SPOILER ALERT: Sons of Anarchy character and storyline spoilers ahead.
It's here. And even if you were one of the Sons of Anarchy fans who got a couple of spoilers via last week's accidentally premature release of the book Sons of Anarchy: The Official Collector’s Edition, SoA executive producer and director Paris Barclay wants you to know that there are still plenty of reasons to tune in to Tuesday's supersize finale episode. "There are a lot of twists and turns on the road to the final song that's going to be sung in the show," Barclay tells Yahoo TV. "Just knowing the actual outcome isn't really the story. What the story is," he says, "is how we get there."
Barclay, who stepped in to direct a portion of the finale in October when SoA creator and finale main director Kurt Sutter was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy, will continue to work with Sutter — and SoA star Katey Sagal — on Sutter's next FX drama, The Bastard Executioner. Barclay, a huge part of SoA's success since Season 1, will spend four months producing and directing the Executioner pilot in Wales at the beginning of 2015. In the meantime, he broke down for us last week’s "Red Rose," which he also directed, and hinted that fans should be thinking about Nero and what he was really looking for in the Teller garage, the homeless woman who has popped up throughout the series, and the last five minutes of Tuesday's series ender, which he compares to the series finale of M*A*S*H.
So, the book leak…
Yes, we had a security lapse. My feeling is, if you really need to know because you just need to be a person who knows, then you should seek it out, but don't post it, don't put it on your Facebook page or in your timeline where people who really don't want to know, and want to just enjoy the final ride, can enjoy it. That's my thing. But then again, I also think that the outcome of great drama, the actual outcome, isn't really the drama. I do think it's going to be enjoyable whether you know or not how the last five minutes transpire.
Are the last five minutes of the finale the key? Are they that important?
There are a couple of bursts of twists that are both unexpected and take the story, even in the last episode, in a totally new direction. But the last five minutes are probably the most compelling. There are a couple of pockets in it early on — not to give too much away — but where you go, "Oh my god, I can't believe they did that! It's the finale, and they did that?"
We have to go back to "Red Rose," since it set up the finale so beautifully. I thought it was the best episode of the season. There were so many great moments with these characters, like the Jax and Nero scene at the beginning, which made me cry more than any of the deaths.
I've been bringing that up in interviews, and there you jumped ahead of me. I loved that scene. I loved the way they look at each other, and I love the writing of it. It's very what I call Pinteresque, in that Harold Pinter had this way of not writing the scene in the dialogue. The dialogue is about one thing, which is sort of what the scene seems to be about, but then they are silently communicating this other information to each other. Jax is saying it would be great if the boys go (to Nero's farm) for the weekend, but you can see in his face and you can see in the way Nero receives the information that Jax is saying, "I think it would be OK if you took care of my kids. That would be OK if you, in my absence, was the person who was their caretaker," and how Nero was moved by that. It's just masterful. It's great writing to tee it up, and those guys together were just awesome. I had dinner with Charlie [Hunnam, who plays Jax] on Saturday night, and I was telling him that was one of my favorite scenes of the entire season, because it was so subtle and so beautifully done.
A few burning questions from "Red Rose" that may or may not factor into the finale: Why did Jax stumble and limp on his foot at the beginning of the episode?
Because his foot was broken.
Jax's foot or Charlie's?
Charlie. Actually, his toe was broken. It became related to the story when he realized his toe was broken and there was nothing we could do about it. It's not like a professional football player, where you just shoot him up with cortisone and he plays on a broken leg. We thought it is kind of interesting that Jax, on this day when things are really wrapping up, and he has so much to do, wakes up and has some little physical infirmary. That's kind of interesting and provocative in a way. Charlie was the one who sold it to us as an idea, how this could be some sort of psychological — you know how [people], especially kids, get this when something bad is happening. It manifests itself into some sort of physical ailment. My son gets this all the time. When things are wrong at school, he suddenly not only has a stomachache, but his foot hurts and he has trouble going to sleep. It was sort of that kind of thing — just a weakness, a vulnerability — to him, when he has so much to do. It just added another interesting level, so we kept it even after his foot healed, which it did over the course of the episode. He just kept on limping.
There is a moment when Abel comes into the kitchen, and he asks Wendy where Grandma is. He said goodbye to Gemma when she visited him at the school, and seemed to understand that she was leaving, so why does he ask that?
You are such a good watcher. That's a good question. Why does he ask? He asks because he may not have fully understood what his grandma was saying when he saw her at the schoolyard. Even though he processes a lot, he also picks up a lot of feelers that something is going on with Grandma. Something is happening, and there is a lot of energy focused in that area, but something about her demeanor when he saw her — it's like, "I don't know, because I'm only five, exactly what it is, but I wonder what's happening with her."
Later, when Nero goes to the Teller home to talk to Wendy, he asks if he can look through the garage for some tools. Can we assume he was not looking for tools, that he went into that garage for another reason?
That's a question I can't answer, but I think more viewers should be as astute as you are.
Why did Nero feel he couldn't be the one to go to Gemma, that he had to send Unser?
Ooh, that's a really good question, and I had the same question originally when I thought about it. Kurt's thinking, which I eventually came to believe, is that Nero would not be able to stop anything from happening for a couple of reasons. One, because of his relationship to Gemma and his relationship to Jax he feels that if he got in between them, he would either end up killing Jax or Jax would end up killing them both, and it would be a disaster. Unser, on the other hand, has Gemma's ear and has Jax's ear, and has the law. He could get up there, arrest Gemma, take her out of danger, put her in a cell, do a lot of stuff that Nero couldn't do. Nero also thought Unser could be more persuasive with Jax than Nero felt he could be, and more persuasive with Gemma. He was technically right. If you really think about where those characters live, I don't think anyone would be better placed to convince Jax not to do what he did than Unser. Unfortunately, he failed.
We saw the famous homeless woman (played by Olivia Burnette), who we have seen throughout the series, in this episode. Will we get any closure on that storyline, or is she meant to remain a mystery?
I would say that the homeless woman's role in the story is not done.
So much happened in "Red Rose," yet there’s still so much to answer or wrap up in the finale: Jax's fate, Nero and the farm, Wendy, the boys, the Mayhem vote, August Marks, Barosky, the Irish, Tyler and the Mayans, the truth about John Teller. What's the pace of the finale?
Actually, the finale is kind of, I use the word "elegiac." It's not super fast-paced. It has some bursts of action, but primarily it has kind of a beautiful, mellow, almost like… I compare it to the finale of M*A*S*H in a way. It has almost an Adagio for Strings kind of quality to it, which I think is quite beautiful. I was actually surprised by how elegant it is. I think it's a good and fitting and honoring conclusion to the story that Kurt and everybody has worked so hard to tell for seven years. I don't think it's trivial. I do think it is a period. It is not a question mark, it is not a dash, it ends with a period.
When we read it — we did a big reading of the finale, and everyone was there, all the heads of the studio, even Peter Rice, the head of Fox Entertainment was there, [FX CEO] John Landgraf was there — and it was hard for us to get through it. There was a time that some of us actually had to take a moment, including our stars, and then pick it up after a little beat, to get through it because it was very emotional. It feels great. It feels like the right way to conclude it.
Are you going to join Kurt Sutter and the cast on the Anarchy Afterward post-finale show?
I probably won't get there until the very end because I think I'm going to have a long day [directing an episode of Glee], but I think I'm going to get there, unwashed and exhausted, just to be a part of the final sendoff with everyone else. To toast the show with everyone.
The Sons of Anarchy series finale airs Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 10 p.m. on FX.