Last season’s “Hands” was one of Sons of Anarchy‘s most shocking hours to date — and that’s saying a lot. The episode, screened last night at the PaleyFest salute to Sons in Los Angeles, is likely embedded in fans’ memories because of the incredibly violent scene between Gemma (Katey Sagal) and Clay (Ron Perlman), in which Clay horrifically beat up his wife of many years. Uncomfortable as it was, the scene was sadly just one in a string of intense physical confrontations the couple has shared over the years. (Perlman reminded EW back in December that Gemma has shot Clay.) But the severity of this particular encounter left many fans wondering if the pair would — and should — ever return to their previous state of (relatively) happy matrimony.
“I don’t really know,” Sagal told EW of whether Gemma would ever mend her relationship with her now-estranged husband. “What I do know is that domestic violence is not a stranger to that world — as it’s not a stranger to a lot of worlds. And a lot of people go back to unfathomable situations, which would be unfathomable to me. But I’m not playing me.”
Gemma, she added, is often motivated by possibilities and what she can gain from her actions, something that could drive her back to Clay’s side this season. “If it gets her something, she might unite,” said Sagal. “I think she’s motivated by what she gets, not necessarily what she gives.”
Domestic violence has been prevalent in social discussion during recent months, especially following the musical reunion between Rihanna and Chris Brown. In an interview with EW before the finale, Perlman lauded the show for being part of the discussion on the important issue. “What [the audience] is seeing is kinda unthinkable,” he said. “[But] I love being in that position. Because when you can inspire that kind of debate and controversy over a one-hour TV show, that’s a pretty good place to be if you’re an actor, a director, or a writer.”
For his part, creator Kurt Sutter has told EW that Clay is a damaged character who “doesn’t possess enough self-awareness or the emotional tools or skills to repair [the relationship] at this point even if he wanted to.” He added, “He’s sort of crossed this line and has no idea how to get back.”
Sagal explained that Gemma is in a similar position in season 5, which is currently being written. “Her world had really fallen apart,” she said. “I think she’s a bit displaced, which will be an interesting arc to play.”