Ray Donovan: Season 1, Episode 1; The Bag or the Bat

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This is my 100th post!!! Somehow it feels very appropriate. I’m switching up my Deadwood viewing with a little of Showtime’s motherfucking Ray Donovan! The two shows have a little more in common than you might initially think. Deadwood focuses heavily on the formation of civilizations and societies. Ray critiques the society of Hollywood, its superficiality and its hypocrisy. But that isn’t the main thrust of the show. It’s real focus is on the concept of masculinity, what it means to be a ‘good’ man. It’s something the protagonist, none other than Ray Donovan (as played by the luscious Liev Schreiber) struggles with constantly as well as with some other demons. It really is similar to Seth Bullock on Deadwood. Both characters are quiet, lone wolfs. They have an inherent sense of what is right and a strong desire to do justice and to protect others. Both men also have a deep seated anger within them that they sometimes fail at controlling. The big difference between Ray and Seth is that they operate on opposite sides of the law.
Two other things the shows have in common are 1) Paula Malcomson (Trixie on Deadwood, Abby on Ray). Paula is much much better on Deadwood, but that is more so because of the writing on the show and Trixie is a much more sympathetic character. Abby with her Boston accent and Carmela-lite attitude (Sopranos reference) really makes the audience want to strangle her sometimes. But Paula as an actress is always great. And #2 is…. MOTHERFUCKING IAN MCSHANE!!!! YES!! The third season of Ray Donovan airs this summer and Ian will be joining the cast!!! I am so excited!! But then Katie Holmes is going to be too which is very disappointing. So my feelings are pretty level at the moment.
So the fact that the third season is coming near is why I have decided to re-watch Ray Donovan. The show is about Ray, a Hollywood fixer who takes care of celebrities and their (usually illegal) problems. But when Ray’s father, Mickey (Jon Voight), gets released from jail early Ray has some of his own problems to fix.

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This show has been flying under the radar a bit which I think is a real shame as it is genuinely good. The first episode is a little unoriginal though to be honest. It has A LOT to cover. But as the show continues it just gets better and better. It’s an intelligent show that covers a variety of topics, some more originally than others, but it’s a fun watch. The acting is all around amazing, it’s a great cast. Liev is of course amazing, but Jon Voight steals nearly every scene he is in. He has a lot of fun playing Mickey and that definitely comes across effectively.
Tidbits:
• The episode starts with Mickey being released from jail. And what’s the first thing he does? Murder a priest!
• This week’s problem situation involves a basketball player waking up next to a dead girl he had been partying with the night before. Understandably the guy is freaked out.
• But Ray’s reaction is: “Do you think you’re the first person I’ve dealt with woke up with a dead body…”
• Lena (played by the lovely Katherine Moennig), Ray’s assistant, reacts with “I hate it when that happens.”
• Ray is married to Abby (Paula Malcomson) and has two teenage kids, Conor and Bridget.
• Ray also has two brothers, Terry (Eddie Marsan) and Bunchy (Dash Mihok). As Bridget bluntly puts it, Terry has Parkinson’s and Bunchy was molested by a priest. This show isn’t always subtle.
• Abby has something up her ass (as she perpetually does) this episode it is her need to have Bridget go to a private school. So you betta get on it Raaaaay!! (That’s Abby’s nagging voice)
• Ray’s other Hollywood problem is Tommy Wheeler, a famous actor who was caught with a transvestite. This is a no no in Hollywood. Get caught doing drugs, waking up with a dead girl, and going to rehab are okay though, so Ray kills two birds with one stone by swapping Tommy with the basketball player.
• I want Lena’s style.
• Oh no wait, Ray has another problem, remember Abby and that private school? Well Ray has to do a favor for this movie producer guy, Stu Feldman, in order to get in a good word at a desirable school. The mission: stalk Stu’s girlfriend and find out if she is cheating on him. Even though Stu is married to someone else anyways. Good old Hollywood.
• The scene with Stu really highlights what sets Ray apart from other men. His silence, but also his inherent confidence in himself.
• Terry owns a boxing club.
• Man, there is A LOT going on this episode.
• Bunchy is an alcoholic. He also happens to be coming into his settlement from the Catholic Church to the tune of $1.4 million. Ray is obviously concerned.
• While Ray is on his stalking mission he discovers that the girl has ANOTHER stalker, a really creepy one. Ray’s instinct is to protect the girl, Ashley, thus blowing Stu’s cover.
• Long story short Ray and Ashley start making out and it’s sexy and all until OUT OF NOWHERE she has a FREAKING SEIZURE. WAY TO KILL THE MOOD. Apparently she has epilepsy.
• At least this freak occurrence prevents Ray from doing something he might have regretted. This continue to get weird as Ashley tells him “I love you” and calls him “Daddy.” Get out of there Ray!!!!!!!!
• Terry and Bunchy got in a fight, so protector Ray bails them out.
• Oh turns out Ray has a black half-brother!!! Ray is less than thrilled (Ugh, someone else to protect!)
• Meanwhile Mickey is having a good time, smoking a joint and dancing around with a prostitute.

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• Ray threatens the creepy stalker by forcefully dying him green. I think it’s an old Boston mafia punishment. “If you come near her again, I’ll kill you.”
• Daaaaaaamn Liev can rock a suit.

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• Ezra (Elliott Gould) is Ray’s mentor figure. But he is also another problem for Ray as he is beginning to suffer from dementia. Ezra even invites his mistress to his wife’s funeral!
• Meanwhile Mickey is on a plane leering and winking at a woman breastfeeding. The creepy bar has been raised.
• “No lie lives forever Raymond, it’s time to pay the piper!” This lie has something to do with why Mickey went to jail…
• Ashley becomes the stalker and stalks Abby. The creepy bar keeps going up.
• Ray’s reaction to the stalking? FUCKING ASHLEY. WHAT THE HELL RAY. If this was GTA Ray would have definitely failed his Stu mission and faded to black and white.
• Abby is suspicious of his cheating, tells Ray not to come home. It seems like this is a regular occurrence.
• Conor is getting into fights at school.
• Long story short, Ray and Abby attend a party that Stu also happens to be at. Stu informs Abby that Bridget will be banned from all private schools because “your husband fucked my girlfriend.”
• Ray doesn’t take this lightly and dramatically and awesomely breaks Stu’s wrist in a pool table.

• Ray reveals to Bridget that he had a sister, also named Bridget, who killed herself when she was a teenager. This still haunts Ray.
• Ray tells his daughter, “I’ll always protect you.” Their relationship is very important as the show goes on. Ray wants to be a better father than Mickey was.
• Ray explains his cheating ways to Abbey by saying “these women, I protect them and they get confused.” Sooooo that makes it okay?
• Ray warns Abby that Mickey is coming for them. “Don’t let the wolf in the gate.”
• Abby tells Ray, “You’re sick, Ray, you’ve got a hole in your heart.”
• Ray has a meeting with Mickey at the fight club. Threats are made. Ray leaves in anger.

• “If you can’t laugh, what are you going to do, cry all the time?” Mickey wants to forget the past, but the past was so traumatic for Ray he’ll never forgive or forget.
• Mickey does some cocaine with Bunchy, like any good father would.
• Creepy stalker still stalks Ashley. Ray beats him to pulp with a bat. “I warned you.” Ray seems sorry to have to inflict such violence on the guy.
• The episode ends with Abby letting the wolf in to meet the kids.

This episode gets 8/10. Give this show a chance if you haven’t already. It’s both fun and quite deep. Also Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight give some of their best performances.

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