Ray Donovan – Season IV – Ep. 11 “Chinese Algebra”: A Review

Posted: 09/13/2016 in Uncategorized


The latest RD was fraught with tension and dread. Mickey (Jon Voigt) becomes both the voice of reason and episode mvp which prompts the fear of the other shoe dropping. Ray (Liev Schreiber) works as many machinations as he can, but his face tells a grim tale. A lot goes on and most of it is good. The penultimate ep sets the stage for what stands to be a shattering season finale.

We know Ray is desperate and the play he makes regarding Hector Campos (Ismael Cruz-Cordova) gamely illustrates this. When even his father, the most erratic character in perpetuity on this series, questions his actions, the viewer takes notice. Should Ray’s plan work, Dmitri (Raymond J. Barry) stands to come out with 60 million dollars which elicits his promise that “life will go on” for Ray. This is as much a guarantee as he is able to wring from the crime lord. This run is as expected very Ray “fixer” centric.

Two occurrences give us pause as both push Ray in the same direction; one deemed impossible by him. Agent Frank Barnes (Michael McGrady), Ray’s former inside man in the FBI turns the tables somewhat and offers Ray an out, along with the potential for saving his entire family. Mickey suggests the same option, citing his own experience as proof that working with the law can help you survive. He references his enemies being “in the ground” while he is still alive and free. Ray is not Mickey, however, though as we fly toward the season finale, options open to him become far fewer.

Ray’s master plan brings Campos under his sway, earning the surprisingly sage acknowledgement from Hector, “we understand each other perfectly…in the worst way.” Hector isn’t wrong but had he not acted as he had in the previous run, he would not be completely answerable to Ray. The fixer aspect takes a very grim turn in this run. Terry (Eddie Marsan) demonstrates a strange naivete in this ep. Even Daryll (Pooch Hall) calls him out on his glaring lack of understanding of their brother’s business. Ray’s “don’t ask what you don’t want to know” is apt. When Terry lobs a “you made it dirty” referencing Marisol’s (Lisa Bonet) “suicide” even the viewer has to question how much he is fooling himself. Daryll and Terry have bonded nicely this season, including the hilarious “Blazing Saddles” routine between the two a few episodes back. Terry’s telling Daryll to make the best from what has been given him is followed by an ominous moment.

Things unravel for Ray, including Abby’s (Paula Malcolmson) advising him she made a “wrong choice” regarding not having cancer surgery. Her acting as his major domo regarding the children is top tier as she charges Bunchy (Dash Mihok) and Teresa (Alyssa Diaz) with taking her son and daughter with them as they travel north to “find a place they like.” Teresa readily agrees as Abby looked after her daughter while she struggled with post partum issues.

The moment between Ray and Conor (Devon Bagby) was well acted and allows his son to make the right decision while saving face. Ray’s sharing his regret at not being there for his own sister acts as the proper incentive to get Conor to leave rather than staying behind and “helping”. Ray’s emotional evolution has been transformative. Such a moment would never have occurred in seasons’ past.

Ray’s being forced to rely on his father to make a bet seems a beyond desperate move and kudos to the writing team for flipping our beliefs about Mickey on their respective ears. When he boards a plane loaded with money and eyes a young, attractive woman who reminds him of his departed Sylvie (Paula Jai Parker), we expect the worse. That she is a stripper who goes by “Sugar” and is on her way to Vegas causes even more concern.  Mickey’s arrival and the elimination of Ray’s bookie forces his hand and he makes a play that should have gone absolutely sideways. His “Walpole table tennis championship” moves make for some stellar moments –   and earns the Donovan family patriarch some much-needed  redemption. Mick’s mantra of family being the most important thing is probably the only thing coming out of him that isn’t utter bs. All the Mick moments in this run, as always, worked. His querying Ray as to  “how will I know who Fat Ernie is?” is gamely met by Ray’s “he weighs 500 #$%%in’ pounds”.

The end sequence yields both salvation and potential damnation as Ray gets what he came for but is now potentially in deeper than he ever has been. Unquestionably the show has returned to form. Unquestionably, my behind will be glued to my seat for next week’s season finale, perhaps presciently titled “Rattus Rattus”. Ray Donovan Season IV proves to still be simply outstanding and well worth your time.



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