Are you freaking out? If you've just seen the season-three finale of Sons of Anarchy on FX, you are totally freaking out. To put the huge happenings in context and find out what it all means, I just caught up with SAMCRO's real-life shot-caller, Kurt Sutter, to find out why season three played the way it did and what changes the finale sets up for season four. (Haven't seen the series-altering finale yet? Then hit your DVR right now, catch up on the craziness, and come back to read this spoiler-tastic Q&A when you're done!)
Are you ready to know if Tara's having a boy or a girl, when Trinity might return to the show, and what traits the late, great Agent Stahl had in common with The Shield's Vic Mackey? Then get in here!
KURT SUTTER Q&A
SONS OF ANARCHY SEASON THREE IN REVIEW
Do you think either the Belfast or baby Abel storylines went on too long? If you could do it again, would you do things differently?
Kurt Sutter: First of all, no, I wouldn't do things differently. Everybody works incredibly hard, and I feel like the writing was great, the acting was great, the directing was great—I feel like all our efforts have produced great TV, but ultimately, yes, some of those episodes, people may not enjoy as much as others.
Going to Ireland this year was something I've always wanted to do since the conception of the show, I knew we were going to do an arc that would bring us to the roots of the club and gun-running and bring to the surface the dilemma of John Teller. We needed to get information out of Ireland that advanced the series, in the form of those letters [from John Teller to Maureen]. In the big arc of the series that we needed to play all that stuff out.
But I get it. I understand [the fan reaction]. People are really plugged into our guys and I think we spent a lot of time on new characters like Kellan (James Cosmo) and Jimmy O (Titus Welliver), and I was fascinated by all that stuff, and the thematic stuff of the IRA and outlaws—to me it was all fascinating stories to tell—but I think ultimately people just wanted to be in Charming with our guys, and get back to more of what we did the first two seasons. I always understand that. There's always a risk when you go outside the box a little bit.
But yeah, I was little surprised that people just hated that f--kin' baby, man. [Laughs.] They just hated that f--kin' baby and I was like, uh, OK. They just didn't give a s--t. I got a lot of angry tweets saying, 'We don't care about the baby.' And I get it, but I wouldn't do anything differently.
I think this season, in the bigger context of the series, is a piece of the puzzle that will fit in nicely and will make sense. I get it and I understand it, but I also felt like they were really compelling stories and really important to the characters and the series as well.
If you had to put Father Ashby in a good guy or bad guy box where would he be?
Father Ashby is ultimately a good guy. Kellan Ashby was one of those characters that I love to write, [a character] that is very gray, where you're not quite sure if you should love him or hate him.
It was so great getting somebody like James Cosmo who has such gravitas as an actor, because Ashby really believes he's doing the right thing. When you're a priest and when you're living in the circumstances that he's been living in for so long, he does things that are against the law and obviously against the laws of the church as well, like helping the IRA, but he feels like he's doing it for the greater good.
Ashby was obviously was expediting an agenda with Jimmy as well, but everything that he was doing with Abel, he really believed that it was [because of] this promise he made to John Teller—or the promise the John Teller made to himself, that he wasn't able to keep—that somehow this was him doing the right thing for this family. "If I can't save the son, I'll save the grandson." Kellan believed that.
And I think when Kellan conveyed that information to Jax, I think that message impacted Jax deeply, either consciously or unconsciously.
So was this the big season of John Teller's ghost, or is there more to be revealed from the dead king?
I think the first couple of seasons were about John Teller the conflicted hero and this season was about knocking him off his pedestal a little and revealing him as a guy who was ultimately an adulterer and really broke Gemma's (Katey Sagal) heart—
Yeah, I was shocked—shocked—to learn that a member of SAMCRO would be unfaithful to his bride.
