Following another intense ride, Sons of Anarchy Season 5 will turn off its engines tonight.
But not before Jax deals with Pope... and Tara considers her future... and Clay makes plans outside of his now-former club... and we learn a lot more about Donal Logue's shady ex-U.S. Marshal.
Fortunately, Kurt Sutter is here to tease "J'ai Obtenu Cette," another 90-minute episode that the creator describes below as HUGE.
TV Fanatic: It's been very interesting watching Jax's scenes with Pope because they may be not as far removed as we thought in the beginning of the season. Â
Kurt Sutter: I always said that in a weird way that Pope would become this odd mentor for him and that perhaps Jax is closer to Pope than he is to Nero. He's more of a guy who can navigate within the life than he is a guy who's destined to get out.
TVF: Let's talk about Nero because I love Jimmy Smits. What's the longevity of that character? Is he going to be around next season?
KS: I'd love for him to be around. My sense is that we finished this season with it sort of open-ended because quite honestly some of it is just Jimmy's availability and we're trying to figure that out for next season... I just like the energy of Smits in terms of being a badass but sort of being a badass that's perhaps has a better perspective on things. To me, he's a little bit more of the embodiment of JT, that he's got a lot of those qualities that his dad has, which I think is why Jax is whether consciously or unconsciously drawn to Nero.
TVF: And then there's Clay. After last week's episode, he's out of the group, but he's definitely not gone. I know a lot of viewers are not happy that he hasn't been killed off.
KS: I joke with Ron [Perlman] all the time that most viewers show up week to week because they think maybe this is the episode that Clay gets a bullet and Ron jokes with me every time he gets a script, 'Do I make it out alive?'
And, yeah, to me first of all, Clay is deeply embedded in the mythology of the show and I'm not done telling stories about him. Yes, I felt like it was time for him to get his comeuppance in terms of the betrayal that he's done to the club. That reached the breaking point this season and there's no way, as you saw in episode 12, obviously Jax wanted it to go a little bit deeper but I don't think that storytelling is up with Clay. I think Clay is not a guy who is going to lick his wounds and disappear. There's machinations happening for him to basically do what he's been doing for his own gain and we see him trying to reach out to the people that perhaps may not have all that much faith and trust in Jax. So I think in the finale we'll see where all that leads and then we sort of see where we set up Clay for season six.
TVF: Things are not looking good for Tara. Is she going to be saved?
KS: Yeah. My struggle with Tara is always trying to keep her real and trying to keep her believable. This season there was this sense of her being committed to the club and that her struggle wasn't so much, 'Am I in or am I out?' It was more about, 'Okay, I'm in but how do I define myself within the club?' But I think we see her attempt to do that all season long and I think the result of the end of this season, what happened with Otto and with that cross, is that I think she sees that perhaps it can't be done. That she's given it a try, she's really tried to make it work, and she's really trying to find her place in here, but that ultimately perhaps she can't beat Gemma.
Perhaps she's not cut out to be the queen and so you find her sort of calling back all those promises that Jax made to her in [Sons of Anarchy Season 4] in terms of getting married and getting out and calling back that scene where she says, 'This is what you promised me, Baby, and we tried and now it's time for you to come through on your promise and let's do the right thing here.'
TVF: Your scenes as Otto were phenomenal. Do you like watching yourself when you go back and watch dailies and the episodes?
KS: I really don't. It's very difficult for me and, not to sound hokey, I joke I'm the only one who will employ me as an actor, but it's difficult. I have to do it because I have to edit it. I have to cut it and put it together but it's fine. I love the process. I started out as an actor, so for me it's always fun to sort of jump back in there and especially it was so much fun working with somebody as solid and talented as Maggie. That was so much fun.
TVF: Is poor Juice ever going to catch a break?
KS: I know. It was never my plan, but I think if I follow the reality of the narrative and I follow the reality of that character, to me Juice is just the guy who's probably a little too simple and a little too vulnerable for this life. So consequently he always finds himself in these circumstances again and again and again.
Quite honestly it's sort of the same dynamic that happened with Opie, with Ryan Hurst's character, it's like I created that character and you write that character and then you have an actor who gives you his interpretation and Ryan's interpretation was too soulful and so tragic... that informed me in terms of where to go with that character. So at the end there is just no way that I felt I could every bring Opie back to that table as just one of the guys.
That's the same thing with Juice. Theo brings such an innocence... in sort of an idiot savant kind of way and that's Theo's interpretation of that character so I write to it and yet when I'm trying to find a way out for him I'm like, 'No. He's just too naÃ¯ve and stupid. It's just not going to happen.' But you'll see. I do feel like that perhaps at the end of this season, not that the secrets won't still be out there, but I think you do maybe get a sense that he is at least initially paid the toll.
TVF: You've said that Season 7 will be the last. Is that solid or are you leaving the door open a little bit just in case?
KS: It might get halfway through Season 6 and I go to [FX President John Landgraf] and I say, 'Look. I don't think I can do it in another thirteen episodes.' My sense is one of two things would happen: They would either give me a couple more episodes into the six and seven to do it, or then we discuss the possibility of a Season 8.
What I don't want to do, quite honestly, is just stretch out stories and do a bunch of filler episodes just to get an eighth season in terms of prolonging the product. Do you know what I mean? So I feel like where we're going now that I'll be able to write to those seven seasons, but if suddenly the story takes a left turn in the middle of Season 6 and I go to them and say, 'Look. I need another season,' my sense is that they'd be open to try to find a solution... I say seven seasons just because I know I can write to that and also just because I know the nature of the beast and the nature of the model that I know that's realistic.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.