Leading in to the show's season 4 finale, I did a poll asking EW.com readers whether they thought Clay would survive it, and only 19 percent of them said yes. A lot of fans have been ready to see Clay gone. But when it looked like it was finally his time this episode, I bet most of those people realized they didn't want him to go. And that just makes you more nervous, right? Because now you care about him again after those goodbyes to Gemma and Jax, which means offing him would hit you harder. Not that he's the one we need to be most worried about at the moment: That would be Tig, whose life Jax is now willing to trade to August Marks in exchange for him keeping Clay alive in Stockton so he can deal with the Irish if needed. (UPDATE: Read what Kim Coates had to say about the episode here.) If I were to do a poll now on whether Tig will survive that run-in with August, what would the percentage be? Let's see.
After a "previously on" that ran a full minute and a half -- we should take bets on how long the one will be for the season finale -- we opened with Jax holding Thomas and journaling while DA Thyne Patterson gave a press conference updating us on the school shooting investigation. She confirmed that the 11-year-old shooter's journal had been declared "violent and very disturbing" and that the school had recommended he seek outside counseling over a year ago, but the family had not yet confirmed whether they pursued it (and they won't, because we know his mother is dead). The authorities know from the modification and lack of serial numbers that the gun was purchased illegally, and she vowed to find out how it got into the boy's hands. The montage continued with Tara in her kitchen as Abel ate his Fruit Loops, Gemma squirming in a pew as Nero waited his turn for confession, and Toric peacefully lying naked in his bed with the Diosa escort to whom we'd seen him give his address. Bobby was on the road to Reno with Quinn and Hopper, and Jax was riding his bike... somewhere. Has he always had those prominent rear-view mirrors and I'm just now noticing them, or are those new because now he knows he needs to watch his back?
Even though Gemma has really brought Nero nothing but trouble, their relationship is the only solid one on the show. She doesn't understand why he needs to (vaguely) confess his sins, but he's been doing it for so long, he's afraid of how bad it will get if he stops. "You're a good man," she told him. The look on his face said he's beginning to doubt it. Back at Toric's, he was struggling with his cell when he heard a car pull up. He grabbed his gun, peeked out the window, and saw the DA had arrived for an impromptu meeting. The escort approached him from behind, and he turned around and shot her in the stomach. I couldn't tell if that was an accident. I mean, that's a dumb time to kill someone, and he kept repeating "I'm sorry" as he put a pillow over her heard and shot her two more times -- good thing he had a silencer. But maybe that was always his plan, to kill the escort, and he just had to speed it up because he couldn't risk the DA seeing or hearing her alive and well and associating with him.
Once he dressed -- a T-shirt and jeans is a better look for him -- the DA gave him new papers for Clay to sign to turn state's evidence. She told him to find the boy's mother, Darvany. Toric knows Nero is their best bet. She recommended he start with the two Byz-Lat "sh*theads" they'd found at the house to see if they'd flip on Nero and give them leverage to make Nero talk. Toric's unofficially on the team because she's desperate. Jax, it turns out, was headed to see Eli to confirm that Toric is the one pulling strings to keep Clay whole. Eli also told him he heard that Toric had visited Tara looking for something to use against the club. Toric, meanwhile, was back in his more formal ex-marshal wear after moving the escort's body to the bathtub. He took his pills and put the "do not disturb" sign on the door.
Tara had a loaded conversation with Unser when she went to drop the boys off with Gemma at the garage. She has "no choice, right" but to get through her current troubles, and "it's not about me anymore," she said, looking at Abel playing, when Unser told her she'd be all right. She told Gemma she'd been "making friends the Gemma way" in County and needed to get her hand checked at the hospital. "That's a very worried mother," Unser said as Tara left. "And she's got no idea," Gemma said.
NEXT: Clay's decision