Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter is no stranger to controversy. He has gotten into Twitter battles (and taken Twitter hiatuses) after lashing out about the politics of Hollywood. He's taken critics of his creative decisions -- which often involve blood-soaked black humor -- to task. But did he cross a line in the SOA Season 6 premiere?
(Spoilers ahead, so if you didn't watch last night’s episode, proceed with caution.)
In the final minutes of the episode, a young boy enters a school and opens fire. Though the shooting is not witnessed -- viewers only hear the shots and screams while the camera documents the event from outside the building -- horrific memories of Newtown and Columbine are invoked. But it's not a random act. And it certainly isn't a random plotline.
The boy is seen throughout the episode, encountering a number of the series' central characters -- the members of a gun-running motorcycle gang. For five seasons, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) and his crew have justified their law-breaking way of life as a means for providing for their families and keeping their small town of Charming, Calif., safe. Isn't it time the implications of their actions -- how their decisions affect those outside of the violent underground they inhabit -- are seen?
"I've wanted to do that story for about three years," Sutter recently said at the Television Critics Association press tour. "I feel like it's an organic story to our world in terms of it's what these guys do. I feel like thematically it's the right fit because we have a lead character who's a father who's trying to figure out if he can raise his sons and avoid the kind of violence that happens."
Of course, Sutter knew he was courting controversy by introducing a school-shooting storyline to the series. "I feel like, you know, as much as I wouldn't do something because it was controversial, I'm also not going to do something because it's controversial," he said.
And though he admits "there's a lot of blood and guts in my show," Sutter again insists there is nothing gratuitous about this plotline. "The events that happen in the premiere are really the catalyst for the third act of this morality play we're doing," he says, acknowledging that Jax's overarching, Hamlet-esque path will soon be coming to an end.
Jax's conflict -- "Can I really do what I do and follow this path and still show up and be a caring and loving husband, a good and loving father? Can I have all that and still be the leader of criminal enterprise?" as Sutter describes it -- will be more front-and-center than ever this season. One thing's for sure: How he now faces those questions with the blood of innocent children on his hands will take this show into a new brutal reality. And for a series with ultra-violence as one of its hallmark, that's saying something.