There was little warmth in the episode of Ray Donovan titled "Housewarming." It was the first time we were shown the darker side of Ray's behavior, seeing just how far he is willing to go to get what he wants. It was a little frightening.
At the heart of everything, of course, were the underpinnings of Mickey and what his return into Ray's life has done to his career and his family. The way out, as Ray sees it, is far darker and more complex than just taking Mickey out.
As a viewer, it was surprising to learn that Van Miller was working the case against Ray with Mickey Donovan on his own. Even Ray's FBI contacts had no knowledge that Van had gone fishing. But it was agreed that once Van was on the case he wouldn't be easy to shake.
Ray's attempt to scare off Miller was disturbing. Avi drugged his coffee with LSD. As OCD as Miller is, I found it difficult to believe he drank from coffee cup he found astray on the counter and didn't return it asking for a new one, but he did and the results were disastrous for the poor guy.
As we've come to know Ray over the first five episodes, it's been easy to fall for him and feel for him and what he does because of the way he was raised and by whom. But Van Miller is a lawman doing his job. Ray can't be under any delusions that what he does is on the up and up or he wouldn't be constantly worried that it could all come crashing down. He knows what he, Ezra and Lee do is on the edge of the law and even that's skirting the truth.
Given Miller's tight-laced personality and the evidence Ray took against him as blackmail to try to stop his investigation against him in collusion with Mickey, I was proud that he told Ray to go pound salt. It showed why he was so successful at his job and to be feared. He may be nothing short of crazy as an individual, but when it comes to his job, he's not going to take crap from a thug. Not even a good looking one with a rotten father like Mickey Donovan.
Mickey's intrusion into Ray's life has pushed him to a precipice that I don't think Ray is used to marching along. He's making decisions that look bad not only to people like Miller, but to his kids and his brothers. Holding a gun on Mickey might have felt fantastic (hell, I'd like to do it myself), but not in front of your kids and not in the front yard of your brother's new house as you're awaiting the fire brigade to arrive.
However, let's hold onto Ray's story for a moment and talk about Bunchy, Abby and the kids.
Terry and Bunchy grew up with Mickey, so they get where Ray is coming from with regard to Mickey. It was interesting to learn that Bunchy thinks Ray blames Mickey for allowing the priest to molest Bunchy when he was a kid. Apparently it happened once to Terry, and Terry broke his hand. So why would Mickey let any of his kids be in the same room with a priest who might potentially molest one of them?
For one, Mickey is an absolutely crap adult. To his own kids and now to his grand kids. Letting Conor drink and get high at Bunchy's party was idiotic. Was he going to give him a hooker and Bridget a room to get down and dirty with Marvin Gaye, too? Thank goodness Bunchy saw the face of his priest while being "taken care of" by one of the hookers and decided to set the place ablaze, or who knows what might have happened with Conor and Bridget. Great job, Mickey.
Abby is just as at fault in this as Mickey. She needs to stop going to him when he calls. She's starting to seem like one of his whores. Why is it that Mickey just calls out and people go to him? There's nothing mesmerizing or attractive about him other than his desire to party and give people excuses to do things the know they shouldn't do. In giving them that permission, it seems to in turn allow them to hold Ray's distrust of Mickey against him because - hey - he's a cool dude who let's them do things. It's a really bad environment all around.
Terry is the sole member of the family who's still holding on to the string of reality, knowing Mickey isn't good for anybody, but also understanding that he's not going anywhere. He's being protective on all sides, and that's bound to get tough for him as he has few people of his own to turn to now that we know the woman he chose to fall may be married. I've thought about what we saw last week, and realized it could be have been misinterpreted. I hope.
Back to Ray. Not only is he falling apart, but he's dealing with his mentor's brain surgery. Now that Ezra's tumor has been addressed, will we see a man more fit to deal with the likes of Mickey and the tough business they are trying to run? It sure seems so. When Ray told him it was all over and Mickey was working with the FBI to take them down, Ezra's answer was easy, "then we have to kill him." Not so fast, Ray says, because he is still my father. Ezra's newly functioning mind comes up with a better plan. Find someone who hates him more than we do. It looks like we'll be introduced to a new character next week, played by James Woods. Something tells me when he finds out Mickey Donovan is out of prison, play time for Mickey is going to come to an end.
Ray Donovan Season 1 is hitting all of the right notes for me as a viewer and I find it incredibly easy to put thoughts about it on paper. There is so much to discuss. What makes these characters tick? How far will they go to find peace? Do they even know what it is they seek? Jot down some comments. I was surprised to see "it's boring" in the comments last week, as I find the intensity anything but boring. Give me some details, I'd love to hear them!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.