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Ray Donovan - Lake Hollywood - Review

Throughout its run Ray Donovan's greatest flaw has always been its inability to craft interesting and relatable supporting characters. This fourth season of the show has been its strongest because of its increased focus on its core characters and the Donovan family as a whole. Those characters are what the show is good at, and it seemed it had learned that after season 3.

I mentioned in last week's review that this season has begun to pivot towards a more plot-heavy narrative, starting the process of bringing the season's myriad plot threads to some form of resolution. And though the show stumbled while wrapping up the Primm subplot, I was pleasantly surprised by how well Sonia's exit was handled, because it built on some of the season's core themes and character work. But while those two major arcs dominated that episode, the Hector/Marisol drama kept churning along in the background, popping up when you didn't want it to.

Well, it's time for that particular subplot to step into the spotlight, and it did so in...underwhelming fashion. The spine of this episode is the twisted, unhealthy relationship between brother and sister, and it came to an end in an immensely uncomfortable scene which saw Hector drown Marisol as they were about to have sex. This development wasn't surprising, and the performances of the two actors effectively conveyed the tragic ugliness of the whole thing, but I found myself, and not for the first time this season, not caring.

Hector's murder of his sister does have some thematic resonance, however, as it somewhat mirrors Ray's murder of the priest who abused him. Like Ray, Hector tried to move past the abuse he suffered as a child by doing everything that was expected of him: he got married, had a child, and now has an extremely successful career. Yet despite this, his psychological trauma didn't disappear. And so he resorts to killing one of his abusers, only to find that it doesn't solve any of his problems. Was this why Ray decided to help Hector with the removal of Marisol's body? Unlikely, as he probably did it to help out Terry, but that thematic connection exists anyway.

I also remain unconvinced by the show' decision to make Raymond J. Barry's Dmitri the villain of the season, despite only introducing him last week. Barry is a phenomenal character actor who knows how to play a complex antagonist, but despite his best effort here the writing is really letting him down. Dmitri is entirely lacking in any sort of nuance, and isn't even particularly menacing. Instead, he just comes across as a generic evil Russian guy, the type of character that has been portrayed too many times to count.

This review probably seems very negative, and that's because, well, it is. This episode was, in my opinion, the weakest of the season thus far, and a huge disappointment given the relative strength of the nine episodes preceding it. But there were some bright spots, most notably the killer scene between Abby and Mickey, in which the latter blamed himself for all that has gone wrong and the former reflected on the first time she and Ray had sex. It was a great scene, beautifully acted by Voight and Malcomson (especially the latter), and the strength of this scene made the rest of the episode all the more frustrating. Oh, and I suppose Terry's romance subplot is kind of nice.

I really hope the show can recover from this episode and make me invested in the arc of the season's final two episodes, but I think it's doubtful. It's clear that something has to happen before the season ends to somehow redeem the lackluster main arc, but I'm not holding my breath.

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 and Mr Robot. Some of his favourite shows of all time include The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Person of Interest, 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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