I thought that was one of the best portrayals of violence on television in a long time. In the last decade or so, television has gotten a lot more violent, but in a way that allows the audience to detach from the violence. The more violence we see, the more desensitized we become, and therefore the more violent the next violent scene has to be to have the desired effect.
This wasn't the most brutal attack we've seen on television in recent years, but the way Mimi Leder shot it and the way the show played out the aftermath, there was no distance between the audience and the attack. Everything was shown from the victim's point of view, and the the perspective was unrelenting. We see Gladys take her licks until she can't any more, and then ultimately we see the violence strip from her the last thing she had to hold onto. The perpetrators make her speak, and then they kill her anyway.
It was sickening and grotesque and horrible and one of the most responsible portrayals of violence I've seen on TV in a long, long time.
At this point, the one thing the show could do to drive me off is corrupt Reverend Matt. He's not a perfect human being by any means, but he's essential to the show: he's the one saying, we're still alive, we're still human, and we need to be our best selves. The scene at the end was a slap in the face to Matt, but he still achieved an emotional reaction. In that moment, Laurie wasn't dead. He brought her back to life, even if only to spite him.
One of HBO's big notes on this show was to make the chief more of an anti-hero. I wish they hadn't. I'm far more interested in the guy who's sitting on that bed telling his daughter her parents are getting a divorce than I am in the drunken dick who threatens the guy at the laundromat into giving him eight of other people's white shirts.