It was just playful fodder, but Team Gemma vs. Team Tara took on a whole new meaning during Tuesday's "Sons of Anarchy" season-six finale.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
The show's heartbreaking conclusion found Tara (Maggie Siff) lying dead in her kitchen as a crying Jax (Charlie Hunnam) cradled her in his arms. Her killer: Gemma (Katey Sagal), who, in a fit of rage and under the influence of marijuana, drowns Tara in the sink and stabs her repeatedly in the back of her head with a carving fork.
The loss is made all the more jarring by the episode's earlier revelation that Jax would allow Tara to take their sons away from Charming on her own terms while he served time for providing guns to the boy who unleashed a firestorm of bullets on an elementary school in the season opener. Gemma, after receiving a bit of bad information, took it upon herself to seek vengeance where it was not needed.
Lieutenant Eli Roosevelt (Rockond Dunbar), an innocent bystander in this scenario, is shot to death by Juice (Theo Rossi) after witnessing Gemma's heinous crime.
During an intimate screening on Tuesday (December 10), creator Kurt Sutter joined stars Siff and Sagal for a Q&A. Both actresses exited the room crying following the episode, while Sutter joked that they might not return to answer questions. "They're in the bathroom hugging," he said with a smile.
"Obviously it's a major shift in the mythology and I knew ultimately where I wanted to take Jax in that final season," Sutter said. "I wanted to remove his true north for that last season."
Tara is the latest in a long line of gruesomely killed "Sons" characters. Who could forget the time Opie had his skull bashed in? Or when Otto stabbed a nurse in the neck with a rosary? Need we continue? In an interview with MTV News last week, Sagal filled us in on how the cast and crew says goodbye to its fallen comrades.
"It's very emotional for all of us when any of us goes down, and there's a lot of people that have gone down and probably will continue," Sagal said. "We have a post mortem process about that. We usually, on the day that we know a character is going to be offed, everybody shows up on set. We have a dinner usually for that particular character."
Sutter admits that he knew the timing of Tara's death ever since her season-two debut, though the details evolved over time. (Roosevelt's death was not premeditated, but happened organically in the writing process.) For her part, Siff was clued in to his plan at the beginning of season six. "I had some time to wrap my head around it," she said, while Sagal confessed that she hoped Sutter might "change his mind" about Tara's fate until she saw it on the screen for herself.
Sutter said that he wanted the killing to be "simple," "pedestrian" and "of Gemma's world, not the club's world."
"I knew I didn't want it to be a gun or a knife," he explained. "This is almost more horrific."
Sagal added: "As an actor, it was kind of awesome to really do things that you've never done. I've never killed anyone violently in anything before, but I feel a lot of pain [watching it]."
With tears still in her eyes, Siff recalled shooting that fateful scene.
"Because the character kind of ends, my experience of shooting it was really about feeling everything around me, which was Katey and then Charlie [Hunnam]," she said. "That was really painfully hard, this sense of loss is really the people you leave behind. I was so aware of their loss but it wasn't about me; it was about them. It was very surreal."
With the seventh and final season, Sutter says he "doesn't want to lose the weight of what's happened." Timing-wise, the story will pick up shortly where Tuesday's finale left off.
"We will see next season, but that what happens to a guy like [Jax] when now he's lost both the people whom he loves and who centered him the most -- or at least were able to be his moral compass," Sutter said. "With Opie gone, and now with Tara, it really is Jax completely untethered and on his own in the final season. "