In “Uber Ray,” Ran Donovan has set up its major conflicts for the upcoming season, and so far, it’s looking good. The show is a slow burn, and one that didn’t get as much attention as its counterpart Masters of Sex, but deserved to. It’s at least a steadily engaging show, if not completely tonally consistent, and its character drama is always interesting to watch unfold. “Uber Ray” didn’t bother with a fixer plot this week, which was the right choice, focusing instead on Mickey’s return, and what that means for the Donovans. Hit the jump for why “that’s why you were born, Ray, to be my fucking judge. That’s always been your job.”
Much like Season One, Mickey’s return is a complicated one for the Donovan family. And, like his first return, Ray believes he can control him (and he essentially has to, as their fates are intertwined). As Cochran made clear, Mickey is on probation unless he fucks up, and if he fucks up, then Ray is going down with him.
To help his cause, Ray gets Lina and Ari to find out which parole officer is the most likely to be bought. From there, he pays him to keep Mickey under a vice grip, to help do his babysitting for him. But Mickey is wily, and unlikely to stay subdued for long. And while this time, neither Terry, Bunchy nor Daryll seem very interested in helping him, he’s cultivating his relationship with Conor in the way he used to do with Bunchy. He teaches him, he keeps him close, he confides in him, and of course, uses him.
Abby, too, is not on Mickey’s side this time, though nor is she fully on Ray’s until the end of the hour. She stops Ray’s dead-eyed sexual advances towards her, and later makes a move on her yoga instructor because he “sees” her. It was one of Abby’s greatest character moments once she was back in the car, and took out a cigarette, eventually laughing at her behavior and how much it surprised her. But ever dutiful to Ray, she buys sexy lingerie in order to have some agency in their lovemaking. It turned out to be well-timed, as a penitent Ray buys her her dream house.
On the other hand, Ray’s gift still doesn’t give Abby what she wants from him, which is honesty and emotional intimacy. She chastises him for not treating her like a partner, but then acquiesces to him when he buys her the house. It’s a temporary patch on a deeper problem.
Several other older plots continued to play out, like Ray cooling Ezra’s jets over collecting debts for his hospital obsession, and Conor’s inappropriate friendship with Tommy. Frances confronts Ray about Terry following her, though thinks that it’s because of what she witnessed with the priest, and not because Terry is still in love with her (which Ray wisely stays quiet about).
But the most interesting B-plot is a new one: a Boston reporter (Vinessa Shaw) is writing a book on Sully, and doesn’t believe the FBI’s timeline or version of the events surrounding his death. It’s a good way for the show to not just write the Sully plot off, and to add a new twist to the Donovans attempts to put the Sully situation behind them. Before heading to L.A., she picks up some clues from Sully’s mother and others, slowly unravelling, it seems, the truth about some of the bodies Ray would rather stay buried.
Ultimately, Ray Donovan continues to be a good watch every week, and is bolstered by great, small character moments (mostly surrounding Mickey, like his advice to Conor or his racist joke to the parole officer) that keep it quirky and different.
Episode Rating: B+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I hate to give episodes like this a grade rating, because it’s all about building blocks.
— Wendell Pierce!! So happy to have him back on my TV (as the parole officer). Also, I did not recognize Sherilyn Finn at all (as Cochran’s wife).
— “Banging whores and getting your kid beat up? That’s some spiritual awakening, Mick” – Ray.
— I love that Lina discovered Cochran’s “kinky” side-life is being in a Bob Seeger cover band.
— Does anyone in Ray’s office ever turn on any lights?
— I’m willing to see where most of the show’s digressions go, even if they don’t seem that interesting at first. But anything to do with Ezra just drags everything down. It’s not interesting, and doesn’t seem to have any stakes. Unless Ezra turns on Ray or vice versa, it’s really not worth the screen time right now. And everyone on the show needs to quit with the hallucinations.
— “Breasts are for children. When you grow up, it’s all about ass” – Mickey’s Life Advice, Part 23948.