‘Ray Donovan’ season premiere is about breaking patterns with the same intensity

Monday, November 25, 2019 - 11:48am

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Showtime / YouTube

After “Ray Donovan” relocated from Los Angeles to New York City at the beginning of Season 6, there was reason to be concerned about how long the crime-drama could continue. The change in the setting of a television show is often followed by a decrease in quality. Some notable examples that come to mind include “Glee,” the final season of “Scrubs” and the upcoming fourth season of “Stranger Things.” But “Ray Donovan” is the exception. Moving away from L.A. has allowed the show to successfully and logically change its direction. With the unique job held by Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber, “Spotlight”) — it’s easiest to describe him as a more violent Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington, “Scandal”) but a “fixer” nevertheless — no matter the location, there will always be someone in need of his services. 

After years of Ray battling alcoholism, anger issues and arrogance, the Season 6 finale hinted that a change was on the horizon. Not just for Ray, but for everyone in his life. Each character seems to be on a path of self-improvement. His father, Mickey (Jon Voight, “24”), has finally gone to jail. His brothers, Bunchy (Dash Mihok, “Whiskey Cavalier”) and Terry (Eddie Marsan, “Deadpool 2”) are both living healthier lifestyles. His college-aged daughter, Bridget (Kerris Dorsey, “Moneyball”) even apologizes to him. This is the newer and happy Donovan family … for now.

If there’s one member of the Donovan family that deserves eternal happiness, it’s Terry, Ray’s brother. Unfortunately, his Parkinson’s disease has gotten worse. He meets a woman at the drugstore that Bunchy, Ray’s other brother, works at who urges him to try a natural remedy that will disinfect his liver. Elsewhere, Bridget considers ending her marriage with Smitty (Graham Rogers, “Atypical”) because she has met someone else. Ray has begun therapy with Dr. Arthur Amiot (Alan Alda, “The Good Fight”), who suggests he forgive his father Mickey and let go of all his anger. Flash forward four months, and some fishermen discover the heads of one of the officers that the Donovans killed in the season five finale. To make matters worse, there is still a bullet in the victim’s head and is going to be tested by ballistics which could lead the police back to Ray. Like I said, how long could this path of self improvement really last for the Donovans?

This is what sets the episode in motion as Ray tries to move on from his past while still being haunted by it. Ray shows flashes of this new lifestyle — he punches a guy for one of his clients but then apologizes and says he could have handled things better and urges the guy to “get the help he needs.” But Ray is still under the control of New York City Mayor Ed Ferrati (Zach Grenier, “The Good Wife”). Ray cannot possibly keep up this “new lifestyle,” as he is still involved in the same “fixer” business that forced him to turn the very violent behavior he’s setting out to end, but he’s trying to do better.

Oh, and remember the bullet in the victim’s head? Well, Ray decides he will put Mickey’s fingerprints on the gun as he is already in jail. But, he can’t do that if Mickey never gets there. Most of Ray’s problems are rooted in his relationship with Mickey so it comes as no surprise that another huge one is created in the final minutes of this episode. 

The episode ends with a bus full of convicts — including Mickey — getting transferred to a maximum security prison upstate. Up the road, a tanker truck driver has a heart attack while inclining. This results in the tanker rolling back down and smashing into the bus full of convicts with an explosion that could have been seen from a zip code over. What does this mean for the rest of the season? Is he dead? Did he live and escape? Regardless, Ray’s therapist is going to have his hands full.