Spoiler warning: If you haven’t seen the Season 6 finale of “Sons of Anarchy,” the following contains major spoilers to the episode.
Of all the murder and mayhem that has plagued “Sons of Anarchy,” the Season 6 finale death of Tara (Maggie Siff) is the one that seems to have shaken up the world and viewers the most. Tara had a long journey on the show, always putting her children first, even ahead of her love for Jax (Charlie Hunnam). In the end though, she was just another victim of the club’s violent lifestyle, dying at the misinformed hands of her own mother-in-law, Gemma (Katey Sagal).
Immediately after watching the finale, Siff, Sagal and creator Kurt Sutter spoke with members of the press about the ramifications of Gemma’s actions and saying goodbye to Tara.
With only one season left of “Sons of Anarchy,” Sutter says the death will leave Jax in unknown territory. “I wanted to remove his true north for that last season … I feel like there needs to be, for someone like Jax, there needs to be this major psychic and emotional shift that has to happen,” he explains. “What happens to a guy like that now that he’s lost both people he loves the most and that centers him the most.” The other is obviously his best friend Opie, who Jax mentioned early in the episode.
It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision to kill off Tara, but one that Kurt had been working toward for quite a while. “I knew fairly early on that Tara would die before the final season. Probably as early as Season 2 I had a sense of that,” he says. “I didn’t quite know exactly how that would happen in terms of the story.”
Maggie says she was let in on the direction of her character at the beginning of Season 6, allowing her some time to cope with her impending demise. That didn’t make seeing the finished product any easier, though. “Watching it was really hard,” she says. “Watching it put into the story, in the context of the entire series and everything we’ve all been through together, that was hard. That was more difficult than I expected.”
As for her final scenes, Siff remembers, “My experience of shooting it was about feeling everything around me, which was Katey and Charlie … and that was really, painfully hard.”
It wasn’t very easy for for Sagal either, killing off the woman she’s been acting side-by-side with for six seasons, however she doesn’t think her character was completely unjustified. “The biggest struggle for me was to truly remain with Gemma. The truth is that she was not aware of all of those things,” she says. “I think that is what made it so hard to watch, because it was so clear. But in the moments of Gemma, I didn’t know what was going on. All I knew was that she had ratted, she had betrayed me, betrayed my son and she was taking my grandchildren away. All the things that were Gemma’s center.”
Siff was thankful for the park scene Tara shared with Jax before her death, even though it was an uncomfortable place to go. “Coming to the point where I actually believed that Jax would kill me was a long, hard and scary place to get to. Turning around to see those guys and knowing the jig was up, it was scary,” she says. “She had to believe her time was up, so it was about saying all the things she had to say to him and reckoning with herself and saying goodbye to her children.” With so much going on, Maggie calls the scene ” a hard day at work,” but felt like she did about all of her scenes with Charlie, “We find out way together.”
Sutter says it was never his intention for the show’s female characters to jump out as they have and for that he’s eternally thankful to his actresses. “It happened because these two actresses have managed to turn a 5 or 6 on the page into an 8 or 9 or 10 on the screen,” he admits. “I want to thank [Maggie] for making me a better writer for these last six seasons.”