Report card: Was ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season 6 the best for Charlie Hunnam, the writers?

The latest -Throughout the month of December, we have been doing daily Midseason Report Card stories for a number of the shows that are midway through their seasons right now. However, we cannot really do that with shows like “Sons of Anarchy,” “Homeland,” or “Masters of Sex,” who have already wrapped things up until next fall.

So with that in mind, we are now ready to kick off what is a series of standard report cards for these shows, starting with a motorcycle drama that we really feel managed to find another gear in its sixth season. When you are this far along, that can be difficult to do; but while season 5 at times (especially in that period a few weeks after Opie’s death and a few weeks before the finale) started to get a little listless for us, this was an action-packed, emotional roller-coaster throughout. It’s almost like watching someone ride a hundred miles an hour down an empty road: It’s captivating and an emotional thrill to observe, but you know that it is not going to end well.

What worked – Mostly, the surprise factor. While the measure of a good “Sons of Anarchy” season really is not how many times you have your jaw on the ground, it definitely didn’t hurt that there were so many big moments here scattered through the season. You had the death of Otto, Lee Toric going before it was planned, the clubhouse burning, Tara’s plot to ruin Gemma, Clay’s death, and finally Tara being murdered by Jax’s own mother in the finale. It was probably the most gut-wrenching series of stories the show has ever had, and it’s a credit to the writers for having all of this play out as genuine, and not exploitative or going simply for shock value.

The latest -It’s very hard to really sit here and say that a performance one year is better than the other since there are so many variables that go into it, but we’d be willing to wager that season 6 was at least one of the strongest for not just the writers, but for in particular Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, and Maggie Siff. The latter in particular really should be an Emmy nominee if the voters ever wake up and realize that this is a great show.

What didn’t work – When you are talking about “Sons of Anarchy” or another show like “Masters of Sex,” you are really just getting down to issues of preference most of the time. Here, we know at least that one of the more polarizing parts of this season was how long some of the episodes were. Were there some times that we feel like a few scenes could have been cut? Sure, but at the same time, we enjoyed some of the material that may not have been that necessary to the rest of the season. Even the Walton Goggins story was supremely entertaining.

We could say that we weren’t enormous fans of the Toric character, but that was also probably because the role ended in a way that it was not originally planned. Donal Logue had to go back to “Vikings” earlier than expected, and it felt like we really got a great sense of the entire character before we left.

Overall – If being lukewarm about one character who lasted for just a few weeks is the worst thing that you can say about a season, you know that you’re in great shape. “Sons of Anarchy” season 6 is probably up there with 2 and 4 as one of our favorites ever; not only is the acting and writing top-notch, but you really get the feeling when watching this that there is no other equivalent experience on TV. Grade: A.

In case you missed it earlier this weekend, “Sons of Anarchy” was voted by CarterMatt readers Show of the Year, and Siff was voted Best Dramatic Actor. Clearly, the support of the fans is there!

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Photo: FX

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