"Sons of Anarchy" fans are still reeling from the death of a key character in Tuesday's (Sept. 25) episode, "Laying Pipe." Series creator Kurt Sutter talked with reporters Wednesday morning about why he chose to kill off the character and how it will affect Jax (Charlie Hunnam) going forward.
(Spoilers for "Laying Pipe" below.)
Sutter says the events leading to Opie's (Ryan Hurst) death -- at the direct hands of other prison inmates, but at the behest of Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) -- stretch back as far as the end of Season 3, "and it all sort of came together with the death of Piney [William Lucking] last year. We got to the end of that season and I felt there was this circular dynamic happening with Jax and Opie that I felt was very difficult to get out of. ...
"Knowing where I want to take my hero and the road I want him to travel, Jax I felt needed that emotional upheaval, that one event that happens in a man's life that can change the course of his destiny. I think the death of his best friend was that event."
Sutter also says he put Opie dying early in the season so viewers will be able to see what it does to Jax.
"This is the season where Jax ... really figures out what kind of man he's going to become, and we see the decisions he makes and what kind of leader he's going to be," Sutter says. "Laying these circumstances out early in the season really allows that death to color Jax and all the choices he makes. ... Jax will be greatly influenced by the death of Opie, and that loss and emptiness will color him throughout the rest of the season."
Pope offers Jax a deal to get out of jail, provided he sacrifices someone else from SAMCRO as payback for Tig's (Kim Coates) killing of a cop on Pope's payroll and another man in the Season 5 premiere. Jax is on the verge of making that choice -- or offering himself up -- when Opie steps in.
Sutter says he wanted Opie to die "as a warrior," but it also gave him a way to exit a life he had no love for anymore.
"To me, there is a sense of him having this tremendous loss," Sutter says. "And yes, I do believe some of it was a sense of, 'Here's an opportunity for me to go out doing the right thing and perhaps this is how I can best be of service to my club.'"
PS: I also want to add that I don't think I've ever been traumatized from watching TV shows or films before. This was pretty damn close for some reason. It's the way Opie looked at Jax one last time before the death blow that was chilling man. That was heavy. Very tough to digest seeing your best friend go out like that. Might be right Toxic. Jax may turn into a cold, callous and distant leader.