We gave it a B+
As the fifth season of Ray Donovan approaches its end, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Abby’s death wasn’t just a tipping point for the Donovan family as a whole, but also a devastating moment that would send Ray off the deep end. Abby’s death is the instigator of so much more than just Ray getting in a fight with his brothers. It’s the instigator of a deeply felt anger toward just about everyone surrounding Ray. He seems to hate everybody. Nobody can pull him back from the brink, and by the end of “Michael,” he’s crossed a line that he potentially can’t uncross.
Abby’s specter haunts Ray as the episode begins. A surreal dream sequence sees Abby on an infomercial for a cooking product, and Ray, as one of the audience members, is called down to test out the hot plate. Abby tells him to put his hand on it, that you can do it without hurting yourself. Is this Abby warning him about how he’s inflicting his own wounds at this point by warring with his family? Perhaps. I mean, Terry comes out in a sad clown outfit later on in the dream, so there’s plenty of interpretation to go around.
Ray wakes up, and it’s only because Maureen — welcome back! — is doing everything she can to get him moving. She tells him that Bridget is in jail and that while she can keep her out of processing for a while, it won’t be long before she’s locked away. So, Ray heads to the prison and gets a quick visit in with his daughter, assuring her that he’ll do everything he can to get her out. Ray has done nothing but clean up one mess after another this season. “Call Ray” might be the line of dialogue most spoken throughout season five.
While Ray tries to formulate a plan to get Bridget out of prison, Darryl continues to freak out about his meeting with Jay White and the district attorney. “That D.A? He’s like a weird mother f—ing cat, but a scary one, you know?” He’s panicking, thinking that him and Mickey won’t get away with dumping the body. Mickey, on the other hand, is cool as a cucumber. He’s cooking breakfast and looking forward to his date later that night.
Many of the season’s storylines have felt isolated from one another, but “Michael” starts to bring everything together. This might be the best episode of the season, largely because of the way it interweaves nearly every single plot in order to create something substantial. This is a beautifully paced episode, far removed from the sluggish, often dull episodes that dominated so much of this season.
The frantic pace begins when Ray can’t convince Dr. Bernstein to drop the charges against Bridget. Ray immediately pivots and goes for his trump card: Frank Barnes. But the FBI agent isn’t answering his phone. That’s because, unbeknownst to Ray, Barnes is dead, killed by Darryl after he tried to arrest Mickey.
While Lena preps Bridget for what’s she going to experience during her processing and booking, Ray visits another FBI agent who’s apparently on his payroll. The agent, Kyle, initially says Frank is on assignment, but relents when Ray persists. He tells him that Barnes has been missing for few days now, and based on the timeline, Ray quickly determines that Mickey probably had something to do with it. (Recap continues on next page)