‘Sons of Anarchy’: Only One Way Things Could Go Down – Did the MC Make the Right Choice?

Published 1 year ago by

Ron Perlman in Sons of Anarchy season 6 episode 11 Sons of Anarchy: Only One Way Things Could Go Down – Did the MC Make the Right Choice?

[This is a review of Sons of Anarchy season 6, episode 11. There will be SPOILERS.]


For the past few weeks, Sons of Anarchy has been building toward something big with its dual storylines involving Tara’s fight to finally escape the poisonous confines of life within the MC (and Gemma) and Jax’s increasingly desperate push to move the club out of the gun business at seemingly any cost. Of course, the latter also involves the Irish Kings’ staunch refusal to work with anyone other than Clay Morrow at the not-so-polite request of Galen O’Shea – despite his current status as a guest at a California State correctional facility.

Now, in typical Sons of Anarchy fashion, nothing is as it seems, especially when the show takes the time to depict Jax making a deal with a public servant or anyone in a position of authority (in this case, DA Tyne Patterson). If anything, the show and its writers are fairly consistent with how much they love keeping the audience in the dark, so they can then portray the MC’s betrayal like some kind of genius long con. And, in the case of ‘Aon Rud Persanta,’ that long con happens to close the chapter on one of the show’s longest running storylines with the sudden and rather unexpected death of Clay Morrow at the hands of Jax Teller.

“Clay Morrow should have been dead a long time ago,” Tara tells Nero after they drive away from Clay’s execution with a surprisingly emotional Gemma breaking down in the passenger seat. In a sense, Tara’s statement, which follows a laundry list of Clay’s most recent transgressions, manages to say a lot about Clay Morrow as a character, and the kind of turmoil he was generally capable of producing. But the notion that he should have been dead a long time ago also says a great deal about the show, and how it has handled the back and forth between Jax and Clay for nearly six full seasons now.

Rockmond Dunbar and LaMonica Garrett in Sons of Anarchy season 6 episode 11 Sons of Anarchy: Only One Way Things Could Go Down – Did the MC Make the Right Choice?

As a dramatic device, Clay’s death had been teased by Sons of Anarchy so many times that the series began to resemble the boy who cried wolf, or, as the case may be, Mr. Mayhem. The idea of Clay facing certain doom had been seen or intimated to the point that when he was staring down the barrel of Jax’s gun, the only drama the moment seemed capable of producing was tied to the question of whether or not the writers would actually follow through with it this time. As Clay Morrow, and more to the point, Ron Perlman, has been a major part of the success of the series, all the tension surrounding his inevitable end felt like it had been used up a long time ago, resulting in him going out with more of a whimper than the bang he deserved.

Rather than building apprehension around his contentious relationship with Jax, Gemma, and the rest of the club, Clay has been rotting away in jail, largely out of the picture for the majority of the season. And with his stake in the MC already gone, and Jax largely concerned about things other the death of his father or Tara’s near death experience, Clay’s arc had essentially become dramatically inert. As a result, there is no void begging to be filled by his sudden absence now, because, for all intents and purposes, Clay Morrow’s importance to the story of Sons of Anarchy season 6 was never really developed outside of an excuse to involve the Irish.

At the same time, at this point in its run, the show makes its biggest strides by eliminating familiar, well-liked characters, and doing so in generally secretive ways that are meant to be as enormously impactful for the audience as they are for the characters involved. Only time will tell, but perhaps the impact of this event will have more resonance sometime down the line.

While the episode was certainly successful in the way it handled Jax’s double-crossing of Tyne, and especially of Galen and the Irish Kings, it seems odd that the major dramatic tension comes not from Clay’s sudden death, but from Tara’s potentially devastating (or liberating) choice, which again begs the question of whether or not the writers will follow through with what they are setting up.


Sons of Anarchy will continue on Tuesday, December 3 with ‘You Are My Sunshine’ @10pm on FX.

Photos: Prashant Gupta/FX

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  1. The writers failed horribly in my opinion. Clay’s death should’ve never been so weak. It’s as if they forgot all the seasons before and said, “okay let’s kill him off. He’s not doing anything important.” Terrible.

