On Sons of Anarchy, the members of SAMCRO often turn towards violence and intimidation — among other things — to make sure they come out on top. But when it came to using others to get what they wanted, no one was on the same level as Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal), though. Gemma had the clear understanding that you sometimes have to go to extremes. Even if that means manipulating loved ones like leather-clad chess pieces. In honor of her enviable duplicity, we thought we’d take a look at some of Gemma’s most memorable quotes.
“I’ve been through hell, landed on my feet. Your father was hit by a goddamn semi, dragged 178 yards. And that bastard lived for two more days. Teller’s do not die easy.”
Stirring words from Gemma. Hopefully you won’t have to get plastered by an 18-wheeler to find out if you’ve got the right stuff to fight, but you can draw strength from the small challenges in your effort to get what you want.
“I’m his mother, and until I am dead and cold, I am going to do anything I have to do to protect him.”
While Gemma sometimes let her need to protect her loved ones take her way too far, she still did what she felt she needed to. Mother knows best? Gemma sure as sh*t thought so.
“I’m protecting the innocent. If I step on a few toes in the meanwhile, so be it.”
You have to look in the mirror and see something different than everyone else sees if you’re going to go as far as Gemma did to get what she wanted while still considering herself virtuous. In short: you have to be delusional.
“Thomas and Abel will not be raised by you. What you do now will determine how we deliver that message. Mommy moved away… or Mommy passed away. Your call.”
Gemma is terrifying. If your life goals require you to be terrifying – say, if you want to become an Ultimate Fighting Champion – you can take a lesson from almost any episode. If you’re an ordinary person who doesn’t want to make people crap themselves for a living, the only lesson you should walk away with from this quote is that you can’t let people ruin your goals. Gemma’s goal was keeping her grandchildren safe and close to home, and she wasn’t even going to let their mother stop that.
“Clay Morrow killed your father, stole that seat away from this family, gunned down your father’s best friend and he tried to kill your wife. He’s a murderous traitor and there’s only one thing to do now, Jackson…”
While encouraging other people to do your dirty work is a classic move, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s also something that, in this case, required a lot of lying and a lot of hard work to set in motion.
“She did this… She did this. She made a deal. She betrayed him.”
These last two aren’t about going to extremes to get what you want, so much as they’re about the consequences that Gemma endured because of her acts. These aren’t really cautionary tales because I don’t think you’re going to tear apart a motorcycle gang from the inside out, but I suppose you never know what people are capable of. Gemma sure showed that. Especially near the end.
The last two seasons of Sons of Anarchy were tough for Gemma. She missed her opportunity to learn a very valuable lesson. Sometimes, the thing you think you want – in her case, keeping her loved ones under her thumb so she could always feel needed – isn’t best for anyone else involved.
While Gemma doubtlessly learned that lesson as the bodies started to pile up behind her, Jax’s wife Tara learned her own brutal lesson about the lengths that Gemma was willing to go to at the apex point of Gemma’s mad reign as the one true Queen of SAMCRO.
“I love you, Jackson, from the deepest, purest part of my heart. You have to do this. It’s who we are, sweetheart.”
At her end, Gemma accepted that her desires — and the many lies she used to service them and conceal her sins from the family she was supposedly looking out for — had led to a moment where she had to inflict the most damage on her son by forcing him to kill her. Aware that nothing could derail that runaway train, she instead tried to free Jackson — a fierce warrior with a sensitive soul (just like his father) — from the weight of his violent and necessary act by giving him permission to pull the trigger. Gemma’s last manipulation, like many of her others, was for the good of her family. So apt, so tragic.