Which gives me a perfect opportunity to segue into my "Perhaps I Am Reading Too Much Into This TV Show" Theory of the Episode (let's call it "TOTE" for short). Skip this paragraph if you just want to find out what happens next. If not ... so here's the thing: Have y'all seen The Royal Shakespeare Company Presents Hamlet ? Patrick Stewart plays Claudius in it, and one of the reasons his performance is so brilliant is because of how he chooses to depict the king: As someone who is eminently qualified to lead a nation to greatness. Stewart's Claudius is charismatic, calculating and competent, and he is not afraid of the ugly duties that underpin the authority he wields. In this Hamlet production, the audience is asked to observe the conflict between a good leader who's not a good person and a good person whose encroaching madness makes him a terrible leader. And I am seeing echoes of Stewart's Claudius in this scene: Clay's made some boneheaded decisions in the past, but here he shows that he's got a very canny understanding of what makes a leader, and he's asking Jax: Do you have what it takes? Because you need to step up, or be stepped on.
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.