“The Golem” hit heavy on consequences, a theme that has been coursing through the season, but was overtly mentioned last week by the woman Ray was spying on as leverage in her divorce battle. “Do you think about what you do?” is a question that has begun to chip away at Ray, just as his father has come back into town to dredge up more of his past misdeeds. Meanwhile, Ezra, a father-figure to Ray, is leaving him. His mental deterioration has left Ray without a guide or mentor, and as his life begins to fall apart around him, Abby steps from out of the shadows to ask him, point blank, “who the fuck are you?” Hit the jump for more on this and why everyone listens to the same radio station in L.A.
Ray Donovan has done a great job of revealing things naturally for the characters. The truth about the circumstances that lead to Mickey going to jail, something viewers had more or less pieced together, came out not with fanfare, but in a low-key (and taped) conversation between Ezra and Mickey. Similarly, it didn’t take long for Avi to track down not only who the mystery man Mickey was meeting with was (an FBI agent), but also where he had set up shop, showing that Ray now knows he’s the prize in a dangerous hunt.
Too many series hold back and obfuscate truths like this to draw out a sense of tension, but it’s a false one. The show loses nothing by giving these reveals. Ray’s knowledge that he’s part of an investigation pushes him over the edge, and Ezra and Mickey coming face to face about the past set up Mickey being able to set terms for what he wants.
Ray’s unravelling has been intriguing to watch, because though he spits out lines like “I’m not the kind of guy you fire,” and intimidates the woman at the hearing by showing her his hand (that she wasn’t just cheating on his husband, she was doing so with his brother), he’s deeply affected by the case of Marvin Gaye Washington’s mother (who had not, it turns out, signed away her child). Grasping at anything to make him feel better, he has awkwardly unpleasurable sex with the psycho Disney star Ashley, but goes back to his apartment and actually breaks down. When Abby asks Ray who he is, viewers have to wonder the same thing — there’s not a sense yet that we know, exactly, where Ray stands.
Ray is tough, but he’s not without his humanity. He can be a good husband and father (like when he backed Abby up to Connor about Connor’s punishment), but he also cheats on his wife and emotionally neglects his kids. He seeks to protect his family, and while that extends to his brothers, he would like nothing better than to see his father dead. By the end of “The Golem,” Ray seemed unsure of exactly who he is, either.
What makes Ray Donovan such a great watch though is not the story of a conflicted male protagonist (how many times have we seen that? Tony Soprano, Don Draper, Walter White, and on and on), but the strength of the supporting characters. It was surprising to see Bridget say no to drugs and alcohol, in a way, but still be able to have some fun with Marvin. Lena smacking Ashley in the face was sweet justice. Then there was Bunchy on his bike, buying a house — these were more examples of how much he needs Ray’s guidance and not his father’s. And while Terry’s romance with Frances turned out to be a (seemingly) illegitimate one (is she married? Or divorced and just spending time with her family?), even though it was too telegraphed, it was surprisingly affecting.
Who the fuck is Ray Donovan? We’ll see. But in the meantime, what happens around him is just as compelling.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Ray Donovan has tried out a few things in these initial weeks, some of which have worked (the Donovan family) and some of which haven’t (Ray’s business). It took another turn this week in portraying Ezra’s battle with a brain tumor, animating his hallucinations (from the person-log to the hummingbird to Mickey taking on the persona of a golem). Ezra is haunted by his past and seeks to make some kind of spiritual amends, which puts Ray in an interesting position. But Ezra mistaking a log for a person is one thing — illustrating Mickey as a golem is another.
— This show is really proving to be the best new series of summer (The Bridge has some catching up to do, though it’s a strong contender).
— I felt bad for Ezra’s mistress when she overheard about his true love for Ruth. Then again, she is the mistress.
— The guy suing his wife because his kids are ugly is based on a real story.
— Crazy Disney slut needs to go!
— Connor is a mess. Him puking into Ray’s watch drawer while in his suit was both hilarious and sad.
— “I gotta go. You’re a nosey cunt” – Abby to the yoga lady.
— Frances: “I’m jealous.” Terry: “She’s dead.” Frances: “Good.”
— I don’t even know where to begin regarding Buchy’s bike. It was pretty sweet though!
— “Last time I was in a bank I had a stocking on my face” – Mickey
— Life imitates art? Ray Donovan‘s executive producer Bryan Zuriff has plead guilty in a gambling case that involves the Russian mafia.