FX’s Sons of Anarchy follows the titular outlaw motorcycle club, its various criminal enterprises and the ensuing drama. Although SAMCRO employs a male-centric operation, Gemma (Katey Sagal) pulls strings from behind. Gemma has a strong concept of family. Though her heart is in the right place, her intentions become more convoluted as the show continues. While whispering in the ears of her husband, son and other men in her life, she accomplishes a variety of nefarious deeds. However, one of her final gifts in Season 7 remains her most sinister, acting as a giant slap in her son’s face.
From Sons of Anarchy‘s pilot, Gemma makes it clear she cares deeply about her son Jax and will do anything to protect him. When Jax has children of his own, Gemma’s often strangulating love extends to her grandchildren. She wants to keep them close, even going as far as killing (albeit somewhat accidentally) Jax’s wife, Tara, when she plans to take them away. In contrast, Jax fears his children following in his footsteps into a life of crime. After finding his father/former SAMCRO president’s manifesto, Jax slowly becomes disillusioned with the club and its criminal activities. In the seventh and final season, Jax plans for Nero and his ex-wife Wendy to get Abel and Thomas out of Charming, allowing them to live a “normal” life away from SAMCRO.
Jax figures out his mother is behind Tara’s death, and Gemma knows her days are limited. In her final interaction with her grandson Abel, Gemma gives him a SAMCRO ring that matches his father’s for when he “patches into the club someday.” The moment is unusual and spotlights Gemma’s twisted sense of loyalty to the club. Despite all the horrible things it’s caused her and her family, Gemma can’t seem to comprehend life without SAMCRO. She’s been around motorcycles, guns and reckless mayhem for so long that it’s clouded her judgment. As a result, she can’t seem to understand those who want to leave that lifestyle behind, even her own son and first husband.
More importantly, giving Abel the SAMCRO ring is a huge slap in Jax’s face. Jax’s greatest wish is for his sons to stay away from the club. He believes in it so much that he’s willing to die for it. Therefore, Gemma giving Abel the ring is symbolic. It suggests that he’ll never escape the club, even without the influence of his biker queen grandmother and reformed father.
The moment also highlights Gemma didn’t learn from her mistakes. She and Jax have arguably the most unhealthy relationship in Sons of Anarchy. While there’s no doubt Gemma loves her son, she manipulated Jax from the time he was a kid, allowing him to dropout of high school to pursue prospecting with SAMCRO at just 16 years old. Even before that, Gemma and Clay plotted Jax’s father’s death to gain control of the club after he became disillusioned and wanted to take it in a new, cleaner direction. She continuously encourages Clay to mentor Jax and set him on the “right” path. However, that path is riddled with crime, death and prison stints.
It’s not the life most parents envision for their children, but Gemma doubles down on it despite Jax’s growing unhappiness — and she repeats history with Abel. In that regard, Gemma’s final gift to Abel isn’t just a memento to remember his father and her; it’s an omen. While fans may never know what canonically happens to Abel, one can only hope Nero and Wendy steer him toward the path Jax envisioned, not the one Gemma wanted.