If you didn’t know Kurt Sutter worked on “The Shield” prior to last night’s episode, you probably figured it out by the time it was over. All I have to say is that Shawn Ryan taught him well, because the season finale was just as heart-wrenchingly upsetting as any hour of television Ryan produced in the past. Let me explain. I don’t mean it was upsetting in the sense that I didn’t enjoy it, but rather that when it ended, all I could think about was the fact that I’d have to wait nine long months for its conclusion. Many critics have argued in the past that shorter TV seasons improve the quality of the show (and I agree), but if there’s any downside to that model, it’s that you have to wait even longer for their return.
Though the season finale left quite a few cliffhangers for fans to dwell on during the winter months, there was at least some feeling of completion with the death of AJ Weston. After the sheriff’s department was forced to let him go because Chucky’s testimony didn’t hold up, Weston is warned to get the hell out Charming as fast as he can. Before he leaves, however, Weston convinces Hale to set up a supervised visit with his kid, and when Jax catches wind of the news, he intercepts him to deliver his revenge. At least Weston took it like a man, because the same can’t be said of Ethan Zobelle. Of course, that’s because Zobelle is a different kind of monster completely. In fact, it turns out he’s an FBI snitch, which forces Hale to cut him loose as well, only for Zobelle to go run to the Mayans for protection.
While the Sons wait out a seemingly inevitable showdown with the Mayans in the middle of town, Zobelle plans his getaway to Budapest. His daughter wants to say her goodbyes to Edmond first, though, and it turns out to be an unwise decision, because Gemma follows her there and shoots her dead. What Gemma doesn’t realize is that Agent Stahl is also in the house – still trying to get her shit together after she killed Edmond during an attempted escape – and now Stahl has framed her for both murders. She’s nice enough to give Gemma a head start, but that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. After all, regardless of when he gets caught, it’s going to be pretty difficult to prove her innocence when the only other witness in the room is not only the real murderer, but a federal agent as well. Getting the Sons out of those gun charges is one thing, but how are they going to get Gemma out of this mess? You’ve got me, but for the time being, Wayne seems content with the idea of running away with her.
To make things worse, Cameron apparently has some kind of police scanner in his car that allows him to listen in on federal channels that you’d think normal people wouldn’t have access to. Regardless of its validity, Cameron overhears Stahl calling in the shootings to her fellow ATF agents and decides to follow Half-Sack back to Jax’s house with a plan to kill Tara. When he arrives, however, he discovers Jax’s baby and takes him instead (a son for a son), but not before stabbing Half-Sack. Though I wasn’t pleased with his death, Alan Sepinwall’s interview with Sutter sheds a little light on the situation that should put most fans at ease. I never like when shows kill off characters because the actors want out of their contracts, but at least he went out with a little honor trying to save baby Abel.
Of course, that’s a pretty moot point now that Cameron’s gotten away on his boat, conceivably headed back to Belfast, but the real salt on the wound is that Clay had to let Zobelle go scot-free when they received the call from Jax. It’ll be interesting to see if Sutter brings back Zobelle in the future, because while he might have lost this round, he just doesn’t seem like the kind of person that would just lay down and admit defeat – especially considering SAMCRO is responsible for his daughter’s death.
So, just to review: Half-Sack is dead. Gemma is on the lam. Zobelle is free. And Abel has been kidnapped by Cameron. Yep, that sounds like the kind of finale you’d expect to see after such an incredible season, and though I may not be completely happy with every single plot development, just knowing that Sutter has already figured out where it’s going is enough to convince me that it was all necessary. Now all we have to do is wait…