For all of its obvious flaws, Ray Donovan is a show that works best when it’s creating tension between what Ray does for a living and how it affects his family. This has been a messy season — and that may be putting it generously — filled with fits and starts and shoddy character motivations. The season finale though, while not necessarily much better than the episodes before it, at least signals a new direction for the show, which has been complacent all season long. “Rattus Rattus” sees the Donovan family coming out on top, and perhaps more in-tune and powerful than ever.
The road to that conclusion is by no means easy though. A dream sequence at the start of the episode essentially promises death and destruction. The whole Donovan family sits in a church at a funeral. While Sonia Kovitsky gets a little friendly with Ray’s, um, lower body, he watches as his wife appears in the casket in front of him. Is this a foreshadowing of things to come in the season finale? Is Ray doomed to be surrounded by death?
Things aren’t even looking good for Ray outside of the dream sequence. In the real world, the FBI has cleared out his office and obtained all of his files. Barnes calls it a “Lollapalooza” of celebrity scandals and cover-ups. Plus, you know, Ray’s facing a long time in prison. Of course there’s an out though. Barnes wants Sonia and Ray to work together to get back in Dmitri’s good graces. Once they do, Ray will bring Dmitri to the big title fight, wear a wire, and the FBI will arrest the Russian mob boss. At least that’s the idea.
Surprisingly, Dmitri is very open to Sonia coming back to work for him. Once Sonia offers to move a bunch of product while not taking a cut of the profits, Dmitri welcomes her back into the operation. But, we know he’s not a warm and forgiving man, and Ray knows this, too. As Ray is sent away, and Sonia is left alone with the Russians, the two share a knowing glance: This is likely the last time Ray will see Sonia alive.
Meanwhile, back at home, Ray learns from Abby that her cancer is disappearing. That’s great for Abby and Ray, but it’s a little bit of a phony, tossed-off resolution to Abby’s character arc this season. Her cancer diagnosis and subsequent refusal of treatment has been pushed to the forefront of many episodes, and yet the finale just tosses the character struggle aside. Anyway, because Abby is finally in a better place, Ray lies to Abby about his feud with the Russians being over.
That may be conflict on the horizon, but there’s also some good going around in “Rattus Rattus.” For one, Bridget finds out that she’s been accepted to NYU. A college education is great, but getting away from her disastrous, dysfunctional family is even better. Don’t waste this opportunity, Bridget! Then there’s Terry, who continues to be the only truly likable member of the Donovan family. Not only does he take in Damon and offer him a place to live and train, his relationship with Officer Daugherty is taking off.
That’s the good stuff, so you know the bad is right around the corner.
NEXT: Not God’s Problem[pagebreak]
Things take a turn for the worse when Mickey Donovan starts doing Mickey Donovan things. He asks Abby for $100,000 so that he can bet on a “sure thing” — the Hector Campos fight — that’ll set up her kids for a bright future. Abby doesn’t have that kind of money, but the promise of some security for her kids is tempting. So, she has an idea: Mickey can sell the “Girl With Guitar” painting, the one constant reminder of Sonia Kovitsky and her relationship with Ray, and use the money to place a bet.
So, after Mickey gets a contact from a pawnshop owner, he takes the painting to an interested party. The man examines the painting and offers up $10,000 for it. Mickey wants $60,000. When the man opens up the back of the painting, he bumps his offer up to $50,000. Why? Because there’s all sorts of drugs stashed behind the painting.
That’ll come in handy later, as Ray realizes he’s in all sorts of danger when he gets a call from Lena. Their contact in the morgue has called them in. Sonia Kovitsky is dead, her body showing two bullet holes in her head. If Ray doesn’t come through with the FBI or have Hector Campos drop in the sixth round, he could be the next body on a slab.
So, after dropping Bridget at the airport so she can visit NYU — is anyone else worried that we haven’t checked in with her by the end of the episode? — Ray heads back home and is confronted by Mickey and the painting full of drugs. He has an idea. In an immensely cheesy scene where Ray goes on about how he has no other options but that he always has family, he lays out his plans to take down Dmitri and the Russians once and for all, and that plan involves the whole Donovan clan. That’s right, everyone from Abby to Bunchy is going to help out with this one, like some sort of dysfunctional, Irish Catholic Ocean’s Eleven.
Admittedly, having the Donovan family come together to ward off the Russian threat makes some sort of narrative sense. Much of this season has been about how Ray hasn’t been able to keep his family safe and separated from his business anymore, so the logical conclusion would be that the family bands together in order to destroy anyone who comes after them. Still, it’s hard not to chuckle at the scene where the whole family listens to Ray’s plan. The camera pans around the room and focuses on each family member looking super serious; it’s so overwrought and tonally different from everything else on this show.
That said, the ensuing plan is a lot of fun to watch unfold, so let’s get to that.
NEXT: Band of Donovans[pagebreak]
Ray shows up to the Hector Campos fight and throws the wire he’s suppose to wear right in Barnes’ face. “We’re doing this my way,” he says, and tells Barnes to arrest him if he has a problem with it. Of course, Barnes has no choice but to let Ray do his thing.
So, while Avi and Darryl take out Dmitri’s driver, with Avi getting in a few extra shots at one of the men who tortured him, Mickey and Bunchy stake out Dmitri’s house. Inside, Ray tells Hector Campos to go out there and win the fight — he’s doing it for his family, not for the murderous, entitled Campos — and when Campos doesn’t go down in the sixth, Dmitri tells Ray he’s made a big mistake and leaves the arena.
Darryl and Avi are waiting for him. They get Dmitri in the car and tell his driver to get moving. While Mickey and Bunchy take out a few of Dmitri’s men, Avi kills Dmitri and his driver while Darryl stashes some of the drugs in the car, making it look like some sort of inter-gang violence or something. So, Dmitri is dead — we presume, though we never technically see him get shot — and the Russians are reeling. All that’s left is for Ray to deliver the Russians to Barnes on a silver platter, and that’s exactly what he does. He and Lena make it look like the Kovitsky art gallery was hit in order to expose/get to the drugs, and Ray calls Barnes in to take all the glory.
So, the Donovans go out on top yet again, but this time things are a bit different. This time it’s not just Ray getting himself out of a jam; the whole family seems to be back together. Terry is making speeches about how he’s proud to be a Donovan, and Abby, now privy to everything terrible Ray does, says that “nobody can touch us.” Are we seeing the rise of a criminal family? Are the Donovans about to get more power hungry? Will they work together again in the future?
These are the questions looming as the season comes to a close, but for now the Donovans are on top.