"Sons of Anarchy" shut down Comic-Con Sunday with its now customary panel in Hall H. And as usual, the SAMCRO gang did not disappoint.
Before the cast and creator even took the stage, the audience was treated to two video clips teasing what's ahead for season six. In a word: mayhem!
Tara (Maggie Siff) punches out a fellow prisoner, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and Clay (Ron Perlman) brawl, Otto (showrunner Kurt Sutter) targets another victim, Chibs punches Juice (so deserved), Nero (Jimmy Smits) shoots somebody else.
Here are other spoilers from season six — which picks up a few days after the season five finale — we gleaned from the panel and press room interviews.
Jax's journey: "I think that he hadn't anticipated quite how difficult it was going to be to lead," Hunnam said at the panel. "Can he be the leader of this outlaw organization and still be a loving father and devoted father?" Specifically, he told reporters, "Is he destined to become Clay or is he destined to become John Teller?"
Tara's journey: "Staying alive — that's my challenge this year," Siff told reporters. "Tara starts out in prison ... but then there's a trial (that will determine) whether or not she goes back to prison. ... She's trying to keep her children safe and give them a way out of the life."
"Last season she made the decision to jump off and be in the (SAMCRO) world, and we saw the consequences of that," said Sutter. "This season will be her dealing with that. Can she make the adjustments emotionally that Gemma was ultimately able to make? And if not, what does that mean for her and Jax and her kids? Tara's arc will be pivotal this season in terms of seeing the rhythm of the show as far as the family dynamic goes."
"Her tactics become more and more like Gemma's," Siff said. "You see her able to play within the rules of this world, but her intention is still to get out. So it's simultaneously who she's always been and this darker side of herself that's really emerged."
Tara vs. Gemma: "You'll see a very adversarial relationship between Tara and Gemma (Katey Sagal) this season," Siffer added, "mostly because my main focus is really about getting my kids out of Charming — and Gemma's main focus in the world is making sure her son and her grandchildren never leave this club. ... They're working in direct opposition to each other this season, so it's not going to be a pretty relationship."
"That relationship bounces around a lot," noted Sagal, teasing that "certain things will intensify" next season.
Unser (Dayton Callie) also plays a role in the fierce femmes' dispute. "Gemma loves him; she will always love him," Sagal told us. "There will be a shift in that relationship, however."
Siff elaborated: "Unser becomes a real ally to (Tara). She spends the first part of this season really collecting allies ... but I think the most surprising is Unser, because he's always been a real compatriot of Gemma's."
Tig vs. Jax: "This season (Tig is) back on the leash — and it's Charlie's leash," revealed Kim Coates. "He's mixed up, sad (and) ruthless. ... It's absolute mayhem this year. ... Everybody is fighting for every scrap of something before we all fall into the abyss as a club."
Clay in exile: "Season six is Clay knowing that there's no more leveraging," Perlman said. "He's worn out all his choices and he's completely at the mercy of other forces."
On a very personal level, the actor admitted, "I feel like I've lost everything. As Ron the actor playing Clay, I used to hang with the boys, be at the table and be on rides, and be Gemma's old man, and (now) I'm off in Siberia. I'm a complete exile; I'm completely alone. ... It's very uncomfortable when you sign on to do a show and you sit at that table and you're part of this family, and not only part of it but a very vital part of it. ... It's been uncomfortable since season four for me. Very uncomfortable. I'm not playing the guy I signed on to play. ... I don't like being as hated as I've become on the show."
Power of the gavel: Perlman believes that "what Kurt ultimately wants to do ... when all the dust has settled (is) to have exposed all the facets of power: why you aspire to it, what is the price once you get it, what it does to your inside once you have it, how desperately you try to hold onto it and what you're willing to do, and what ultimately will happen when you become obsessed with retaining power at all costs. ... With Clay you get to see the ultimate price of flying too close to the sun."
Like other leaders, Hunnam said, "I think that Jax struggles with ... listening to the people around (him). You're supposed to be the representative of the masses, (but) when you have a lot of decisions to make and a lot at stake on a lot of those decisions, it's just very easy to say, 'Well, I know from my heart this is the right thing to do so I'm not gonna put it up for a vote.' But I also think that he inherited a total disaster from Clay ... (If Jax) had been making those decisions from the beginning they, wouldn't have been involved in in the first place, you know?"
Series finale: "I don't have it written in my head," Sutter told us about "SOA's" last hurrah, "but I kind of know how I want it to end." Still, he noted, "I'm always sort of surprised at where it goes and what happens, which is part of the fun." But he told the Comic-Con audience to expect a "big pool of blood" in the very last scene.
The show's star, however, doesn't want to know "where (Jax is) headed or how it's all going to end for him" — especially because Sutter has been known to change his mind. "I'll be galloping toward a fundamental beat and then (have to) recalibrate. ... So I'm just really engaged in the present of Jax's journey."
"Sons of Anarchy" debuts Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 10 p.m. on FX.