Sons of Anarchy's Maggie Siff: Tara's Out of Options
by Adam Bryant
[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Tuesday's episode of Sons of Anarchy. Read at your own risk.]
Plans often backfire on Sons of Anarchy, and no one is more keenly aware of that at the moment than Dr. Tara Knowles.
Last week, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) learned that Tara (Maggie Siff) faked her pregnancy — and a miscarriage — as part of an elaborate scheme to keep Gemma (Katey Sagal) from being able to gain custody of Jax and Tara’s sons should Tara end up in jail for the charges pending against her. On Tuesday’s episode, Jax didn’t give into the rage he displayed after learning of Tara’s betrayal — but it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for Tara.
With Juice (Theo Rossi) scoping out her every move, Tara slowly watched as her co-conspirators in the scheme either left town or, in the case of Jax’s ex Wendy (Drea De Matteo), turned back to drugs. Then, Gemma pounced on a weakened Tara, threatening her life if she didn’t let Jax take the boys. When Tara went to confront Jax, she found him in the arms of Collette (Kim Dickens), the madam with whom SAMCRO is now in business.
With nowhere left to turn, Tara tried to cut a plea deal with D.A. Patterson (CCH Pounder) to give up Jax and the club in order to escape jail and keep her boys. But, because Patterson is already working on a separate deal with Jax, Tara ends the episode desperate and with seemingly nowhere left to turn.
TVGuide.com chatted with Siff about Tara’s emotional journey thus far and whether she believes there is any way out of this mess for Tara. Plus: What’s Tara going to do with that gun in her purse?
What have you thought of Tara’s arc this season? Were you surprised to see Tara go to such desperate lengths this season?
Maggie Siff: I know Kurt [Sutter] has always imagined that, at some point, [Tara] becomes Gemma. And the only way for that to truly happen is if she does things akin to what Gemma is capable of doing. So, there was an interesting irony about her perpetrating this on Gemma. The end goal for Tara is really about protecting her children. With the trial looming over her head and her and Jax’s disassociation from each other — and his apparent disregard for what happens to her in the trial [because] his head is so filled with club business — she just gets left behind. She has a reckoning at some point within herself and realizes that if she’s actually going to succeed in providing her children with a different, better life, she’s really on her own.
Do you think Tara blames Jax for the things that led her to concoct this scheme?
Siff: I think she blames herself. She sees how important the club is to him, and I think she perhaps realizes that will always come first. She accepts who he is and continues to be in love with him because I don’t think they’re capable of not loving each other on some level. For me, [Tara's] just drawing a line in the sand and saying, “This is enough. It’s time to cut my losses and to get my children out of here.” She recognizes that part of that means she’s going to betray him, but she’s not acting out of anger. She’s doing what she thinks she needs to do to survive.
Given how well she knows Jax and his family, didn’t she consider the possibility of it all going wrong just like it has?
Siff: She knows she’s playing a dangerous game, and she knows that it could blow up in her face. Her hope is that everything is locked into place. She thinks she has a pretty foolproof plan. She’s really tried to think through every contingency. Going to that extreme place where she [fakes the miscarriage] just to lock Gemma out and to make sure that she can’t get back in suggests that she’s pretty desperate to have all her bases covered. That said, she knows these people and she knows what the price is for betraying them.
And she’s beginning to pay that price. Over the course of this episode, Tara is really broken down.
Siff: She is out of options. All of her allies have abandoned her, and everywhere she turns to look for help, she’s shut down.
How did Tara feel when Gemma basically threatened to kill her?
Siff: What I remember about that moment is feeling very thwarted, very angry, and kind of paralyzed. But [there's] this gun in my bag. There was almost the urge to go after her, but knowing that I just couldn’t do that. So, it was really a caged-in moment. Being busted by Gemma never feels very good.
Speaking of that gun, I was constantly fearful of whether or not she was going to use it. Do you think she has it in her?
Siff: The loaded gun is the thing she’s carrying around and she doesn’t know what she’s going to do with it. Is it for protection? Is it for an act of violence or rage? It’s kind of this feeling of, “Well, at least I have this.” And it’s probably the only thing she has right now.
Juice’s bike and Collette’s face can attest to the fact that Tara still has some fight left in her.
Siff: The thing that I really like in that episode was the moment of confrontation between Tara and Jax [at the brothel]. She was almost distracted from the current situation with the fact that he’s with another woman. The jealous rage just kind of rises up. But the exchange that’s happening between them there is about their entire relationship. It’s not just about this moment. It’s also about the love that they share in a weird kind of twisted way.
Do you think she was really surprised to see Jax with another woman?
Siff: They’ve been so disconnected, I don’t think she’s allowed herself to think about it too hard. … I’ve been sort of playing with this idea of how do I not let myself be close to this person, and I think he’s doing the same thing. They’re really holding themselves at bay from each other because if they get in too close, then lots of feelings start to stir.
After the incident at the brothel, Tara does seem to realize just how out of control she has become.
Siff: I remember when we were playing that scene, I was trying it a lot of different ways. [She says,] “Look what you’ve made me, look what I’ve become.” That can be a very personal accusation towards Jax. It can be a question to myself, or it could be to God. Where I ended up actually had a little bit of each. It was a little bit to Jax, but more posing the question in this kind of desperate, existential way. In that moment, she has a bird’s-eye view of her situation and her life, where she started versus where she’s ended up —being the kind of person who’s running into brothels wielding guns, and hitting the man she loves and beating up on the woman who’s sleeping with him. [She's] being reduced to somebody who behaves like that. The whole desire to get out of this place is to not be a person who behaves like that, but every day of her life, she’s just more and more like these people.
Now that Tara has seen herself in that light, is there any hope that she can undo this?
Siff: I don’t know that I experienced that moment as a hopeful moment, but I think the reason it can read that way is because it’s a moment of pure honesty between Tara and Jax. They actually have a connection. It may be the first connection that they’ve had all season long. She’s exposed and all her plans are laid bare. And he’s literally naked and caught in the act. All the defenses are down even though they’re having a fight in the middle of the street. And I think there’s something hopeful about that for them because you experience their vulnerability to each other in that moment. And I think as an audience, one’s always held out hope that the love that they share will redeem the situation somehow.
Does Tara still think they can be together after this?
Siff: In this episode I don’t think she’s thinking any of those things. She’s still just trying to figure out if she can get out and how in danger she is.
But after Tara goes to D.A. Patterson, does she realize there may be no way out?
Siff: The end is pretty devastating for her. She realizes that the very, very last option that she would ever consider [is gone]. She comes to accept her fate, and even that door is closed.
So, how would you characterize her next move? Can she come through the desperation?
Siff: The last few episodes are a real rollercoaster. There are a lot of reversals. And I think everybody is in a pretty desperate frame of mind. So, things move forward in pretty unexpected ways for all of us, including Tara.
Kurt promised us blood and tragedy this year, and to be honest, I am worried about Tara.
Siff: There’s definitely some blood, sweat and tears, as there always is on Sons of Anarchy. That’s all I can say.
Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.