'Sons of Anarchy' Creator Explains Why He Broke Our Hearts This Week

Sons of AnarchyIt was hard, you guys. There were a million different times when I thought I would crack, because I knew the information was right there, so tantalizingly available. I scanned articles and tweets with half an eye squinched shut, ready to click away at a moment's notice. But I did it. By god, I did it: I stayed spoiler-free about this week's Sons of Anarchy episode until I finally had a chance to watch it last night. Whew!

And man, what an episode it was. For those of you who have seen it, you know what I'm talking about: the brutally shocking [REDACTED] involving one of show's long-running major characters, [REDACTED].

If you'd like to hear more about the thoughts behind this week's jaw-dropping show, Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter revealed why the story went the way it did -- and how the rest of season 5 will be impacted as a result.

(Ahem. This would now be your SPOILER! WARNING!!)

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I did know a major character was going to die, which is why I made such an effort to avoid further spoilers. It wasn't until Damon Pope paid a visit to Jax in prison that I realized it was going to be one of the four beloved guys that were incarcerated, which is when I started panicking a little bit. (It's possible I take this show a little too seriously.)

Who was it going to be? Jax? Unlikely. Tigs? Chibs? Opie? ... Oh, Opie.

Yeah, as soon as Jax and Opie were in that cell together, I knew it was the end of Ope. I initially thought he'd immediately offer himself up as the sacrificial lamb, but the way it went down -- with a single headbutt to a crooked prison guard -- was far more Opie's style.

Then, of course, we got to see Opie be beaten to death with a pipe. I don't know what was worse about that scene -- Jax's agony as he watched from an adjoining room, that brief moment of pure silence as Opie waited for the killing blow, or the gruesome collision of metal and skull.

RIP Opie. Man, I always hoped he'd get it together, hook back up with his porn star girlfriend, and start enjoying his kids again. But we had a little hint about his bleak, hopeless future last week, didn't we? "I don't know if I love anything," he told Lyla.

Anyway! *blows nose juicily* Let's check in with show creator Kurt Sutter on how and why he decided to break our damn hearts:

Sutter started planning Opie's death in season 3.

I started thinking about it towards the end of season three, and then I think it all came together with the death of Piney last year. I got to the end of the season and realized that there was this circular dynamic that was happening with Jax and Opie that was very difficult to get out of.  As we came into this season, knowing where I want to take my hero ... Jax, I felt, just needed that emotional upheaval, that one event that happens in a man’s life that can change the course of his destiny, and I think the death of his best friend was that event.

Opie sacrificed himself so Jax wouldn't have to.

I think he realized that Jax is put in this situation where he would be forced to sacrifice one of his guys. And I think Opie knows Jax well enough to know that he would rather take the bullet himself than say, "Here, take this guy." That’s where we wanted to go ... And then I think in that moment in the room, if push comes to shove, Jax was gonna be the guy that was gonna get dragged into that other room. He wasn’t about to give up any of his guys. I think Opie knew that. At the very least, even if he didn’t think Jax was gonna take the hit, he knew Jax would be put in a position where he would have to choose. Rather than put Jax through that agony, he gave himself up.

The graphic violence had a purpose:

I wanted Opie to go out a warrior. I really wanted him to go out with nobility and a sense of feeling like I may not have a lot to live for, but at the very least, I’m gonna go out doing something noble and protecting the people I still love. (...) I don’t do things arbitrarily or just for shock value. I think there’s a sense of how deeply committed I am to the show and to the fans as well.

He knows fans are upset about the loss of Opie, but he didn't kill him off just for kicks:

I knew obviously this would be a gut-wrenching episode and difficult for people to wrap their brains around ... It’s incredibly sad, but the death of Opie will color the rest of the episodes for the rest of the series. It’s not a death that will happen in vain. I would hope people still stay plugged in. Of course there’ll be a sense of vengeance, and there’ll be something that drives our guys to retaliate. It’s not even so much that, as it is the emotional impact that his death will have on the rest of the series, on the rest of the characters.

Definitely the death of Opie has a lot of emotional weight for (Jax) and will force him to make decisions and perhaps choices based a little bit more on emotion than perhaps logic and reason. My intent is that we see a changed Jax this year, a guy who’s very much been influenced by his early tenure as president.

Man. As rough as this show can be, I can't wait to see where they're going with the rest of the season. How about you?


Image via FX

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