Mark Clark reviews the eighth episode of Ray Donovan season 4…
For a show based on the generally painful fallout of secrets and lies, season 4’s eighth episode gives us a glimpse of truth and confession. It’s not always pretty and thankfully there’s still room for some show standards of violence and humour, but it’s nice to see that not everything in the Ray Donovan universe is juggling impending doom whilst skating on thin ice.
It kicks off with Ray going to drop off a bag of cash with Cochrane at the hospital, where he and The Texan are housed after last week’s shootout. He stops by The Texan’s room and asks him when he started with Ezra. It was after he got back from Vietnam – Hollywood was out of control, and so was he. Too violent to be around, not even being a stuntman worked out. I’m starting to think if we can have a young John McClane, there’s room for a 70s set Hollywood drama, ‘Ezra and The Texan’.
Ezra apparently protected Ray from the darker matter; and taking care of that was The Texan’s business. He has a daughter though and she knows nothing about his past. And he’d like to keep it that way. (As The Texan, Stacy Keach is still mesmerising, even stationary, laid up in a hospital bed. When he growls out ‘You can only be clever so long. Then it all turns to blood and burials.’, it’s like a voice coming from the planet’s core.)
Ray goes off to the LA Men’s Central Jail to pick up Mickey now that he’s a free man, and now of course the gratitude is back on Mickey’s shoulders. Ray says he owes him nothing though, and at a nearby diner Ray seems to be genuinely softening up on his old man – even inviting him to stay. Mickey declines, he’s not the best room-mate, but Ray does give him back his watch and some cash.
At the Donovan’s Ray finds Conor playing a dance video game and Conor invites him to play. It may be a half joke but Ray takes him up on it, We don’t quite get the equivalent of ‘Dad dancing’ from season 2’s brilliant ‘Walk This Way’ episode, but it is damn funny. Until their neighbour shows up. He’s understandably pissed at Conor for drunkenly shooting his inflatable castle post Maria’s baptism.
Ray confronts Conor and takes the gun away. For all his comedy stupidity, Conor is suddenly looking less funny.
Mickey wants to borrow Bunchy’s car so he can go back to Primm as he has unfinished romantic business, which sounds like it’ll end well, but Bunchy tells him that Theresa’s brother has put her in a mental hospital. Mickey says they’ll go get her together; and all this Donovan filial cooperation is starting feel a little weird.
At the Fite Club Hector is sparring and enjoying himself (too much enjoyment and not enough boxing according to Terry). Then they spot Hector’s sister Marisol giving an interview on TV, and she’s telling all about their illicit relationship. Suddenly all that good PR for Fite Club ain’t looking too shiny.
Less funny Conor is being driven somewhere by Ray and they end up in a particularly rough part of town. Ray shows him gun victim photos but Conor is unmoved; and in a new twist on tough parenting Ray gives him back the gun and tells him to get the fuck out of the car. Then he drives off. To be fair he stops a little way down the road and Conor, showing some smarts for once, runs for it. Then, Ray gets the call from Terry.
Ray finds Hector in bad shape but he’s not overly helpful and fixes to leave – Hector is his own worst enemy. Terry intervenes though because it’s not just about Hector, it’s about helping him too. So, completing the Donovan brotherly quartet, Ray drafts Daryl in to help. It’s dangerous, but Daryl don’t mind at all.
Abby comes to pick up Conor and Ray tells her his ‘teaching method’. ‘So you traumatised him?’, she asks. ‘I should fucking think so.’, he replies. I’m already seeing that on the dust jacket of Ray Donovan’s Parenting Know-how book. Seriously, I’m going to start ghostwriting it after this is finished.
In another thread to his Hector/Terry plan, Ray tasks Lena with snooping on movie producer Stu Feldman’s computer for anything untoward, and she catches him loving himself through self-referencing Google searches, and watching a transexual live porn cam. Lena thankfully interrupts him with a judiciously placed FBI child pornography warning, and a locked out laptop. Lo and behold, Ray’s phone rings.
Ray reels Stu in on the kiddie porn problem, but of course he’ll help. He just needs Stu to have a friendly game of golf with Randall Dyckman, the TV power broker who has the reigns on the upcoming title fight. Stu plays his part, wearing a natty pair of spy camera glasses.Tommy Wheeler’s the hook (again), this time dangled as a potential addition to Dyckman’s TV empire. Whatever gets his gums flapping…
In the last part of the plan Daryl stops by an Irish bar to scope out Hector’s replacement as title contender, a blowhard named Joxy Maguire.
Hector meanwhile is just getting hammered, with Terry, until Terry tells him he lost his title because he’d been fighting bums and no-hopers and had lost his edge. Then he tells Hector to get in the ring, for training. Positivity Terry is a thing to behold.
Abby tries to get through to Conor, and we learn that his cretinous behaviour isn’t all down to base stupidity. He has a fragile ego. His father’s a Hollywood legend, his family are tough Boston Irish, and he’s just some kid from Calabasas. Ok, he may have a point.
Abby’s answer is somewhere that helped her out once; the gun range. But he better not tell Ray. She tells him about the cancer, and he tells her why he took the gun, and why he murdered a defenceless inflatable. Conor sometimes thinks she’s the scariest Donovan, and when Conor’s safely under his ear protectors she agrees. She is the scariest c**t in the family.
Back with Bunchy and he’s at Theresa’s brother’s place learning some home truths. She’s been in and out of the mental hospital since she was 11, and her family think she’s better off there. Bunchy, good, loyal man he is, ain’t giving up though. He goes to see her with her Lucha wrestling mask, and laying his heart on the line, and regaling the non-responsive Theresa with a story about childhood self-gratification and Wonder Woman, and the fact she’s his Wonder Woman now, he makes a decision to get her out of there. And maybe there’s just the hint of a smile on Theresa’s face.
Ray puts his final pieces together, and pressures Dyckman to let Hector fight – showing him Stu’s spy cam footage and his off colour comments about Latinos, walls, and his wife’s nether regions. Fine, Hector can fight, but only after Maguire. He won’t budge.
Now it’s up to Daryl at the Irish bar, and a knuckle duster to Maguire’s eye socket that seemingly puts paid to that obstacle. Ouch.
Ray gets to tell Hector he’s back in the ring, but it’s Terry he needs to thank and he can do that by making him one of his trainers. He needs to thank Daryl too. And cut it off with Marisol (seriously, enough is enough).
Ray empties Ezra’s secret safe but when he returns to the hospital to tell The Texan his dark deeds are safely buried, he’s already passed away. His daughter knows he wasn’t an insurance salesman anyway, with all the bags of money, days away and the drinking. It was all just Hollywood.
Driving the night time freeway, Bunchy listens to Mickey talk about his girl, the singer, back in Primm; his own girl Theresa sat in the back. Then Bunchy, on a decision making roll we haven’t seen since, well never, takes a turn off towards Nevada.
Ray finally goes to see Conor to apologise, and in the episode’s last confessional tries to explain a little of his tough upbringing. You see, Abby and he are different from Conor and Bridget. And they’re just trying to keep it that way.