The image of Marilyn Monroe’s garbage-strewn star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame could serve as a poster for Ray Donovan, a show about the people who clean the trash off the world’s most image-conscious people. While Ray’s journey to the dark side of Hollywood results in the death of someone close to him in “Mister Lucky,” the entire Donovan clan is spiraling out of control.
Chronologically, the episode takes place months after the death of Abby Donovan, so it’s interesting that the structure of the season placed it right after the flashback episode in which we saw her die. All of the Donovans seem unmoored, slipping into their worst habits and flirting with violence. Abby was the rock of this group, and they are now adrift without her.
We pick up where “Horses” ended: Terry just revealed that he helped Abby take her life and Ray knocked him to the floor. Ray pours a drink and then takes the bottle to a booth as Terry gets to his feet. “I’m the only person on this Earth who’s got the balls to tell you the fucking truth,” he says. He’s not wrong. Ray has lost his support structure: Abby is dead, Bridget is in New York, Connor is joining the Marines, and even Avi is on another continent. In the best scene of the episode, Terry says, “Do yourself a favor and look in the fucking mirror.” That long look will likely be the closing arc of this fifth season.
After the encounter with his brother, Ray thinks he sees Abby walking down the street. He follows her to Marilyn Monroe’s star. He pays a male escort nearby to keep it clean, and he gets a call from Sam, who tells her that George and the box of blackmail material are missing. They really need to burn that box.
Daryll and Mickey are throwing Frank overboard — well, more accurately, Daryll is throwing Frank overboard with some instruction from Mickey. In this scene and a few others, I was reminded how darkly humorous Ray Donovan used to be. It can be viciously funny at times, and I hope it gets that edge back in future episodes.
A series of minor beats follow: Bridget and her dying boyfriend, Ray looking at a Marilyn Monroe painting in his apartment, Bunchy reuniting with his prison buddy to get his money back, and Terry confronting Damon’s father. The next major event comes when Ray gets a call from Lena to turn on the TV. A TMZ-esque show called Stalkerazzi has footage of Natalie and Ray together. Their affair is out in the open, and Natalie’s ex is watching the story in a bar. He’s morning drinking and morning brooding — never a good combination. He leaves his dog at the bar and marches out. Meanwhile, Sam calls again looking for George. Ray has a job to do.
Again, “Mister Lucky” fractures a bit along the various Donovan subplots. Bunchy and the guy who robbed him at the sub shop put on goofy masks and pull guns in their pursuit of the diaper bag filled with cash; Ray trashes a sports car that belongs to the Stalkerazzi host to figure out the source on the Natalie story. Most important, Ray gets to work with Natalie and she wonders if they can go public now. Natalie seems to be reaching out to Ray and he doesn’t see it. Given the episode’s tragic end, one wonders if she could have been saved if Ray simply paid attention. After dropping her off, Ray sees Daryll and Mickey going into the studio. Mickey is supposed to be in jail. He calls Frank, but of course, gets no answer.
Mickey Donovan sees the teaser for Mister Lucky, which is what Jay White & Co. have turned his script for Four Leaf into. White has an awesome fro and a pornstache, but Mickey is not happy. Even a check for $100,000 won’t calm him down. Daryll and the new screenwriter try to make the cranky old man go away, but nothing seems to work until his son suggests Mickey’s Kryptonite: hookers. Later in the episode, Mickey and Daryll will celebrate in the Donovan house with a dozen or so ladies of the night and a ton of cocaine … just in time for Bridget to catch grandpa playing butt bongo with a joint in his mouth and his dick in his hand. She just goes to her room, defeated, instead of screaming like most of us would. Before that truly awkward moment, Mickey calls Jay and tells him he’ll make Four Leaf or else. Why does Mickey feel so bulletproof? Wouldn’t he worry that Jay would call someone like Ray Donovan to just take care of the old man? Jay does tell his attorneys what happened, and they suggest he come forward about the accident with the sword.
While his father is having his own sexual adventure, Ray stops by a club called the Fist, where Lena discovered George has been hiding. It’s an underground gay sex club, and Ray finds George sitting in the front row for a show (which happens to co-star the escort in front of Marilyn’s star). George tells Ray that he’d make an excellent James Bond and then tells stories about Marilyn and Cary Grant. George’s Hollywood anecdotes are pretty annoying. (Last time, he rambled about Shelley Duvall.) He finally reveals that he gave the box of blackmail material to Vicky, the same woman who tried to steal it a few weeks ago and sold the Ray-Natalie story to Stalkerazzi. The real question: Who hired Vicky? Ray goes to her house and gets violent, injecting her with something painful so she’ll give up her boss: Doug Landry. Ray tells Sam that her colleague is the culprit, and Sam says she’ll take care of it.
While all of that goes down, Terry appears to be heading for the hills. He goes to Ray’s apartment, where he meets Natalie and gives her what looks like the keys to the club. We see him walking up a hill as Natalie’s ex drinks and stalks outside.
Violence marks the end of “Mister Lucky.” Bunchy finds his money, but a gun-toting lunatic (played by Jake Busey) shoots his prison buddy and wounds Bunchy, who retreats to Abby’s place. Ray comes back to the apartment to find Natalie’s ex on the pavement. He rushes upstairs and sees the aftermath of what looks like a murder-suicide. Natalie’s strangled corpse is on the bed. Another woman in Ray Donovan’s life has died.
• The credits song was a little too on-the-nose given the closing scenes — “Falling Man” by Blonde Redhead — but I do like the line “I am just a man still learning to how to fall.” Ray Donovan is certainly falling and he’s got a lot of learning to do.
• Jay Thomas played the host of Stalkerazzi. The longtime radio host and Cheers star just passed away in August, and it’s nice to see him on TV for a final time.
• Okay, one of George’s anecdotes was pretty interesting. You can learn more about the relationship between Orry-Kelly and Cary Grant here.
• There are a lot of plot threads to tie up in the season’s last three episodes. Ray still wants his father arrested, Bunch still needs his money, Mickey has his movie drama, and Terry seems lost and might still be married. Also, will Ray blame Doug Landry for Natalie’s death?
• This was one of the more inconsistent episodes of the season, although it would be hard for any show to find its footing after such an emotional hour last week. Let’s hope things go more smoothly next week.