Mark Clark reviews the eleventh and twelfth episodes of Ray Donovan season 4…
Well, that’s it, episodes 11 and 12 are done, season 4 is over, and it’s been a marked upgrade on season 3. With its smarts, viciousness, and dark humour, I may even go as far as putting it at the top of the season pile. As for Ray and the gang, it’s been a case of small victories amidst the sucker punches, flying bullets, old wounds, new nemeses, the occasional body dumping, and Mickey almost turning every disaster into a crisis. Pretty much business as usual then.
After Abby’s recollection of Ray’s never gonna be happier moment in episode 10, and watching the opener of episode 11 as cops swarm all over the dam at Lake Hollywood and the abandoned car, and Marisol’s body, I couldn’t help asking who is responsible for, well, everything. Ever. To be honest I gave up after 2 minutes, and maybe that’s always been the point of Ray Donovan. It doesn’t mater how you got there, it’s what you do next.
In Ray’s case it’s watching Mickey waking up on his couch. No chit chat either, he just needs the Primm heist money. Mickey wouldn’t mind keeping it himself – dreaming of buying a big house in Boston for the whole clan, but we all know what dreams are made of on this show. In any case, after Ray tells him about Avi he agrees to get the cash, then meet Ray at Burbank airport. This is no Donovan team up part 2 though, Ray’s heading to Vegas and handling this on his own.
At Fite Club Daryll gets the short end of Team Campos, busted from sparring partner to spit bucket kid at Hector’s request. That is until he tells Terry to get stuffed. Good on you brother D.
Ray turns up to speak to Hector, but not before watching a portentous murder of crows fly overhead. Just what you need before taking a call from poor Avi’s Ma. He lies about having sent him to Nicaragua for a while, but what else is he going to do? It’s ok though, as she’s taping the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ finale for him.
Ray finds Hector and tells him Marisol’s body’s been found. The cops are going to tell him that she jumped, he just needs to play along. Hector tries to justify what he did and thanks Ray, but then Ray gives him the big pinch – he needs to throw the Whittaker title fight. Surprisingly Hector is not exactly copacetic, but Ray raises the spectre of jail for life. Of course at this point I’m wondering if Ray is familiar with the old throw the fight trope à la Butch in Pulp Fiction. You know there’s no accounting for human nature.
Back at the Donovan’s Abby is trying to persuade Bridget and Conor to head north with Bunchy and Theresa just to be safe, but the C-Man is not impressed at the thought of abandoning his father. Theresa, to her credit didn’t even hesitate in agreeing to take them.
Ray goes to see Dmitri and lays out the fight dive plan with a 60 million bet payout. Even though it’s Ray’s money on the line though, not Dmitri’s, he doesn’t take anything at face value and wants to meet Hector. More importantly there’s Avi, and the art. Dmitri really wants those paintings – who knew he was so culturally refined.
Ray sets up the big bet with an old bookie contact, Fat Ernie, who seems to know Ray pretty well – ‘cheery as fuckin’ ever’ – but at the airport waiting for Mickey, Ray spots FBI agent Barnes and his team motoring in so tells Mickey to do the Vegas trip himself. Mickey, 2 million bucks, and Vegas. Sounds like a plan. On the plane Mickey gets a phantom chill as he sees his murdered girl, Sylvie, walking down the aisle, but it’s just a stranger. A stranger he then sits next to and turns on the chat charm. She’s Sugar, and apparently he’s on the ‘stripper plane’.
FBI man Barnes hauls Ray down to HQ and shows him the CCTV from the customs warehouse where Belikov exits stage left, but Barnes just wants Dmitri and he knows about Avi too. He wants Ray’s help, even dangling Witness Protection, before Dmitri kills every Donovan going. It’s to no avail though – Ray trusts one person to sort this mess, and that’s Ray. And well, Mickey.
