When a Character Death Makes You Angry Instead of Sad

I don’t review Sons of Anarchy week to week like I do some other shows on the site here, but I’m willing to bet a fair amount of you do keep up with it.

I just finished watching this week’s episode which everyone said was “jaw-dropping” right after it aired. It’s the third episode of the season, how crazy could it be? We all know that TV shows stack their truly “big” moments for finales after all, right?

Not so in the case of SOA, and despite its placement in the season, they killed off a beloved character in what was probably the most significant event in the entire series.

But it didn’t feel…right to me, and it got me thinking about when shows botch a major development like this. I was angry at the show. Not for killing a character I liked, but for the way that it was handled.

Spoilers follow:

Opie. He’s been the loveable mountain man of the show since its inception, and has been central in nearly all of the series’ most powerful plotlines from the death of his wife, to the killing of the FBI agent responsible, to the death of his father, to the almost-killing of Clay, who was responsible.

And now there he goes, beaten to death in a matter of seconds at the behest of a new villain we just met two episodes ago.

Pope wanted a Son dead to make up for the nameless cop and thug that the Sons killed previously. It had to either be Tig, Chibbs, Jax or Ope, or else none of them would leave prison alive. After Jax told Ope the whole truth about everything regarding his father’s death and the club’s RICO case, Jax tried to volunteer himself to be flung into the pit to be sacrificed, but Opie jumped in and was promptly beaten to death by Pope’s thugs.

It wasn’t right. Not because Ope is a good guy that doesn’t deserve to die. I mean he is, but that’s not what I was talking about. It was a development that felt incredibly rushed, and like the show was killing off a character they simply didn’t know what to do with anymore. Between his wife and father’s death, and his newfound distance from the club, Opie has been sort meandering around aimlessly this season until he volunteered to head to prison to watch over the other guys.

But to kill such a formerly important character two thirds of the way through an episode one fourth of the way through the season? It didn’t seem like it was handled or planned particularly well. He didn’t even get the traditional send-off of the fade-to-Sons logo after he died. There were still 15 full minutes to go in the episode, most of which was spent dwelling on the stupid Gemma-Tara-it’s-my-baby-not-yours subplot.

Yes, his death will likely propel Jax to a new level of rage, but I felt like the character deserved more of a send-off than a hurried decision to essentially commit suicide for the good of the group.

I like Sons of Anarchy, and they usually handle big moments like this very well, as the show’s been full of them. But here? I was just angry. Not their desired reaction of angry, directed at Pope, but angry at the show itself for treating a beloved character with apparent disdain in the way his death was handled.

Perhaps I’m overreacting. What did you think of the episode if you saw it?


  1. XenoIrish September 27, 2012
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