Photo: Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME
A very transitional episode of Ray Donovan this week seems mostly designed to get us into the second half of the sixth season, but it’s elevated by strong performances and resonant callbacks to a pair of mothers, Abby and Teresa. Of course, Abby is still gone, but it’s nice to see Teresa reunited with her daughter, even if it breaks Bunchy’s heart.
Long before that reunion, the episode opens with a pair of concurrent bedroom scenes. In one, Ray Donovan is having sex with mayoral candidate Anita Novak. At the same time, someone breaks into Sam Winslow’s apartment and puts a gun to her head. As Ray puts his hand over Anita’s mouth in a moment of passion, Sam’s attacker does so in a moment of violence. He orders Sam to get out of the mayoral race, knocks her out with his gun, and leaves the room, just as Anita leaves the bed she just shared with Ray. There’s a nice parallel cut again to Sam and Ray in separate beds but similar positions. When Sam stirs back to life, she calls Ray.
Ray picks up Lena and the two arrive at Sam’s. “If I didn’t own the place, I’d sue,” she says, bringing to mind the question of who’s powerful enough to get past security in a building that has tenants as rich as Sam Winslow. Sam is already drinking and woozy. She could be concussed. She orders Ray to get to the bottom of it, and he races off while Lena stays to keep an eye on Sam.
Meanwhile, Terry Donovan gets a call to participate in another match at the Underground Fight Club. Small problem: he’s watching his niece, Maria. He calls Bridget and asks her to help before he starts training. When she arrives, he’s in almost a manic state, and he tells Bridget that she may have to watch Maria for a few days.
After an unexpected scene between Sam and Lena—two characters often used primarily as devices—we cut to Ray Donovan confronting the mayor of New York City in a health club bathroom. The mayor tries to play tough guy, but Ray literally throat punches him before he can finish his sentence. Ray is doing his job, for sure, but there’s also a nice sense from Liev Schreiber that he believes the mayor and his goons crossed the line by attacking a woman in her bed.
While Mac, Ray’s new Staten Island cop buddy, is getting pressured by Internal Affairs, Ray’s quest for answers continues. He goes to an old friend for help hacking an NYPD camera that should have gotten a good look at whoever broke into Sam’s apartment. The friend reminisces about Abby Donovan, who we haven’t really talked about this year. She’ll always be a presence on the show, but it was nice to hear a funny memory about her, and to see a rare Ray Donovan smile. Anyway, the friend can’t get into the secure server, so Ray calls Mac for help.
Oh poor Mac. It’s clear that he knows things he can’t tell Ray. First, he tries to lie to him and tell him that the camera wasn’t functioning, but Ray’s tech buddy bursts that bubble. He got past the secure server and shows Ray a crystal-clear shot of one of Mac’s cop colleagues about to do the break-in (it’s almost funny how much the bad guy literally looks up at the camera just before he puts his mask on…something that happens every week on TV but probably never in real life). Why is Mac lying? Ray goes to confront him, and Mac orders him to walk away.
Before all of that unfolds, we get to the centerpiece of the episode, the attempted robbery of rich people on their way to the Hamptons. Dressed as priests, Mickey and Bunchy pull guns on a bus full of victims and Mickey orders them to start placing their valuables in a bag. The problem is that Mickey didn’t count on a “good guy with a gun”—actually two of them. After a passenger pulls a gun on Mickey, Bunchy changes who he’s aiming at, ordering his father not to murder anyone today. They drop the bag and get away with almost nothing. Then they rob a pawn shop on the way home! Mickey and Brendan Donovan—always thinking.
The best scene of the week comes when a jubilant Bunchy gets back to Terry’s gym to pick up Maria and finds his baby’s mother there. It turns out that Bridget called Teresa. Someone needed to. A long, emotional fight ensues with Teresa telling Bunchy that she never loved him, and Bunch pointing out that she isn’t exactly an angel either. He took care of Maria when she was on the road—why does he have to give her up now? He goes too far when he calls her mentally ill. She slaps him and storms off. It looks like Bunchy isn’t going to run off to Vietnam with his dad. And if he doesn’t go, Mickey probably won’t either. We’ll never get rid of these two.
Ray tells Sam that he knows the NYPD was behind her assault, almost hoping she’ll tell him to back down. She doesn’t. Sam has a bit of “The Chicago Way” in her, telling Ray that if they come at her hard, she goes back harder. Ray goes to get some answers, but he’s interrupted by a call from his daughter. “I miss mom,” she says. “And I don’t want to lose you.” It’s a nice bit of a foreboding lead-in to the cops pulling Ray over. Ray Donovan has been arrested by corrupt cops. This could be a tough problem for the world’s best fixer to fix.
• I forgot about Terry! He kicks more ass in another Fight Club scene, totally maiming a guy. With one of his best fighters destroyed, the organizer asks Terry to take part in an Eliminator—an 8-fighter, winner-take-all challenge for $50k. Terry first, wisely, declines, but calls later and agrees to do it. Damn it, writers, don’t you kill Terry. I’m not strong enough.
• It was nice to see Alyssa Diaz get one more scene as Teresa instead of just writing off that character entirely. She was always solid, and it was a smart way to break Bunchy a little more while also getting the problem of Maria out of New York.
• I totally dug the almost-silent “Previously On” segment with strong images from the first half of the season but almost no dialogue. It was a very nice mood-setter. Now try that for a whole episode, Ray Donovan writers. I dare ya.
• Mac seems to be holding most of his Internal Affairs meetings in a Tribeca establishment called Square Diner. If you’re wondering if it’s a real place or a set, it’s the former. Head over and ask for the Ray Donovan Special. Let us know how it goes.
• The episode was bookended by the same song in the opening sequence and the closing scenes/credits, “Warm Shadow” by Fink.
• We’re halfway done with the NY season! How do you feel about it so far? Do you miss LA? Abby? And where do you think we go from here?