I went into last night’s Sons of Anarchy feeling certain I was ready for whatever the intense FX drama had in store for us with its last installment of its sixth season. I was wrong, and I doubt I was alone there, especially when we consider the total viewers who tuned in for “A Mother’s Work.” The ratings are in and Tuesday night’s episode brought in big numbers for the biker drama, with 5.2 million total viewers tuning in, which makes the episode the series’ most watched finale ever, though it actually fell a bit behind the Season 6 premiere (5.87 million).

TVline reported the ratings, noting that 3.5 million of the viewers fell into the 18-49 demo, and that over FX’s two airings, the season finale took in 6.4 million viewers total (4.3 million 18-49). After debuting to an audience of 5.87 million viewers, Sons’ Season 6 numbers settled somewhere between four and five million viewers each episode throughout the season, so the finale’s viewership is a spike. Though not as high as the fall premiere, it’s still noticeably above the Season 5 finale, which aired to an audience of 4.66 million.

Now’s where we get into spoilers, so if you haven’t watched last night’s Season 6 finale episode, “A Mother’s Work,” READ NO FURTHER!

The title of the episode proved to be particularly telling, as all signs pointed to it referencing what Tara was doing for her boys. It was still unclear whether or not she was really going to hand over that DNA-covered bullet to the authorities, and it was looking like she was prepared to do it, when she had a heart to heart with Jax that seemed to make it clear to her that everything she was doing was for their sons. Jax’s response to this wasn’t anger, but sacrifice, as he agreed to turn himself in, take the blame for the guns and go to jail to protect the club and his family. Tara was free. And then the last ten minutes happened. Gemma thought Tara was still on track to turn Jax in, and confronted her in her kitchen, believing she had to do what she had to do to protect her son... because no one told her Jax turned himself in and it wasn't Tara's doing.

As a fan of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Spartacus, I’ve seen some dark and violent stuff, but only a small percentage of it comes close to the horror of watching Gemma shove Tara’s face into a sink of dishwater and stab her repeatedly through the back of the head with a carving fork. This would have been a horrifying scene if it had happened to a minor character. To see it happen to a major character by a major character is almost too insane to process. What’s more, I spent most of the season feeling annoyed by Tara and sympathetic toward Gemma, so to have my perspective flipped so drastically in such a short span of time is unnerving to say the least. I’ll be trying to sort this out in my brain for months. And that’s just fine, as the series will be back for its seventh and final season next fall.

Read Nick’s full breakdown of last night’s finale here.

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