We're officially on the back half of Sons of Anarchy's final season after Tuesday's "Greensleeves," and it's only going downhill from here. Now that someone — two someones, actually, as in Jax's preschooler Abel and baby Thomas — knows that Gemma killed Tara, the real unraveling of SAMCRO, and certainly the Teller family, begins.
SoA executive producer — and the director of "Greensleeves" — Paris Barclay talked to Yahoo TV about the development-dense episode, the characters whose futures we should most fear for (hint: pretty much all of them), and his reaction when he read the series finale script.
The last time we talked, you hinted Unser was not going to be the first person to find out Gemma killed Tara. On the list of people that would be possibilities, Thomas and Abel were not even on the planet.
[Laughs.] I knew from the beginning of the season that it was going to unravel through the children. We've been preparing you, and I'm surprised more people haven't picked up on it, that there's something wrong there, that there's a disturbance in the force.
I think Kurt and the writers have been very clever to do it like that, instead of doing it through the traditional investigative procedural way… it ends up being emotional, coming in an emotional outburst out of fear. Gemma is so afraid and is falling apart, and that leads to Abel finding out and actually hearing that she killed his mommy. We're at Episode 7, so we're right at the midpoint of the season, so, just like a good play, this would be the end of the first act of the two-act play, and the second act is going to unravel from there.
Was it tough filming that scene? It's one of the most pivotal scenes of the season, and you were working with small children.
We filmed it twice. The first time we did it... the baby Gemma had to hold took over the scene, and I think I directed Katey [Sagal] for her performance to be a little bit too loud, basically. The next time we did it, the baby was in a much better mood, and she did it in a hushed mad tone that was really fantastic. That was one of those times we actually had to come back another day.
I'm not blaming the children, I'm really blaming myself… and Abel [Evan and Ryder Londo], I didn't want him to go wide-eyed and say, "Oh my God" when he heard. He really should just be at the process of receiving the information, be surprised by it, but not know what to do with it. I couldn't really explain that to a child who's six. To be totally honest, what I did was, I stood by the camera, and I made the face that I wanted him to make. He imitated me. And then I gave him a dollar.
[Laughs.] Yes, he loves a dollar. A dollar is really exciting for him, and he knows if he does really well, especially when he has to go to sleep, which he has to do a lot in the story, he has to pretend like he's asleep. He's a really good sleep pretender, so after a successful take, I will give him a dollar. Sometimes two.
This really is the beginning of that big downward spiral, then?
Yep, it is. It's been pretty much a bad season of spiraling anyway, but now the spiral accelerates. Now we're getting to the part where the circle becomes tighter. When you're going down the tornado and you really start spinning, everything that everyone knows and finds out starts impacting everyone else and the decisions they make. As you see by the end of the episode, some of the decisions Jax makes end up being disastrous.
So much happened in this episode! Where does Juice really stand with the club? They gave him his cut back, but is forgiveness contingent on him being able to kill Lin in jail?
Juice is in deep sh--. It will continue to get worse for him. He is in the seventh circle of hell. Juice has been given an assignment, and he's going to try to get through it, but… it's going to get much worse for Juice. He's not going to be able to, I think, get back in the club's good graces, despite what he does.
We continue to be very frightened for Nero and his cardigans after this episode.
Yeah, Nero's cardigans, which have their own Twitter. Not spoiling anything, but you should absolutely be worried about Nero. He has one of his most beautiful scenes ever, where he pleads with Gemma and again expresses his love, but in a way that is more emotional and heartfelt than I think he's ever done before. She's in such a place of jeopardy and of fear and of confusion and of guilt, and Nero is an anchor to her. It would be horrible — I'm choosing my words very carefully — if she were to lose that, because he represents what's still good in her life. She doesn't have that much more to hang on to.
Unser, another big factor in this final season, tells Jax that Officer Eglee has agreed not to mention SAMCRO was present when she was shot. Jax assures Unser she's going to be safe, but are Tully's men going to accept that?
Yeah, Leland's still around, Tully's people are still around. Why would they allow this cop to live when she could actually identify them? She was shot several times in the back, but she seems to be able to sit up and talk. I would think she's in great jeopardy, and I'm not sure Jax has the time or the wherewithal to protect her. I would be keeping a watch on that hospital room.
We also haven’t seen Jury in a while, but the last time we did, he was very angry.
And understandably so, because it was his son who was killed. Jury will be back. That will be part of the unraveling, part of the final spiral downward, because Jury is the president of another charter of the Sons of Anarchy. He's not no one. It will be resolved, and it will be cataclysmic.
Christopher Backus was great as the titular Greensleeves, and he had one of the more memorable SoA deaths.
I just think he's dynamite. He came in and auditioned, and I didn't know who he was, but I've since learned, and we hung out with him and his lovely and talented wife [Mira Sorvino]. He's one of those people that I would love to have in any show I do.
He not only was really funny and really kind, but he had to go through quite a few times being thrown through a window. When Charlie Hunnam picks you up and throws you through the window, he doesn't really hold back, and he was stiff when that day was done. We were in a real loft in downtown Los Angeles, and it's something that had to be done pretty carefully, so we did do it quite a few times. He was a sport.
It was great to finally see Jax acknowledge to the club that he's been asking them to do things that are all about his personal revenge, and that they haven't refused him a single thing. But is there going to come a point where that's no longer true?
Wow, that's a really good question. I don't want to answer that. Let me be cagey about the answer to that. I think if I were in the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club and my boss were asking me to drive off a cliff, I would probably not. But some people would.
There's a moment when Jax is talking to the dead pastor's wife at the church, and he tells her his wife was murdered. Chibs gave him a look, like he was surprised Jax was sharing that.
Yes, that absolutely is making a point that it's only a week or two weeks after [Tara's death], and I think Chibs was genuinely surprised not only that Jax would share that, but that he would share it in a way to manipulate her. Considering how deeply wounded Jax was by Tara's death, it is very surprising to Chibs that that becomes fire for manipulation.
You've read the series finale script; it's being filmed now. What was your one-word reaction to it?
Bummed. I was bummed.
Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.