Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME
August 06, 2017 at 10:00 PM EDT

Ray Donovan

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date
Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight
Showtime Networks Inc.
Crime, Drama
We gave it a B

I know exactly what you’re thinking: So most of the adult Donovans are probably on a path to something bad, but what about those precious kids? As it turns out, they might not be much better off. Conor is off at some sort of military school, trying out for the wrestling team while also being cold with his father on the phone. Then there’s Bridget, whose circumstances are a little more hazy.

In “Abby,” we see Bridget connecting with a kid named Smitty, someone she apparently met in the cancer ward. Does that mean Abby eventually got treatment? We don’t know yet, but initially it seems like Bridget is just looking for a friend. The two get high together and talk about death, like all teenagers do. Then things get weird and, yet again, mysterious. Bridget calls her father and says that she “met the kid,” referring to Smitty. That’s it. That’s all we get. Who is Smitty and why is he important to the Donovans? How is he connected to Ray and Bridget? There are so many questions on the table in “Abby”!

While the Donovans are warring with themselves, there’s a whole lot else going on in the season premiere. “Abby” is focused on setting up multiple story lines, and while it makes for a bit of a chaotic premiere, it at least suggests that there’s plenty of material to dig into once everything gets rolling. For instance, one of the episode’s most interesting story lines has to do with that woman in the road. Abby and Ray may not know her in that moment, but in the here and now she shows up on TV and is revealed to be Natalie James (played by Banshee‘s Lili Simmons), an actress who’s dealing with a nude photo leak. Certainly their paths aren’t done crossing.

On top of all of that, Ray seems to have been roped into another strange job for some Hollywood elite. At the behest of Doug Landry, Ray helps Pacific Pictures get back a number of files for their chairwoman, Samantha Winslow, and finds himself immediately in her orbit. Winslow, played by Susan Sarandon in a delightfully weird turn, is a strange woman. She’s powerful and forward, yet also ambiguous.

After she tells a meandering and surreal story about her husband and a lion — something tells me Ray is stuck in the den — Ray’s tasked with driving her son George back home. He’s a weird character, too, going on about how he saw his sister die and peddling that hoax about a dead munchkin on the set of The Wizard of Oz.

All of this adds up to one very beguiling season premiere. There are numerous story lines floating around, and the show is being purposely vague with many of them. As the season rolls on, the answers will come, but for now we’ll have to settle for the lack of clarity. Just when you think you’re out, Ray Donovan pulls you right back in.

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