It wouldn’t be the mid-season for Ray Donovan if the male characters on this show weren’t in serious trouble. Come to think of it, Terry Donovan, who could die the next time he decides to pop into the Underground Fight Club, may be in the least amount of Donovan Drama. Daryll isn’t in too much trouble either, but he is producing a movie that feels like it’s totally falling apart because, as he says, PTSD and cocaine don’t mix. The other three Donovan men — Ray, Mickey, and Bunchy — are spiraling. Ray is trapped between powerful New York figures and can’t figure out a way to keep all of them happy; Mickey is on the run from the law; Bunchy is about to turn himself in for his crimes. And Bridget Donovan just wants to leave all these troubled men behind.
The episode opens with Ray being “arrested” by the corrupt cops on the mayoral payroll. They take him to a basement room that’s clearly off the record and lock him in. Later, they demand that he switch sides, destroying Anita Novak’s mayoral campaign and returning their incumbent to frontrunner status. To show how serious they are, they tase poor Ray. One gets the impression that these aren’t your ordinary corrupt cops. They won’t hesitate to shoot Ray in the head and dump him in the Hudson River if they feel like that’s in their best interests. But that just removes the problem and doesn’t win the election. So they need something from him first.
Meanwhile, Bunchy is circling the drain after giving up Maria last week. He’s getting hammered with his brother Terry, and talking about turning himself in. What else is he going to do? Just run forever? He and Terry decide to go to Boston first to “say goodbye” to his mother and sister before he goes behind bars. Of course, Ray Donovan fans know that the Donovan ladies are dead, but Bunch wants to visit their graves before he turns himself in.
Finally, we see Mickey Donovan making his move to escape New York City, and probably sneak into Canada through Buffalo. He successfully purchases a ticket but decides to do a few things before his train leaves. First, he goes to a store and buys a fantastic outfit that Smitty correctly opines makes him look like Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights. Mickey meets his new son-in-law-to-be when he goes to Bridget’s apartment to say goodbye. Jon Voight’s line, “Tell her I’m sorry I wasn’t a better grandfather,” is one of his best in the series. It almost makes you feel sorry for Mick.
The reason Bridget isn’t there when grandpa comes to visit is because Lena is taking her to Ray’s apartment for safety. If they’re willing to kidnap Ray, they might do something crazy to his daughter. Bridget is disappointed again that her father’s life has led her into danger. But her disappointment probably doesn’t match that of Lena, who watches her girlfriend Justine essentially being used by Ray again on television. Ray forces Justine to admit that the Central Park incident that pushed Anita Novak up in the polls was faked — and he does so by arresting her brother. It’s a shitty thing to do, even shittier in that he doesn’t bother to tell Lena, Anita, or Sam that it’s happening. They all get to watch their lives collapse on television.
While that’s going down, the three Donovan boys take the train to Boston. After a quick visit to the cemetery, they end up at a very Boston bar — the accents this week are marvelous — and get into the kind of trouble you expect Donovan brothers to get into in Boston bars. After a group of morons start harassing Daryll for his Dodgers hat and then throw out the n-word on top of it, they get an old-fashioned Donovan ass-kicking. They messed with the wrong guys. The Donovans absolutely destroy them.
After the bar scene, we get a heartbreaking moment with Bunchy in a church. He’s crying and moaning, going through the litany of horrors he’s seen, all the way back to his sexual abuse by a priest as a child. It’s tough to watch as he directly accuses God of “fucking me over and over and over again.” And then a higher power drops something into Bunchy’s lap. As they leave the church, he looks across the street and sees Aunt Sandy! It turns out that she went to Boston when she ran off with the kidnapping ransom obtained by Bunchy and Mickey. Almost as if he can’t believe what he’s seeing, Bunch hesitates to stop her, but eventually takes off running after her car. We’ll have to wait till next week to see if he catches her.
As lady luck seems to finally be shining on Bunchy, his dad Mickey is going in the other direction. While sitting in Penn Station, waiting for his train, he sees his face on the cover of the Post due to the bus robbery gone wrong. He starts to get paranoid, wondering if other people in the waiting area have seen it, and a panicking Mickey is a bad Mickey. He decides to run, pushing a cop he bumps into in the face and then throwing a guy down the stairs. It’s prime Mickey. The point is he’s not getting on that train, and the walls are closing in in the Big Apple.
Finally, Ray Donovan watches Lena and Bridget leave his apartment and he does what he does when he’s alone — he drinks. The amount of booze intake this season has been record-breaking. Ray has gone from a heavy drinker to a blackout drunk. He barely comes to a few hours later, woozily getting up from his couch to see a man in his apartment. That man promptly punches Ray in the face, sending him back to dreamland.
• Is Mac starting to get on anyone else’s nerves? I think he’s supposed to be kind of annoying, but his constant urging for Ray to think of his kids and his proclamations that he had no choice to do what he’s done because of his own kids are becoming grating. Own your shit, Mac.
• I had forgotten the Donovan mother and sister names — Bridget Elizabeth and Mary Campbell. Those are perfect Boston Irish names. This show excels at little details, and the scenes in Boston this week were all full of them.
• The great opening song was “When Your Number Isn’t Up” by Mark Lanegan, a wonderful solo artist as well as singer of the excellent grunge band The Screaming Trees. This show uses music so well that I almost wish they’d do it more.
• And the closing song was certainly an interesting choice, “Every Beat of My Heart” by Gladys Knight & the Pips.