Ray Donovan: Season IV – Premiere “Girl With Guitar”: A Review

Posted: 06/28/2016 in Uncategorized

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Good Lord. This was something. Bolstered by incredible emotional performances, Ray’s path to redemption takes a serious detour in what is easily the oddest RD episode so far. The episode was directed by Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan himself. Maybe that had some bearing…. Was this ep good, however? On to my review to discuss my thoughts on the matter.

This episode very much recalled an episode of True Detective Season II’s opening sequence where Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) sits in a bar with his father (Fred Ward) after being shot. That scene, buttressed by a Conway Twitty impersonator no less, was surreal and dream like. RD  Season IV, ep. 1 wasn’t quite that trippy but it was really out there. We open with a quick review of the powerhouse last season ending with Ray’s confession to Fr. Romero (Leland Orser) and move on to his being rushed to a “hospital” with gunshot wounds. We learn via dream sequences that Ray was treated at someone’s house as to have him brought in after the Menassian debacle would without question lead to his being arrested. We are introduced to Hector Campos (Izmael Cruz Cordova), a world boxing champion and self-proclaimed miracle. He takes Ray in and helps him recover. Astoundingly, he sponsors him as well, bringing him to the point that he is an active participant in Bunchy’s (Dash Mihok) child abuse survivor group. While the change is alarming, and the push toward the light seems to be of benefit to Ray…it just doesn’t seem natural. The self-proclaimed “miracle” (Campos) who cites his own abuse and how he was able to overcome it seems too good to be true.

Ray Donovan is a two tiered show. The first tier and most engaging aspect of the show is a showcase for Ray’s abilities as a fixer. He is a general, a ruthless yet brilliant tactician who can seemingly fix any situation except those which pertain to him personally. This segues nicely into the second tier of the show, the doom that is the Donovan lineage. Now, I have no issue with the notion that the family tree is highly poisoned via patriarch and excessively corrupt Mickey Donovan (Jon Voigt). Mickey is easily Voigt’s most magnetic character in his lengthy career. Two things are assured with him, there will be chaos and it will be incredibly watchable. Back to point, however, the first volley of this season seems to bend toward the latter than the former. Ray is not so much put upon as besieged.

His reaching out to Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) to get her to come home or at least come to dinner is a great moment as the two actors have an undeniable parental chemistry dynamic. He tells her he has changed. She balks, but he is now a church going homebody questing to become a better man.  She eventually agrees to come to dinner. A hospital visit with Abby (Paula Malcomson) sets the tone rather darkly for the episode and season. Her brutal “they want to cut my @#$s off” conversation with a woman at a bus stop is unsettling but this is Mrs. Donovan and provocative conversations are nothing new with this character. The subject however is. I think Abby battling cancer is an epic plot misstep. Malcomson can unquestionably kill this performance as she is a great actress. The gravitas of her plight is plainly illustrated with her restrained performance. For all the push toward the notion that Ray is closed off, Abby is no better as she has numerous opportunities to tell him about her plight but opts to suffer for the sake of the family. The notion of history repeating itself namely, the Donovan doom is mirrored by Bridget’s new look earning “you look just like my sister” from Terry (Eddie Marsan) later.  A trippy dream sequence involving both Bridgets is duly foreboding.

A meeting with an art dealer reminds us that he is still first and foremost a fixer. Ms. Kovitisky (Embeth Davitz) presents him with a problem that ties into an existing problem he has due to his father’s shenanigans. She offers him a cheque for ten thousand dollars simply to meet but when she asks him to involve Sheila Muncie (Michael Hyatt), a federal agent he and Mickey screwed over with her human trafficking case last season; he refuses and returns her cheque. Muncie’s earlier meeting with Ray is one of the better RD plot aspects as it ties in perfectly with Mickey’s current ‘activities’, namely him being Mickey. He works at “Little Bill ‘s” (Ted Levine) casino in Primm and runs cons along with some associates. He is cautioned to cease which knowing Mickey as we do, are aware will not happen. A later peyote infused run ensures that the aftermath of his end sequence meeting will yield epic payoffs. As always, Voigt’s Mickey is great tv viewing.

The unraveling of Ray’s life comes at the very hand of his savior, Hector Campos. Campos goes missing from his usual routine and Ray reaches out to Lena (Katherine Moennig) and learns his whereabouts. The picture painted isn’t pretty. Campos is a study in hypocrisy and the revelation of his sexual “coping” method after his abuse creates a far greater obstacle for Ray to overcome. Ray’s actions to help the man who brought him from the brink are irredeemable. He essentially ruins one man’s life to protect that of another. The introduction of Marisol (Lisa Bonet) stands to present a catastrophe of great scope. The subsequent re-connection with his family yields the heartfelt moment from the now severely shaken Ray when he states he “loves them”. A later moment with Abby is heartbreaking where she asks him to assure him “everything will be okay.” A very doom laden start to Ray Donovan is offered, presenting the potential epiphany that his father’s history might be repeated with his own trajectory.  Ray Donovan Season 4 premiere was unquestionably well worth your time, but not outstanding as yet.

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