Now that Jax has taken over as president of SAMCRO, the Sons of Anarchy antihero has finally fulfilled his destiny by following in his father's — and stepfather's — footsteps. Will Jax (Charlie Hunnam) go the route of John Teller, who died in servitude of the club, or Clay (Ron Perlman), who lost his way and ultimately became the enemy of the club? Either path Jax takes, one thing is for certain: "There is no show without Jax."
Sons of Anarchy Scoop: What Kind of Leader Will Jax Become?
That's what creator Kurt Sutter expressed to reporters at FX's Television Critics Association fall TV previews Saturday. Going into the fifth season, Sutter said he's already planning for the end. The show has been renewed for a sixth season, but Sutter plans on finishing the series with a seventh and final season should FX allow it. "I think we have a sense of it playing out in seven," he said. "I don't think [we'd continue on past seven, but] I don't rule that out."
When SAMCRO's tales come to an end, Sutter said the show will "definitely include Jax and perhaps Gemma [Katey Sagal] and Clay." "I don't think the show continues without Jax because it's his journey. But as we come into Season 5, it's really the first season I've had to have a very clear sense of what my end game is. This season now, I have to write to that end game. The stakes get higher with each season, the circumstances get more dire... and as a result of that, things will change... I don't quite know how that all will fall apart, but I know that eventually it will."
The beginning of the end for Jax starts in Season 5, set roughly six weeks after Jax took his place at the head of the table, relegating Clay to no more than a simple member within the club. Jax's reign will immediately hit a bumpy road because of Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau), the head of the Niners whose daughter Tig (Kim Coates) accidentally murdered in the Season 4 finale.
"Damon Pope [is] a guy who had come out of the streets and really changed the perception of who he was," Sutter explained. "I knew I wanted an actor who could play all those levels; that you would believe him in a suit and tie standing in front of a City Council meeting and at the same time, someone who had the depth and the ability to turn dark."
Tig's own daughters, Fawn and Dawn, may be in danger considering his role in the death of Pope's daughter. Sutter said Tig's journey this season will be that of "stripping him down and breaking him a little bit... The rest of the season opens up an interesting dynamic between Tig and Jax and perhaps have Jax build him up a bit."
Sons of Anarchy boss on Season 4 Finale: Clay suffered a "fate worse than death"
Meanwhile, Jax will have his own mentor, of sorts, in the form of Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits) a Latino gangster. "It was a character I had been thinking of for a couple seasons," Sutter said. "We landed on the idea of Nero being a guy who was an outlaw but from a different environment and a guy that was a little bit more of an older brother or potentially a mentor figure." Sutter noted that Jax and Nero are thematically similar and have experienced a lot of the same pain and violence.
While Nero is billed as the potential mentor, both he and Damon will have influence over Jax. "As the season progresses, we'll see the influence that [Damon] starts to have on Jax as well," Sutter said. "It's almost, in a sense, who's going to be the greatest influence on our hero?"
Meanwhile, the old guard will have trouble adjusting to life with Jax as king. For Clay, he's still recovering both mentally and physically from his run-in with Opie (Ryan Hurst) in the finale. Sutter noted that this season won't be about Clay trying to be a likable character again, but to "try to honestly put him in those circumstances and have a character who has been broken and, perhaps for the first time, has a deep sense of, 'Wow, I really f---ed up.' What does Clay look like broken? What does his remorse look like?"
Following the deterioration of her marriage, Gemma will be struggling to find her place this season as well. "Gemma lost all the things that really mattered to her," Sagal said. "Her marriage is falling apart, her son has now gone to the head of the table, which she always wanted, but her daughter-in-law [Tara, played by Maggie Siff] is giving her problems, not necessarily including her. So she's falling apart through most of this journey." Gemma will find solace in the arms — and bed — of Nero, though. "She feels a kindred spirit with him and a safe place," she said. "He takes her in and doesn't ask a lot of questions."
How do you think Sons of Anarchy should end?
Sons of Anarchy returns Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 10/9c on FX.