Last year, when Ray Donovan premiered, it was set up as a fast-paced action-oriented series about the life of a fixer, who helped his celebrity clients out of ridiculous situations of their own making. And for the first few episodes, it almost stuck to that (here and there, anyway). But what Ray Donovan turned into, much to the disappointment of some and the delight of others, was a slow and nuanced family drama. On top of that, it also ended up being a portrait of the long-term psychological effects of molestation (of all the unexpected things).
That made it break out of its “poor-man’s Sopranos” dismissals and become something different, though it never fully committed to either, leaving a muddled impression. “Yo Soy Capitan” also straddles the line between the show’s disparate parts, but unsurprisingly, it was the family drama that shined. Hit the jump for why I’m not a sailor, I’m a captain.
“Yo Soy Capitan” finds the Donovan family two weeks after the events of the first season’s finale, when Ray basically washed up on the beach, tired and bloodied. The second season premiere then went on to alight on every major character of the show, reminding viewers of all of the important players, as well as their current states (which are essentially status quo, but it was a great way to go about it. “Previously ons” can only do so much when it comes to so many characters and such layered drama, so “Yo Soy Capitan” was a much needed, and much appreciated catch-up).
Most essentially, it showed how no one has their days and nights as full as Ray. He remains the glue that holds the sprawling family together, and his journey throughout the day gave a glimpse into all of their lives. The episode starting off with Ray awakening from a violent dream to have quasi-consensual sex with Abby set the tone, though: despite being the crux of the family, there’s a lot Ray still needs to fix about himself. Abby shrugs off the therapist’s suggestion that Ray’s hyper-sexuality is due to his unresolved issues, saying “maybe he just likes to fuck.” But the look on her face during that initial sexual encounter betrayed the truth: something isn’t quite right.
Last season, it took until the finale for the full truth to come out about the molestation at the hands of the neighborhood priest. While Bunchy remained the most obviously affected by it, Ray and Terry were also victims. And while Terry worked it out, to some degree, on the boxing circuit, Ray shut it away until Mickey returned to remind him of his response at the time: “you called me a liar, and beat the shit out of me.” The major conflict of the first season was Ray vs Mickey as protector of the family, while also struggling through Ray’s fractured feelings for his father. The two united, to some degree, over the killing of Sully Sullivan, but Ray dragging Mickey back from Mexico shows there is still a lot left to unfold in the story of that relationship.
Mickey of course remains the wild card of the series, having what seems like a jolly old time in Mexico, arranging fights for Daryll that are reminiscent of Game of Thrones‘ The Mountain vs The Viper (and predictably, Mickey bets against his own son. “My heart was with you, though”). Mickey is a scumbag, but Jon Voight is so interesting to watch in his wackadoodle portrayal of Mickey that he can’t help but be one of the most interesting parts of the show. Ray Donovan without Mickey might be a more straight-forward piece of work, but it wouldn’t be half as interesting.
As for the rest of the Donovan clan states-side, things seem to have picked back up just where they left off: Conor still has Hulk-like responses to minor bullying, while Bridget wrestles with her feelings for the now-famous Marvin Gaye Washington. Abby is fixated on Ray coming to terms with his past, while she refuses to fully come to terms with the impact it’s having on their family. Terry is still pining after Frances after he broke things off with her last year (after discovering she was married), and Bunchy is getting his life in order, attending a support group and going for a job interview (in shorts!), and living on his own as an adult for the first time.
Tacking on two plots from last year that exist essentially to keep Mickey around and Ray tied to his past, Ray is still in talks with the FBI regarding Mickey and the death of Sully, via Cochran (Hank Azaria), who is much more straight-forward with him than his former nemesis Volchek. The other is the reappearance of Ezra and his obsessive dedication to the cancer center he’s building as a memorial (and apology) to his deceased wife. Like the FBI plot, Ray’s connection to Ezra keeps him tied down to his past, and to Mickey, in ways he would clearly rather break free from.
All in all, a strong start for Ray Donovan‘s second season that did a nice job showing and not telling what all of the characters have been up to, and re-orienting us with this twisted world.
Episode Rating: A-
— So happy to see that Avi is ok. Though Ray’s fixer plots are usually fluff, time spent with Avi and Lena never is. Lena’s conversation with Avi and his mother while watching American Idolwas hilarious, and a look at Ray Donovan at its best.
— Ray really needs to do some preventative work with Deonte, who is always into some kind of trouble.
— I don’t know where in Mexico Mickey is, but damn, that is really cheap.
— “Conor. Shut up” – Ray.
— “Until he faces his molestation, your marriage is in trouble” – The therapist, played by Brent Spiner who is Data from Star Trek: TNG!!
— Bike shop manager: “Who was your old employer?” Bunchy: “The Boston Globe.” Bike shop manager: “Impressive! What did you do for them?” Bunchy: “I delivered it.”
— Not sure where the plot might be going with the guy from the support group. A potential friend, or someone to end Bunchy’s sexual anorexic streak?
— So much shirtless and mostly naked Ray in this episode … I accept!
— “America’s Most Wanted is dead, you’re a hero, God bless America” – Ray.
— “You’re the Magnum P.I., motherfucker, you find him!” – Daryll.
— “Do you want to go out there tonight and win? Or do you want to be the girl who fucked Deonte Frasier and got shot by his wife?” – Ray. I did like the American Idol part of that particular plot, and that she trotted out the Celine Dion Titanic song, “My Heart Will Go On.”
— The song from that badass final scene with Ray and the bat is Jay and the Americans, “Come a Little Bit Closer.”