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The Ending Of Sons Of Anarchy Season 3 Explained

The life of a Son of Anarchy is never easy but Seasons 1 and 2 were a cakewalk compared to Jax Teller's (Charlie Hunnam) predicament in Season 3. The vice president of SAMCRO experiences every parent's worst nightmare after his son Abel is kidnapped at the end of Season 2. Though most parents don't endure their child being kidnapped by a True IRA member, that certainly isn't a comfort to Jax. He spends the season scrambling to find where gunrunner Cameron Hayes (Jamie McShane) took his son, and he finds himself in the Belfast chapter of Sons of Anarchy. There, SAMCRO encounters insidious IRA leader Jimmy O'Phelan (Titus Welliver), who scarred Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) while Jax discovers his family tree is a little more complicated than he originally thought.

But none of that compares to Season 3's explosive finale and IMDb's highest-rated episode of the series. Finally back stateside, Jax must figure out a way to save his mother Gemma (Katey Sagal) from being framed for murder by making a deal with the devil — ATF Agent June Stahl (Ally Walker). Stahl returns once again to wreak havoc on the Sons of Anarchy, making it uncertain if the biker prince will really make it out this time unscathed.

Jax beats Stahl in a Shakespearean turn of events

For an entire season, Gemma's fate has been up in the air. After killing Polly (Sarah Jones) at the end of Season 2, Stahl frames Gemma for the murder of Edmond Hayes (Callard Harris) and forces her to go on the run. Out of options, Jax does the unthinkable and outmaneuvers Stahl in a game of wits. Knowing that Stahl wants Jimmy O., Jax devises a plan that will benefit them both.

Stahl agrees to let Gemma off the murder charges and all she needs is for Jax to rat out the club. Family means everything to the Vice President and Jax agrees, even though it is a certainty he will be killed in prison for it. Sure enough, Stahl betrays Jax and outs him as a rat to the club. However unbeknownst to Stahl, this was all a part of Jax's plan. His intention was never to betray the club but actually pull a fast one on Stahl herself. Hip to Jax's plan, the club goes along with it. They agree to play the game and go to prison so Gemma can be released. And in return, they get everything they want. Opie (Ryan Hurst) and Chibs head off Stahl, killing her and Jimmy O. in the process. Though that means going to prison, they do it as a club. At last Stahl is gone for good, though it opens a more dangerous door for Jax down the road.

Jimmy O. gets what he deserves

The tyranny of Jimmy O'Phelan finally comes to an end in the Season 3 finale. Jimmy's crimes against the club only started with stealing Chibs' wife Fiona (Bellina Logan) and threatening to sleep with his daughter Kerrianne (Q'orianka Kilcher). After that (and a multitude of additional betrayals against SAMCRO), his demise was a long time coming. But it takes the Sons a considerable amount of effort in order to get him where they want him.

As part of Jax's plan with Stahl, he stashes Jimmy at the clubhouse only to be predictably double-crossed by the ATF agent. Stahl thinks she's won when she outs Jax as a rat to his club and promptly arrests almost all the members of SAMCRO. But as it always happens with her, Stahl underestimates the club. Jax's plan has not yet come fully to fruition just yet. Also on deck to help is Unser (Dayton Callie), who officially resigns as Chief and makes his loyalty to the club clear by becoming an accessory. Unser separates Stahl from her protective detail, allowing Chibs and Opie to intercept Jimmy. In one move, Chibs finally gets what he has been deserving for so long — revenge. After tormenting Chibs for so long, Jimmy accepts the fate that he knows he deserves. Chibs symbolically scars Jimmy before delivering the final killing blow.

This is what she felt

June Stahl has been one of the most reprehensible villains to come along, and for "Sons of Anarchy," that's saying something. A recurring antagonist since Season 1, Stahl is always there to try and trip up the boys whether it be through lies, betrayals, or murder. No crime is too big for Stahl, already having killed her own girlfriend in order to find a scapegoat for Gemma's crimes. But all terrible things must come to an end, and even Stahl cannot get out of the trap that Jax lays for her.

After outing Jax as a rat, Stahl thinks that she is in the clear. But her arrogance is always her downfall and does not think that the club has the upper hand. While Chibs gets his taste of revenge, Opie (Ryan Hurst) finally gets his. Stahl had no qualms with setting up Opie as a rat at the end of Season 1, which directly correlated to Donna (Sprague Grayden) getting shot while driving his truck. This loss was a corrosive wound that Opie is never able to heal from. Never showing any remorse for her part in Donna's death, Stahl deserves her end. Opie guides Stahl into the front seat of the car and makes sure that she understands exactly how Donna felt in her final moments. Admittedly, Opie could show mercy. But after what Stahl has done, he has none left to give. Opie has been forever changed and executes Stahl because of it.

Tara is given a weapon that could decimate SAMCRO

Jax's anxiety-inducing jaunt through Ireland leads to many realizations and not just about the whereabouts of Abel. Blindsided by a family history that he knew nothing about, Jax learns that his late father JT (Nicholas Guest) fell in love with Belfast woman Maureen Ashby (Paula Malcomson), who had a daughter with him. But that is not the last bombshell to drop in this twisted family drama. Jax returns to the States with his son, his club, and a collection of revealing and detrimental letters that were slipped to him. Penned by JT in one of the darkest periods of his life, it is a far cry from the manuscript Jax is so used to reading. Instead of philosophical wonderings, JT's love letters to Maureen are tangible evidence that his ultimate death was not an accident. JT was fully aware that Clay (Ron Perlman) and Gemma were having an affair, and was positive that should he die, it would have been the result of foul play.

With Jax in prison, Tara is the one who comes across this devastating twist. Clay and Gemma have demonstrated their inclination toward viciousness, but this would turn the tide against them. Tara very well knows that once Jax finds out the truth about his mother, he will be lost to her forever. This will pull him further away from the club and by extension from Gemma, and that's something that has been in the making for a long time.

Jax is more like his father than ever before

Though he has long been dead, JT continues to influence Jax from beyond the grave. Sensitive and intelligent, JT thought SAMCRO was going down the wrong path in his final days. Like his father before him, Jax sees that there should be an alternative to this life of anarchy. And although Gemma's worst nightmare is that Jax will take after his real father instead of Clay, Season 3 shows that there is no fighting fate.

Were Clay in charge of the plan against Stahl, it would be sure to end in mayhem. Instead, Jax takes control with a more calculated resolution. His plan ensures that the club gets everything that they want without unnecessary bloodshed. This act of manipulating Stahl shows that he is much more like his father than he is his stepfather. But even though Jax proves that he is smarter than the smartest person in the room, it still portends a dark future for him. He may be retaining his soul for now — unlike Clay — but that doesn't mean he is on the right path. This plan makes Jax a smart leader like his father, but being like his father may not be the best decision. JT died a bloody death just like any other member of the club does. And the more Jax makes these moves for the club, the more it becomes likely that he will have the same brutal end as JT.