At what point does Ray Donovan sink too far into its bleak universe and just become an unpleasant show to watch? That’s the question I was asking myself while watching the third episode of this season, “Come and Knock on Our Door.” This season has been a depressing one in general, more so than the two previous seasons by far. All the Donovans are going through tough times; the question remains, is all the overwhelming sadness adding anything to the show or serving a dramatic purpose?
It’s a question without an easy answer. On the one hand, more of the season needs to play out before we see what the show has planned after taking its characters through hell and back. On the other hand, this season has lacked the punch and humor that added levity to the previous season. Even Conor ‘C-Money’ Donovan, always a source of stupid humor, is a shell of his former self.
“Come and Knock on Our Door” opens on Ray sitting at Bridget’s bedside, which is fine and totally not creepy at all, Dad. He’s taking swigs of whiskey and having visions of his dead sister, also named Bridget, which is also fine and not creepy at all. Ray is losing it, and his family is the only thing he really still has, but he can’t seem to find his way back to them.
Bridget (the alive one) does her best to soothe him, but it’s pointless. He can’t come back now, and maybe never. Maybe he’s too far-gone. In fact, he’s so far gone that he’s lashing out at everyone who’s ever meant something to him. When Bunchy comes by the office to ask for $20,000 from his settlement fund so that he can put on a Luchadore event at the Fite Club, Ray laughs him off and tells him how stupid he is.
Now, admittedly, the Luchadores may be trying to screw Bunchy out of the money, but the event isn’t a half bad idea! Considering the life Bunchy has had up until this point, and how he’s always been dependent on other people, you’d think that Ray could give him a bit of support for trying to grow the business. But no, he just walks away and leaves him there.
It’s interesting how he’s just abandoned Bunchy because not moments later he’s doing everything he can to get Terry out of prison. After killing an Aryan, Terry is a dead man. It’s only a matter of time before they get to him, as the Aryan’s have most of the prison in their pocket.
Sure, Bunchy’s situation isn’t life and death, but the way Ray jumps to action to save Terry suggests that Ray really only finds comfort in his work. He’s only “at home” when he’s working back-door deals and trying to intimidate people into doing what he wants. Fixing his family or letting Lena know that she’s needed? Nope, no time for that.
Part of this season’s lack of momentum is its sheer bleakness, but it’s also in part due to the season’s lack of an overarching narrative. The first season was dominated by the return of Mickey Donovan, while the second drew tension from Ray’s crumbling marriage and the Donovan’s abusive past.
This season hasn’t had anything really driving the narrative. Finney has hardly played much of a role, and the lone threat to the Donovans, the “chaplain” Romero, is hardly a concern in this episode. What’s Ray Donovan building towards this season? It’s unclear, and it’s hurting the show every single week.
NEXT: Breast pumps and cocaine