FX's Sons of Anarchy carried forth its brutal fifth season with a controversial death in “Laying Pipe," which centered primarily around the four SAMCRO members in prison: Jax (Charlie Hunnam), Chibs (Tommy Flanagan), Tig (Kim Coates) and Opie (Ryan Hurst). When One-Niners leader Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) told Jax that one of the Sons had to die, viewers were left to wonder who would be the one to go. Ultimately, Opie sacrificed himself for the group in a truly disturbing death. He attacked a prison guard and was subsequently locked in a room with four One-Niners, who quickly beat him to death.

Opie’s death may have been upsetting, but it was not entirely surprising. His father and wife had died, and while he still had two children to care for, in many ways he was a lost soul by the time “Laying Pipe” began. Nonetheless, his departure marks a gaping hole to fill for Sons fans and the end of an outstanding role for Hurst.

Although Hurst had been a full cast member since the inception of Sons of Anarchy, he may be best remembered as star football player Gerry Bertier in Remember the Titans, where he starred alongside Denzel Washington. Hurst has also had smaller roles in the war films We Were Soldiers and Saving Private Ryan. His turn as Opie is now one of his most memorable roles and one Hurst has treasured.

“I signed onto this show because I got to grow a beard and ride a motorcycle,” Hurst told Collider in a 2011 interview. “I liked the show. There was good dialogue. I knew it was going to be fun …. This is the strongest group of actors that I’ve ever worked with.”

Sons of Anarchy will continue life A.O. (After Opie) next Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST on FX. –Hal Sundt

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