It’s yet another episode of Ray Donovan in which it looks like things might work out for the Donovan boys … and then they just don’t. It’s the story of the Donovan family. Every time it looks like they’re going to dig themselves out of the hole, they get more dirt thrown on them. A chance for Terry or Bunchy to win $50,000, a way out for Ray from his corrupt cop nightmare, even Bridget’s happy future — all failed promises by the end of the episode. It ain’t easy being a Donovan.
“Dream On” does introduce us to a character played by perhaps the greatest guest star in the history of a show with an already A-list ensemble: the legendary Alan Alda. “Hawkeye” himself returns to the medical profession as Ray’s new doctor, whom he first meets at the psychiatric hospital and who will likely return in future episodes. With just one major scene, Alda reminds us why we love him so much, bringing humanity and depth to a character with only a few lines. Let’s hope he’s a regular presence over the final quarter of this season.
While the good doctor is trying to convince Ray to stay in therapy, Bridget Donovan comes to visit her father. She’s starting to learn the truth about the depth of his mental illness. It’s a very good scene for Kerris Dorsey, who captures Bridget’s anger and fear. She’s still furious at her father, but that emotion clashes with the natural concern and anxiety that would surface if anyone’s parent ended up in a mental hospital. And Ray himself is a little scared and angry, too. He lashes out at her, and then starts crying. It’s the best-performed scene of the week.
Just when you think Ray may get the help he needs, he dives back into his life, telling Bridget to call Mac to get him out. She does just that, as Mac is on the way into a meeting with his corrupt cop cronies. Mayor Ferrati has shut down the crew, and Mac’s bullying buddies are not happy about it. It turns out that Ferrati has smelled a rat, putting everything on hold. They’re done for now.
Meanwhile, Daryll is hanging out with Bunchy, Mickey, and Aunt Sandy, who gets a little disturbingly randy when Daryll is in need of a towel. Mickey calls Terry, hoping to set up a meeting with Ray, but he stumbles into a new opportunity. Mickey’s entire existence is stumbling into bad ideas. The latest is that Bunchy will take Terry’s place in the fight tournament, and they’ll all win 50 grand! What could go wrong?!?! The first Bunchy fight goes well — after Mickey does something truly vile in stealing the inhaler of Bunchy’s opponent — but, well, we’ll get to the second.
Lena comes to talk to Bridget just as her father is being released. “What don’t I know,” asks Bridge, and Lena pushes Ray to tell his daughter about his suicide attempt. He won’t, or can’t, and so Lena breaks it to her. Two months ago, Ray Donovan tried to kill himself. Bridget wants him to stay in the hospital, but Ray jumps right back into his New York nightmare as Mac picks him up. Mac has the worst idea yet — “We gotta kill Emerson Lake” — but Ray advises against whacking an Internal Affairs officer while he’s being investigated.
Ray has a better idea. He goes to Ferrati and lays it all out — IA has an informant. If Ferrati can help get the case against Bunchy dropped (remember he broke his dad out of custody and kidnapped his daughter), then he can get him out of his IA dilemma. Ray offers to do whatever it takes. Once again, family loyalty resurfaces — it’s been the biggest thematic thread for six seasons. The Donovans may often hate each other, and even beat each other up, but their loyalty always dictates their actions.
Ray leaves his meeting with Ferrati and goes to talk to Emerson. He tells him what he’s done and asks to be wired up. A stunned Emerson gives Ray a bit of information to sell to Ferrati about a crooked judge who the mayor will believe is the rat. Ray gets his buddy to hack the wire, and even makes a call to his doctor, but he can’t bring himself to say anything. In the subsequent meeting, the mayor tells Ray to whack the judge. The charges will be dropped against Bunchy. It appears Ray’s plan may have worked. And then “Rad,” the most violent crooked cop, figures it all out.
Scored to Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” the ninth episode of the sixth season of Ray Donovan ends in violence. As Bunchy’s second fight goes predictably horribly — poor Bunch gets beaten to a pulp, of course — we see Rad bring the hammer down on the IA operation. First, he gets into an elevator with Emerson, and then he and Mac wait for Ray to get home. As we see a shot of a badly beaten Emerson on the couch, Ray gets knocked down and accused of wearing a wire. Emerson sold out Ray. And the beating commences. You shoulda stayed in the hospital, Ray.
• I failed to mention the truly sad scene between Bridget and Smitty when he tries to convince her that she doesn’t need to stay for her father. He won’t ever let her in. There’s nothing she can do for someone who won’t let her do anything. It’s a well-written scene regarding how hard it can be to be stuck in the world of someone who needs help but won’t take it.
• I also forgot to mention that Mickey is sitting in Ray’s apartment with a gun as the episode ends. Is he planning to steal his ransom money back? Will Ray barely survive the Mac/Rad nonsense to come home to be robbed by his dad? It’s been a really rough season for Ray Donovan. He could use some good news.
• Maybe that will come in season seven! The series was just renewed.
• How much of a legend is Alan Alda? He’s going to be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at next year’s Screen Actors Guild ceremony. It was a major coup to get him here.
• Anyone else think Mac can’t possibly live through this season? It opened with Mac saving Ray’s life — there could be a nice bookend of Ray having to take Mac’s to end it.
• I love Aunt Sandy loud-reading the Bible. Put some beats under it and make that into a club track.
• I haven’t given props this season to the menace of Tony Curran, who’s a very convincing sociopathic corrupt cop. If you’re wondering how you know him, he’s been doing solid character work on TV for decades, including on 24, Sons of Anarchy, and The Looming Tower, and he recently popped up in the Netflix historical epic Outlaw King.