RAY DONOVAN Recap: “Housewarming”

by     Posted 1 year, 81 days ago

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No matter what viewers may think of Ray Donovan (the man) week to week, “Housewarming” proved beyond any doubt that even the most outlying stories on the show always circle back to him, and do so in the most natural of ways.  He is the center of this universe, but is he turning supernova?  Ray mostly drove around this week, angrily confronting people and making terse phone calls (side note: has anyone ever driven around L.A. so quickly and easily to get so much done?)  Ray is ruthlessly efficient at his job, but everything else is falling through the cracks.  He can’t get rid of his father, and he can’t get rid of the FBI.  To compound the issue (which affect both his personal and professional lives), the two are in cahoots.  Hit the jump for more on why “it’s not that simple. He’s still my father.”

ray-donovan-posterThere was a lot of defiance in “Housewarming,” from Conor, Bridget and Abby all going against Ray’s wishes by going to Bunchy’s house, to Ezra’s defiance towards his surgery.  Bunchy went against Ray’s orders and spent money on a shabby house, while G-man Van Miller refused to give in to Ray’s underhanded tactics to discredit him.  Even Dionte Brown ignored Ray’s warnings to not have sex with the club girl.  No one is listening to Ray at the moment, and his gravitational pull on them seems to be lessening.

For a man who is so good at his job as a fixer, Ray realized this week he has almost no agency within his own home.  He couldn’t kill his father for a number of reasons (like his kids standing there watching him, terrified. Also, the issues of patricide).  Ray loses his sense of self when he becomes impotent against his father — this is one thing he can’t seem to fix.  The same goes for the result of the “go fuck yourself” conversation with Van Miller.  Ray can’t stop the investigation, either.  Broken, he goes to Ezra who has turned a corner: post-surgery, Ezra is back to his sharp self.  He calmly and quickly rationalizes that if Ray can’t handle the Mickey problem, who can?  “Housewarming” then ended with a shot of James Woods as the mentioned but not before seen Sully, the man from whom Mickey stole money from before his prison stint.

The show still has a strange tone as it waffles between Ray’s schemes (this week with Dionte as his Case of the Week, but also with Avi and Van Miller) and the quiet moments with family.  Terry and Bridget talking about boyfriends and girlfriends, Bunchy’s realization that Mickey might really be a bad influence, even Ray and Ezra talking together on the bench: these are what make Ray Donovan so different, and so good.  The fixer stuff is fun and fine, but only when it has some larger bearing on the story (like last week when the woman scratched Ray and asked him if he thought about what he did to people) does it really feel necessary.

ray-donovan-housewarmingThere were many mind games this week, but so far, no winners.  Ray is at a crossroads as everything begins spiraling out of control.  But since we’re only halfway through the season, the pieces should start to come together soon for Ray to mount his comeback (and not destroy everything around him in his confusion and rage).

Episode Rating: A-

Musings and Miscellanea:

– That first scene with the old school cop show feel to it was pretty great.

– Van Miller being a fastidious loner is a cliche, but the show seems to be bringing things around.  Hitting him with the drug trip so quickly was interesting timing, but it also showed that he can’t and won’t be stopped.  The show used the same visual techniques as it did for Ezra’s hallucinations from the brain tumor, but this time, it was warranted.  Plus, there was a monkey! (And apparently, the film Small Soldiers).

– I had forgotten that the police officer was in Ray’s employ.  So brilliant.

ray-donovan-housewarming-1– Dionte needs to calm his shit down.  You would think he would have learned a lesson after the dead girl in his bed.

– How many men were surprised / horrified to see the semen trick?  “Every time the limo driver pulls up the girls hit the NBA lottery nine months later.”

– Bunchy: “I was a fighter. Why didn’t I try to stop him?”  Abby: “That’s what monsters do.” They make you think you want something you don’t want.  Poor Bunchy.  Luckily, he didn’t burn his entire house down.  Mickey does step in to calm Bunchy down when he needs it, but it is also partially Mickey’s fault that Bunchy is still stunted as a ten year old.

– Mickey is really racist.  Which is worth noting, given how much he loves black women.

– Terry is such a good guy.  I’m not surprised he avoided the confrontation with Frances, but I’m waiting to see what that whole situation ends up being about.  Her dancing with Marvin was cute.




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  • Matt

    I have to say I hope the show finishes strong because its starting to fail to hold my attentions. Its not that it doesn’t have its moments or plot lines I find compelling, its that the ones I don’t really weigh down the show.

    I think I sympathize with Ray because the manner he grew up. But his wife and children I can say I only find annoying. Of course their behavior makes some sense in the context of Ray’s neglect, but, whether its the acting or the characters themselves I can’t say, I just don’t like them very much.

    There’s also, in Ray’s father, only so much you can take of an asshole. In six episodes they’ve managed to get us to a point where I’m weary they’ll hold onto the “will he kill him/won’t he kill him” storyline for over a season. Ray and his father are two forces, equal and opposite. To have them engaged in some petulant duel is just annoying.

    Maybe I’m only getting down because the show had such promise. I hope they find their groove because all the pieces are there. I just hope they put the focus more on Ray and his situation (and his brothers), and less on his wife and kids.

    To have the show be set up around him as a fixer and to never really devote plot to that seems cheap and hacky.

    • Nick

      I think you’re way off man. First off, ray and Mickey are equal and opposite and that’s why their “duel” is so interesting. I think you’re missing the point of the show if you only interested in him “at work” as the fixer. The show is about the effects that job is having on something much more important. Not that this show is to be the poster child for realistic television, the one thing a lot of shows do that is unrealistic is that everyone seems to work 24/7. His job is cool and those elements complement his family and home life issues. There’s still some episodes left of dexter if you’re just interested in gimmicky stuff with no character development.

