RAY DONOVAN Review: “Chinese Algebra”


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is one episode away from the Season 4 finale, and while some plots are reaching their climax, others are left in the dust. While Bunchie, Teresa and the kids flee turbulent , Ray tries to put out several fires with one brilliant play.

Even from beyond the grave, Marisol continues to stirs up secrets when police find her body in a local river. Of course, this was all according to Ray’s cold, calculating plan, which initially goes off without a hitch.

At home, Abby is second-guessing her decision to reject a double mastectomy, as she nervously awaits results from her doctor. The scene between Abby and Ray has some emotion but far more exposition: Abby feels like something’s wrong, but there’s nothing she can do until she hears from her doctor, she just has to wait. Abby has had some interesting moments, including shooting a Russian intruder earlier in the season, but her medical issues continue to stick out like the contrived complication they are.

Episode 411

Meanwhile at Fite Club Daryll and Damon get a tempting offer, a chance to be part of Team Campos, as cleaners. Damon is thrilled, but Darryl bristles at the suggestion that he isn’t good enough to be a sparring partner, especially after doing the dirty work of bringing Marisol home from rehab. Daryll’s reaction to being sidelined could also be extrapolated to his treatment during the entire season, a helping hand when needed, a punchline when not.

Bunchie and Teresa make the difficult decision to leave LA, seeking out a safer, less gangster-ridden life for baby Maria. That’s reasonable enough, what’s surprising is Abby’s reaction – she wants Bridget and Conor to go too.

Ray gets a call from Avi’s mother, which is never a good sign. Bringing in a supporting character’s family members is NEVER a good sign. He continues to stall in the hopes that he can find enough money to pay off the Russians and bring Avi home. Ray tells Abby he is headed to Vegas, but he’s not playing the odds, he’s creating them. His first stop is Fite Club, where he instructs Hector on what to say when the police inevitably arrive. Furthermore, Ray reveals that his work on Hector’s behalf comes with serious strings, and he needs him to throw his upcoming rematch with Whitaker.

Episode 411

Finally, this is what Ray’s relationship with Hector has been building up to. Hector hasn’t been quite the pivotal character he seemed to be, when he first met Ray in the Season 4 opener. Most of his time has been spent brooding and staring off into the distance with his piercing hazel eyes. While his mentorship with Terry has been great to watch, Hector and Ray’s relationship has never been very definitive. In his reaction at least, Hector’s betrayal suggests that he considered Ray a friend. But the feeling isn’t mutual. Later, Hector describes a more accurate version of their relationship: they’re the same person, in all the worst possible ways.

Ray asks Mickey for Bill Primm’s money – all of it – to help him bargain with the Russians for Avi’s life. Showing a degree of trust that Mickey certainly doesn’t warrant, Ray orders his father to deliver the money to Fat Ernie, who will place a bet for him in Vegas that banks on Hector losing to Whitaker.

Frank the cop finally catches up to Ray and he wants answers. More importantly, he wants Ray to become a CI in return for safety for his family. Mickey later echoes this sentiment, reminding Ray that he turned informant to protect his loved ones and eventually came out on top. But to Ray, going into witness protection is like calling in a parent to settle a fight between kids. It’s just not cool.

Meanwhile, Mickey discovers he has hopped the wrong plane, or the right plane depending on how you look at it, which consists of himself and a flight full of strippers headed to Vegas. One in particular reminds him of Sylvie, and he can’t resist flashing his thick wad of cash to impress her.

Episode 411

Things get real though, when Mickey learns that Fat Ernie is dead. On the one hand, it’s great to see Mickey pivot and think on his feet, asking his new stripper friend Sugar to lead him to a high roller who can place the bet. On the other hand, why in the world is Ray still trusting Mickey with large sums of money? The high roller in question is Jack Riley, an Instagram star with enough cred to place the bet, and plenty of attitude to go with his elite status. He finally caves when Mickey surprises everyone and wins in intense game of table tennis.

Ray informs Dmitri of the plan, returns his art and finally gets Avi back. Just one piece of the puzzle left; if Hector loses during the fight as promised, the Dmitri problem will go away forever. There’s just one major problem that could undo all of Ray’s good work: Sonia is back, she’s in police custody, and she’s talking. A lot.

Like many episodes this season, “Chinese Algebra” closed one or two loops but opened several more. This amount of resolution a huge burden to place on the finale, but hopefully the storytelling is up to the task.

Season 4, Episode 11 (S04E11)
Ray Donovan airs Sundays at 9PM on Showtime


Heather is a fan of all stories that reflect life, but it doesn’t hurt if they’re set on another planet or in another time.
Twitter: @Elianarra

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