By the end of last night’s episode of Sons of Anarchy, fans were left in shock as SAMCRO was forced to sacrifice one of their own to Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau), leaving Jax’s (Charlie Hunnam) longtime ally, Opie (Ryan Hurst), to be brutally murdered in prison. To help answer some of the viewer’s questions surrounding Opie’s death, series creator Kurt Sutter revealed why he decided to kill of the fan-favorite character, and how this major death will impact the rest of season 5.
Speaking with the press this morning, Sutter spoke about when he decided Opie’s fate; why Opie had to die; how Opie’s death will impact the series forever; and what’s going to happen in the rest of season 5, as a result.
Even though the death of Opie’s father, Piney, came as a shock in season 4, Sutter had already plotted out the death of Jax’s best friend by the end of season 3. Needing a way to set Jax’s character on a different path, Sutter decided to use Opie’s life as the lynchpin.
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 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 is such an event.
Every death on Sons of Anarchy is memorable, and Opie’s is no different: taking on a gang of men, besting many, and then falling from a deathly blow to the head. While graphic deaths are always memory, Sutter’s intent was more earnest:
I wanted Opie to go out a warrior, with nobility and a sense of protecting the people [he still loves].
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…I do think that there is a sense of [the fans] understanding why it happened and where it will go.
Continuing, Sutter had a message to fans who might be upset about Opie’s death:
What I would say to them is that yes, 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.
Jax will be greatly influenced by the death of Opie, and perhaps that loss, that emptiness, will color him throughout the rest of the season.
Since the beginning of the series, Opie has always been a positive support for Jax – even if he was only recently made aware of everything that was going on. Now that this element has been removed from Jax’s world so painfully, it’s reassuring to hear that the repercussions of this event are great.
Even so, the death of Opie also impacts any direct comparison that the series has with Hamlet. Even though Sutter has always mentioned that Sons of Anarchy is only loosely based on the famous William Shakespeare play, the comparisons up until now have been pretty direct. The only problem is that Opie’s counterpart in Hamlet doesn’t die in the play.
Without giving away any Hamlet spoilers (something that hasn’t been said since the 1700s), Opie’s counterpart in the play serves to be the chronicler of everything that occurs in Hamlet’s familia struggles. Now that Sutter has made this turn, who knows what other tweaks he’s made to the iconic plot, and who may now be saved (or doomed) because of it.
Right now it looks like Sons of Anarchy might be bowing out of the major death game for a bit, focusing more on the emotional struggle that Jax is facing, and the decision’s he’ll have to make to secure the future of SAMCRO. Still, it is Sons of Anarchy, so there’s always a chance for more blood.
Anthony Ocasio blogs at Screen Rant.