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Monday, July 14, 2014

Ray Donovan 2.1: Back in Business

The key to understanding Ray Donovan is that he can handle more crises in a day than most mortals could deal with a week or a month.   In last night's season two premiere, he puts out or contains fires regarding each of his kids, gets a client in a position to win a major television talent contest after she's been wounded by a bullet, and manages to find his irrepressible father in Mexico.   Ray usually does this with only a scratch or three to show for it, and as long as he can get his hands on a new shirt to replace the one he has which has blood on it - usually not his - he's in business.

Last season - two weeks ago in narrative time - Mickey killed Sully, the White Bulger-like character brilliantly played by James Woods, and to get out of being nabbed by the law for this now, Ray has to pin it on his father. Actually, all of the roles are brilliantly played in this series, including the tour-de-force performance of Liev Schreiber as Ray, and especially Jon Voight as Ray's father Mickey, which may be the best acting of Voight's career, with the possible exception of Midnight Cowboy.  In Ray Donovan, Voight pulls off a remarkable performance of a character who is both lovable and despicable at almost the same time.   Indeed, in 2.1, we see these traits in evidence at precisely the same time, as Mickey supports his son Darryl in the ring (having previously welcomed him with open arms as a son), roots his heart out for him, and then collects money he made on betting against him.  A father from hell and heaven at the same time.

Ray has been much more in touch with the hell than the heaven part of Mickey, and their unresolved -to say the last - relationship is at the heart of the series.   Ray has actually been moved a tiny way towards the positive side of this ledger, apparently not wanting to kill Mickey just now, and needing him to take the fall - again - for Ray.   Everyone else in the family - Ray's wife and two kids, as well as his three brothers - are in Mickey's corner, more or less, though Darryl is now moving into an alliance with Ray contra Mickey after seeing his father raking in money for Darryl's loss as he's on the floor of the ring.

This is not only Irish family narrative but television at its best, and it's good indeed to see Ray Donovan back on the air.

See also Ray Donovan Debuts with Originality and Flair ... Ray Donovan 1.2: His Assistants and his Family ... Ray Donovan 1.3: Mickey ... Ray Donovan 1.7 and Whitey Bulger ... Ray Donovan 1.8: Poetry and Death ... Ray Donovan Season 1 Finale: The Beginning of Redemption



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