"Time for a change." -PineyKurt Sutter (who not only wrote the finale but made his directorial debut on it) said in our interview that he wanted "to end this season on an exclamation point and not a question mark," and he clearly accomplished that. Jax, with the realization that Clay and Tig were responsible for Donna's murder, and with the prodding of both Hale and Piney (who, remember, co-founded the club with Jax's dad), has stopped asking "to be or not to be?" He's ready to take action, and based on how he handled the two crises of the finale -- Piney mouthing off at the Niner bar, Tig about to shoot the teenage witness -- he (and Charlie Hunnam, who got a lot more interesting once Jax became less passive) should be ready for it.
Like a lot of epic cable dramas (though not, oddly, "The Shield"), this season played out with the major earth-shattering event in the penultimate episode, while the finale was primarily a time for reflection and setting up the events of next season. And I think it worked really well on that level. Jax took his opportunities to step up (including a cemetery-inappropriate, but otherwise necessary, PDA with Tara), we got further clues that Jax's dad didn't die such an accidental death, and the supporting cast -- particularly Katey Sagal, Ron Pearlman, Kim Coates and newly-promoted regular Ryan Hurst -- got to do some fine work showing their grief and confusion over Donna's death.
The 90-minute length didn't seem to add much in the way of plot, but it did allow for more moments of quiet, powerful reflection, whether it was Clay and Tig at the horse farm, or Gemma helping the arthritic Clay button up his shirt for the funeral, or Opie sadly taking off his son's tie (men in this world don't wear ties), plus the beautiful final sequence of Jax walking around the cemetary, and ultimately stopping by the graves of his brother and father.
As I said in yesterday's column (which included excerpts of the longer Sutter interview that should be right above this post), I've been really impressed by this show's improvement curve over the season. It's not in the class of "The Shield" yet (after that series finale, it's hard to think of many shows that are), but it does feel like a worthy heir.
Some other thoughts on "The Revelator":
• One thing I neglected to ask Kurt about: the homeless girl has now had two prominent but seemingly random scenes the last two weeks, this time swapping her blanket for Jax's hoodie so he could catch some cemetery shut-eye. Given all the show's explicit "Hamlet" love, is she supposed to be the gravedigger? Yorick?
• Line of the night, by Wendy and about Gemma: "You're like Dr. Jekyll and Donna Reed."
• What on earth happened to Tom Everett Scott's career? It's certainly not a bad thing to be appearing on a show of this quality, but he's headlined a bunch of shows, and now he's doing a small role as SAMCRO's attorney? Was "That Thing You Do" really that long ago? (Wow; it was 12 years ago.)
• Stahl's scene in prison with Bobby Elvis was very nicely-played by Ally Walker and Mark Boone Jr., and I thought it was a nice touch that Bobby's hair was gray because he didn't have access to his usual grooming products. ("Say Anything" did a similar beat with John Mahoney's hair when Lloyd visited him in jail.)
• Again, Donna's funeral is probably not the ideal time and place for Jax to be declaring his romantic intentions, but dammit if Hunnam's little nod and smile after the kiss wasn't cool.
What did everybody else think?