The Donovan clan, who have been living very separate lives this season, were all forced under one roof in “Walk This Way.” The results were, predictably, a disaster. But, “Conor wanted the family; Conor got the family.” In many ways, “Walk This Way” was a perfect capsule episode of Ray Donovan that focused on the Donovans being as messed up as they could possibly be. As far as what it means for their futures, though, things are not as clear. Hit the jump for the difference between acne and a priest.
Conor’s birthday was a great framing device for “Walk This Way,” picking up on the morning of his birthday, which almost everyone forgot. Ray, after a night with Ashley, was on the couch. Abby was at a hotel with Detective Halloran, and Bridget was indifferent. It was only Tommy Wheelan who initially remembered Conor’s birthday, giving him a breast-filled London greeting, and confessing that London had “confused” him: “I’m sucking dick again … your Dad had to help me with that last time, do you remember?” Conor, now 14, couldn’t quite recall.
When Tommy told Conor not to settle for anything less than a rager, that translated to a night of heavy drinking with the Donovans. That also meant, naturally, a lot of confrontations. Mickey tells Claudette, “what are ya going to do, hold on to the past?” in reference to Ray’s feelings towards her. For the Donovans, there’s nothing but the past, and no one holds onto it more than Ray.
But until the end of the night when he kicked everyone out, Ray was forced to relinquish control, and even laughed (drunkenly) at the chaos around him. Terry and Frances confronted him about the gym, and Mickey escalated the situation by blurting out about the fact that the gym is just a front so Ray can launder his money. The ensuing shouting match also dredged up the past, just like Mickey did for Stan by telling his crass pedophile joke (which triggered Stan’s own messed-up childhood trauma). Stan kissing Bunchy sent Bunchy on a spiral of “I’m not gay!” And then Mickey (always the instigator) gave Conor his car — the one that Daryll loves and that Claudette has so many fond memories of — a year before he can even start driving.
That miscalculation caused the biggest bust-up of the night (quite literally), but the drive home was even more telling. Mickey driving Claudette, Daryll and Bunchy (still muttering that he’s not gay) in the beaten-up car was a metaphor for the Donovans entire fixation on the past: nothing is left behind, and they carry their brokenness with them, openly, like badges.
Ashley’s pseudo-guru boyfriend Steve Knight continues to press Ray about “radical honesty” and opening up about his fears, which Ray clearly doesn’t believe in. But Conor’s birthday party showed exactly what happens with those lies, denials, threats and age-old resentments take hold. (Even Ashley’s plot with the return of her stalker Bob played into that theme of the past always being present on Ray Donovan — nothing is ever truly over).
The final straw for Ray though was Bridget’s suggestion that Abby is cheating on Ray. The complicated part of it are her own complications — Abby had not, at that time, actually slept with Halloran (and it’s not even for sure that she did so that night). She loves the attention he gives her, and that he comes running when she calls, but her wonderfully honest moment about only having slept with the same man for 20 years, so that she only knows what Ray likes, was a great way to illustrate her hesitation.
Bridget, of course, plays Abby and Ray off of each other because of her own hurt and frustration over being forbidden to see Marvin. Cookie Brown wanting to talk more with Ray and Lee Drexler (who we haven’t seen at all this season) shows that saga is far from over. That last bit could apply to any part of Ray Donovan, though. As things are never resolved, the new problems only compound on the old. Ray’s solution, for now, was one more reminiscent of Mickey than he would ever want to admit — just let loose, and dance your cares away.
Episode Rating: B+
— My feelings about this episode are complicated. I really liked the focus, and the fact that everything was very insular (for the most part) among the Donovan clan. But on the other hand, it kind of felt like a spec script (even though it was written by series creator Ann Biederman). Everything was so expected, and didn’t seem to add up to much. It felt more like a one-off.
— Liev Schreiber directed the episode, which is why it got a lil fancy with the camerawork.
— “I’m paying you $100,000 a month. That makes me family” – Steve Knight.
— “We’re rated like … #1 in Calabasas” – cake guy. And I knew as soon as Abby said the name was Conor but didn’t spell it, she was in trouble.
— “You’re not bringing a hooker to Conor’s birthday, Mick” – Ray.
— Frances lightly threatening Ray was interesting, given how afraid she was of him before. But her standing up for Terry was good. Her even showing up at the party also proved how much their relationship has steadied so quickly, and how willing she seems to be to make this crazy move to Ireland.
— “I’m not gay!” – Bunchy. He seems very interested in Patty, but Stan was doing everything he could to undermine Bunchy’s feelings. But whether Bunchy is looking to explore his sexuality or not is moot with Stan — Stan is such a sad sack, who would want to spend time with him anyway?
— “Did you fuck Ashley last night? Because when I fucked her this morning, I felt very close to you” – Steve Knight to Ray. “Walk This Way” had a lot of quirky humor to it, which was a nice change-up.