All hail the new queen of motorcycle-mama manipulation, Dr. Tara Knowles-Teller. By the end of this week's "Sons of Anarchy," "Sweet and Vaded," Jax Teller's wife had outmaneuvered her mother-in-law Gemma, framing Gemma for beating Tara so badly that she caused her to have a miscarriage.
Gemma, for a change, was guilty of neither. She may have been angry enough to attack Tara, but she didn't. And there was no miscarriage, because Tara wasn't pregnant to begin with. It was all part of a well-plotted ruse that Tara cooked up with her friend Margaret; Jax's ex, Wendy; and, most unlikely, Wayne Unser, who's been Gemma's confidant for several seasons now.
The machinations came from Tara's desire to ensure that her boys would stay safe, and out of Gemma's clutches, should she go to jail. The result was another Season 6 episode that felt very much like series creator Kurt Sutter is driving faster and faster toward what is likely to be the show's final season next year.
Maggie Siff, whose stellar performance as Tara is consistently one of the most compelling aspects of "SoA," talked to Yahoo TV about playing out this momentous turn of events, about what — as the SAMCRO crew is fond of saying — the blowback will be from her actions, and about how there's more betrayal ahead for the Tellers.
There have been a lot of really major events in five and a half seasons of "Sons of Anarchy," but this really felt like the most pivotal episode of the series so far. What was your reaction when you found out this was part of Tara's arc for the season?
I was very anxious about it. It's a very operatic plot twist, just that she goes to these extreme lengths. It's also really out of Gemma's playbook. It's something that you see that character do a lot, which is to create or construct these ruses and deceptions and manipulations of people. She gets away with it because she's such an extreme character, but Tara is somebody who has a lot of rationality about her. I just hoped that I would be able to do it convincingly, and that it wouldn't seem too outside of the realm of what feels real to the character and the world.
I think Tara is just really, really grasping at straws for how she is going to protect her children. She's convinced she's going to prison, and this is the only way that she can do it. In her mind, Gemma has become public enemy No. 1, and what [Tara] needs to take care of. I thought about how these things were set into motion while she was in prison, and just looking at the next year of her life and what she was going to do to take care of her kids.
Between the fact that Tara went outside her personality to go to these extremes, and that Jax and Gemma will now be forced apart, this has to change the course of their lives, and those of everyone around them, for the rest of the series.
Right, definitely. I also cross the line with Jax, which is an incredible betrayal of him and his trust, leading him down a path where... he doesn't know it, but I'm forcing his hand and twisting his arm into making things happen the way I want them and need them to happen. I think we've seen Jax break Tara's trust in certain ways before. At the end of the last season, when she went to prison, I think you've seen her feel betrayed by him, but I don't know that we've seen her betray him in this way before.
Is she thinking about the fact that she's betraying him, or is she pushing recognition of that aside and telling herself that this is the only way to keep her sons safe?
I think she knows she's betraying him in the process. I've been playing with that this season. I think they love each other. I think that one of the things that make the storyline interesting is that they're really alienated from each other this season. But I don't think the love between them ever really goes away. At the very moment that she's setting this plan into action and recognizing the necessity for it, I think she simultaneously understood that this was a betrayal of him, and that if he ever caught wind of what was going on, he would be devastated by it.
The way I've been figuring it emotionally, [Tara] is not feeling betrayed because he asked her to do these things [that led her to jail]... I think the ways in which she feels betrayal are more subtle, they're more significant. Last year, when she found out that he shot up Wendy [with drugs], I think that was a really huge moment of revelation, kind of like a despair... the slow realization of who he has become, which is somebody who's pretty brutal and capable of doing things that I'm not sure she thought he was capable of doing.
Also, there was a promise made to Tara somewhere in Season 4 or 5 that they were going to get out, and it was for the kids' sake. That's just gone away. The concerns of the club and the death of Opie and all of these things have somehow overtaken his concern and his desire to save his family. I think that that revelation came crashing down at the end of last season, when she ends up going to prison, and he can't prevent that from happening.
I think it's the revelation that he's never going to be able to escape his fate or his history or the ties of his family in this life. Considering how much they love each other, the fact that they have kids, and that the whole weight and force of her drive right now is about her children, and that he's not with her in that, I think that's betrayal in and of itself, even.
And then there's the betrayal of Jax having slept with Colette [Kim Dickens] in the season premiere, which Tara doesn't even know about yet. Will she?
[Laughs] You'll just have to wait and see... [But] yeah, I would say it comes back around.
Will Tara even be that upset about this other woman?
Yeah, I think so. I think right now, she's driven with a pretty strong feeling of guilt and the heaviness of what she's doing. But I also think that there's still a primal possessiveness Jax and Tara have of each other, even as he is cheating. In a really early episode, they had a conversation where she was like, "That's not OK. You can't do that. Other people can do that, but you can't do that." I think it would cut pretty deep if she knew that he was not being faithful. Not in a rational way. I think they feel like, on some level, they own each other. There's plenty that's getting in the way of that right now, and they're betraying each other left and right, but I think there's something deep down that doesn't go away.
From the school shooting in the premiere to all the deaths so far, this season has been one of the most violent seasons. Tara had been more on the fringe of that in the past, but this season, she seems much more in the middle of it. Does it feel that way to you?
Throughout the course of this series... the thing that separated her off from the more violent parts of her nature, that membrane, has grown thinner and thinner. She more resembles these people now. She more resembles the Gemma who, on an impulse, will smash a skateboard into a girl's nose. She has less ability to hold herself back from those moments of rage and violence, which I think is a really deep characteristic of these people. They don't hold themselves back from their impulses toward rage. I think the world, and the fatigue of living in this world, has rubbed off on her.
I also think that the violence has escalated to such an extent that it's not happening in back alleys or in the middle of the desert or in some warehouse off of some abandoned highway. This year, the violence is happening in schools and clubhouses being blown up. It's coming more directly into people's lives, the people of the show, into their lives. I don't think it's as avoidable [for her].
With talk that Season 7 is likely to be the final season, does it feel like everyone's stories are starting to wrap up, are heading toward a very moral, very consequence-driven ending?
Yeah. I think Kurt is trying to push people toward having to walk right up to the consequences of their life and their actions. I don't think anybody's getting off the hook — in particular, Jax. It's kind of beautiful, in a way, the way Kurt has set it up. You see Jax trying not to become Clay, but he's inexorably being pulled toward that identity. You see Tara trying not to become Gemma, and she is pulled toward that, in spite of her best efforts. In their effort to be something different, they're being twisted toward that end. It's really interesting. I think everybody's going to have to answer to it between now and the end of the series.
"Sons of Anarchy" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.
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