Otto was one of the most tragic characters in Sons of Anarchy, and one of his most memorable lines is “Sons live, Redwood bleeds” – but what does it mean? Created by Kurt Sutter, Sons of Anarchy premiered on FX in 2008 and lived on for a total of seven seasons, coming to an end in 2014. The series was very well-received from the beginning and was mostly praised for its tone and performances, particularly that of Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller-Morrow.
Sons of Anarchy tells the story of Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam), VP of the motorcycle club Sons of Anarchy in the fictional town of Charming, California. The events of the series begin when Jax finds a manifesto written by his late father, John Teller, one of the founding members of the club. In it, he shared his plans and vision for the club, which were very different from those of the current President (and Jax’s stepfather), Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman). This sends Jax on a personal journey that makes him question his path, role in the club, relationships, and more. Through Jax, viewers met various members of the club, among those Otto Delaney (Sutter), whose arc was one of the most complex and heartbreaking ones.
Otto spent his time in Sons of Anarchy in jail, as prior to the events of the series, he was arrested for second-degree murder and theft, but he continued committing various crimes for the club inside Stockton State Prison, which lengthened his sentence. Being in prison didn’t stop him from keeping in touch with the club, but it did make him susceptible to the manipulation of outsiders, which is what happened when he was tricked into ratting on SAMCRO. In order to take back what he said about the club and save it, he convinced Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff) to bring him a crucifix, and once he was freed from his restraints he attacked an orderly and killed a nurse by stabbing her in the throat with the crucifix while telling Tara “Sons live, Redwood bleeds”.
The murder of the nurse was a turning point in Otto’s arc, as it made way for the arrival of Lee Toric (Donal Logue), a former U.S. Marshal who made his life hell by having him be repeatedly raped and tortured. Otto’s constant struggles with his loyalty to the club and vice versa were perfectly represented in the “Sons live, Redwood bleeds” line, through which he’s telling Tara that he is saving the club (as killing the nurse invalidated his previous statements about the club as he was unstable and unreliable), but their legacy will be tainted and they will eventually pay for what they’ve done. Some fans have interpreted it as saving the club from the RICO case but letting that specific charter suffer, especially Jax, as he used Tara to get the crucifix and killed the nurse right in front of her.
Otto wasn’t being dramatic (or not entirely) but was sending a strong message to the club through Tara and the brutal murder of the nurse, and while the club did pay the price, he did as well with the arrival of Lee Toric. Otto’s whole arc in Sons of Anarchy was tragic and defined by lies and betrayal, and his “Sons live, Redwood bleeds” line perfectly encapsulates what he was going through at that point.