What a strange, rushed, and very open-ended finale for Ray Donovan‘s second season, written by departing show runner (and series creator) Ann Biderman. “The Captain” was an odd way to end things, and didn’t feel at all like a goodbye until next season. Hit the jump for why hitting people who don’t deserve it, for money, is the story of Ray’s life.
Ray Donovan is by no means slow television, yet, it takes its time building its stories throughout the season. There are layers to each that play out over time, or at least, are supposed to. But many of those elements felt haphazardly thrown together in “The Captain,” rushed to a finish that felt like a series finale for a series that had been cancelled before its time.
The most egregious of these regarded Cochran, an arc which, early on, had the potential to be something less conventional than the typical “hard-ass FBI agent with a dark secret.” That secret was revealed early, and Ray gathered his insurance against Cochran midway through the season. Even Volcheck’s death didn’t seem to have any resounding implications, besides some grief from the wives. Ray releasing the video to Stalkerazzi, thus ending Cochran’s career, also happened so quickly and abruptly. There’s a sense that this will play out next season, with Cochran going after Ray to bring him down with him, but he’s lost his power and leverage now.
As for Kate, while I have to give props to having Avi kill her quickly and unceremoniously (without final speeches or ways for her to escape), this is another thread that felt rushed in “The Captain” that just points to resolution next year. Or is that also resolved? Ray not only threw Cochran under the bus for it, but he called in the body at the RGOCC from Ezra’s phone in front of him (do the police not have caller ID?). Ezra, per usual, seemed oddly nonchalant about the whole thing. And is Avi next on Ray’s list? Or does he realize that much of this was his own doing?
Of the even more open-ended plots, the strangest was Mickey’s million dollar reward for paying heed to his hallucinations. As I have said in the past, the hallucinatory elements (be they by Ezra or Mickey or whomever) are the show’s weakest aspect. Ray Donovan has supernatural elements that pop up from time to time (even regarding Steve), but it never fully commits to them. Mickey attacking Alan and then Ronald were entertaining, sure, but him being rewarded for being a complete asshole leaves the show’s moral universe in question.
As Mickey gets his payday, so does Terry, but his impending jail time means that his dream of escaping and being with Frances has slipped away. And though things with Bunchy took a very heartfelt and sweet turn (he laughed!) there was still something left uneasy about his potential for pedophilia, despite the sound counsel his group leader gave him.
Abby’s relationship with Halloran also fizzled out in a weird way. After berating him for several episodes to kill or arrest Cookie Brown, when he offered up his humble abode (which he had already fixed up in the hopes she might accept) for protection, she finally came to realize that her request was impossible. It’s not who Halloran is. And while that at first appealed to her (that is, in many ways, he is the antithesis of Ray), when it came to protecting her family, she only wanted and trusted Ray’s way of doing things.
Ezra told Ray that it seemed Ray no longer knows who he is, and this second season seemed poised to explore that in a deeper way. But in the end, we were left wanting. The final frame, with Ray staring into the camera, back at home but still shouldering so many personal and professional burdens, suggested that perhaps next season will start Ray’s long road of introspection. Or perhaps it will just be about more revenge.
While there were many things that worked well and were interesting in this second season, “The Captain” was largely a disappointment, considering the setup. It will be interesting to see where the show decides to take things next year, but for where we were left this season, it feels like a wash.
Episode Rating: C
Season Rating: B+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— “Mickey, you don’t have anything because you’re a fucking asshole.” Thank goodness Daryll finally called Mickey out. Not that it made any difference.
— Terry: “I hit a man who didn’t deserve it for money.”
Ray: “Jesus Christ, Terry, story of my life.”
— I hope Ray forgives Avi … I don’t know …
— “These little motherfuckers like to party hard” – Cookie. We knew he had to die, we knew Ray had to kill him, so he did. It wasn’t very surprising, and it didn’t play out in a very surprising way. Ray setting the lackeys up to kill for the money though … dark.
— Conor asking Abby if Halloran was the guy “dad said you could fuck in his bed while he’s gone” a little too gleefully. He’s a weird one.
— “You’re beautiful when you’re angry” – Steve being really weird to Ray. What was up with that entire storyline …
— RIP, Stalker Bob.
— “Shorty did you see it! Did you see it??” – Mickey.