Everyone is apologizing on Ray Donovan this week. Ray says sorry to his father and brother for years of conflicts. Mac and Sam say sorry to Ray for recent betrayals. It’s been a long season, and there’s a lot to apologize for, but it feels like it’s building to a violent, deadly climax when all the apologies in the world won’t matter for one of this season’s most essential new characters. There’s no way the Mac, the man who saved Ray’s life in the season premiere, can survive the year now that he’s kidnapped Bridget (and punched her in the face). Sorry, Mac. Your days are numbered.
At the end of last episode, Ray appeared to be the Donovan in trouble after he was ambushed by the season’s bad guys, but he escapes his imprisonment in the opening scene this week, leaping through a second-story window and fleeing gunfire. The fact that the corrupt cops are shooting at Ray is interesting in that they’re no longer merely content with torture and abuse — they’re ready to kill him.
Ray looks bad. He’s bleeding like crazy from a wound in his shoulder that has broken glass in it, and he’s forced to clean himself up in a dirty restroom before going to talk to Sam. It has been a brutal month on Ray Donovan physically. He may need to go back to the relative peace and quiet of Los Angeles after this year.
A battered Ray goes to meet with Sam, giving her the audio recording of the mayor of New York asking Ray to kill a judge. It’s his play to get the Mayor taken down and the most corrupt cops in the Big Apple off his back. It does not work.
The problem is that while Ray is making his play, so is Mayor Ferrati. Before that happens, we get a couple of nice double Donovan scenes. In the first, Bunchy bemoans his sad life to Terry, even threatening to kill himself if he doesn’t run off to a foreign land first. Neither happens, and he ends up in cuffs, finally caught for his crimes. Is this the last we see of Bunchy this season? It very easily could be. He’s had a rough one.
Even more importantly, Mickey Donovan and his son Ray are reunited, first as enemies and then as allies. First, Mickey points a gun at Ray, demanding the $3 million in ransom money that Ray already gave back to Sam. Just as this betrayal is sinking in for dear old dad, Ray gets a call: Bridget is missing. She was packing the car to leave and didn’t get out of town in time. Smitty found her phone in the car and we know what’s happened: Mac and his buddies have taken a bargaining chip. They’ll hold Bridget until the election to make sure the audio never sees the light of day. They made the wrong move. You don’t fuck with Bridget Donovan. As Daryll later says to Smitty, Ray will kill everyone in New York to save her.
The fact that Bridget has been kidnapped unites Ray and Mickey in a cause and focuses “Baby” pretty directly on that narrative. We cut back and forth between Ray, Mickey, Smitty, and Daryll working to save her and Mac guarding Bridget, forcing her to watch Dirty Dancing, a particularly tragic choice given it’s a movie that Bridget enjoyed watching with her mother before she passed. Mac speaks to Ray and orders him to just stay quiet. Don’t do anything. Ray doesn’t listen. Mick knows the right move before Ray — they got one of ours, we get one of theirs.
And so the boys go to Staten Island, where they grab the slick corrupt cop named Danny and give him a good beating. Just as Mickey is about to shoot him in the face and just after Ray promises to kill Danny’s wife, the guy squeals the location of Bridget and Mac. They find out where she is and head there, but it’s too late. Mac got a call that Danny was grabbed and he’s fled with Bridget, leaving only her necklace on the floor.
The shot of a crestfallen Ray holding the necklace is the final one of the episode, but there’s one more thread we need to discuss before we go. Sam sells out Ray in a way that’s unforgivable and likely will lead to the end of Susan Sarandon’s part on the show. She gives the audio of the mayor back to Ray when she finds out Bridget was kidnapped, but then she goes ahead and gives a copy of it to the press too, telling Anita Novak that she will be a puppet leader for Sam Winslow. At least she calls Ray and tells her what she did before he, or Mac, sees it on the news.
• John Dahl directed this episode, and every time I get a Dahl recap I take the chance to recommend his ’90s movies Red Rock West and The Last Seduction. See ’em both ASAP. He’s become a really solid TV director in the decades since and brought a nice pace and energy to “Baby.”
• I do love how the Donovans are the kind of guys who respond to suicide threats with “fuck you.” (That’s what Terry says to Bunch when his brother threatens to kill himself). The look in Bunchy’s eyes when he’s being taken off by the feds was kind of heartbreaking, but he got himself in this mess.
• Watching that scene with Terry and Bunchy, I was struck by something. These guys are constantly falling just short of their plans — whether it’s to win a championship fight or make a fortune — so it’s tempting to call them unlucky, but think of how many times they should have died by now! In that sense, they have some of the best luck in the world. The luck of the Irish can be bittersweet. They may not always get what they want, but they often get what they need.
• This episode contains some of the best acting of the year (Dahl probably gets some credit there, too), particularly from Liev Schreiber, who blends physical pain with the blinding anger at Mac for kidnapping his daughter and tinges it all with the regret and frustration that have defined his arc this season. I’d really like to see something good happen to Ray next year. He could use a break. All the Donovans could.