RAY DONOVAN Recap: “Road Trip”

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In Ray Donovan, Ray and father Mickey began at odds and have been plotting against each other ever since.  They both have their allegiances and their grudges, but have the overlapping interest of family.  Yet the idea of taking the other one down — something they’ve been fantasizing about for years — is turning out to be easier said than done.  Both Ray and Mickey have tied themselves to surrogates to help them get the job done, and while both have had trouble controlling the situation to their liking, “Road Trip” drew some definite lines in the sand about where things are headed from now on.  Hit the jump for more.

ray-donovan-posterA few of you commented last week about how Mickey is the soul of the show, and I absolutely agree.  While the first half of this season setup a scenario where Ray might kill his father, the back half of the season has set up some possibilities for reconciliation (or at least, a setting down of arms).  Ray discovered that Mickey was not responsible for some of the things he thought he was, and Mickey is realizing some of his fatherly failings and why, to some degree, Ray feels the way he does.  Ultimately though, both are united by family.  Mickey sees how much Ray means and has meant to Terry and Bunchy, and he wants to stay close with his grandchildren.  Ray, too, has seen how much Mickey is needed in his brothers’ lives, and in the lives of his own children.

While all of this may play a subtle role in the choices Ray and Mickey are making now, they are still mostly motivated selfishly.  Van teases Mickey that he’s a fool to think that Sean will ever make his movie, and his brash actions towards Mickey starts to alienate him.  When Mickey realizes that Sean is earnest about the movie, he turns on Van and kills him before the evidence against Sean is released.  The other issue was, of course, that Van had gone rogue.  The things he has set up might not play out, and so why would Mickey risk his movie deal and his relationship with his family for the delusions of a man obsessed?  So, in a very Donovan way of doing things, Mickey eliminated him.

ray-donovan-road-trip-eddie-marsanOf course, Ray also had plans against Van in motion via Frank, and how Van’s death will play in to that operation yet is not clear.  Ray and his companions are on display and covered in blood in the room where Mickey murdered Van — would Mickey remove that?  Does that not cast a very suspicious eye towards Ray, something Frank warned him of regarding the incriminating video?

Ray has other problems, though.  The use of Sully to carry out the hit on his father has already been full of problems.  Sully’s lateness caused Mickey to be able to wipe out Van, and the stopover in Tucson and the murder of Sully’s girlfriend Catherine has also brought Sully’s movements and whereabouts out into the open.  It also has proved to Ray that nothing is sacred to Sully except his own freedom, and Ray’s final look at him in this episode betrayed his uncertainty and realization that he is not in control of the situation.  His conversation with Conor also showed a moment where Ray seems to really start reconsidering his Cold War with Mickey, which can only mean that Ray (or someone) might have to kill Sully to stop the hit.

For all of the talk that Ray Donovan is just an ok show that’s too derivative of The Sopranos (the Abby / Carmela comparison is made a lot), the show does have its own charms.  The two best things the show has going for it is the strength of its casting and its smart use of its L.A. locale, something it took more advantage of in “Road Trip” than it has in awhile.  The situation with Tommy Wheeler and the tabloid reporter as well as Mickey and Sean and the movie biz, not to mention Lena posing as a photographer were all things central to L.A., the show just hasn’t figured out how to use them consistently.  But in an episode like “Road Trip,” which was full of building blocks, Ray Donovan took a moment to explore its surroundings in a way that continues to help define the show.  Beyond that, what comes next for Ray and Mickey in their chess match is as up for grabs as ever.

Episode Rating: B

ray-donovan-road-trip-schreiber-voightMusings and Miscellanea:

– Conor certainly is worldly for his age when speaking about Tommy: “He only likes trannies, and girls when he’s drunk.”

– Also Tommy has a wife, a.k.a. a man he married in Vegas.

– “Kill yourself tomorrow, tonight you’re going to this thing and you’re taking my kid” – Ray

– Ray with the gasmask battering cameras and running over tabloid journalist Marty’s boyfriend/protection, threatening him with a bat and death, was indeed pretty badass.  It also gave Ray a real villain to go up against for once on behalf of his client.

– “Shut the fuck up you cunt” – Sully, a charming man

– Avon Loma is such a good fake famous photographer name.  I like how Lena uses the old Jim Rockford trick of the fake business card, too.

– Has anyone else noticed how Lee and Ezra haven’t appeared for several episodes?  Doesn’t Ray have work for them to do?