    • I agree with you completely. It was very disappointing. He was a huge part of the show for so long. He deserved to go out strong. I don’t know if I can even watch this show anymore.

    • I thought the writers failed on many things. The IRA build up was soo great that I was actually excited to see it all play out and we get this whole scene where there is no fight. Then you have Clay, who’s character was soo built up for a couple of seasons now and we get a scene in which he is like, oh okay and dies. Now we are stuck with the Gemma and Tara show which is just annoying as can be. This whole feud between them has gotten so overplayed that I just fast forward through those parts now. The DA doesn’t like what she was given and is now going after the club. Oh wow, who didn’t see that coming, LOL. This was easily the worst episode of the season and so far this has been the worst season, IMO.

  2. Really? I thought it was perfection. Clay went out with a whimper, not a bang and that’s as real as it gets for the ‘bad guy’. These are guys who pretend to be heros following an anarchist code of ethics, only they are not heros. They are (to quote Sherrif Roosevelt)”bad guys who do bad things”. Opie was a criminal who was a better guy. He got to go out in that blaze of glory with that huge send-off. The vote against Clay was unanimous. He’d betrayed his wife, son, club and they were all there to witness his comeuppance. Finally. Only Bobby seemed conflicted and Juice seemed guilty. The acting was exquisite. Between Clay’s resignation and regret and Jax’s cold hard stares belying his raging hatred…perfection.

    • I get that but most people when they are on top tend to fight back and not go out so easily. I’m sorry but the Clay scene was the worst writing I’ve seen in a while. Then the IRA scene(a group that is known to be very detailed and will fight to the end) was just so weak. So now we are stuck with the Gemma and Tara show with the DA going after the club, didn’t see that coming, lol. This show has gone from action drama to just plain soap drama with a bunch of filler episodes. Yes, they are filler episodes because this conclusion could have been done 2 episodes ago. Utterly disappointing

      • I will restate a comment I made below. I see what you’re saying, but there are really only two ways to accept your end at that point. The way Tessio accepted his demise at the end of Godfather I, or “kicking and screaming” in a futile attempt to take enemies down with you. I’d rather see Clay not go out like a punk.

  3. Mouth dropper for me I’m sorry… That s*** was smh good,good show SOA I can’t lie I didn’t see none of those deaths coming… Did all that to kill them off smh wow never seen it coming… Homeland type of shoccer! Good stuff… Now protest to end the joke of shows (AGENTS OF SHIELD) they tried an dropped the ball on that 1

  4. It was IDIOTIC to kill Clay the way they did.
    Clay basically had redeemed himself by not turning on the club when he could have gotten immunity and the whole 9 yards for turning in RICO evidence on the club. That should have bought him his life if nothing else. Put him out of town, out of thought out of mind…OR….put him out in a Blaze of Glory…not fully cooperating with his own death.

    WHO would realistically do that….support the club, not turn on them and then agree and cooperate with their own death. I call B.S. on this. Plus, I ALWAYS liked Clay…on a personal note.

    Clay was a Bad Guy, KNEW he was a bad guy and didn’t pretend otherwise for the most part. He pretended about the “brotherhood” but never about the actions.
    Jax on the other hand pretends he’s a good guy…maybe even THINKS he’s a good guy but he’s just a hypocrite. I hope jax dies bloody.

    • At the end of the day, do you really think gangsters running an international syndicate truly care about a few instances of loyalty when weighed against an entire history of betrayals? Clay is like the Pesci character of SAMCRO – always certain he will come out on top, and during another caper, meets his end.

      As for Clay cooperating with his own death – there were only two ways for him to reach the end of the road: the calm Tessio way ala Godfather I, or the totally emasculated way, scrambling for a gun and being shot in the process. Between the two, it’s best that Clay went the Tessio way.

      Respect to your comment, I just disagree with you. Clay is a character you love to hate, so he will be missed, but the way he went out was pretty honest.

