No matter what happens on Ray Donovan, things always come back to family. The definition of family, and relationships among family members, have been driving forces on the show since the beginning. “S U C K” was also about drawing lines, even where loved ones are involved. But for Ray, and even for Abby, where those lines should be is unclear. Ray has an idea about himself, and who he wants to be, but his reality is very different. In “S U C K,” he was forced to come to terms with that in a number of ways. Hit the jump for why “You don’t need to worry about the natives, the natives need to worry about you.”
The past is always alive on Ray Donovan, and much of the action in “S U C K” revolved around Sully’s death from last season. After Tiny resurfaces and mouths off to the police about having been there that night on the docks, Cochran calls Ray in and rightfully asks, “who wasn’t there that night??” The official story is losing credibility every day, and Cochran has made it Ray’s duty to tie up any loose ends on the matter.
It was Frank who let Tiny go in the first place, even though Ray agreed he was harmless. Once Cochran called on him to take care of Tiny, though, he did what he does best — try and “fix” it. But it couldn’t be fixed, because Tiny refused to go. Still believing himself to be above killing him, Ray essentially buys Tiny a last supper, then leaves so that Frank can finish the work that he refused to do (and which Frank makes a complete mess of in the process).
Just because Ray didn’t pull the trigger doesn’t mean he’s absolved of the sin, and it’s one that clearly weighs heavily on him, especially after his afternoon at June Wilson’s house. Though he goes to collect the money from her for Ezra as June knew he would, his motivation is to get something for himself. After all, he’s in need of some extra cash. The transaction is a dirty extortion, and while she understands it, she again doesn’t forgive him for it. As with Tiny, Ray is acting only as a facilitator, but it doesn’t mean he’s not part of the sin.
Ray shamed himself a third time (though chronologically the first in the episode) when he slept with Kate. It was something that seemed too obvious for the plot to give in to, but it later made sense within the context of Ray questioning himself and his morals. After he sleeps with Kate, he calls Deb to go all-in on the house Abby wanted (very expensive “I’m sorry” flowers, essentially). Abby knows it’s a bribe, especially after she sniffs out Ray’ transgression, but she doesn’t blame Ray. Instead, she blames herself for questioning his borderline rape of her in the first place, which is even more problematic than her pretending it wasn’t a problem in the first place.
Mickey had promised Ray he wouldn’t talk to Kate, as long as Ray allowed him to go to the Fite Club. But no one there had missed him — Daryll called him out as an asshole, and Terry quietly kicked him out rather than allow Mickey to influence anyone there to be a part of his racket fixing fights. He later went back on his promise to Ray and called Kate, which was thwarted by the FBI getting to him first. But Kate and Ray have also made it clear that despite sleeping together, they won’t stop trying to play cat and mouse around access to Mickey. And this is when Ray’s family with Abby takes the backseat to his family connection to Mickey.
Meanwhile, a little more of Cochran’s home life was shown, and it was a big disappointment. The self-righteous Type-A law enforcement character who is dirty and sleezy in ways that aren’t obvious at first has been done, and done again. Cochran started out as an interesting foil for Ray — the two were almost immediately honest with one another, and working towards a common cause (against Mickey). The details of Cochran’s life last week regarding his weekend rock band hobbies, career aspirations, and doting wife (who doesn’t always put up with his behavior) looked like they were coming together in an interesting way. But Cochran grabbing his dinner guest’s breast, and him essentially ordering Ray (and then actually ordering Frank) to kill Tiny was all just too expected.
There were a lot of explorations of family in this episode (more mentioned in the Musings), and it was a solid building block for the FBI/Sully story moving forward. For every loose end from that night on the docks that is tied up, several more suddenly become issues. When it comes to Ray and Mickey’s families, though, everything remains an issue.
Episode Rating: B+
— I really liked the scenes with Bunchy and the family who came into the bike shop (and of course Bunchy would have more in common with the kid than his mother). However, I thought the mother might be a little more profuse in her appreciation of the fact that Bunchy built a bike for her kid for free!
— Everything with Tiny was hilarious, even regarding his death (it was a dark humor, but still). The stealing of the chicken, the running (or die trying!), even how he charged at Frank, and ended up falling on some poor innocent guy who Frank then also had to kill. I would have taken that one-way ticket to the Maldives in a flash, though.
— “Just because we fucked doesn’t mean I won’t do my job” – Kate, and later Ray.
— “What did you learn when you were five years old on Dorchester street? You don’t talk to the cops!!” – Ray.
— Mickey’s poor neighbor is just so happy with everything, man, even though he just spends his days toking (and) on an oxygen tank.
— Ray and Kate sleeping together is, like the turn in the Cochran plot, too expected. At first, her rebuffing him as far as him wanting to see her again was a nice change-up. But then of course, he lures her to his new house, tells her to shut up, and the rest is naked.
— For the first time, Ezra really seems like a cautionary tale for Ray. He has the delusion that Ruth was everything to him, even though he kept a very public mistress. His single-minded atonement in the former of this building feels similar to Ray buying off his guilt about cheating on Abby by buying her a house they can’t really afford.
— I loved Abby’s scenes this week. Her accent lessons while smoking were great, and the flirtation with the cop seem so ill-advised, it’s sure to come to some kind of bad end. But for now, it’s helping her have her own story apart from Ray.
— “Mom’s gone on strike or something” – Conor.
— Another look at family: Avi mentioning how his mother fought with her bridge partner, so now she’s calling him five times a day!