Tuesday TV: Sons of Anarchy Finale, Special Shark Tank, Parenthood and More
Charlie Hunnam, Dayton Callie | Photo Credits: Prashant Gupta/FX
The price of power sits heavy on the shaggy head of Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the prince-turned-leader of a troubled biker kingdom on FX's Sons of Anarchy, wrapping its fifth and best-yet season tonight with a super-sized 90-minute finale (10/9c). A few weeks ago, in a moment worthy of this series' Shakespearian ambitions, Jax told his disgraced, dethroned evil stepfather Clay (Ron Perlman): "I'm tired of being crushed under the weight of greedy men who believe in nothing."
In last week's episode, amid the violent showdowns and gunfights as Jax attempts to extricate his club from various drug and gun-running rabbit holes, he confides to his lieutenant, who has thwarted Jax's efforts to put Clay down for good: "You can't sit in this chair without being a savage." Substitute horses for hogs and swords for sidearms, and you'd almost think you were in Game of Thrones territory.
Jax is no saint, let's be clear. His final act in the penultimate episode was to assault his ex-junkie ex (and mother of his first-born son), forcibly injecting her with a speedball to keep her at arm's length from his family. Savage? Absolutely. But not without consequences, which is what sets apart current-day Sons from its earlier years, which seemed to celebrate the unruly gang's cowboy criminal antics with less attention to the corrosive side effects.
Bloody tragedy, outrageous betrayals and exhumed skeletons from the founding fathers' dark past have shaken and broken the club beyond repair this season. No wonder so many are looking for a way out, none more desperately than Jax's wife Tara (Maggie Siff), who pleads to Jax in a climactic moment tonight: "If we stay here, we'll end up like the two people we hate most," referring to Clay and his former "old lady" Gemma (Katey Sagal), who's at the center of this family circle's twisted web of deceit.
A lot happens in this typically grisly and twisty finale, which both literally and figuratively could have been titled "The Dogs of War." Actual title: "J'ai Obtenu Cette," which roughly translates from the French to "I got this," a callback to the last words spoken by Jax's beloved friend Opie, whose jailhouse murder was one of the season's most pivotally wrenching events. If this makes you think payback of various sorts is on the menu, you wouldn't be mistaken. (But I bet you'll never guess who spends much of the episode speaking French.)
"I'm just a mechanic looking out for my family," Jax tells a suspicious associate, insisting rather disingenuously that he's no mastermind, after another momentous caper goes down. The plot mechanics may go for baroque on Sons of Anarchy, but the epic and often losing battle to preserve one's soul amid the mayhem couldn't be more searing and primal. As an observer wryly declares after one of this episode's most lurid actions: "Way to commit."
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LAND SHARKS: Who let the sharks out of their Friday night cage? As my colleague Stephen Battaglio recently wrote, ABC's Shark Tank is the stealth sleeper of network reality-show hits this season, quietly amassing an impressive audience on Fridays with its enjoyable and often aspirational spectacle of eager entrepreneurs and visionaries pitching their business plan to a panel of opinionated and often bluntly skeptical moguls, in hopes that someone will invest in their get-rich-eventually schemes.