Photo: Paul Sarkis/Showtime
The subtext of this week’s Ray Donovan makes it more accomplished than most previous episodes in this disappointing season: Everyone is trying to be Ray, but they all let emotion and desire get in the way. What makes Ray Donovan the best clean-up man in Hollywood? It’s not just his willingness to do virtually anything for his clients, but the fact that he can remain detached while doing so.
As we see in “Bob the Builder,” that’s a special skill set. Mickey and Daryll Donovan’s attempt at being fixers to the stars is falling apart. Why? Because they were entranced by the bright lights of La La Land, which never did anything for Ray. Even Bridget Donovan “plays daddy” this week, doing something awfully similar to what her father did to save a loved one, allowing emotion to make her break the law. She doesn’t go as far as her dad, but the emotional drive is the same — that Donovan fearlessness and need to protect.
“Bob the Builder” opens in Ray Donovan’s apartment, now a crime scene after the deaths of Natalie James and her creepy ex in what looks like a clear-cut murder-suicide. He’s picturing that awful event, seeing Natalie’s eyes as the life got choked out of them. He’ll have to go downtown and answer a few questions. Meanwhile, Sam Winslow and Doug Landry are negotiating. It’s basically a game to these two power players: They know each other’s skeletons and are seeing what they can get from one another. Sam calls Ray with Doug listening in the background and tells him not to mention Landry’s relationship with Natalie. Are they framing Ray? He doesn’t bite. He tells the cops that Natalie was pregnant with Doug’s child, blowing up two professional relationships that likely would have paid him well in the future. Why? Is it just because of what’s morally right, or does Ray sense that Sam and Doug could target him next?
While this long night is getting longer for Ray, Bunchy is bleeding out in Terry’s club and Bridget is tracking down the only person who might be able to save her boyfriend’s life. First, the Bunchy saga: He won’t go to the cops, so Terry calls Ray, and the brothers Donovan have a little adventure. They go to Ray’s favorite veterinarian, where Ray even gives blood to Bunchy for a transfusion. There’s a great bit of character development here in that Terry knows everyone’s blood type. He mentions that his mother made him learn those silly details when she was dying, and it dawned on me for the first time that Terry was better emotionally equipped to handle Abby’s needs because he handled his mother’s while Ray fled. After getting patched up, Bunchy convinces his brothers to go get his money back. He needs it not just for his family, but because of what he endured to get it. It’s the best scene of the week.
And now we get to Mickey Donovan’s boner, which is actually a major plot point! If you remember the night before, Mickey had a little fun with some hired ladies and took a few “gas station boner pills.” Now, he can’t get rid of his erection — not by masturbation, frozen veggies, or a hair dryer. He goes to urgent care with Daryll, using a copy of Four Leaf to hide his boner. In the waiting room, Daryll and Mickey have a talk about the script, which Daryll still wants to turn into Mister Lucky. Daryll knows it’s going to all fall apart if Mickey keeps pressuring Jay and the studio to make the movie he wrote, instead of the movie they want to make. Although Mickey isn’t distracted enough to forget to harass the doctor who’s fixing his penis: “It’s never gonna be this big again. Might as well take advantage of it.”
As Bridget begs the doctor from Sloane-Kettering to let her boyfriend into the trial, eventually pulling a gun on her, her father and her uncles are about to have a violent day. They go to the junkyard where Bunchy’s money has been stashed. At first, it appears empty, but the danger of the environment is well-executed in the way we see shots of awful, gruesome things, including a dead dog hanging from a pipe. Ray finds the money in a barely buried metal box when the same growling lunatic who shot Bunchy gets the jump on him. A fight ensues, ending in Terry saving Ray’s life with a gunshot. As Ray later says, it won’t be enough to make up for taking Abby’s.
Daryll Donovan is about to realize how screwed he and Mickey are. He’s meeting with Jay White, drinking coconut water and trying to assuage Jay’s nerves, but the cops are there and the narrative is already turning. Jay wanted to call the cops, but it was Daryll who threatened him and insisted they get rid of the body. Daryll Donovan was blinded by stardom and didn’t see the tables turning in a way that never would have happened to Ray. He tells his dad later that the cops wanted him to wear a wire, and Mickey doesn’t really believe him when he says he’s not. That damn script could destroy his always-tenuous relationship with his son.
In the end, Mickey and Daryll are suspicious of each other, Bridget is arrested for pulling a gun on a doctor, Bunchy comes home with his money, and Terry and Ray are still fighting. The episode closes with Ray on a leather couch at the boxing club, watching a home-shopping channel. Sam comes in to castigate him about ratting out Doug Landry — now, she wants Doug killed because he might blab to the police. But Ray is not a hired killer. He refuses, even though Doug could screw Ray too. Can he really survive the season? And what about Sam? We’ll know for sure in two episodes.
• The episode ends with “Doing It Right” by the Yawpers.
• Jake Busey, always an interesting actor, basically played a grunting lunatic who shoots one Donovan last week and gets shot by another this week. I don’t think he even had any real lines.
• Did anyone else find it interesting to watch this show in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal? Particularly the Sam-Doug negotiations, in which Hollywood power players use each other to keep criminal behavior from coming out? I wonder if the writers of Ray Donovan will directly address Weinstein next season with a character who’s “pulled from the headlines” Law & Order style. It would certainly fit this show and maybe give it some of the veracity it often lacks.
• Only two episodes left! What do you want to see happen to save this season? Do you miss Abby yet? Who’s your MVP? Thanks for sticking with me and let’s hope Ray Donovan closes season five out in style.