The only permanent thing is love
Well, so much for ending the Russian threat. It looked like Ray may finally have been off the hook with the Russians after Mickey’s imprisonment and Belikov’s release. But no, Ray decided he would no longer be used and finally stood up for himself. After watching him be controlled by various powerful and unethical men for the past three seasons, it was cathartic to see Ray finally take a moral stand. Granted, it took a dead Russian hooker and a great deal of guilt for him to finally make that stand, but at least he finally did it.
This week’s episode was a much more introspective episode than past episodes this season. Ray dealt with the emotional consequences of Mickey’s imprisonment. Sadly, this meant his regression to all his former bad habits. Yes, we’re back to the perpetually drunk and emotionally dead Ray Donovan. This Ray Donovan was on full display when he ruined his goddaughter’s baptism party. Apparently, he still isn’t over his childhood abuse. Even Bunchy, who has always been the most outwardly damaged, has moved on. I couldn’t believe Ray tried to give his childhood rosary, which was a gift from the abusive priest, to Maria as a baptism present!
Ray spent a majority of the episode as Sonia Kovitzky’s, the Russian art dealer and criminal, errand boy and bodyguard. Not much came from these scenes, other than a strangely trippy scene. Sonia has breast cancer as well, because apparently every important female this season has breast cancer. Her cancer’s much more malevolent than Abby’s however and Ray had a glimpse of his potential future with Abby. Would Ray still find Abby beautiful, even after a masectomy? I don’t think so. Even though he gave all the right answers to Sonia, it didn’t have any conviction behind it. We’ll have to see how Ray handles Abby’s future operation. Yes, Abby’s still refusing an operation, but I’m fairly confident that she will relent by season’s end.
This week’s episode was mostly focused on Ray, but a few characters did briefly appear. The episode opened with Mickey entering prison and I was struck by Mickey’s demeanor. He was completely unperturbed by his surroundings. It stood in sharp contrast to Terry’s prison experience last season. Mickey appeared right at home, which makes sense given how often he’s been in and out of prison over the course of his lifetime. The scene between him and the detective was the sole comic relief of the episode. Mickey lying through his teeth about last season’s Armenian shooting, also pausing to tell prison rape jokes, while the detective just sat their in awe was downright hilarious. The brief phone call between Mickey and Ray was touching and the only time I’ve seen Mickey’s compassionate side. This episode is a testament to Jon Voight’s acting ability. Though only briefly appearing, he still managed to have an impact on the episode.
Like Ray, Bunchy reverted to old habits. With Theresa officially gone, Bunchy moved in with Ray and Abby. But seeing Ray regress made Bunchy regress too. Bunchy returned to drinking and became completely unlikable. All goodwill Bunchy earned, while watching him struggle with fatherhood evaporated. Still not being able to feed your child and getting drunk at your only child’s baptism are inexcusable. Not to mention his childlike tantrum when he found out Abby had cancer.
Poor Abby. Like the last few episodes, Fish and Bird continued to focus on Abby’s struggle with her diagnosis. Ray tried to offer emotional support in the beginning of the episode, but it clearly wasn’t enough. Now she’s going through oral chemotherapy and had her head buried in the toilet at one point. Even holding a beautiful infant isn’t helping with her depression. Ray falling off the wagon certainly isn’t helping either. Her sad remark when the baby tried to suckle her was heartbreaking. I hope things improve for her as the season progresses, but sadly I doubt it.
Conor and Terry’s new boxing student, Larry, reappeared, although their storyline was so dumb it’s barely worth mentioning. Conor and Larry got drunk after the baptism and shot at their neighbor’s yard with the gun Conor stole last episode. Unfortunately, the neighbor recognized Conor so this storyline will probably continue. Honestly, the Conor is the only badly written character. His motivations make no sense and he just comes off as naive and annoying. If we’re going to focus on a Donovan child, it should just be Bridget.
People even worse than Conor show up too. The show’s worst couple, Stu and Ashley pointlessly reappear. Stu’s gross and crass as ever, and still has a Ray complex. Ashley’s incredibly irritating, pouting that she didn’t appear in the celebrity nude leak. Their appearance had no point and was a complete waste of time.
But as stated earlier, this episode was primarily focused on Ray. I was concerned that the show would make Ray’s arc into a circle and leave him in the exact same spot as the pilot. Despite Belikov’s release from prison, Ray still needed to meet pay him off and apologize for any inconvenience he caused. Belikov was at the shady whorehouse we’d seen a few times this episode. The whorehouse where Ray had formed a small bond with an innocent Russian girl. Now, that girl was dead at Belikov’s hands. It was very reminiscent of an early scene from the first season of the show, when a rapper wakes up with a dead girl next to him. It initially looked like Ray would go along with Belikov and dispose the body, but thankfully no. Ray finally had enough and disposed of Belikov instead. Ray leaving the rosary with the dead girl hopefully means he’s finally moved on from his childhood abuse.
Fish and the Bird was slow-moving episode with a major payoff. Sadly, Terry and Avi were absent, but Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight’s powerful acting carried the episode. Ray’s decision in the episode’s final moments will drive the plot for the remainder of the season. Can Ray handle the Russian threat? They’ll be out for blood once they discover Belikov’s missing. Russians are scary, I woudn’t be surprised if witness protection was in the Donovan future. Also, can Ted Levine please come back? He’s a great character actor and has been barely used.