  5. I have decided that the only way I can enjoy this show now is to look at it like a comedy, or farce on both police and motorcycle clubs… It’s so ridiculous that it’s funny now! Sorry to the previous comment but really I think most fans saw all that coming… The MC always has an elaborate plan up its sleeve that always….ALWAYS…. Seems to get past everyone…. I can see now the writers prolonging Tara’s life a bit but in the end she will meet the same fate as Clay. The only way this show can redeem itself, or totally surprise us is if Jax gets the same revenge on Gemma as he did Clay…. But we all know that will never happen

    • I agree. I at least was hoping for some kind of fight with the IRA but that scene was just the laziest writing I’ve seen in a while paired with the death scene of Clay. Clay being axed didn’t surprise me but what did was his willingness to not fight. It would be like killing off a Thanos type of character with no fight. He just stands there and says okay. The Tara/Gemma drama is overplayed and soo predictable that it’s rather funny and annoying at the same time. This season has been a huge disappointment thus far IMO

      • Comparing Clay to a “Thanos type character” is absurd. This is a drama, not an action movie. Clay is a tragic character who was doing everything he could to find some redemption in the eyes of his loved ones for all the terrible things he did. In the end, his crimes were too great and there was nothing he could do to save himself. I think Clay genuinely came to regret what he had become. His death was sad and sobering. No need to throw the poignancy of that scene away just to have a giant shootout where the “good guy” kills the “bad guy.”

      • Laziest writing? Either you don’t follow the show or you’re retarded, no offense, but seriously apparently this show is going over your head.

        How could the Irish fight back when they were shot and instantly died? You don’t “fight back” with a bullet in your head, laughable that you’d criticize something as stupid as that.

        If you didn’t get why Clay “just stands there” then you haven’t been watching the show, he was content to die for awhile now, he simply didn’t want to die in prison, now he gets to die for a purpose, for the club, and while he’d obviously rather live, he rather die like that than be a statistic and have no purpose and die in prison.

        Him dying with a “whimper” was the entire point of his death, if you didn’t get that, once again you haven’t been watching.

        @Thracian Thank you for pointing out the laughable irony everyone on these comments have. Pointing out it’s so predictable Clay will run things again, then it’s predictable when he’s dead? Shut up, seriously lol. Wasn’t predictable at all, was done perfectly, and frankly the writing in this episode was top notch. The suspense that built as they handed Jax the gun, and thinking is he really gonna finally go through with this? Was magic.

        • Sorry, but when you have an iconic character like Clay who, since the series started, has done everything and anything to stay alive goes out like that then I call it as lazy writing. We all knew Clay was going to die and I kept seeing that he was coming to terms with all that he has done but to fight to stay alive while in the prison only to give himself up at the end wasn’t what I consider “well thoughtout writing”. It would be like the Lannister in GOT just giving themselves up because they came to terms about all the wrong the Joffrey Baratheon has done. That just wouldn’t due based on the character. Clay was a “survivor” and as such should have gone out as one. If he would have tried to escape and got shot or something to try to survive then I would have accepted the episode. The irish getting shot and not fighting back wasn’t my issue. My issue is that the whole season was a build up to an eventual war over the sons getting out of guns and we only get these guys being “surprised” and shot. It’s kind of like TWD season 3 finale in which a lot of people expected a prison/woodbury war and we were given something else. It’s a case of “didn’t meet my expectations”.

        • “this show is going over your head”, no, this show would have to be complicated and not predictable nearly 10 times out of 10.

          “The suspense that built as they handed Jax the gun, and thinking is he really gonna finally go through with this? Was magic.” Magic eh? After being in this same position multiple times and being let down it is the least they could do and finally put Clay out of many viewers misery.

          The unrealistic drawing out of characters and story lines is going to be the real end to this show. Maybe we should just call this show Mothers of Anarchy and just completely hand it over to Gemma and Tera, because that’s how many people feel this show has become.

          I am so down on this show. Watching it is becoming such a waste of time that I may as well read episode reviews to save me an hour of my time. At this point, I actively root for every member of the club to meet their end so that maybe their death will bring in something fresh besides the never ending struggle of Jax being completely oblivious to his and his mother’s actions and the negative effect that it has on everyone.

