Ray Donovan Season 3 Episode 1 Review: The Kalamazoo

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Ray Donovan is back and things will never be quite the same again.

Ray Donovan Season 3 Episode 1 set the trajectory for an entire new course for the series. After the events of Ray Donovan Season 2, Ray never reconciled with Ezra or Avi, and Ezra's death not only made Ray recall how he ended up in Los Angeles in the first place, but will certainly make him reevaluate his life even further as the season progresses.

Meeting Andrew Finney, meanwhile, showed Ray what he has been missing, and that's his sense of family. It may not be perfect, but it's the only one he's got. Surely watching Finney and his son Casey reunite after the kidnapping will send Ray toward home. Right?

Ray and Albert - Ray Donovan

In the trailers for Ray Donovan Season 3, we were given hints that Ray wanted to make a change and to take control of his life, to be his own man. The music of the series has always been very pointed, and if the musical accompaniment of The Eagles Hotel California means what it should, when Ray checked into his life with Ezra all those years ago, he didn't know he could never leave. Things probably won't be changing as much as he would like.

Ray's internal struggles are always the most fascinating, and he manages to find a lot of deep discussions to carry on through his clients. His increasingly long periods of solitude prove he doesn't always find the answers, but it's also good that he doesn't force his issues onto others as his father has been known to do.

Speaking of Mickey, he's turned over somewhat of a new leaf. In his own odd way, he's taken to caring about others more than himself. Terry is still in prison and refusing visitors, but that hasn't stopped Mickey from going because Terry knowing he's there is what matters. Who would have guessed that botched robbery attempt would make a good father out of Mickey?

Mickey's desire to protect has also stretched out to his new neighbors, most notably a little girl named Audrey, who has a keen desire to act, and her mother Ginger, a lady of night, who is bullied by her pimp named Gary until she's too old to be of use any longer. Whether it's the pool or the general surroundings, Mickey doesn't mind taking care of Audrey and even protects her when her mother can't do it for her.

When Mickey bought The Kalamazoo grill (I could have sworn he was buying 14 of them), I figured he was in some way swindling someone for something, but it never really came out that he was. It sure came in handy for his cunning plan to off Gary (never sit that close to the pool while drinking, kids!), but overall, Mickey just enjoyed the family atmosphere, much like a big Donovan family gathering.

Bunch isn't doing such a great job watching after the family business. Instead of being the tough guy he should be when it comes to collecting fees for using the gym, he's combing his hair and trying to look the part while surfing the web for dates. Even after Abby was the brawn, getting a credit card for payment, he couldn't follow through when it was declined. 

Yet somehow I got the idea his dating desires were going to come to fruition with the mean looking chick who didn't pay her bills hoisting weights and staring him down from outside the office. Considering she's played by Alyssa Diaz, who is a known actress, I'm feeling even better about it.

Kudos to Abby for saving the dog by the freeway. She can't seem to successfully save anyone else in her life, so she chose something who welcomed her help. It's something she can claim as all her own and love without reservation that (hopefully) will be grateful for that love. As much as she's gotten on my nerves over the years, I can't begrudge her that.

I'm expecting a breakdown from Ray at some point. Ezra was far more of a father figure to him than Mickey in later years, and the man Ray is now was formed by Ezra's influence far more than Mickey's. While Ray made an attempt to go to the memorial and visited his grave, all while recalling the deep connection he shared with Ezra, he otherwise bottled up his emotions; as expected. 

As Ray's past comes barreling up to the present, whether in the form of memories of his life with Ezra or because a church-affiliated, badass priest-detective is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to the dead priest whose body was discovered because of a call Ray made himself, he's soon going to have no choice but to deal with it. 

Stray Thoughts:

  • My favorite line of the night was when the kidnapper screamed "Where's the money?" "You don't need money! It's all done through the app!" And Uber drivers everywhere have a new fear. 
  • Do kids these days have any idea who Shirley Temple is, let alone know the words to The Good Ship Lollipop?
  • I've been watching a lot of Hart to Hart on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (don't judge me), and I can't help but wonder if Abby will name her dog Freeway like the Harts did.
  • Ray's kids are so screwed up. "Everybody drives drunk, everybody looks at porn and everybody steals sh*t when nobody's looking. And dad's a thug." "Daddy's not a thug." "I meant that in a cool way."
  • How long before Ray and Paige are hittin' it up against the way like he was with the gal from the bar?
  • Is Ray done with Avi and Lena, or do you think he'll invite them back into his life?

"The Kalamazoo" was a great way to reset Ray Donovan. It will be interesting to see if we'll be revisiting some of the characters we've come to know so well, such as Lee Drexler (who Avi appears to be working with now), or if Ray's really onto the next chapter in his life with Andrew Finney and family.

I really think it's his time to move on. Thankfully, in very short order they've shed familiar faces in realistic fashion and introduced new and intriguing characters we can get to know. I don't expect his life to change that much, just the people around which he builds it. After all, you can check in, but you can never leave.

The Kalamazoo Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (13 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Ray Donovan Season 3 Episode 1 Quotes

Avi: Ray, we have to make things right.
Ray: Go fuck yourself.

Abby: Ezra's dead.
Ray: What?
Abby: He's gone, Ray.
Ray: The fuck you talkin' about?