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Ray Donovan - Marisol - Review

One of this show's primary themes is that of one's actions having consequences, and how the various characters on the show often avoid these consequences. This is hardly an original theme, but when it's done well it can be very effective. Hell, many of the great cable dramas of the last fifteen or so years have been built on this idea. This episode of Ray Donovan was a solid entry for the show, continuing the promising start to this new season while also exploring the aforementioned theme in a way not often seen.

Ray is much like the rest of television's antihero protagonists such as Vic Mackey and Walter White. He often does terrible things, but he tells both others and himself that he does these things for the sake of his family. Yet hypocritically he repeatedly lies to his family and cheats on his spouse. But despite all of this we like the guy, and we root for him because often enough there's someone else in the show that is somehow worse than he is.

But Ray is also different from these other characters, and these differences are mostly related to his job as Hollywood's number one fixer. Unlike other antiheroes he doesn't control a criminal organization. He isn't a corrupt cop or politician. He's instead more of a tool, a weapon used by those in society with money and power. As pointed out by Father Romero at the end of this episode, Ray's job essentially boils down too helping other people avoid the consequences of their actions. Ray has led a troubled life and has much to atone for. But by helping others avoid the consequences of their actions, he's also avoiding the consequences of his own.

This episode sees Ray do what he so often does: take someone against their will so as to ensure that person doesn't say or do anything to harm his client. In this case, the person he kidnaps is Hector Campos' half-sister Marisol, who we met briefly in the season premiere. She was about to reveal details of the incestuous relationship she and her brother have, and so Ray, with some difficulty, takes her. His recent moral growth is shown when he voices his displeasure at this particular task, even at first refusing to do it. But he gives in. And when Father Romero learns of what happened and pleads with Ray to go to confession, he turns him down.

Of course, what may have finally led Ray to go ahead with the kidnapping was learning more unpleasant details of Hector's already unhealthy relationship with his drug-addicted sister. Despite Marisol being twelve years his senior, they first had sex when Hector was only thirteen, making Marisol a pedophile no better than the priests that raped countless young boys. Nor does the show treat her as better than those men. No matter the gender of the abuser and the abused, rape is rape, and the show's treatment of the subject is refreshingly mature. The show even comments on the opinion of much of society regarding the subject, with Connor's (who still exists!) comments to Daryll, in which he says that if "[his] sister was that hot" he would sleep with her. Instead of being horrified by such things, today's culture tends to fetishize them.

The issue is not black and white, however, and Ray Donovan knows this. Just like how many pedophile priests were abused when they were children, Marisol was also, by her own father. Just like how Ray's sexual maturation was damaged by his abuse, her's was too. This is in keeping with another theme of the show: that behaviour passes from generation to generation, an endless pattern destined to repeat itself. Perhaps this indicates that no matter how hard Ray tries, he will never escape the trap of violence and mayhem he stepped into.

However, despite the thematic richness and depth of Ray's arc this season so far, it feels like the show is unsure where to go with the rest of its characters. Ray's story this season has a clear sense of purpose, while everything else on the show lacks that. It instead feels like the series just going through the motions, repeating things we've already seen.

Terry has always been my favourite character in the series, and I've always appreciated the show's dedication to exploring his experience with Parkinson's in excruciating detail. But it feels now like the writers are struggling to find something new to say with this subplot. But with a looming romance with Officer Doherty and the possibility of him taking on a sort of protégé in the form of the young man who stole Abby's bag, maybe I'll be proven wrong.

Bridget's presence this season has so far been a lot less significant than last season (though considering her story line last season, maybe that's a good thing). Bunchy has done nothing in these first two episodes except get jealous and go to a sex shop to buy his wife a toy due to her increased sexual appetite. And Abby's breast cancer story line has yet to bear much fruit. This story line could have the potential to provide more insight into Abby as a character, or it could just be a plot device with the single purpose of giving Paula Malcomson something to do this season. For now, I'll reserve my judgement.

But the story line I have the least amount of confidence in is Mickey's, as it seems that he will likely be spending much of this season trying to steal four million dollars from Little Bill Primm, who we met last week. Another season, another Mickey scam. And of course the rest of the family are bound to get wrapped up in it too. Mickey is a character who wants to reconnect with his family, but he can never seem to help himself when he sees an opportunity to earn money in a less-than legal fashion. And in his attempts to reconnect with his family, he only pulls them into messes of his own creation. This can be interesting for a season or two, but it can get old fast, and it has here. And as much as I love Voight's performance, I think it's time for Mickey to go.

This episode also saw Ray seem to take care of the business with the Russians in this episode, as he very efficiently dealt with Ivan Belekov. The sequence in which he kidnapped Belekov was enjoyable (though I'm disappointed we didn't get an appearance from Avi's mother), and by seemingly removing the threat of Belekov Ray also corrupted Detective Munsie. But something tells me that this isn't the last we're going to see of this particular story line. Generally on this show nothing goes away cleanly.

About the Author - candon_sean
Sean is a student living in Ireland. He has a keen interest in dramatic television (as well as some comedies). Some of his favourite shows right now include The Leftovers, The Americans, Game of Thrones, Black Sails, Mr Robot and Person of Interest. Some of his favourite shows of all time include The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Lost. He is also an "A Song of Ice and Fire" obsessive. You can visit his blog at
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