Originally Ray Donovan premise was a Hollywood Fixer for the rich and the famous. If you find a dead prostitute in your bed… you call Ray Donovan. If you are caught on camera sucking off some dude… you call Ray Donovan. However, the truth of the matter is that the series is more a melodrama about his disgruntled family life, and the mix-match group that form his family. As the series as progressed, the fact that he is a Hollywood Fixer became less and less the focus of the show, and normally it him cleaning up whatever mess his father; Mickey, is up to.
When it first came on the TV five years ago, Ray Donovan became one of those shows that I would rush home to put on and HAVE to watch it that night. It was brilliantly written, well acted and held together with an enjoyable and intense storyline. While the first two things still do apply to the show, now that it has just finished its 5th season, I can’t help but feel that it is now significantly lacking in the storyline for the season. This seems to be a growing theme for this show, and I am worried that it will soon become something that is not unlike what Dexter or Heroes became, all those years ago. The first couple of seasons of both of them, I hold in very high regard. But overtime, the show slipped and stumbled downhill from there.

Ray Donovan had a phenomenal third season, and the forth began in the aftermath of that. While some stories were a little lacking, others shined. The overall story of the boxer was enjoyable, but Ray’s own personal storyline (when he isn’t just cleaning up every other characters’ plots) was a little lacking in my opinion. It was a dull and never reached the heights of the first three seasons. The ending was not something we hadn’t seen before, and overall the season was the worst that they had ever done. It was still written well for what it was, and there were very enjoyable moments. The season opening was very strong, but by the end, I was kind of glad it was over.
Unfortunately the 5th season was not too dissimilar, only this time the main plot of the season appeared almost non-existent.

This season felt as if the show was cleaning house. It might have been that the show was stuck in a rut and they didn’t know what to do with it (which is clear from some of the other characters’ storylines, which I will address in a moment), and so the writers might have made this season of Ray Donovan to create a blank canvas for the 6th season to do whatever they want with it. By the end of the season, it did certainly feel like that. Especially due to the rumours that the show is moving from L.A. to New York, which would drastically mix it up a bit, as well as leave a few characters behind; the ones who seemed to start getting their shit together and actually making something of themselves in Hollywood. But with that, for now, we will have to wait and see next year (if the show is even renewed for a 6th season).
I do not overly mind the idea of the show being re-jigged to stop it from becoming stale, but when it takes an entire season to do so, we are left having to side through these dull plots and waiting another year before we get to the other side.

This season, at least the first half of it, focused entirely on Abby’s absence. All the way up until episode 7, we are treated with flashbacks of something that had happened between seasons 4 and 5. Last year Abby was diagnosed with cancer and appeared to be fighting it, but with her now missing from the main timeline and only featured in flashbacks, we are left wondering if it came back or if something far worse happened to her. There are times in the flashbacks when you think “Ah so that’s what happened to her”, such as when her and Ray almost have a serious car crash, but these appear to be red herrings.
To be honest, we pretty much figure out what has happened by episode 3, and the show continuously drags this story out all the way until episode 7 when the entire episode is a flashback showing us, in detail, what we had already gathered throughout the course of the first half of the season.
Thankfully, after episode 7, the flashbacks of Abby seem to fuck off and she only appears towards the end in some other form. Normally at this point I would say “no that it is anything against the actress” but it really is. I cannot stand Abby Donovan. I have not liked her or any plot she has been involved in throughout the entire show. Getting rid of her was the best thing that they have ever done and probably the only reason I will watch season 6 is because she should (at least in theory) not be in it at all. I think they intentionally made her say words like “Bar” just to utilise her Boston accent.

After episode 7, the ‘main’ storyline apparently kicks in, which had been hinted at and built up in the first 6 episodes, but by then it is a little too late. We are move invested with a story that has been going on from the very beginning (Mickey and Daryl’s, which I’ll cover more in a moment) and Ray’s main plot just runs a very uninteresting course all the way up until the finale. There are moments when this story does become intense, but these are just end of the episode grabbers, designed to hook you in to watching the next episode, which fails to deliver on the build up presented in the episode before.
The finale of Ray’s story was lacking and even the big finisher felt eye-rollingly dull. In fact a similar situation had already occurred earlier on in the season.

A new running theme with Ray Donovan is that the other characters; Bunchy, Terry, his kids, go off and get themselves into all kinds of situations that Ray needs to deal with, and this season was no different. Bunchy must have done about three different short storylines this year, each one uninteresting and never managed to become any more than filler. Terry found himself living in the aftermath of last year’s story, as well as jumping on the bandwagon of whichever story the writers decided to throw him on to. Conner (Ray’s son) was pretty much absent from season, though thankfully they didn’t give us a load of uninteresting flashbacks, and it is safe to assume that he won’t be back properly for a while, which is much of a relief. And finally Bridget’s story, while sort of relevant to the Abby flashbacks part of the season, became so incredibly boring. We all know that next year she will be doing something completely different, which will have very little to do with this season’s story, so it makes us wonder what the hell the point of it all was?
I feel as if the writers have a few key stories that they want to use for the main characters, but then they are left with all these leftover characters that they really have no idea what to do with, so they just make them go on some wacky adventures to fill up the airtime. Because of it, the show really didn’t need to be 12 episodes long.

One character who normally falls into this pit-trap, at least from previous seasons (season 4 being the biggest one I can think of for uninteresting meandering around storylines) is Mickey Donovan. Jon Voight is a great actor and his role in the show, whilst diminished from the earlier seasons, is usually bringing a lot of comedy to the show. Normally he is just getting into shit and having to get Ray to bail him out, and whilst this season was no different, him and Daryl join forces once again for probably the most engaging plot line of the season. There are moments when it reaches an incredible high that makes you desperate to see the next episode, nine times out of ten it stops dead and drags out until the next.
The storyline itself does cover some really interesting points that are very reminiscent of what the show’s original premise was, and does make me wish that it would return to its roots.
By the end of the season, Mickey and Daryl’s story is kind of up in the air and we will have to wait and see next year if anything develops, however, I do feel that both of these might have been characters will not feature. Although both of them are so good that I can’t see the show carrying on without them, so I am sure there will be a reason for their return.

Daryl is probably my favourite character, which is weird given that most of the time he has been nothing but a tag-along to other characters’ stories, but this season he has really come into his own and become part of the main cast that you will look out for and want to see more airtime of.
Avi… Ray’s Israeli mate, used to be my personal favourite character, but he is absent from the beginning of the season and when he finally does come into, his character’s role and importance has been shortened drastically, to the point that he literally may as well have not been in it, and by the end, you can’t help but feel as if it was another character that was wasted.

All these characters who are ‘absent’ from the show, in some capacity, really makes you feel that you have missed quite a bit between seasons 4 and 5, to the point where you actually feel that you might have even missed an entire season. While the flashbacks bring us up to speed, the flashbacks themselves are long-winded and feel as if the most significant moments of the show happened off-screen.

Overall this season of Ray Donovan felt like a transition period bridging the gap between seasons 4 and 6. It was cleaning house to create a new page for the show, but in doing so made a very dull and uninteresting season for us to have to get through in order to get to that point, which is something a show cannot afford to do.
By the end of it, we are not sure has really made the cut and who will pop up later on in the next season and return as a series regular.

For what was once a brilliant show, has taken a grey path towards destruction. I hope that this season of shuffling about is what the show needs to get it back on the right path, but I cannot see it hanging on much long if this season is a road that Ray Donovan wants to continue on.
It is a shame that we have had to put up with this uninteresting and boring season, but we might look back on it and think that it was what it really needed.

Until next year Ray….

Please follow and like us: