SEAL Team will never be the same again, and in hindsight, we should have seen it coming.
SEAL Team Season 6 Episode 8 said goodbye to Max Thieriot as Clay Spenser, and it was a rollercoaster of emotions.
Meeting Ben in the dead of night was never going to lead to anything good, and while I entertained the possibility of Ben killing himself, I did have an inkling that Clay would be dead by the end of the episode.
Thieriot's Fire Country has been a massive hit for CBS, and if that gets around 20 episodes a season, it will leave little time for the actor to continue working on SEAL Team.
He was separated from his team members and had to navigate a new way of life. We know he struggled with it, but somehow, he prevailed.
For that reason alone, it's cruel that he was taken from us in such a manner, especially when he floated the idea of doing something different with Stella.
Clay: Look, I'm not leaving you, okay? This isn't the answer.
Ben: You said so yourself. Military and politicians ain't gonna put us back together. Maybe this'll wake 'em up.
Clay: Look, my... my buddy shot himself four years ago in the V.A. parking lot. You think it made a difference? I'm not letting you follow in his footsteps. Look, the only thing that the American war machine has proven that it's capable of is chewing up and spitting out its war fighters. But we gotta stay in the fight. I told you, our war is over. It's over. But guys like you are worth fighting for. I went from being considered one of the biggest badasses on the planet to an object of pity at work and a threat at home. And it put me right where you are.Weeks ago, I had a rifle, a spot picked out in the woods, I didn't see a path back. And then someone found me, and they led me out.
Ben: Wish I had teammates like that.
Clay: This fսcking war is in its third decade. Man, guys like us, we're not alone. Maybe that's why I was saved, so I could be here for you. Your brother.
Ben: You really think that's how this shit works?
Clay: I don't know, man, there's gotta be some point to all of it, right? I'll help you find it. Hey, look at me. Just give me the gun.
Ben: Thanks, for looking out for me.
Clay: Easy day.
(Clay is shot in the chest two times)
He wanted to surprise his wife every day and be the best father. Knowing that's all been taken away is difficult to process because it seemed like Clay was destined for happiness.
Ben's actions inadvertently led to Clay's death, so it's hard to think about the emotional toll this will have on him.
Ben was spiraling out of control because there wasn't enough support for people in his situation. He was struggling mentally and lashing out to make himself feel better.
That's never a good idea, and if Clay was going to die, he probably wanted to go out helping someone.
Clay: I don't think I wanna go back to Green Team.
Stella: What do you mean? Do... Do you wanna go back to operating?
Clay: If we weren't anchored here, where would you wanna go? Like, if you could pursue whatever you wanted, wherever, raise Brian anywhere?
Clay: Because so much of our life has just been about me. You know, my job, my schedule, my struggles.
Stella: Mm-mm, no, no, no. They're ours. Come on, writer. I'm serious. Tell me the next chapter.
Stella: Oh, God... Okay. Mm, Mendocino Coast. A little clapboard cottage. Um, I teach and I work on my novel, which is, of course, brilliant, but still very much best-seller accessible. And the three of us, we go on a walk every sunset on the beach.
Clay: Yeah. If you're asking.
Stella: I am.
Clay: Look, I've been talking to Ash about picking our TBI crusade back up, but I can do that from anywhere.
Stella: You're actually serious?
Clay: Ever since we met, I never wanted to stop surprising you.
The series did an excellent job of making us think Clay would be safe and would leave with Stella, and honestly, I wish that was the case.
However, SEAL Team has never been a show to shy away from the effects being a veteran can have on a person, so I have to give it major props for following through with such a bold storytelling choice.
There's always a tipping point on a series to get the wheels in motion for the end of a season, and damn, "Aces and Eights" had quite the tipping point.
Clay's death will set the tone for the rest of SEAL Team Season 6. His former team members will struggle knowing they were not with him that fateful night.
Sonny: I take it you two corporate raiders didn't close the deal.
Ray: Khoi's got a firewall around him, we couldn't even tap into his damn network.
Sonny: Oh, and that puts us absolutely nowhere.
Jason and Sonny will be affected the most. Jason has tried to get through to him throughout this very different arc, even if they're rarely on the same page these days.
Sonny's bent over backward to look out for Clay recently, something I never expected to happen. They were on opposite sides for so long that they were like oil and water.
Their bond has been one of the strongest aspects of SEAL Team Season 6.
Then there's Stella and their son. Stella was grinning from ear to ear because her husband was ready to embrace change and stop chasing a dream.
She was ready to navigate this next chapter as a unit; now, it's been ripped away by one event. Alona Tal is a phenomenal actress, and it's going to be hard to watch Stella's pain on SEAL Team Season 6 Episode 9.
I hope Bravo Team doesn't learn about their brother's death after they return home.
They're on a high-stakes mission that could go awry at any moment, but none of them will be able to forgive themselves if Command keeps the death from them until their mission is over, which could happen after the funeral.
You have to think about how they will feel knowing they were left in the dark and not there to support Stella and Clay's family, but there was a big emphasis on Eric saying he would do what he had to ensure Bravo's Team's success.
Ray: All right, what'd I miss? What did I miss?
Jason: Brock massages.
For that reason alone, I don't think they'll be learning about it soon, which will be difficult for Davis, too. She's largely been away from the team of late because she's been pushed in a markedly different direction.
It has drawn the ire of Sonny, but I hope everyone can come together when all of this is said and done. There's too much sadness in the world for them to be bickering.
Sonny was vocal about his disdain for her when she put finding out who attacked the team on the back burner. Will this death further turn him against his one-time lover?
The mission was harrowing because there was a sense of dread peppered throughout. This was thanks to the mission to Jordan, which made for a pulse-pounding mission.
Nothing has been going right for the team, so Jason's decision to go off on a helicopter to find the Iranian General and get information about Yasiri's whereabouts was risky.
Now that the team knows where Yasiri will be in a few days, I think they won't learn about Clay's brutal death for a while yet.
What are your thoughts on Clay's death? Are you in shock?
What do you think of the mission to Amman?
Do you think Jason's plan was too risky?
Hit the comments.
SEAL Team Season 6 airs Sundays on Paramount+.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.