[Laughs.] But you know what I'm saying—to the point of falling in love with somebody. That's how he broke the rules. He was in love with this woman and Gemma may have had notions of other stuff going on but not to the point where he had a child. The fact that he was planning to leave her for Maureen (Paula Malcomson)—even not knowing about the child—and the fact that all the rest of the club knew, all that was heartbreaking and embarrassing for Gemma. This season was about shedding some light on that, and getting Jax to the position with his dad where he realizes the message that John Teller needed to tell was a message from a desperate man, and the result of it was more tragedy, and Jax feeling more duped than ever. Jax continues to grow away from the legacy of his father.
How long have you been planning to kill Agent Stahl?
It's interesting. I brought the character in after Agent Kohn (Jay Karnes) died, as a different kind of nemesis, and I really never envisioned the character expanding the way it has, and that's really as a result of Ally Walker. She just brought the crazy eyes!
We had conversations early on that she has these very masculine qualities but that she's also very overt about her sexuality, and she's just a different kind of animal than you've seen before in terms of female law enforcement. Ally brought that on gangbusters.
After episode nine in season one where [Otto] slammed her head against a f--kin' table, and she had that scene in the room where she was looking at Otto, it was at that moment that I realized that here's a woman with an ax to grind for a couple of seasons, and we started to plan that out.
There were some comments about her becoming too much of a sociopath, but to me it's always fascinating when you see that happen in law-enforcement agents, that they can ultimately become more evil than the evil they're pursuing. And we set her up from the jump that she was a person that lived out of the box anyhow, and she would go to any lengths to get what she wanted.
WHAT'S TO COME FOR THE M.C. IN SEASON FOUR
What do you want people take away from the finale about how Jax is now going to operate differently than John did?
Jax was finding out that John's whole life was essentially a lie and that he was going to bail on it. His dad was going to bail on Gemma and had this kid with this other woman, and ultimately that he wasn't as strong a man as Jax had envisioned him to be.
I think Jax is not running away, and he is committed to Tara, and he's not looking for something outside of the life. Obviously, the decisions that he makes put him deeper into the machinations of the club. He's distanced himself from the notion of trying to change things. Really, in a lot of ways, he's becoming more like his mother.
Can we assume season four will open about 14 months after the events that ended season three?
There will definitely be a gap in time. I haven't decided if we'll start with them in jail and getting out or if we'll begin with them already out of jail, but we're not going to spend half a season or a season in jail. Sons is not going to become Oz.
What will Charming look like in 14 months?
It'll be a different Charming. There will be a new mayor and a new sheriff. The 21st century is going to land at SAMCRO's doorstep. It'll be interesting, because the 21st century will also bleed into their lives. The gun business will be exponentially bigger as a result of the Irish deal, so they themselves will be upgrading, but everything else around them will also be changing. Not that I'm thematically trying to make a big point in terms of all that, but Charming really has been Mayberry—it's been an anachronism, and in my mind, we'll start to see that shift, and how do they handle that shift. Do they try to throw the brakes on it? Do they embrace it? What happens to the big fish when the pond starts to get bigger?
The club is so poor, and their finances start to get really sad after a while. Will they at least make some money out of this new guns deal?
Yes. They've had a tough run, ever since Abel was born, between legal fees and everything else, but I do think that, as Clay said to Gemma, this is an opportunity for them to finish big. We'll see that start to happen.
Will Kozik be sticking around in season four?
I love Kenny Johnson and I love the character, but one of the reasons why I didn't vote him in was because I wanted to leave it up in the air a little bit. I thought it would have been too neat if they had all this conflict and then it just went away. And because we did spend so much time away from our core guys this season, next season I really want to find some great storylines for our guys. Kenny is such a great actor that I don't want to waste that on some little three-episode arc. If I can use him, then I really want to find a way to use him rather than have him reduced to one of the guys riding up on a bike.
On a related note, let's talk about David LaBrava. He's perfect as silent muscle, but what is Happy's place in the cast and how do you decide when he gets a line?
