The fifth episode of Ray Donovan’s fifth season turns its attention to the Donovan men, as they try to move on from past mistakes but struggle to do so. Ray, still grieving the loss of his wife, finally opens up to his anger-management therapist about the reasons why he’s had a troubled life. Mickey buckles under Frank’s pressure to take out Avi, even as he tries to turn the tables. Bunchy wallows in depression and alcoholism after losing his fortune in a sub shop robbery. Only Terry seems to really be making progress, and he has to go all the way to the other coast to do so.
After drowning their sorrows for a few hours, Mickey comes back to the bar to find Bunchy in tears. His son tells him about the lost money, which surely means Mickey is gonna do whatever it takes to get it back. Mickey has a warped sense of justice and protection over his children, often trying to do what’s right for them and only ending up wrong. Of course, Mickey’s ongoing Frank-Avi drama is bound to intersect with his attempt to make Bunchy whole again.
In the episode’s best scene, Ray has a session with his new shrink, played very well by C. Thomas Howell. The doctor notes that Ray answered no to every question on his questionnaire, and that simply can’t be true. In case Ray is concerned about putting it on the record, he’ll ask in person instead. The doctor soon learns that every answer should have been yes. Ray was threatened as a kid. He was abused — physically, emotionally, and sexually. Alcohol was a part of his family life. Rage was everywhere. Howell is fantastic at playing alternately gentle and forceful in getting Ray to address his many issues. Then, something surprising happens: After the doctor gives him prescriptions, which the old, tough Ray might have thrown out, he actually fills them.
Terry tells his brother that he’s off to New York to train with Damon, and he may not come back. Eddie Marsan only gets a few scenes this week, but he is good in all of them, including one in which he says good-bye to Abby, and then explains to Damon that the Twin Towers fell on 9/11 but that the Empire State Building is still there. The writers are playing with ideas of trauma and survival here: A part of us may be broken, but they didn’t get all of us.
While Ray reaches out to his increasingly estranged daughter, he gets stuck in two cases for his clients. First, one of Sam Winslow’s blackmailers wants more, to the tune of $2 million and her husband’s Oscar. Sam is more upset about the award than the money. She counteroffers an extra million in order to keep it, but eventually gives in. Second, Natalie James disappears from the set of her billion-dollar franchise. They fired the director with whom she had creative differences, but still can’t find Natalie. Ray needs to broker the Sam deal and find the starlet.
At the same time, Mickey goes to the Spearmint Rhino, where he finds a disheveled Avi. He’s a mess, and Mickey Donovan is just about the last person he wants to talk to. Mickey takes Avi’s keys after he leaves them on the bar. As the pair walks out to the parking lot, Mickey hits Avi with his own gun, throwing him in the trunk. Will he really kill someone who has essentially been a part of Team Donovan?
While Bunchy investigates suing Railroad Subs for “malfeasance of security,” Ray learns the truth about Natalie’s disappearance: The night she sent Ray and Abby off the road in her bra and panties, she was running from Doug’s house. They were sleeping together, and now Natalie is pregnant. She wants to have the baby, but Doug wants her to get an abortion. So she’s basically in hiding.
Meanwhile, Mickey is going to take care of the Avi situation for Frank. Avi tells him that he’s a “Shabbos goy,” the guy hired by Orthodox Jews to do the work they can’t because of their religious beliefs. In other words, he’s telling Mickey he has no moral code, no sense of right and wrong. He also warns Mickey that Frank will just keep using him as the new Avi until he’s killed too. It works. Avi gives Mickey the $80,000 he was supposed to pick up for Frank, and they’re going to try to turn the tables.
This week’s poignant Abby flashback comes as Ray moves Natalie into an apartment where she can hide. He flashes back to a time with Abby, smoking weed and drinking whiskey in bed. “Here’s to you and me and the beautiful fucking mess we made,” she says. She then turns the moment by asking Ray how many other women he slept with in that apartment. He says none, and she thanks him for lying. Sometimes all we want to hear is the lie.
In memory and grief, Ray takes five of the pills he was just prescribed. Side effects should kick in hard, even for a big guy like him. He’s about to fall into a medicine haze, but Bunchy is an alcoholic one, trying to pick up his daughter from day care when he shouldn’t be behind the wheel. Mickey comes to his son and granddaughter’s rescue, handing Bunchy the $80,000 he got from Avi.
The episode ends with two deals going bad. First, Mickey lies to Frank, who sees through it immediately. Mickey switches it up and reveals that he couldn’t kill Avi. He’s “one of ours.” Frank isn’t having it and arrests Bunchy at gunpoint. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think Frank will make it through this season.
Second, Ray gives the money and the Oscar to Sam’s blackmailer, but they’re both betrayed by Sam’s other blackmailer, who takes the box of materials from Ray while he’s puking in the parking lot from the pills he took. As she flees, she’s T-boned by another car. It looks like the box of Sam’s darkest secrets may get out anyway. Ray gets a call from Sam. He declines to answer.
• The episode ends with “King’s Crossing” by Elliott Smith, an artist I always associate with death and sadness given his suicide at the age of 34.
• Natalie references Roman Holiday, a classic movie that you should see if you haven’t before.
• Sam quotes Charles Bukowski — ”Find what you love and let it kill you” — although there are some legitimate questions as to whether or not he actually wrote it.
• We see a brief glimpse of Natalie’s movie this week, and it looks like some Divergent-esque YA garbage, in which she says, “I’m free in a way you’ll never be,” and jumps off a waterfall. It might be good for the state of film if Natalie never returns to acting.