Considering that this week’s Ray Donovan is the second part of a two-part premiere, it feels a little strange to get plopped down in the immediate aftermath of last week’s final scene, with Anita Novak having killed the man who was filming her while they were having sex. It feels strange because the events in “Staten Island Part Two” feel necessarily of a piece with the premiere, and that means we’ve been waiting a whole week for the very beginnings of this story to get started. It’s a bit of a drawn-out way to start the season. By the end of the episode, things are just getting started for Ray and the rest of the Donovans, and that means the season is off to a bit of a sluggish start.
Like I said though, “Staten Island Part Two” immediately puts us back in the apartment where Novak has just murdered someone. Ray shows up and hears her out as she pleads with him to do something. Ray looks exhausted. It’s not just the drinking and the fact that he’s been taking a few beatings lately, but he can also see himself being swallowed back up by the life he tried to leave behind. As Novak gets desperate, Ray steps out to call Winslow (played by Susan Sarandon). He tells her what’s happened, scolds her for giving Novak the man’s name and address, and after telling her this isn’t the job he agreed to, decides to do it anyways. Ray heads out to pick up some reliable cover-up supplies and tells Novak to sit tight for a while.
Before moving that story along, the episode checks in with Bridget. She’s hanging out with Smitty at his apartment, living that idyllic life of smoking weed and reading books. It’s the life she could have forever, as Smitty proposes to her after going into a lot of detail about how she saved his life and how much he loves her. Bridget freaks out, yells at him, and it looks like they’re headed towards disaster. Eventually, though, Smitty calms her down and Bridget explains herself. She says that all the men she’s ever known have been bad people (which is very true), and while Smitty resents being compared to them, he understands. He says they don’t have to get married, that he’s just happy with her, but Bridget ends up accepting the proposal anyway.
While Bunchy learns about Mickey having a heart attack and Darryl attempts to woo a Hollywood star to work on his blaxploitation film, Ray goes shopping. He finds a hardware store and loads up his cart with the goods. “What are you doing, cutting up a body?” says the store clerk, and it’s hard to blame him; those are very specific tools being purchased late at night. Ray ends up leaving without the merchandise though, as he gets a call from Mac. He’s in a panic, saying The New York Times has the racial profiling story now. He asks Ray to help him fix it, and once again Ray has somebody else’s problems to worry about.
While the events that comprise the two-part premiere would have worked better as a single episode, one of the more interesting aspects here is how reluctant Ray is to get back into this life, and also how easy it is for him to do it. He’s clearly exhausted by the prospect of this work, and you can see the impatience on his face as Novak opens up about her life, her ambitions, and the pressure she’s been under. Ray’s job involves listening to a lot of privileged people who love to talk, and you sense that, more than anything, he just doesn’t want to deal with the problems of these specific people anymore. But, once he agrees to help Winslow out, it’s like flipping a switch. He becomes commanding and forceful, back to his old self in no time. (Recap continues on next page)