In Vegas however, things are already going sideways as Mickey finds cops and medics dealing with a en expired Fat Ernie on the john. Just like Elvis. He does have Sugar with him though and she just happens to know a high-roller who might help. He’s a trust-fund douchebag and Instagram star named Jack Riley, and at his palatial pad it’s party on, which seems to be a 24/7 concern. Riley is a coke-snorting twerp, but obviously not an idiot so not keen to get involved. He can’t resist a challenge though, or Mickey’s 80s, ‘Teen Wolf’ leather jacket, so he accepts a ping-pong wager. Mickey wins he places the bet, Jack wins, he keeps all the money, and the jacket. Mickey is no ping-pong patsy mind after being champ at Walpole prison 11 years running, and it’s at least one win for team Donovan. The bet’s on.
At Fite Club Ray finds Conor and tells him that going and looking after Bridget is the help he needs and C-Man acquiesces. Not he’d know what acquiesce means. Still love that kid. Mickey turns up with the betting slips and tries to persuade Ray that talking to the Feds is still an option, but Ray’s not a rat. Terry meanwhile, manages to get Daryl to swallow hi pride and come on board, but then terry takes a turn and collapses a moment. Why did I say Terry was the only Donovan having a goodish streak.
Ray takes Hector to meet Dmitri to tell him in person that the dive is on and to hand over the betting slips; meeting at a pleasant sunset view, which is Dmitri’s favourite time of day apparently (what’s with all the symbolism this episode). Of course the real deal is still Avi and the art, so it’s off to the stash. When they get there broken Avi is thankfully, finally set free and safely spirited away in Ray’s car, but soon enough Barnes pulls them over and Ray is arrested. Back at FBI central Ray is shown an interrogation room, and sat smack in the middle of it is Sonia Kovitzky. She’s told them everything, so Barnes has the last word, ‘You’re fucked Ray.’
Ray is having a full cheese board of a dream involving a service for Abby, with Father Romero regaling empty pews about his latest map phone app, and Sonia rubbing his crotch. A scenario only marginally worse than his current real-life predicament. The Feds have raided his office and taken everything, and they have a phone message from one of Dmitri’s goons about seats at the Campos fight. But even that can’t faze the man. Then Sonia comes and it’s either take her back to Dmitri as an inside-man, or it’s Ray inside prison.
Ray drives Sonia to Dmitri. She’s only playing ball because Barnes promised to take care of her daughter, but Ray’s not impressed on that score. She’s sorry and sorrowful; terminal cancer or family, she’s probably running out of time. At least Ray tells her he’ll try and look out for her daughter.
At the Russia Gangster House it’s all friendly, family hellos and intros to Dmitri’s new gallery front people. Sonia plays her part, says she wants back in, but the tension is arch. Ray being escorted out is a lot like a last goodbye.
Avi wakes in his hospital room with Ray watching over him, and he gets the skinny. Barnes has Ray over a barrel and wants him to wear a wire to the fight. Avi says a little Hebrew prayer to himself but Ray doesn’t think anyone’s listening. The thing is, Avi prayed wen he was being beaten senseless, and God was listening, because he sent Ray. That sits somewhat uneasily on Ray’s shoulders.
At the emptier Donovan house Ray finds Mickey slumped on a chair downstairs and Abby in bed clutching her phone. She thinks it’s all over now that Avi’s back, but there’s more – apparently her cancer is in remission. It’s a fresh start. Even Bridget is adding to the good news; she’s gotten into NYU.
Father Romero heads into LA listening to Hector’s press conference at Fite Club, while Ray watches it on TV. The usual bravado, and Terry still clueless about his charge. He’s building dreams, and later tells Damon he’s gonna be the next Hector (without the fratricide hopefully).
Mickey’s building his own dreams, but in his case he’s going after a piece of the Hector fight fix and asks Abby for a loan. The amount he needs is beyond her purse, though there’s always that damned Girl With Guitar painting hanging in Bridget’s room.
Ray is with Barnes and his new found rat status and wire-wearing is apparently a go for fight night, down to a camera and mic sewn into a shirt. Barnes wants Dmitri so badly he’ll forget about everything Ray’s ever done. Back in Ray’s office, and all he needs now is permanent conscience-pricker Father Romero showing up. Hector called him, asked for confession so now Romero knows everything about Marisol, and the fight. Hector just wants to fight to win and Romero actively encouraged it. Now what…
Bunchy goes to see Terry and tells him that Mickey was looking for funds to make a bet against Campos. Seemed pretty sure of himself. Suddenly Terry’s good times are looking as parlous as his health. Still at least one Donovan is making an escape as Ray takes Bridget to the airport for her trip to NY. She can tell something’s up, her father’s face is too brave. It’s all unspoken, but Bridget’s tears as she rides up the escalator is a real heart-tugger.