I say this not in a judgmental or flip way, but really in a character way, that a little Happy goes a long way. Do you know what I mean? Too much Happy storyline is overwhelming. The moment he had in the torture scene where everyone else is appalled and he's smiling like a four-year-old, that's all you need. Happy is a little bit of the sociopath, and you don't like it to get too stereotyped or clichéd. But D.L. will definitely be around. I think he'll be in nine or 10 episodes next season.
Regarding the new prospects, can we call them Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? And will they be sticking around as lackeys?
[Laughs.] They're so unlikely in terms of this club! It's my experience that the more time I spend with the guys in this world, that actually it's the guys that never fit in that are the guys that are pledging clubs. That's why I love those two actors. They're funny without having to do much with them, and I imagine they'll be back. Whether or not they'll be patched in, we'll wait to have that play out.
And is Dayton Callie coming back next season?
Oh, yes, yes, definitely.
We got a lot of new gangs this year: the Irish Kings are kind of like a gang, plus Grim Bastards and Calaveras—are we done adding new gangs, or do you plan to keep expanding the universe?
Perhaps. I don't know if we'll do any more MCs next year, but on The Shield every couple of seasons we would get bored with our clubs and gangs, and we'd introduce new ones, but I think some that we've introduced will come back. The Hell's Angels has this relationship with the East Bay Dragons up in Oakland, which is a black club, and that was sort of the inspiration behind the relationship between the Grim Bastards and the Sons. It's just such an odd thing for me, that there's that old-school rule in these MCs where you can be every other race except African-American, you can be every religion, but you can't be black, and yet they have these relationships with clubs that are all black, and they're friends, they hang out together, they go on runs together. And they all get along, but [the segregation is] just accepted on a certain level, and I just find that fascinating—it's just a very interesting dynamic that they all live by.
Is it true that Lenny the Pimp is one of the First Nine founders of the club? Are we going to see more of him next season?
Possibly. I think Sonny Barger [a legendary real-life member of Hell's Angels] was fun and did a great job, and if there's room for it in the story, I'm sure I can get Sonny to come back and do something, yeah. And yes, Lenny was part of the First Nine; I think we talk about it in the iPad app—we have a whole thing coming out on the First Nine. The only ones still living are Clay (Ron Perlman), Piney (William Lucking) and Lenny.
WHAT'S TO COME FOR THE FAMILY IN SEASON FOUR
Gemma and Jax both think Tara (Maggie Siff) is having a boy. Is that the case?
Uh…I haven't decided on that, but I'll say this: It is the Sons of Anarchy.
Speaking of sons and the occasional daughters, will we see Trinity (Zoe Boyle) again? Does she have more of a role to play?
I think she has a role to play. I don't know if it will be next season, but I think that at some point, perhaps, as the mythology continues to unfold, I think there might be an opportunity to bring her back. She was so much fun, and I thought Zoe did a great job.
Will Fiona (Bellina Logan) and Kerrianne (Q'Orianka Kilcher) be visiting or moving to the States?
It's actually one of the deleted scenes that we didn't have time for in one of the episodes where Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) talks about that he understands why they need to stay and he's the one that's going to make the effort to go and visit them. But again, I think those actors are really great, and if it makes sense to bring them around into story, I definitely will.
And this is a fan question from @JenMarie7890, via Twitter: Can we get some more Jax-Tara backstory exploring what they were like as 16-year-old kids?
Obviously we're not going to do flashbacks, but if there's a way to get out some of that information, like we did in season one with Stahl, in a way that makes sense and actually moves the story along whether it's narrative or just character, then yeah, I'm always hoping to reveal some of the mythology, I just don't know off-hand what that might mean in terms of season four. But yes, I'm always looking for ways to shed some light on stuff like that, because I think it's cool.
So what do you guys think of season three now that you can see the whole thing in context? Were you dazzled by the club's long con? Do you believe that Jax is now the undisputed tactical leader of SAMCRO? And what do you think Jax and Tara should name their new baby? Hit the comments with your thoughts on the season finale!
TWITTER: Follow @JenniferArrow for more Sons of Anarchy all season long.