When the end credits rolled for the Season 6 premiere of “Sons of Anarchy,” fans were left with their jaws on the floor. While violence is a normal component of the show, an elementary school shooting isn’t something anyone saw coming. Anyone besides series creator Kurt Sutter, that is.
The shooting is something Sutter has had in mind for a few years, long before the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. “I know that’s easy to say in terms of ducking controversy,” Kurt tells Zap2it. “For me, I almost feel not to tell that story would be a disservice.”
Sutter’s reasoning for the event is very clear, “You have a guy who’s a father and is trying to figure out if he can raise his sons and distance them from the violence. And he’s a gun dealer. How do you not tell that story?”
The timing is also important. “Sons of Anarchy” will end it’s run at the conclusion of Season 7 and Kurt has repeatedly said the shooting is a catalyst for the third act of the morality story that’s playing out. “I knew once I told that story that it was going to be so potent and emotional that it really had to take us out,” he says. “It would be really hard to do that story in Season 2 and not have it impact everything else.”
As for why it had to be set in elementary school, Kurt has a couple reasons. “I felt like I wanted it to be close enough to Jax’s son’s age to impact him,” he explains. However, keeping the shooter’s age lower also shifts some of the responsibility for the event. “Somehow when you move it to high school and you’re doing it with teenagers, not that it makes it okay by any means, but there’s more responsibility on the individual at that point,” Sutter reasons. “When it’s a child like that, who really can only be influenced by outside things, whether it’s religion, obviously there’s some mental illness going on … To me, it puts the burden more on the people that caused it, rather than the individuals.”
It will be interesting to see Jax’s reaction, as a father, to the shooting and how it will propel him going forward. Seeing what his character is becoming in the Season 6 premiere leaves a lot of room for improvement.