. It's so stupid.

BOTTOM LINE Fans will love Tuesday night's supersized launch. I'm just limp and weary from it all.

GRADE C

More Entertainment