Charlie Hunnam Charlie Hunnam

[WARNING: This story contains spoilers from the series finale of Sons of Anarchy. Read at your own risk.]

The conclusion to the seven-season journey of FX's Sons of Anarchy had a certain sense of inevitability to it — and that's exactly what the show's creative team intended.

Sons of Anarchy series finale recap: How did it all end?

In other words, the finale—which saw Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) tying up a lot of loose ends for both the club and in his personal life before ultimately sacrificing himself to give his kids hope for a life away from the bullets and blood—was always going to end with Jax dead. (The idea that Jax's demise ended up mirroring his own father's death by crashing his motorcycle into an oncoming semi-truck came later.)

But even though Jax's fate was seemingly written in the stars, what about those he left behind? Will Jax's grand gesture be enough to save his boys from becoming outlaws? And will the club go back to the simpler organization it was originally intended to be? chatted with executive producer Paris Barclay — who spent a couple days filling in for creator Kurt Sutter behind the camera on the finale when Sutter got appendicitis — to get his take on those unanswered questions. Plus: He discusses why Jax had to die and why, in the end, Sons of Anarchy was a story about love.

Did you and Kurt and the creative team always know that Jax was going to die?
Paris Barclay:
 Well, we always saw it as a tragedy in the Shakespearean sense. So, we wanted to close out the story of Jax Teller in particular in a way that was satisfying for the audience and satisfying for the rules of a really good tragedy. A really good tragedy tends to end with a hero's death because that's what Shakespeare said and he's usually right. How it actually happened was much discussed. I think what we ended on and what you finally saw was the product of a lot of hours and weeks of agonizing to make something that would be true to the character and also resolve a lot of the problems that Gemma made and the lies that she spun. So, there's a lot of cleanup to do in that ending but also a lot of resolution. We didn't want to leave you hanging. We didn't want to give you a full Sopranos. We wanted to give you something that felt like it was a real closure.

Photo Gallery: Look back at Sons of Anarchy's craziest moments

It certainly was poetic having Jax go out the same way as his father. Was the debate about that or other aspects of the finale?
Barclay: I think Kurt's feeling — and it's one that I share — is that it's best to end something that's as mythological and as big as Sons of Anarchy in a manner that's poetic. So, the whole conclusion of the story was much more elegiac and it's slower-paced and really provided [Jax] some chance to close out his life. That's why we took the time to go to the graves of the people that he really cared about — to really bring them into the conclusion of it. [We didn't want to] just get rid of August Marks and try to clean up the Irish question, but to also let Jax say goodbye to the people that he really cared about, especially to his children. 

Speaking of the kids, Jax finally admits that he's a bad person, yet the ending almost feels like a triumph for Jax. How did you want to balance Jax's death being the result of his bad choices versus some sort of heroic choice for his family?
 I think it's very tough, and it's not going to be satisfying for everybody because a lot of people just don't want to say goodbye to Jax Teller. When Jax says, "The bad guys lose," I think he's thinking a little bit about himself [as well as] the people who have actually caused him so much pain. But he did want to leave a legacy and the legacy that he wants to leave is one that allows his children to hate him, which is unusual because usually people want ... to leave with the children still loving them and having a fond memory of them. But Jax wanted to make sure that that didn't happen. He was trying to break that cycle even in his last moments. That's what makes it a real emotional split, because in order for him to do that, he thought the best solution would be to die at his own hands, in his own peaceful manner.  Mythologically, I think that's very, very satisfying as opposed to the cops shooting him or whatever. He sort of takes control and ended the way that he wants to end it.

Do you believe Jax actually did save his kids? That last shot of Abel playing with the ring Gemma gave him made me wonder, after the season Abel's had, if Jax maybe was still too late?
Barclay: I think that's a brilliant question. My feeling is that the plan will eventually work. In this moment, with what Abel knows, which is really very little, I think he's questioning and curious and he's been given a new toy. He's toying with it and he's looking out the window and wondering what the heck is going on. But as he grows up, I would think that the story would be told to him of who his father was and what his father meant. That's the instruction that Jax gave Nero, and I'm hoping that that will turn him away from that life. But maybe it is in the genes and maybe he is fated to be his father's son.

Sons of Anarchy postmortem: Katey Sagal breaks down Jax and Gemma's showdown

Perhaps that's why Jax chose Nero, so Nero could keep Abel on the path he always tried to pull Jax toward. 
 I hope so. My hope, if I were to imagine what would happen to these kids 20 years from now, is that the combination of Nero and Wendy and what they've been through and what they know of Jax will be enough to influence the child to grow up very different than Jax Teller.

As for the club, do you think Jax did enough to get the club out of its troubles so that it can go back to being what John Teller intended?
Barclay: I would hope the club is on better footing, but I worry. Even though theoretically the biggest obstacles have been removed for the time being and there seems to be peace in the valley, I worry that the choices Jax made in the end are going to end up being problems for the club that would cause it to be incapable of doing anything like what it's done before. The club is going to be a bit of an outcast club now that they have black members, which is going to be an issue. They're going to have the Irish to deal with. It's not perfectly aligned for everything to be perfect for the club, and I would expect it's going to be a troubled path for them.

You already mentioned Shakespeare and Kurt has long cited Hamlet as an influence. What went into the choice to feature the quote from the play as the final image?
Barclay: [Kurt] wanted to end on the fact that a lot of these choices — even the choices that Gemma made, as twisted as they were —were made out of her own twisted sense of love and her own allegiance to her family and to the men in her life. Jax is very similar. A lot of the choices he made to avenge Tara's death, even though they were mistaken, were made out of how much he loved her. Love is the biggest force that works on Jax, despite the fact that other things come into it and color it and twist it. That's what he's driven by and I think that's why those words ended up being so appropriate.

Finally, this was a show whose audience just kept growing. What do you think people connected with, and what do you hope the legacy of the show will be?
Barclay: I think it's going to be one of those examples of how you can really create a world that's very specific, that has its own rules, that has characters that may work in a pulpy fashion but really have a depth and complexity. I think more than any show that's currently on television — maybe The Walking Dead is in the same zone — we created a world that is completely unbelievable but at the same time, at a certain level you can believe everything that people do. It's a really hard balancing act. I think when people look back on the show, they'll really appreciate how that balance was achieved and accomplished — maybe not always perfectly, but pretty damn well over seven seasons. I think it's going to wear extremely well as people go back and experience the whole saga of the mythology of Sons of Anarchy.

What did you think of the Sons finale?