If there’s one way to get this season of Ray Donovan moving with some purpose, it’s a good ol’ murder and cleanup job. “Tulip” uses an intriguing framing device to create tension and intrigue, opening on Ray digging a grave for somebody and then flashing back to “earlier” in the day. It’s a shame about everything else that happens.
“Earlier” means that Ray is in bed with Paige, having decided to stay the night after last week’s ambiguous ending. Ray’s eager to leave and is also thinking through all the problems this could cause, but Paige seems more relaxed.
She makes Ray coffee, kisses him on the cheek, and gets right back to business. She tells Ray they only have until tonight to get the Napier deal done, which involves paying him $90 million for his land. If that deal gets done, Paige will finally get her NFL team.
Ray tells her that he’ll take care of it. His plan? Use his bribed contact in Fish and Game, Helen Miller, to obtain a poisonous snake filled with baggies of black tar heroin, put it in Napier’s bag before he boards an airplane, have Napier arrested for trafficking, and then let Ray get him out of it in exchange for lowering the price of the land.
No seriously, that’s his plan. Ray Donovan is so ridiculous and contrived this season that this reptilian-based plan isn’t even close to the most ludicrous thing to happen in “Tulips.”
Needless to say, the plan doesn’t go so well. Ray enlists the help of Lena and they manage to get to the airport, but when Helen has a sudden change of heart and reaches for the bag, Lena punches her. The bag falls to the ground and, of course, the snake gets out and bites Helen. She needs to go to the hospital, which means no drug trafficking charge for Napier. On to Plan B, I guess.
Meanwhile, Finney is breaking ties with Varick, his ex-lover and husband of his daughter, in case you needed a reminder. Varick is obviously hurt, so he breaks into the Finney house and confronts Finney. In front of a giant painting of Paige with a dog, the two argue about their love, Finney denying he ever felt anything.
When Varick’s pleas get more urgent (“We can get married! They do that these days!”), Finney picks up a fire poker and hits Varick in the head, killing him. Remember when I said Ray’s zoologically-inspired plan wasn’t the most ridiculous thing in this episode? That’s because Finney murdering his gay ex-lover in front of a huge painting of his daughter, who also happens to be his gay ex-lover’s ex-wife, is the most ridiculous thing in this episode.
Murder is on Ray’s mind too as Father Romero comes to the Fite Club and tells Bunchy to give Ray a call. When he shows up at the Fite Club, Romero gives him a box full of evidence meant to implicate Bunchy in the murder of his abuser. Obviously Ray’s not too happy, but he’s weighing his options.
NEXT: Everything in its right place