      • Allison Keene

        the character development is excellent, but I think a lot of people were drawn in to the fixer stuff (which is flashy and fun) and confused at where the show has ended up, ha

      • Matt

        Well thanks for taking my opinion so personally you had to insult me. I’ve never been drawn in by Dexter, but anyways.

        I realize what the show has become about, but the difference between the pilot and where we are in only episode 6 is immense. That is absolutely poor show architecting.

        I get that shows change over time. Mad Men is an example of a show that has, in my mind, changed for the better once it got past “Will everyone find out his secret”.

        Ray Donovan’s worthless plot line is will he kill his father. Frankly, thats not going to hold up. Its too dramatic a situation to perpetuate endlessly. After a while, without anything serious happening, its going to lose its tension.

        The guy has also, as Allison smartly noted, lost all of his agency in episode 6. He’s been proven to be nothing of what he was made out to be. Thats not a surprising development and its one they got to far too quickly. If Mad Men opened with season 6, with Don in full breakdown mode, we’re not going to get nearly as invested as we were when we saw him for season upon end steadying the ship.

        But we can agree to disagree. Its not a personal thing.

    • Allison Keene

      no judgement on that, the show did a bit of a bait and switch! It just so happens I love what it switched into (reminds me a little bit of Six Feet Under)

    • Almer

      The fixer can’t fix. Stop whining or stop watching.

      • Matt

        9 days late dude? My response to the next episode basically updated my point to being disappointed Ray Donovan, you know…the eponymous star…has not been featured nearly enough. In the 7th episode he was and I enjoyed the episode again.

      • Almer

        Nine days? Yeah. Sometimes I lose myself. But the fixer still can’t fix — which is exactly how it should be. I do agree with your point, though. More Ray means better Ray. No doubt. Problem is, more Ray means less anything else, especially story — such as it is without Ray in almost any scene. And that’s the rub. It’s also their conundrum, not ours. They should have figured that out. I’ll keep watching. Looking forward to one shot: Mickey’s face when he sees Ray Ray standing next to Sully right before Sully pulls the trigger.

      • Almer

        Nine days? Yeah. Sometimes I lose myself. But the fixer still can’t fix — which is exactly how it should be. I do agree with your point, though. More Ray means better Ray. No doubt. Problem is, more Ray means less anything else, especially story — such as it is without Ray in almost any scene. And that’s the rub. It’s also their conundrum, not ours. They should have figured that out. I’ll keep watching. Looking forward to one shot: Mickey’s face when he sees Ray Ray standing next to Sully right before Sully pulls the trigger.

      • Matt

        9 days late dude? My response to the next episode basically updated my point to being disappointed Ray Donovan, you know…the eponymous star…has not been featured nearly enough. In the 7th episode he was and I enjoyed the episode again.

  • pinkincide

    SOMEONE needs to make a show about a guy who cleans up celebrities’ messes like Mr. Wolf from Pulp Fiction. Unfortunately, Ray Donovan is not that show. Turns out it’s a family drama–about one boring ass family.

    All those scenes at the boxing gym with his brother (or whatever) had me reaching for the remote, and I’m counting the seconds every time his harpy of a wife is on screen. She exists as a nervous ball of misery and I want it to go away. I don’t know why the writers thought they could interest us with such unsympathetic characters.
    I’m so done with this show.

    • Allison Keene

      yeah, those who wanted to see a fixer (which you’re right, there should be a show devoted to that) are going to leave disappointed. I like the family drama a great deal, but agree that if that’s not your thing the show is not for you!

  • Nerdgasm

    I think it’s sad that all people want is a gimmicky show. That’s why you have procedural and shitty shows like CSI and Law/Order. I am actually really enthralled with Ray as a character and the world around him. I would have tuned out if it was all about his job… which it seems like is going to come full circle anyways. I think his job is a log line so that we get use to him as a working man and understand that he has certain skills that make shim extremely talented. It seems like there are a lot of things in his past in accordance to his job that are about to come full circle.

    Ray isn’t growing either he’s becoming more and more distant which I think is the point. He’s starting to react to his family like he does a client which isn’t going end nicely for him what so ever.

    Someone on here commented that he wanted to see more of a rise of the character before it’s a fall referencing Mad Men. While I like Mad Men the difference here is the mere fact that Ray and the characters are already LIVED in before we see them. Mad Men season one the characters were A Typical who created secrets and skeletons through out the first season that have now spiraled out of control. The characters in Ray all have something hidden and are lived in and all that seems is going to come to a boiling point.

    Ray Donavan is much more than him just trying to figure out whether or not he’ll kill his father. It’s to see what part of the Donovan clan is going to crack first. “Who te fuck are you Ray” Isn’t meant for a single season issue… the issues between him and her have spiraled way before the season started… so why? We have gotten bunchy’s secret out of the way now in this last episode where he doesn’t really feel fucked for the rape but for the fact that he didn’t fight him off like Terry. Terry is the character that is keeping this whole Bridget thing living. Ray’s history still lives in Boston where maybe he first started his business? or maybe was doing it illegally? in a different venue?… The show is great.

  • Jonathan Riehn

    My issue with ray donovan still has yet to be adressed and honestly I find it hard to even care. You could see the formula for this show from the first episode. Nothing has changed. The acting is fine, honestly that has never really been the issue. The only recurring plot outside of Mikey and Ray hate, is Rays refusal to let his wife know the facts about his father. I understand his whole ideal of protecting his own self of worth job wise, but she would get off his back if she simply knew how bad his father actually was. All does is serve as an overarching plot that is behind the FBI plot. There isnt anything new whatsoever about this show that you didn’t get from the pilot. To use LSD so early to get at the FBI spells doom for this show even getting renewed.

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