Back home Terry is waiting. He wants to know if Ray’s making Hector throw the fight. Terry’s plans are turning to shit, but they’re all stuck between a Russian rock and a hard place. Terry says he’ll put something in Hector’s eyes for the 6th round, so he can’t back out. The great Eddie Marsan, broken dreams all over his face, is even more heart-breaking than little Bridg’s goodbye. For Ray, the hits keep coming, as Lena gets him to the morgue, only to see Sonia’s body, with a single bullet to the head.
Ray later tells Abby that Sonia’s dead, that she ratted him out. She should leave because nothing good is coming out of this fight, but she’s too tough for that. It’s Ray’s fatalism vs Abby’s hope. Then Mickey shows up, still with the painting. After tracking down a dealer-collector, the art’s real secret was revealed after he opened the back of the frame. Seems each painting is actually a drug smuggling tool. ‘Duplicitous fucking people, the Russians.’
At Fite Club it’s now all or nothing as Ray’s gathered the whole extended family – Abby, Terry, Bunchy, Mickey, Daryll, Lena and Avi. He’s asking for their help, and it’s going to be dangerous. Later at the arena Barnes and his team are in a surveillance van watching the world through Ray’s shirt-cam. Only he’s not wearing it, opening the van door and throwing it at Barnes. Things are going to get done Ray’s way.
Inside Ray meets Hector before he gets to the ring and tells him to fight to win if he wants. Hector is oh so thankful, but Ray didn’t do it for him, Terry watching the whole exchange. Outside Daryll and Avi get the jump on Dmitri’s driver, who then gets a flurry of reciprocal kicks from Avi’s boot, and the goons back at Russkie Mansions are put under the watchful and gun handling eyes of Mickey and Bunch.
Ringside we’ve reached the 6th, the ‘knockout’ round, Ray and Dmitri sat together. Ray asks about Sonia and Dmitri says she’s gone back to Grenada. In the ring everything looks like it’s going to plan as Hector takes a beating and Dmitri’s so relaxed he’s talking about getting some Italian food after. Then Terry starts yelling instructions and it’s turnaround time – fists fly and the round ends with both men standing. So plan B then, and not one Dmitri is too pleased about. Dmitri doesn’t hang around but probably wishes he did when he gets in his car and finds Daryll and Avi waiting for him. Mickey and Bunch aren’t hanging around either, taking out the Russian remainders, all guns blazing.
Parked up a little while later, Daryll throws the Girl With Guitar drugs in the trunk. Then Avi tells him to walk away, he doesn’t want to see this. We don’t want to see it either I guess as three gunshot bangs and flashes later, Avi exits the car and walks away.
At the Kovitzky gallery Ray goes in with Lena, him with his trusty baseball bat which he uses on Sonia’s replacement. By the time Barnes gets there the smuggled drugs are stripped from the paintings and plain to see. Ray’s handed him another crime boss bust on a silver platter. And his bloodied bat.
At Fite Club there’s a party going on, so we’re guessing Hector eventually came through. Bunch gets Terry to give a little speech, as the coach of the Champion of the World no less. Terry actually gets emotional; he doesn’t care what they say back in Southie, it’s fucking great to be a Donovan (please let that be an episode title in season 5).
Ray shows up and finds Hector outside, big limo and all. Hector thinks he’s a free man now, Marisol, the abusing priest, they’re all ghosts now. Ray says what about Romero, and God, but Hector doesn’t care. Fuck Romero, and it wasn’t God who knocked Whittaker on his ass. ‘You made a miracle of me Ray. A fucking miracle.’, and then he’s gone. See you next year Mr Campos.
Abby’s waiting for Ray – she told him everything would be alright, no one can touch them. Upstairs the party’s in full swing, everybody’s dancing, drinking, having a good time, and Ray watches as Abby joins them. He stands there still, not moving, taking it all in. Then, after a season I’ve enjoyed almost more than I can say, damn it if the son of a bitch doesn’t actually start to smile.