Okay, I'm done over-analyzing. Let the action resume! The opening thrum of Richard Thompson's "Dad's Gonna Kill Me" starts up, and Jax stands there at the body of the boy who died while trying to keep Abel safe.
We then zip to Belfast, Ireland, where Cameron and Abel are begging entrance into the apartment of his cousin Maureen (played by Paula Malcolmson, whom some of you will remember from her turn on Deadwood, others from her performance on Caprica).
The song continues, sinuous and tense, as Emilia checks in on Gemma at her dad's feet; she lays her head on his knee and her dad strokes her hair. Gemma looks a little wrecked by this.
Hale heads to his truck as the wake disperses. Everyone's outside, filling those awkward minutes where you're not sure where to go next. Jax and Tara are glued to one another's side, Opie's back with his porn actress lady friend, and then a van drives by, opens the passenger-side door, and a few masked guys with guns open fire on the crowd.
Cue total pandemonium: Jax pushes Tara to the ground before covering her body with his, Chuckie the masturbating accountant takes a hit, and the Charming PD rises and responds. Unser manages to shoot the windshield, but that's as far as he gets. Hale's out of his truck and shooting, and the wildly-veering van hits him, flinging his body up and then -- when Hale hits the pavement with a sickening splat - running over him again.
One of the assailants has rolled, fallen or been pushed out of the van. He's unnoticed for the moment. SAMCRO's collective firepower is no good against the rapidly escaping van, and now everyone who's not in a cut has noticed that Hale is in really bad shape. Josh Hale and Unser both sprint over there. Both men reel at the extent of the damage done to the righteous would-be sheriff.
Three deputies have the left-behind assailant pinned. As Jax takes in the chaos around him -- a woman weeping for help because her son's been hit, Chuckie the masturbating accountant hunched over his wound, Hale reduced to a pile of bloody meat on the macadam -- all he hears is his own pulse. And he charges over to the officers, flings them out of the way, and begins savagely beating the guy into the middle of next week. Piney looks horrified, while Clay and Opie rush in to pull Jax off before he can kill the guy.
And that's how we start season three. To those who say "Bring it," I am reasonably confident that it will be broughten.