RAY DONOVAN Review:” Girl with Guitar”

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The key art for Season 4 is strikingly different from the first three seasons, with a solitary, half-naked Ray in black and white, like a boxer at rest. In the past, images of a distant Los Angeles have always made it seem like Ray was turning his back on something, but this time around, it’s as if the rest of his world doesn’t exist at all.

Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Leland Orser as Father Romero in RAY DONOVAN (Season 4, Episode 01). - Photo:  Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  RayDonovan_401_4133.R

Photo: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: RayDonovan_401_4133.R

At first though, the premiere episode begins on a hopeful note. Last season’s stunning shootout with the Minassians left Terry in the hospital and Mickey on the run, now we find a barely conscious Ray, recovering in Father Romero’s church. Reluctantly agreeing that he can’t go home in his condition, Ray takes refuge in Big Bear with dashing former boxer Hector Campos, one of Romero’s alleged success stories. Ray splits his time between recovery with Hector and group therapy sessions with Bunchy, among others.  

Ray’s old handler Detective Muncie isn’t having it though, and calls Ray in for a stern talking to. She blames him for the failed sting and demands to know where Mickey is, but Ray brushes her off.  Meanwhile, the ever-resourceful Mickey has settled into life in exile, conning unsuspecting travelers at an isolated casino in Primm, Nevada.

Ray’s path to the light side is full of relationships that need mending, starting with Abby. In an effort to make peace with his wife, Ray stops by Venice Beach to ask Bridget to come back home. She’s wary, but agrees to come by for dinner. Ray is so thrilled with the news that Abby decides not to tell him she has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. As Ray’s star rises, Terry is crushed when his church rejects his volunteer application.

Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Embeth Davidtz as Sonia Kovitzky in RAY DONOVAN (Season 4, Episode 01). - Photo:  Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  RayDonovan_401_2609.R

Photo: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

Although Ray is starting to get his family life back on track, it’s nice to see him take the bait when an unknown man shows up with a $10,000 check and a new client. Ray’s mystery employer is art dealer Sonia Kovitzy, who needs help recovering a painting for one of her clients, which was impounded by someone Ray certainly knows ands loves, Detective Muncie herself. The painting “Girl with Guitar” intrigues Ray, but not enough to stop him from declining the immediately, he’s not into small time gigs.

Elsewhere, Mickey’s illegal side exploits in Primm catch the eye of his employer, who promptly shows him the door. One of his trailer mates explains Mickey’s problem in a biting, but accurate commentary:

“You’re a crooked tree. The things you touch won’t grow straight.”

That does seem to be the problem here, as Mickey Mickey stumbles back to the casino, following a drug-induced vision of his daughter, which inevitably leads to his arrest. Visions continue to be a strong throughline in this series, as Ray imagines his daughter Bridget jumping off a building in tandem with his late sister, and the physical resemblance between the two women is enough to unnerve Terry in broad daylight. It’s as if Mickey really has “touched” his family, his paranoia spreads to them too.

Ismael Cruz Cordova as Hector in RAY DONOVAN (Season 4, Episode 01). - Photo:  Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  RayDonovan_401_4201.R

Photo: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

Ray’s salvation becomes his undoing, as he gets a call from a disturbingly desperate Hector Campos. He finds Hector holed up in a motel room, his mysterious lady friend storming out, with a police officer captive in his bathroom.

Hector begs Ray for help, his excuses sounding like an echo of Ray’s own self doubt. Confirming the parallel, Ray lets Hector off the hook and sits down for a heart-to-heart-to-wine chat with the cop. After getting him sufficiently drunk, Ray frames the officer for a DUI and promises to pay him hush money as a precaution. Ray is pleased with his mostly nonviolent handling of the situation, until he learns how deep Hector’s troubles go: he’s sleeping with his own half-sister. Suddenly Hector’s motivation for helping Ray becomes clear – he needs a fixer, badly.

“It’s all gonna be better,” Ray tries to convince Abby that night, after dinner. From his vantage point in a Nevada hospital, with Detective Muncie sneering down at him in triumph, Mickey would probably beg to differ.

 

 

 

 

Season 4, Episode 1 (S04E01)
Ray Donovan airs Sundays at 9PM on Showtime

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Heather makes things for TV by day and writes by night (also sometimes by day). She 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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