This week, Sons of Anarchy provided one of the most riveting hours of television that I’ve seen in a long time. Leading in to the final episodes of the season, “Hands” set up what is sure to be some of the most tense moments we’ve ever seen on this show.

Decisions for Juice
Juice is in quite the pickel. If he ignores Potter’s requests to find out the time and place for the IRA and Galindo meeting then Potter will turn his sights on the entire SAMCRO organization. If he does feed him the info, Juice  is turning on his brothers and will be setting up which ever Sons are at the meet to get arrested. Juice was already one broken branch away from offing himself, how will he live with being stuck between this rock and hard place?

And a better question, how is Roosevelt (or as I like to call him, the new David Hale of Charming) going to deal with it? He is beyond pissed at Potter for using him for his own gains. He is also – and here’s the kicker – apologetic to Juice. He allowed things to be put in motion that caused a lot of pain for a lot of people, especially Juice, and in the end it may not have been for the right reasons. I love the character arc Roosevelt has been given so far this season.

The Damage Broken Hands Can Bring
The rest of the episode deals with that aftermath of the phone call Clay made at the end of last week. And that aftermath is immense. Clay is busy making plans to have Tara killed, but sometimes he seems to forget that his wife is the smartest chic in town. Gemma realizes that suddenly most of his money is missing from the safe. When Gemma finds out that Jax is going with Tara, Thomas and Abel up to Oregon things get even more nerve wracking. Although here’s my thing – didn’t Clay know Tara was taking the kids? I know he’s trying to protect himself or whatever, but he was just going to let his grand kids be abandoned and/or see their mother get killed if Jax wasn’t there?? Clay is officially the worst villain on this show!

To be fair – he did hesitate a moment when Gemma tells him this is now a family trip. He tells Tig to try to bring Jax (but just Jax!) back. He called Romeo to try to put the hit on hold. Romeo decided not to and instead just let the guy know to watch out for Jax since he’s probably got a gun and he won’t be afraid to use it. But when Gemma tries to initially confront Clay about the missing money he tells her it’s none of her business and she needs to remember she is just an Old Lady. Grrr.

Meanwhile the happy family hits the road which leads to a series of scenes that are as beautiful as they are heartbreaking. Jax and Tara singing in the car to their kids – I mean come on! Adorable. At a gas station there is one of my favorite scenes ever on the show, so I have to take a minute to talk about that one. Tara goes to get some stuff in the store with Abel while Jax pumps the gas. But he gets nervous when a motorcycle cop pulls up. Tara reminds him he is a civilian right now, no need to worry. The cop asks about the car because he is thinking of buying one. Jax asks the cop about his motorcycle and they bond over the love of riding. It’s a glimpse of what real life would/could/should be like. The range of emotions that play on Jax’s face are amazing. The hint of fear when the cop shakes Thomas’s hand. The excitement over talking bikes, as if it was normal to do that with a cop. The realization that this is what life could be for him – Normal. Easy. Happy. Charlie Hunnam killed it in that scene.

But that is taken away quickly. After the two discuss how if she gets the job in Oregon, he would be ready to move, they clean up the picnic. Jax stares at a homeless woman (help me out guys – is that the same homeless woman who has been in multiple eps over the entire series?) and then hears a scream – Tara has been grabbed by guys in a van as she was trying to buckle the kids in. A gunfight ensues and as Tara fights to get away out of the van, the open sliding door slams on her hand. She gets away, but is taken to the hospital to assess the damage. Say goodbye to the happiness.

Jax is looking at trouble since gunfire was heard and he’s on federal parole. And Tara is now going to surgery to see if they can fix her hand. Unfortunately, the damage is extreme and it will take lots of surgeries to get her back to being able to work, if she ever gets there at all. Jax wants her to be pissed at him. To yell and scream. But she is almost catatonic, talking of how this is fate because they are meant to be together because he can never leave Charming.

“Clay won’t let you. Gemma won’t let you. Charming won’t let you.”

The anger she eventually works up to is just the icing on the horrible horrible cake for Jax. He believes the Lobos are to blame for this, so he and the crew, along with Alvarez, go to see LaRoy. It leads to a shoot out and Alvarez’s VP and one of LaRoy’s men both wind up dead. When Opie and Jax have a minute alone, Jax confesses – he was trying to get out. Opie is understandably upset since on multiple occasions Jax convinced Opie to stay in the club. Jax apologized, blaming himself for everything (including Donna) and told him to go find Piney and Lyla and make it right with them. Sad Face!!

As for the other pair of damaged hands – Clay goes to see Romeo and Luis and they give Clay his money back. But they say they are going to take care of the hit themselves because that is what needs to be done. He goes home where Gemma finds him putting the money back. She is already upset because Margaret basically blamed her for ruining Tara’s life. (Not entirely undeserved, but still harsh) She confronts Clay about putting the hit on Tara and says she is going to tell Jax. He goes towards her, but she pulls a gun. He asks if she is going to kill him like she did JT – even if she dind’t commit the murder, she is to blame.

She shoots and he knocks the gun from her. They fight it out, both getting some good hits in, but then he finally pins her down where he beats her with his “half-dead hands.” Clay heads to the clubhouse apartment where he ignores everyone who questions his battered look. Then Wayne, who Gemma called back from Piney’s cabin where he was fixing the crime scene, comes in to the house. When he finds her battered and beaten he asks what he can do. She is done. She wants Clay taken down. Wayne says he can still fix Piney’s murder on him. But she says no….

“He’s gonna die. By the hand of a son.”

Now did she mean son, as in Jax, or son as in Son of Anarchy member? Either way, I’m inclined to hope she gets her way. And as the the season goes on, it’s hard to imagine the show or SAMCRO continuing with Clay around.

How is everyone feeling after watching that intense hour? I’m still recovering days later. Hit the comments and let me know!

And I have some good news, in case you missed it. Kurt Sutter asked FX if he could have an extra hour for this final season… so he got one! Instead of 13 episodes as planned, this season will be 14. The season 4 finale will now air December 6th. I’m beyond excited to spend another week with these characters before the long hiatus. I’m also very nervous as to where he is going to leave them (and therefore us) at the end of that 14th episode. I imagine it will be a bloody final few hours.

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae