Concert/Film/TV Reviews

Ray Donovan S6.E1: New Setting, Same Problems

Ray Donovan is now in New York, but he still can find no peace...



When Ray Donovan took a swan dive off a building to conclude season five, most of us assumed it was a metaphorical leap. Maybe Ray was symbolically going through a new rebirth as he crashed into the cold waters and making peace with the loss of Abby.

Nope, it turns out Ray really flung himself into the East River.

But if we’ve learned anything through the years of Ray Donovan’s chaotic life, it’s that you can’t escape your past and who you are. Instead of his bloated body being discovered days later, Ray is found immediately by a Staten Island cop of dubious moral principles named Sean “Mac” McGarth (Domenick Lombardozzi). Ray isn’t grateful and quickly decks the cop, earning a knockout blow from a nightstick and a few hours in lockup. When Mac sees how quickly Ray gets bailed out by the powerful Sam Winslow (Susan Sarandon), he makes it a point to befriend Ray, who eventually relents and starts staying at the McGarth home.

We quickly see Mac has issues on his own. He son is being bullied at school, prompting Ray to get him signed on at Terry’s gym for self-defense tips. A nasty relationship with his ex-spouse and strained relationship with said son mirrors the problems we’ve seen in Ray’s family over the years.

The thing about Mac is I’m already getting opportunist vibes. By episode’s end he has Ray doing favors like handing off hush money to Fetu, the hulking Samoan Mac was harassing when Ray took his belly flop into the East River. And there’s also the issue Mac had with the firefighters.

Speaking of beatings, Ray took a season’s worth in this episode. First was the East River fall, then Mac’s nightstick, the firefighters and finally Fetu leaving him sprawled out in the street. Most of these situations were self-inflicted, indicating that Ray feels the abuse is warranted over his actions last season (chief among them the contract killing he did on behalf of Sam).

All this to say despite the new city, Ray Donovan can’t escape what he is — a fixer. He’s already getting mixed up in Mac’s corrupt life over a hazy sense of obligation following the suicide attempt. And he remains emotionally drawn to powerful, sexy and manipulative women. For now, that woman remains Sam, who certainly wants to keep tabs on Ray’s mental state.

As for the rest of the family, we see Bunchy emotionally broken after a heartbreaking court scene where he lost custody of his daughter. Daryll is deep into work on his blaxploitation film. All looks well there except for the lead’s cocaine habit. Terry looked relaxed and content running the gym, but we’ll see how long it takes for him to get into some mess.

That leaves Mickey. Although locked up, he concocts a ridiculous plan to get into more favorable living quarters by ingesting a bedpan full of liquid tobacco. It has the desired effect of causing a heart attack. Based on Mickey’s history with black women, I’m thinking he felt a connection with the prison nurse and hopes to recruit her into a contraband scheme once he’s moved to the medical ward.

The big storyline to end the episode is with mayoral candidate Anita Novak. Sam enlists Ray to fix a potential scandal centered on a one-night stand Novak had with a complete stranger (who taped the encounter). Anita goes to confront her would-be blackmailer and ends up shooting him, giving Ray another body to clean up and yet another powerful albeit star-crossed woman to “save.”

Again, we’ve been down this road countless times. Hopefully, the writers have some interesting but believable twists for Ray’s NYC journey besides a hipster beard and a Yankee hat.









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