I adopted a wait-and-see attitude as Season Six began, and the waiting is over. That any series is worthy of discussion, six years into its run, is impressive on its own. I don’t think Season Six was an advance over previous seasons, but it may be asking too much to think that would happen.
The quality of Season Six was at the level of its predecessors, for the most part. There were more “extended” episodes … I lost count, but a lot of them ran 90 minutes. And it didn’t always seem necessary. On a show like this, which at its best is still often spinning its wheels in a circle, the extra time just meant more room to stretch out storylines that were already too extended. It’s an odd thing: I suspect Sons of Anarchy would work better with, say, a four-season limit. It would force Kurt Sutter to trim the excess (not that he sees any of SOA as excess). Having said that, the series remains compelling, and that fact alone suggests there is no reason why the show should have ended its run.
As always, Season Six gave us the deaths of many characters, including two of the most important. Both of their deaths were filled with emotion, but the truth is, one of them should have died a couple of seasons ago, and I’m not sure the other needed to die at all. The buildup to the latter was superb, even if it took too much time to get there, and that might summarize Season Six, and in fact many of the last few seasons: the outcomes of events carry great impact, but the road to those outcomes isn’t always concise.
The connection between Sons of Anarchy and Shakespeare’s tragedies is oft-noted, and this was especially evident in the season finale (Sutter has noted this, himself). The last shocking event was done as well as any in the history of the series, and while I might complain about the way things stretch out in the show, in this case, you understood why. There are too many dead bodies strewn across the SOA landscape, in that so many of them are unknown to us, just the detritus of gangdom. But Sutter is always at the top of his game when it comes to the deaths of characters we have come to know. Some of the more outrageous moments of violence get our attention … they are another thing Sutter is very good at. But it’s the end of people we know deeply that sticks with us, and which makes Sons of Anarchy so strong.
I can’t say Sons of Anarchy is erratic. Its highs are equal to earlier years, and it doesn’t have lows so much as it has repetition. There are only so many ways to hold our attention in the endless gang battles. I felt frustrated a lot of the time while watching Season Six, but looking back, I realize I still looked forward to it, and it still had its powerful moments. And as I said before, the ability to keep this up for six seasons is something. Season Six finale: A. Season Six: B+.