– Another thing Ray Donovan does well is show the “next day” of L.A. partying.  There are hangovers and mistakes, not parties and flash.  If there are more ways the show could incorporate his “fixing” with personal things (like the Tommy Wheeler plot in this episode), it would make the show that much better.




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  • Matt

    Despite everyone else’s love, I was never truly sold on Mickey’s storyline. Even if you think his ability to ingratiate himself back into his and Ray’s family was only because Ray had been so vacant with them all, I never bought that Ray’s wife would so willingly let him into their homes.

    Obviously there was no way Mickey could bring down Ray, as Ray is the show. The only real end was Mickey being killed and that didn’t seem like it was going to come about in a new and interesting way.

    I have to give credit to the writers, even though this possibility should have been foreshadowed in how swiftly Mickey took to being a “Hollywood big shot”, I didn’t anticipate it coming to be until that look in his eyes as he finished his meeting with Sean.

    What I like most about it, less than it being a welcome plot fold, is what it says about the allure and power of Hollywood. Which is, really, what the show was first sold as. Its entranced Mickey, if for cynical reasons.

    I also enjoyed this episode moving away from the struggles of Ray’s wife and daughter. I’ve wondered at times if my disinterest in their characters was just because I’m a guy more interested in the struggles of men, but I really think its the combination of clichéd writing (aside from his wife saying she liked the way he fucked her because it played into all her issues) and the overwrought performances by the actresses. I still think Ray’s wife has potential and the issues of a girl in Ray’s daughters situation should be more compelling, but even though I’ve always found Mad Men’s diversions into Sally’s world interesting I can’t get into Ray’s daughter.

    Alas, this episode has been one of a few intermittent renewals in my belief in the long term success of the show. While I think a show avoiding formula can be a good thing, I think most would agree that the best shows have a formula they can pull out every few episodes to keep the show on track. Mad Men, again I’ll use as an example, does that well in my mind. The formula episodes are the whole reason the meandering episodes can be so good.

    Ray Donovan hasn’t found its formula episode, its backbone. Its got a lot of characters and a lot to say. It’s juggling Los Angeles and Boston, the past and the present, family and work.

    I don’t know if they’ll figure that out, but I do know I’m keen to see how the plot unravels this season. I’m also loving James Woods.

  • Monk

    Allison have you seen next weeks promo ? Turns out the priest I talked about last week is indeed the one that molested Bunchy. It’s getting really interesting

    • LEM

      Or he’s projecting to any old priest hanging around young boys.

      • Monk

        He says- Hi Father, remember me ?

      • Nerdgasm

        BUnchy is not all there in his head. Could still be a very dangerous projection.

  • LEM

    What mother wouldn’t immediately google a famous photographer approaching her daughter? A fake business card isn’t enough these days.

  • LEM

    What mother wouldn’t immediately google a famous photographer approaching her daughter? A fake business card isn’t enough these days.

  • Nick

    I think the sleeper plot here is his dirty fed. I think Mickey is doing what he can to stay alive and free, so if he’s smart he will tell Ray about how he “helped” him with Van. Ray may return the sofa or with sully. Even if ray clears out vans files, he now has that dirty fed who has this tape of him submitted to his superiors. I think next season will have a lot to do with this episode

  • Nick

    I think the sleeper plot here is his dirty fed. I think Mickey is doing what he can to stay alive and free, so if he’s smart he will tell Ray about how he “helped” him with Van. Ray may return the sofa or with sully. Even if ray clears out vans files, he now has that dirty fed who has this tape of him submitted to his superiors. I think next season will have a lot to do with this episode

  • Matt_2

    Dropped this show last week. Just could not bring myself to care anymore about Ray and his family or their problems. A shame, because with this cast they could go for something really special. A disappointment especially given the creative team.

    • Nerdgasm

      You must of thought this was a show about something it wasn’t. Everyone thought it was going to be a serial about his FIXING job. That’s just interesting and has been over done – specially with the likes of Entourage. If it was all about Ray’s JOB it would leave no real room for Ray to grow or be interesting short of seeing that he does monsterous things for pay and without any thought like he’s a machine. That’s all we would get. that would be fucking boring as shit. This show has grown into something thats interesting and entertaining on a thrilling level much like Sopranos garnered in it’s late second season when things really started to click. This show has clicked very quickly. Plus you give no real reason to shit on the show, I’m interested in exactly why you got so turned off???

    • Nick

      I look back to the editing in the pilot and remember weighing the same option. I’m glad I stayed in. I think this could become a complex drama… You should give it till the season finale if you’re this far in

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