'Sons of Anarchy' season finale: Star Maggie Siff talks about Tara's fate and the episode's most brutal moments

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"Sons of Anarchy" Maggie Siff
SONS OF ANARCHY: Maggie Siff. Cr: James Minchin III / FX

First of all, yes, that was Katey Sagal singing "To Sir With Love" in the "Sons of Anarchy" season finale.

Second -- and this is where the major spoilers for the Season 5 finale, "J'ai Obtenu Cette," begin, meaning this is your final warning to stop reading if you haven't watched it yet -- no, we can't believe Jax pulled off that switcheroo on Tig and Damon Pope (phew!), that Bobby Elvis quit as SAMCRO VP, that Tig managed to save that sweet puppy, that Otto bit off his own tongue, and that Gemma fooled Clay so completely.

[Related: Check out photos from the finale]

We almost -- almost -- felt sorry for Mr. Morrow.

We definitely felt sorry for Tara, who ended the episode in handcuffs, in the back of Eli's cop car, headed off to the hoosegow. Gemma promised her that she'd make sure Tara ended up in jail if she tried to leave Charming with Jax's sons, and since Tara's headed for jail, Gemma seemingly kept that promise.

Or did she?

We talked to Maggie Siff, Tara's Emmy-deserving portrayer, about the events leading up to her appearance in that cop car, and she had a different take on how she might have landed there …

How sorry is Tara now that she told Gemma exactly what she planned to do -- to take the boys and leave town?

Well, yeah, I mean, I think she's pretty sorry. Although you know, I think [series creator] Kurt [Sutter] wrote that ending of the season between them really well, in that I think when Tara says to Gemma, "You can't hurt me anymore," I almost don't think she's speaking literally. I feel like she's speaking more in that deep‑down way.

I don't know that she will really regret saying that to her, but I think she probably, as people tend to do, underestimated Gemma's reach and her darkness. It's also not … the finale is somewhat ambiguous in terms of why Tara has ended up in prison. Even I don't really know the answer to that.

[Related: Read our pre-finale talk with Maggie Siff]

You think there's a chance Gemma didn't turn her in?

I read it as a little bit ambiguous, because you have the Lee Toric [guest star Donal Logue] character who's also threatening her, and you have Gemma who's threatening her. So I think it's somewhat ambiguous.

Gemma and Tara have one of the truest love-hate relationships in primetime; they sometimes love each other and are supportive of each other, have a mother-daughter relationship, but then there are those times when they really hate each other. Did Tara maybe not believe, in the end, that Gemma would carry out her very descriptive threat of sending Tara to jail and what that would be like for her?

Yeah, definitely! My experience inside of Tara is really constantly conflicted and bouncing around like a little pinball, in terms of what her emotional response to Gemma is, because Gemma can be extraordinarily loving and strong, kind of like a rock, when you need a rock. Then she can just totally disappoint you and cause you an incredible amount of pain, and this year she's been really unreliable and unstable. Then she can just be downright sort of evil.

I don't think that Tara has encountered that side of Gemma as fully as she does at the end of the season. Other people have encountered it, but I think that because Tara's the love of Jax's life, Gemma has worked hard to love and accept Tara. We haven't seen her turn on her in exactly this way before.

[Related: A day out with 'Sons of Anarchy's' Katey Sagal

Do you think Tara absolutely would have left Charming with the boys if the police hadn't shown up?

I do, yeah. I think that living through the whole arc of the season, realizing how far in (criminal activity) the club was, and then really seeing how far in Jax was … that and his violence toward Wendy was like, wow. That was the final straw, you know. It was a big wakeup call. I don't think she was staying, no. I think she was out.

Jax and Tara seemed very disconnected this season, emotionally and physically. What do you think, specifically, caused that? They seemed to be living separate lives in a way.

Mmm hmm, yeah. I mean, I think that he took his eye off the ball, really, in terms of their relationship and what was going on with her. She tried to have some conversations with him where she was like, "I really feel like if we don't get out now, we're never getting out."

I think the other thing that became true of Tara this season is that she was able to speak. When she would speak truth to him, she was able to do it in a way that was really loving, but much stronger, more confident in herself, and less dependent on his need of her. I think being able to make all these plans and think it through on her own and do all of this was really surprising to him, in part because he hasn't really seen who she's become over the course of the season.

In a perfect world, what would happen for Tara next season?

It's funny, because what I think would be interesting for myself as an actor is not necessarily what I hope to happen for Tara as a character. I guess one thing that I enjoy in the character, I enjoy how bright she is. I think she's really at her best when you see her outsmarting people, the wilier part of her nature. I think that's something she shares in common with Gemma, actually, only she's just a little bit more savvy. I guess what I would like to see is I would like to see her outsmart a lot of people and get her kids and Jax out of Charming. That is the goal. That is the big goal for the character. Do I think that will happen? I don't think there would be a show if that happened.

But maybe that's what I hold deep hope out for with the character. In terms of myself as an actor, I think seeing her survive prison is going to be really interesting, and I think she's going to come out tougher. I'm excited to see who that new person is, because I think she's going to be different.

In terms of her relationship with Jax, the final shot in the finale is Jax sitting at the table with his sons, with Gemma standing right behind him after Tara has been taken away.

Jax is so angry with Tara and feeling betrayed by her plan to leave town with the kids. Can their relationship survive next season?

I really don't know (laughing). I genuinely have no idea. I think there's a lot between them that is breaking in that moment in the nursery where she tells him what she plans to do.

What I imagined in that scene where she tells him this is what she's doing, and he walks out to get the door and it's Eli at the door -- in Tara's mind, in that moment, we've had the first conversation of many conversations. It's like, she's just dropped the bomb, and then they're going to spend the night getting into it and talking it through. That gets really cut off at a moment when he feels incredibly betrayed.

Then she gets hauled off to prison, and I think she feels incredibly betrayed in a lot of ways, too. Maybe not directly by him, but certainly by the lies and by all of his promises. So, I don't know. They're in a very, very tenuous place. I can't imagine that he won't try to get her out of jail, but I can't imagine what their relationship will be like once she gets out.

Kurt Sutter talks about what's next for Jax: