There was a time when a TV series’ final season meant that the show’s worth had finally petered out to the point that it wasn’t feasible to keep producing episodes. But it’s an entirely different age of television, and the only thing petering out on FX’s Sons of Anarchy is everyone’s patience for everyone else. Season 7, like all of the preceding seasons, is born of a thirst to see a neverending series of situations that give normal people panic attack-induced nervous breakdowns.

Becoming a citizen of Charming or its surrounding areas should require an immediate will preparation and a written statement that one doesn’t hold their life in high regard. That’s my not so clever way of saying that death is its own entity in the beginning of Season 7. Having watched the first three episodes, I’m not surprised that makers are being met left and right, but it was still jarring. And then I remembered that there are only around four episodes where less than 15 people bite the bullet, and it all began to make sense again. Damn you, winter and summer, for allowing my sensitivity to thrive anew!

The Teller family is at odds, with Jax starting the season behind bars, and Gemma and Wendy trading off on childcare with the monotone Abel and still infantile Thomas, whom I was halfway expecting to already be a bumbling teenager in this season, despite it starting out fairly soon after Season 6 ended. In the time since Tara’s death, Jax has completely overlooked his children’s futures and is trying to erode the bridges that he built between himself and others over the years. He says his motivations are based on keeping the club above ground, but I don’t think Jax is the most mentally stable person on television right now. Even when he’s trying to convince himself he’s right.

SAMCRO is running as smoothly as sandpaper sledding, although the adult entertainment side of things is as booming as ever. Jax and Nero are trying to see eye to eye for the sake of family and friendship, but the constant battle of racially-tagged gang supremacy is rather outlandish. This is like the later eras of Civilization (or your RPG of choice) when the world’s empires have been built to their capacities and all that the world can do then is implode with conflict.

On the small-scale side of things, Juice is hiding out from the club, having both already had his death warrant signed and secretly compounded upon by covering up Gemma’s involvement with Tara’s murder. He has almost no plans, which probably won’t bode well for him, considering how terrible his split-decision skills are. He’s Juice for a reason. Thankfully, the rest of the gang is up to their usual behavior, with a particularly amusing stakeout scene between Tig and Rat. Happy is his normal sadistic self. Bobby and Chibs aren’t having much fun, but their time will come.

As far as the new stars go, Annabeth Gish’s new sheriff Althea Jarry isn’t approaching Charming’s problems in the way that I would have expected. She’s a realist, keeping one ear on the ground and one in the sky, but her too-cool style may be a front. Either way it goes, Chibs likes it. And the premiere does give viewers an eyebrow-free taste of Marilyn Manson’s prison-bound character, but that’s better experienced than told about secondhand.

While I’d love for this season to pull up the dramatic reins enough to get the Emmys’ attention, creator Kurt Sutter doesn’t give a shit about any of that for the most part. He’s far more interested in giving his longtime audience an explosive, adrenaline-fueled final chapter to one of the darkest and oddly comedic dramas to ever hit the boob tube. And speaking of boobs, you guys are going to love the Frankenstein-themed porn shoot.

Sons of Anarchy will leave a trail of vengeance-soaked chaos in its wake when its extended-length first episode premieres on FX on Tuesday, September 9 at 10 p.m. ET.

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