We Don’t Throw Away Family
Ray Donovan returned with another thoughtful episode. I’m still slightly miffed that there’s been no Russian fallout yet from Belikov’s death, but I suppose the Russians haven’t discovered his body. Sadly, there was fallout from Conor’s idiotic and drunken actions a couple episodes was one of the low points of the episode, but Terry finally has some screen time and returns to relevancy. Mickey (again) ruins a chance to be a good father, while Ray tries to be one himself. Also, poor Bunchy.
The crux of the episode focused on Hector Campos and his sister Marisol. Her self destructive tendencies reached an all new level when she announced her sexual relationship with her brother on live television! You think Hector would’ve kept a better eye on her since she tried the same trick earlier in the season. Regardless, this cancelled Hector’s upcoming title rematch and a big payday for Terry. Ray’s reaction (and mine) were to abandon Hector to his fate, but Terry’s plea to Ray was enough to motivate him to (once again) save Hector. Of course, Ray’s only solution is to blackmail Randall Dyckman, the studio head.
This led to return of my second least favorite character, Stu Feldman! Faking a FBI child pornography charge to motivate someone is dark even for Ray… except when it’s done to Stu. The look on Stu’s face when the FBI logo flashed onto his computer screen was almost as funny as Ray’s sad attempt at karaoke. Stu managed to record Randall saying a few Donald Trump like statements on the golf course. That, combined with Darryl blinding Hector’s replacement, returned Hector to the fight card. Interestingly, instead of money, all Ray wanted was jobs for Terry and Darryl. It’s good to see them find a legitimate path, as opposed to the criminal paths they’ve taken the last few seasons.
Conor was a focal point of the episode as well, with mixed results. Seeing Ray try and bond with Conor through his (bizarre) dancing game was cute and hilarious. Once Abby joined in, their bad dancing of them was a glimpse at functional family life that’s been largely absent from the show. Of course, the instant that doorbell rang, it was all over. Conor knew it was for shooting the gun he stole and it was Ray’s time to parent finally.
I was a hundred percent fine with Ray’s handling of the situation. Showing Conor gunshot victims should help him understand the danger a gun can pose, as well shaking him away from the tv/video game disconnect with reality. Also briefly dropping him in the ghetto showed Conor how privileged he is and how grateful he should be for the life he has. Sadly, none of that happened. Conor simply sulked then whined to his mom about how hard his life is. I guffawed at that line. I wasn’t expecting a complete personality shift, but some kind of growth would have been nice. Instead Conor and Abby bonded at the gun range and Ray apologized for “traumatizing” Conor. That kid needed a reality check, but it appears this wasn’t it.
Mickey was released from jail and immediately set about trying to return to Primm and steal back the money. He needed Bunchy’s car, but Bunchy’s in a bad place. I didn’t think there could be a character more damaged than Bunchy, but Teresa definitely checks that box. Her brother put her in a mental illness facility and it’s up to Bunchy and Mickey to get her back. Poor Theresa’s nearly catatonic because of her depression and it’s very clear this is much more than postpartum; especially when her brother listed all the past incidents in her life. For a brief moment during these scenes, I thought Mickey might actually be a good father. His speech that convinced Bunchy to care for Teresa and check her out of the facility sounded heartfelt. But Mickey, like always, showed his true colors. All his advice to Bunchy and help with Teresa was just so he could convince Bunchy to drive him to Primm. I shouldn’t have been surprised.
The episode was titled The Texan and the thoughtful segments applied to Ray and the titular Texan. One of Ezra’s older fixers briefly appeared last episode, and I thought he was died in the last episode. The lingering camera on Ray was a warning to him that if he didn’t change, he would end up dead and alone like the Texan. But no, the Texan lived and he and Ray had a gripping conversation. The similarities between the two were clear, as well as the desire to separate their loved ones from the violence of their lives. Like Ray, the Texan tried to prevent his daughter from knowing the truth about him. But she always knew and ended up angry at her father when he died. I think Ray will have to be more open with his children about his job, since lying clearly didn’t work for the Texan.
Ray Donovan’s fourth season is winding down and the eighth episode was a slow moving, but overall well done episode. Conor’s subplot was slightly less irritating than normal and Hector’s subplot was (for the moment) closed. Terry’s monologue explaining how Ray saved his life was fantastic. I felt sorry for Bunchy when he visited Teresa, but was surprised when he checked her out. I understand not abandoning her in the facility, but she’s a legitimate danger to both him and her daughter. Let’s not forget, she said earlier that she wanted to stab herself, him, and their child with a pair of scissors. We’ll have to see how that factors into the final two episodes. The Russians will definitely reappear next episode and Conor might play a role. He claimed he only stole the gun to protect himself if the Russians come back. Perhaps the writers are foreshadowing a more violent Conor? Also either Marisol or Hector will die this season. Their story’s headed down a path that will not end well for one or both of them.