TV Recaps
Ray Donovan Season 2 Hits the Ground Running

Philip Harris | 14 Jul 2014 20:00
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ray donovan s2 ep1 07

The rest of the Donovan family isn't faring well either. Ray's kids are a mess. His daughter is still mad at her ex-boyfriend, and his son, who has always been vaguely drawn as gay, is expressing his anger by throwing fellow students down flights of stairs at school. Ray's brother, Terry, after breaking up with his girlfriend Frances (played by Brooke Smith, who you'll remember most as being Buffalo Bill's prisoner at the bottom of his basement well), is now all but stalking her. Bunchy, who last season won over a million dollars in a settlement is doing the best of all the family members: he's been going to his AA meetings and he's even applying for a job. Dash Mihok plays the part of Bunchy with heart-breaking sincerity, and it's going to be very sad watching the character's life inevitably be destroyed as the season goes on.

The plot was pretty simple for this episode. The FBI wants to know what happened on the dock last season, so Ray tells the truth to James Chochran, a new character played by the ever-hunky Hank Azaria, who I'm sure is very grateful he doesn't have to do any strange voices for this gig. This sets Ray to trying to find his dad: he goes to all of his brothers who one by one tell him to get lost. Remember that theme of not facing what's bothering you and being forced to repeat the past? Ray just can't face that his family is all that bad, yet he knows they're all completely bad.

Isn't that what we do with families though? We make memories, keep each other's secrets, and we love them anyway. For Ray, however, this family allegiance gets him nowhere but back where he began.

Yet this is why Ray Donovan's character works so well. Unlike Tyrant, another (poorly compared) show about a man trying to keep his extended family away from his immediate family, Liev Schriever is a master at portraying a conflicted, strong, yet vulnerable, man. It's clear Ray loves his family, and with the exception of his father, he loves both sides of his family equally. He wants to give his brothers the benefit of the doubt. He knows his brothers won't tell him where Mickey is, but he wants to give them the chance to get out from under their dad's thumb and break away from the past.

Of course, none of them help Ray out in the beginning, no one realizing that Donovan boys need to learn on their own that their father can't be trusted -- and in this episode, it's Daryll's turn discover that very fact. Daryll is Ray's half-brother who's gone to Mexico to box under their father's protection. He's pitted against a monster of man, and as he loses consciousness -- and the fight -- he notices his father collecting winnings from men in the venue. His own father has bet against him. Well, it only takes Daryll a few drinks to call up his older bro Ray and inform him as to where their father is.

At the risk of not being there for his immediate family Ray travels to Mexico to bring his dad back. Once in Rosarito and parked in front of a bar, he confronts his dad, who obviously couldn't care less. Mickey, played by famously estranged father John Voigt, is surrounded by prostitutes, compadres, and alcohol. In an amazing moment, Ray goes outside, takes off his shirt (Liev, you animal! You've been working out!) and heads back into the bar with a baseball bat to raise some Donovan hell. Incidentally, as a child I went to Rosarito Beach often, and it's beautiful if you stay away from the illegal boxing matches.

Family is complicated for Ray Donovan. No one is stable in his life, and the only way he knows how to keep himself stable is to fuck his wife while she's sleeping, run around the city putting out other people's fires, and busting up Mexican bars with baseball bats in order to bring his own father to justice. From the premeire, it looks like things aren't about to become easier for the Donovan crew, but I have to admit that I totes gay-gasped when I saw that none other than Ann "Viva Las Vegas" Margaret herself is going to be making a cameo. Maybe something good is going to happen on this show after all.

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