          A couple episodes ago, before the fake miscarriage, I saw about a half episode of what I enjoyed about this show, biker camaraderie that was so welcomed. Maybe eventually they will get back to that, but with these story lines that seemingly never go away no matter how much they’re teased, I’m not holding my breath.

          • I agree and that’s my thing. Seasons 1-3 felt more “realistic” to what a “biker gang” is portrayed but since then it has strayed away from that and inserted more mom/daughter-in-law drama. If it was a season or 2 of that drama I would understand but going on 3 seasons now is a little over the top. I agree with what a lot of people have told me yesterday in which SOA is a lot like TWD in that they are both entertaining but both haven’t felt the same for the last couple of years. Both shows are very entertaining but to say that this season is as good or better than the earlier seasons just isn’t the case. Once these shows get back to the formula that made them great to begin with(quality) then they will flourish again because right now as many people that I know have said, it’s just another show on the DVR that is being watched whenever they have time because it’s not a show that has a lot of “can’t wait for the next episode”

  6. What happened? The past few months everyone was complaining that the show was predictable and they all “knew” that Clay was going to come out on top again because he was one of the main characters. And now the day after he dies people are complaining that it was predictable and they “knew” that he was going to get killed? These critics are incredibly accurate in hindsight.

  7. Clay went out with a whimper and that’s the way it should be. He was no hero, just a broken man all alone and to be pitied and then pay for his many betrayals to the club. I thought it was a great episode.

    The “Gemma/Tara show” as some are calling it, is what makes this series more than just mindless brutality. This arc is really important to the future of the club and will set the tone as to what kind of leader Jax really is. The old ladies are not crow eaters, they are the heart of the club. If you don’t like this part of the show, then you just don’t get the show at all, imo.

    Side: Geesh, poor Nero gets pulled into the fire every time.

  8. Apparently this was a love it or hate it episode… and I LOVED IT.

    I think Clay Morrow’s death goes down in the show’s history as the most honest thematic portrayal of what this kind of livelihood can lead to. It was like Tommy being offed in Goodfellas – quick and, to the victim, greatly unexpected. Even the most gargantuan criminal personality can meet his end in a fashion completely void of superficial glory. Clay realized this himself during the last minute of his life, which was filmed perfectly.

    I see how some folks don’t like how his character was handled, being caged for an entire season, but as a singular SAMCRO episode, this one sits somewhere in the top of my all-time-favorites list.

  9. I’m only vaguely familiar with Hamlet but I knew enough that if Clay was going to die it was going to be sooner rather than later.
    With that being said I just never thought Sutter would do it. I agree with Kevin’s review because Clay’s death has been teased so many times that anytime it seemed close I would figure something would happen to prevent it once again.
    Am I glad Clay is gone? No.
    He was such an integral part of the story that even when I hated him the most he was a necessary evil and Ron Pearlman killed it in the role but it had to happen.
    Anyone hoping that Sutter would change his mind and keep the show going past next year should take notice that it’s not going to happen. Once characters like Clay start dying there’s no going back and with only 2 episodes left for this season and 13 for next it’s time for the countdown to begin.

  10. Clay went out the way he deserved. BOTTOM LINE. Did JT. get to go out strong? I thought that the whole breaking him down, busting him out, and all just so he could finally answer for his crimes, all while still playing a part for the club….. Glorious. As Jax said. “We voted and this is how it had to go down.”

  11. No this has been the worst season & no this was not the worst. Stop complaining people come on already. I really enjoyed last night’s episode just because a season hits it’s 6th does not mean it has been the worst.

  12. I am sorry to offend you all but I disagree with the ones who say season 6 is the worst, I will admit there are fillers but I am really enjoying this season so far. No offense. & I agree with John & BlueAznMonkey DSL.

