Ray Donovan Season IV – Ep 7 – “Norman Saves the World”

Posted: 08/12/2016 in Uncategorized

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Ep 7 did not fix the problems this season is thus far having but it did vastly improve matters. This ep was gritty, edgy and delivered more of what we have become used to – namely, the fixer fixing things. The Ed Cochrane (Hank Azaria)/Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) partnership came heavily into play. Avi Rudin’s (Steven Bauer) intelligent counsel proves prophetic but this comes as no surprise. There was a lot more good than bad with this run – now on to my review.

After Ray’s actions last week, we know a storm is coming his way. It begins with Mickey (Jon Voigt) no longer being protected by the Russians. Word travels fast in the underworld and in no time at all, a rep from the Menessian family arranges a hit on Mickey presently serving time for the “single handed” murder of eight people. Voigt’s Mickey is again superb. If there was ever a question of the old man’s being a survivor, it is quickly quelled. Ray comes up with a plan to declare his father gay which will earn him protective custody while he works on properly extricating him. The moments through prison glass speak volumes. Despite putting a contract out on his father’s life before, Ray appreciates his standing up and ultimately putting family first. He prepares a list of psych profile questions for Mickey, which the old man quickly glosses over and tells him “I got this. I served time in Walpole” (referencing a hard line maximum prison in the US). This plays for laughs and is later revisited via his other sons being phone interviewed on the subject of their father’s sexuality.

The truth is Mickey doesn’t much care how he is perceived. I cite season 1 when Bunchy (Dash Mihok) and Daryll (Pooch Hall) abandon him at a gay club where he then care-freely dances the night away. Mick is adaptable. His technique of softening his vocal tone to the prison guard when he sees an imminent threat, and hitting all the right beats to present himself as a man at risk, which he is – though not for his sexuality – is masterful. His interactions with a fellow inmate, including capitalizing on an assassination attempt, is brilliant and absolutely cold blooded.

The reactions of Bunchy and Terry (Eddie Marsan) upon being warned by Ray that they will be hearing from the prison authorities to confirm their father’s sexual preferences is brilliant Donovan family fare.  Terry is perplexed. Bunchy takes it in stride beginning to tell Terry about some of the things their father did in Walpole including the measure of pride he took at his skill. Terry’s facial reactions alone are worth the price of admission. The one factor none could envision is the unquestionable apple from the tree grandson of Mickey, Conor (Devon Bagby), who in one stupid swoop could easily have undone all the family’s work.

One minor complaint is Bunchy’s recidivism as regards taking responsibility for his daughter. Knowing how sick Abby (Paula Malcomson) is, asking  her to continue looking after little Maria as he is too busy running  the demands of his family gym, particularly as it is now Hector Campos’ (Ismael Cruz-Cordova) training place, is well – a dick move. One can understand his plight but knowing his sister in law’s condition particularly after the emotional moment they shared last week just seems like poor writing.

Campos proves in this run that he is as toxic as his half sister, the contemptible Marisol (Lisa Bonet). He appears at one point to seem to genuinely want to restore his career and mount a comeback. His capitalizing on Daryll’s fanboy adoration is vile. When a drugged up Marisol comes to the gym and disrupts his press conference and glad handing by his team, Hector has a strong moment where he charges her with getting help and getting out of his life. This moment is juxtaposed with his insulting Daryll for failing at a task he could not have hoped to anticipate. I am hopeful the Campos duo does not make its way past this season.

The real power arc however is the team of Cochrane and Ray. It is comedic gold. As with the Bob Seger moments between the two, all interactions are top tier. Ray wants to get his father freed from all charges. For a fee, Cochrane offers a solution, namely offering up one of Hollywood’s top sitcom stars for a murder he helped cover up. He offers to broker the deal with the DA to get all charges thrown out. We know Cochrane is not to be trusted and with the incredible fall Ray helped him take, we know a betrayal is inevitable and that their association is as such doomed. This does not detract from making their working together incredibly watchable. Cochrane tells Ray, “I just wanted you to know I wasn’t always like this… you were born a douchebag. I just got worn down…” Ray accepts the criticism as he needs him. It is nonetheless disingenuous as Cochrane’s attempt to become lead director of the FBI two seasons ago showed he had little or no humanity to begin with.

The ep closes out nicely with a revelation that Ezra Goldman (Elliot Gould) used someone other than Ray to protect him from “the dark stuff”. We learn this man is known as “the Texan” (Stacy Keach). The backdoor meeting arranged between Cochrane and the soon to be fallen star leads to his intercession and a cool moment in which Ray potentially sees his future.

While still darker than previous seasons, this episode was closer to the mark of what made it great. The fixer has returned at least for now. Ray Donovan is still simply outstanding and well worth your time. With five episodes to go, let’s hope they can keep up the rhythm and consistency.

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