[WARNING: Season 5 Spoilers Ahead]
We have reached the beginning of the end for AMC's hit Breaking Bad, and the notion of finding a natural ending for television storytelling has been popping up in relation to some of the other cable dramas considered to be in BB's league - notably FX's outlaw biker-gang series, Sons of Anarchy.
The show's creator Kurt Sutter has already been talking about entering the "endgame" phase of the show, since season 5 was really the beginning of the show's third act.
As season 6's premiere approaches, Sutter spoke with Zap2it about where the next two seasons will take the MC and the souls caught up in the club's violent, often tragic orbit... as well as the predicted lack of a happy ending.
Season 5 saw Jax Teller truly step into his role as President of the club, and his increasing brutality has revealed that his trajectory makes him look more and more like his stepfather Clay. Sutter talks about where Jax will be at the open of season 6, acknowledging that the shocking, brutal death of his best friend Opie is what's driving him at this point:
Opie set himself up, knowing where it was all going to a certain extent. And him sacrificing himself for the club, for Jax to walk away would be dishonoring his memory. That's what I'm talking about when I say the ghost of Opie is living in Jax, in at least the first half of the season, and is sort of motivating him to ... not necessarily go rogue, but perhaps pushing him down this path where he may be leaping before he looks.
As for Clay, he has lost everything - his club, his family, and the position of power he's so used to. As portrayed by the great Ron Perlman, he has become increasingly isolated... which may simply make him more dangerous. Perlman appears to have internalized Clay's position, since he has become uncomfortable playing the character given his current state.
Sutter responded to this observation:
Yeah, you know it's interesting. Actors always sort of tend to experience what their characters are going through. When you've been part of something so long, and are so committed to it ... It's so ironic because I think a lot of what Ron is feeling, in terms of what's going on with Clay, is really what Clay is feeling.When you've been playing these characters so long, and I saw it on "The Shield" too, it's hard to distance yourself from it and not wear it. Not that they can't distinguish reality from fiction, but you just wear it for a certain amount of time. To be a sort of vital part of this environment for so long, then all of a sudden to do these things that have you exiled from it all, and now you're living this other life. It's as difficult, I think, for Ron as it is for Clay. And it's really interesting to see the impact that has on Ron.
Given the long, long list of underhanded, dishonest, and just plain evil things Clay has done over the course of the series, a path of redemption might be the only saving grace for the character. Sutter commented further on this unexpected position Clay is in: "I think, for me, it's the most honest and real we've ever seen Clay. I think it's truly more who he is as a man than anything else we've seen to date."
One of the more fascinating character arcs since the show began has been that of Tara (Maggie Siff), who returned to her hometown - and to her teenage sweetheart, Jax - as a promising surgeon, only to become as deep into the violent, turbulent life of the Sons as anyone else.
Tara is in prison as season 6 opens, and while Sutter did not directly comment on what could happen to her next, he did reflect on where the character came from - when we first meet her, she's on the run from an obsessed stalker:
You know, Maggie and I have conversations about who she is and where she's going all the time. But, I gotta tell you, and I've always said this whether it was conscious or unconscious, when Tara was being pursued by Agent Kohn (season 1), she really felt like her life was in danger, because he was a federal agent and nobody was going to believe her and nobody was going to protect her. So she came back to the one guy she knew could do it.I think when that happens, when Jax kills Kohn in episode 7, to be okay with that and for them to consummate the relationship ... Once that happens, I think it's really about "Okay, I'm in." That was a decision she made, and I felt like at that point she could not be spared the consequences of the life. She's trying to, but ultimately once she made that decision that she was part of it, she's subjected to the same circumstances as everybody else.
You know, here's how I describe all this: It's a heavy world, it's a dark world but as heavy and violent as it is, I like to think that ultimately there is some sense of hope. So that it's sad and heavy, but there is always some sense of hope.
Will it be a happy ending? No, but I do think that there will be something hopeful about the way it ends.