    • I can agree it’s enjoyably entertaining but it’s definitely gotten away from the biker aspect the show had the first 4 seasons. Since Jax has become prez, the show has become just silly… But still entertaining. Jax just doesn’t,t pull off the role of prez. When it was bikers it was interesting etc…. Now I just tune in every week just to get a good laugh….. I now can only hope Jax finds out gemmas role in his dad’s death and serves her the same fate as Clay….. But we all know Sutter will never do that and in the end Gemma will triumph!

      Too many storylines just stop. It’s so silly how Jax finds these crazy ways to get out of stuff and the audience believes it would work…. Tig should be gone, juice should be gone…. No way they would ever forgive juice. Now the audience will believe the Irish will just be content…. Geezzz if all this was going on, the Feds would be hammering the heck out of the club but every week they just keep going on their merry way…. But like I said it’s entertaining….. But probably the most far fetched show on television

      • ^This guy gets it. We’re on the same page in regards to how far this show has strayed from what made it fun to watch. More table discussions/votes and barbeques and much, much less Gemma and Tera and the unrealistic Houdini acts this club performs multiple times every season and seriously, where is the Federal Government in all this?

        • I agree. What drew me into the show was the realistic concepts of Seasons 1-3 because it did feel like it was a realistic portrayal of a “biker gang”. Since then though it has felt like they went away from that concept to more over the top soapy drama storylines. Like TWD, it’s still entertaining, but like TWD, it hasn’t been as good as the previous seasons(1-3). I still watch it because I do want to see an end storyline but it seems like the end storyline will most likely have to deal with Gemma and Tara.

  13. Clay had died when the ink got blacked out from his skin and Gemma left him. For Clay to be fighting for his life at this point would seem innapropriate and unrealistic due to everything that has happened to him. Clay was ready to meet Mr.Mayhem after have losing everything. I personally find the way he went out beautiful, and poetic in some ways. And he’s going out, looking at her going, I love you. I’m not mad at you. I wouldn’t change a thing. That’s the redemption. I’m not mad at you after all this. You’re the only thing that matters. So to me – Bravo Kurt Sutter. Thank you, Ron Perlman.

  14. Easily the best episode this season.

    I agree with the posters that believe the show has lost it’s luster from the first few seasons. But based on the storyline and where the direction of the show is headed this episode is basically a “set”, it puts the show on a final narrative the next 15 or so episodes.

    For me, the show is a must watch because of what it was, not because of what it is. Every show can’t be The Sopranos or Breaking Bad.

  15. This show is a chance for us to escape from Reality and the so call good boot and through this show be a bad ate for and hour every week,love it. I wish l had everyone of these episodes from start to finish.

  16. Oh lm vision impaired,heme the mistakes in writing this.

  17. I will never watch the show again without RON PERLMAN!

  18. I Think Clay had to go out with an execution because if they were to make him go out guns blazing it would be 3 seasons of Clays story arc as a AntiHero. Clay betrayed his Brother in Arms JT, Robbed Jax of having his Father, Stole the throne(#Hamlet), betrayed his wife, killed opies wife along with Basically killing Opie from the inside out, Killing Piney a founding member, Got the club into the Cartel dealing drugs digging the club in s***, and of course paid the cartel to kill tara..Clay was the biggest BAD Villian of the show in my opinion starting the domino effect of corruption and rage that JT talked about destroying the club, Clay was a the Samcro Cancer(#Claudius). So clays Execution was drawn out to give characters as well as most viewers closure, who see Clay for who he is a Villian who killed Jaxs Dad , stole the throne, and sleep with his wife, when its all said your true character speaks with the actions and how he affected the people around him. as for u guys who think its not a realistic MC show ur wrong, This aint the rise of the Sons its totally the opposite, from episode one they showed you this series will end with the death of Samcro fulfilling JTs wish to not allow his sons to bare his life and finally Jax having a walter white awaking in the finale where he finally admits he became a monster and maybe or maybe not.live on to Raise his Sons Legit if he gets out alive killing Samcro or even.from the popo from that point.. remember this is Based off Shakespeares Hamlet whitch we all know how that plays ouy but Sutter hasnt failed me yet.. Happy Riddin