So much of Ray Donovan this season has hinted at possible catharsis for Ray, and what the consequences are the longer he denies his past. “Volcheck” was about that, but even more generally about fear. Ray fears confronting his past, but is also a fearsome figure for many (like Ronald, and to a certain degree Mickey). Abby fears retaliation on Bridget by Cooke Brown, while Terry fears he’ll lose Frances and his dreams of escape unless he throws his lot in with Mickey. And Avi, who has been critical of Ray all season, seems concerned about his boss, and where Ray is taking them. Hit the jump if you like to swim in the ocean naked.
“Volcheck” had a lot of moving parts, which is sometimes the hallmark of an episode that feels too scattered to be good. But united under the theme of fear, and an exploration of that fear, “Volcheck” came together as an hour full of good character drama. It’s also clear that this episode is setting up the final arc for the last two episodes of the season, which will revolve about Mickey’s heist, Kate’s revelations, and Ray either reestablishing or losing control of his family completely.
The past being ever-alive on Ray Donovan, Kate returned to confront Ray about his lies, and to resurrect some old emotional wounds while at it. She finally listened to Mickey’s tapes (again, why the wait?), which confirmed her suspicions about what really happened between them. While Ray filled in the details on why he framed Mickey for the murder of his love Colleen, who was really shot by Sean Walker (a Season One revelation), Kate filled in what she put together from her own digging. Mickey killed a priest as soon as he was released from jail, and Bunchy had received a million dollar settlement. They came from a poor, Catholic neighborhood with an absentee father … it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to connect these dots.
Though Ray sought to change the conversation and prove his dominance through sex, Kate wouldn’t let him off that easily — and it almost killed her, as Ray told her it would. Her escape and his breakdown, though, put another twist in Ray’s plans to silence her. But because of his video of Cochran’s sex party, the two are at a stalemate. Who will act first?
Tom Volcheck took some of that guesswork out by killing himself in front of Cochran at a restaurant, after Cochran essentially goaded him to by ruining his life. He had figured out Volcheck had allowed Ray to set up cameras to film them, and was almost more upset that Volcheck had tricked and implicated his wife than anything. Volcheck’s suicide is truly more of a solution for Cochran though than a problem, assuming his wife doesn’t feel moved to tell tales. But Kate is still a problem for him, and it seems that he’s willing to do whatever necessary to shut that down, though it’s going to have to involve Ray because of their mutually assured destruction.
Speaking of which, Abby may not like Ray’s emotional life right now, but she still longs for his solution to things. She brazenly asks Halloran to kill Cookie for her, even though he’s a police officer. He doesn’t fight with her very much over how he could more easily bring Cookie down through legal channels if Bridget would only confess she was an eye-witness, but it wouldn’t have mattered — Abby wants Ray’s brand of justice. Halloran, doing what so many idiot men before him have done (and will continue to do), acquiesces to Abby’s demands because he can’t say no to that sweet lovin’. Think with your head, Halloran!
Meanwhile, Mickey is planning a heist to rob the pot store, with the unlikely crew of the half-dead Shorty, their local prostitute Cherry, Mickey’s parole officer Ronald, and Terry (as the muscle). The last two are reluctant allies, but both are desperate for the money (a recurring theme in the show).
Desperation is another factor that plays into almost every personal story on Ray Donovan, and is one of the things that makes the show so emotional and so volatile. “Volcheck” was a nice setup for the season’s last two episodes, bringing everything full circle and, as Ray Donovan always does, also bringing the past along for the ride.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— “I’m not fucking swimming with you!” – Ray.
— I don’t know whether Steve’s abuse (sexual or not) of Ashely will end up coming to a head with Ray, but the fact that Bob keeps reappearing suggests it will be an issue at some point. The relationship among those three is so weird.
— Steve flying over the balcony in pursuit of Bob was hilarious.
— Swim free, Ray, swim free! (and naked!)
— I loved the sequence where Mickey tries to get money from his various sons. Terry brushes him off immediately (although later changes his mind), but Daryll’s indignation that Mickey would try and sell him the car for $5,000 was hilarious. Mickey is the worst.
— “You are my fucking business! You are letting everything fall apart over this woman, you are letting another man fuck your wife, and you are doing nothing about it!” – Avi. Ray punching Avi, though … I feel like something is going to come of that.
— The tabloid king (who seems based partially on Harvey Levin) wants $1 million, and exclusives on Tommy Wheeler for a year. Easy enough for Ray (or rather, Cookie). But it shows that his fear for Bridget’s safety is far from over.
— Great moment when Abby, adrift, gets a makeover. Ray saying she looked nice was a sweet moment, even though she wanted him to leave.
— Very nice, slow scenes with Bridget at school, rebuffing the popular girl after her own popularity (that she doesn’t want) blossoms in the wake of Marvin’s death. Her conversations with Conor felt really naturally, especially when he was musing about Halloran having kids and whether or not they would have a blended family. He didn’t seem to mind the prospect too much.
— Poor Bunchy.