We gave it a B-
“Las Vegas,” the second episode of Ray Donovan‘s fifth season, continues this season’s trend of non-linear storytelling. It’s an odd episode when compared to so many others in the series’ run; after the events of last week left us wondering where Ray was at in terms of his family and his potential business with Sam Winslow, “Las Vegas” begins by not answering those questions.
Instead, the episode kicks off by flashing back to Ray and Abby’s 21st anniversary, which would have fallen somewhere in the time span between last season’s finale and this season’s premiere: in other words, after the Donovans successfully screwed over the Russians but before Abby’s illness truly took its toll. It’s the morning of their anniversary, and, as usual, things are a bit chaotic in the Donovan house. Mickey is working on his movie script, Ray is packing for a trip, and Abby is showing a worker around, pointing out all the places where she’s hearing things in the walls.
This is where the non-linear structure really adds something to the season. In the season premiere, we saw Ray staring at the hole in the wall in his foyer, but we had no understanding of what it meant. Now we know why the wall was torn apart, and due to events later on in the episode, we truly understand just how haunting that image must be for Ray.
“Las Vegas” reveals much more than the season premiere did, filling in a lot of the gaps and answering a number of questions. For instance, while Ray and Abby are on their way to Las Vegas to celebrate their anniversary, Ray gets a call from Terry, who says he’s done something stupid and needs to be bailed out of jail. When they go to pick up Terry, it’s revealed that he was at a brothel when he was arrested for getting in a fight after a hooker stole the ring he was going to use to propose to Maureen. On top of that, it’s his mother’s ring, a prized possession in the Donovan family. Now we know exactly what Maureen’s brother meant when he said his sister likely didn’t know about “what happened in Vegas.” It’s like her brother doesn’t even know the city’s slogan!
All of this happens in the first 13 minutes of the episode. It takes that long to transition to the present day — once again, an interesting structural and storytelling choice — when Terry is prepared to get married. It looks like he’s convinced Maureen that the incident in Vegas wasn’t what everyone assumed it was, and that he never slept with the hooker who stole the ring. No matter what their conversation entailed, the wedding is on. After Mickey begs Ray to help him turn his paper script into a PDF and Ray offers to just hand it to a guy he knows, the whole gang meets at Abby’s for a pre-wedding drink. They toast the women they’ve lost and look ahead to the future. And yet, the past lingers. (Recap continues on page 2)