Ray Donovan recap: 'If I Should Fall From Grace With God'
If you’ve been following along with these recaps all season, you know there’s been one line of criticism that’s been common in nearly every single one, and that’s the mishandling of Abby’s death and the prolonged, vague mystery about how it really happened. While most of the season has struggled to find any narrative momentum, the lack of direction when it comes to the story of Abby’s death is the most egregious issue by far because Abby, integral to Ray Donovan and a fan-favorite character, deserves so much better. At last, though, “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” unravels part of the mystery, letting us know how Abby died.
But before we get there, there are a lot of other story lines to sift through. The episode teases the reveal of the true nature of Abby’s death early on, with Terry attending confession and dancing around what truly happened. He mentions his problematic feelings for his brother’s wife, and then hints at her committing suicide. Is he worried about Abby’s soul? No. “It’s my own soul I’m worried about,” he says before deciding to head back to Los Angeles and tell Ray the truth once and for all.
While the details of Abby’s death, revealed later, aren’t particularly shocking, what is shocking is that fact that Mickey’s movie is being made. Jay White has followed through on his promise to get Four Leaf made in exchange for Mickey’s silence about the whole decapitation thing. But that’s not the whole story. As is widely know at this point, Mickey’s script is garbage. So, White and his trusted writer, Antoine A’Shawn Anderson (a wonderfully energetic Donald Faison), took the story and changed some details, namely moving the setting from Boston to Harlem in the 1970s.
Jay and Antoine know this might not sit well with Mickey, but they convince Darryl to sway his old man by offering him a Producer credit on the film. That’s a lot of money for both Darryl and Mickey, so he has no problem agreeing to try to convince his racist father that this is a good deal. Of course, Mickey doesn’t agree to the plan. He thinks it ruins his creative vision, like a bank robbery film set in Boston is original. Realistically, Mickey should take the deal because he’s got a lot of other horrific stuff to deal with right now.
Namely, Bunchy is in prison because of him, and Frank is still on his ass to kill Avi. If the whole Avi situation isn’t resolved, Frank will go down and take the Donovans with him, revealing what happened in Primm and how everyone ended up dead. So, the Donovan patriarch does what he always does and goes to Ray for help. Ray, thinking he’s finally done dealing with people’s problems for a second, isn’t too happy with his father. He makes a call to Frank and asks to meet with him, and when he does, he makes quite the surprising deal.
What’s surprising is that Ray doesn’t just make a deal to kill Avi and get Bunchy out of prison. Instead, once all of that is done, he wants Frank to arrest Mickey and put him away for the deaths in Primm. He’s sick of cleaning up after his father, and now he’s making a bold, perhaps traitorous move to put him out of his mind forever. Ray’s gone down similar roads before, but this feels much angrier and more final. (Next: Dealing with Dimebag)
While Ray squares off with Avi, brawling with him in a motel before bringing him to a highway underpass, Bunchy is making his own moves in prison. He finally confronts the man who was part of the sandwich shop robbery, the one who saw Bunchy lose all of his settlement money. Bunchy wants that diaper bag full of cash back, but this guy says he has no idea where it is.
Over the course of the episode, though, Bunchy proves adept at figuring out a way to get a location on the money. Once he lays out the whole deal about the diaper bag, the other criminal, a man named Duquesne who goes by “Dimebag,” comes to realize that his partner probably played him. He knew nothing about the money and his arrest was surprising, so he presumes that his partner turned on him and called the cops.
That knowledge brings him a little closer to Bunchy, but it still doesn’t get anyone any closer to the dough. But once Bunchy is let out of prison, he heads straight to the bail bonds office across the street and works on getting his buddy/former enemy out so that they can start tracking down the guy who really has his money. It’s about time this story got moving!
As you can guess, Bunchy getting out of prison means that Ray did exactly as Frank asked him. Or…not exactly. Rather than kill his old friend, Ray calls in a guy he knows who just so happens to be doing visual effects on Natalie James’ movie. He commissions him to stage the shooting, and it goes exactly as planned. When it’s all over, Avi has a plane ticket to Mexico and then Colombia, and he can never come back. It’s a bittersweet goodbye; Lena is still there for him, but Ray isn’t exactly forgiving. Surely neither of them imagined their friendship ending this way.
With Bunchy out and Avi en route to Mexico, the episode only has two more story lines to wrap up — not including Ray heading back to his apartment and having sex with Natalie because my god, I am so done with that whole story and its complete lack of anything resembling dramatic intrigue or character insight. There are other ways to suggest that powerful white men are sad besides consistent meaningless sex! I promise!
The first thing that needs to be taken care of is Frank. He’s let Bunchy out of prison, and now Mickey wants his evidence back. So Mickey meets up with Frank, and as Ray planned, the head of the FBI goes for the arrest. He’s moments away from putting the cuffs on Mickey when Darryl shoots Frank from behind, splattering blood all over Mickey’s face and sending Frank off to the afterlife. “You shot him. The Head of the FBI,” says a flabbergasted Mickey. This can’t bode well for the Donovans.
Then again, the Donovans are never in good shape, and that’s evident in the episode’s final scene. Terry finally gets Ray to meet him at the bar, and he admits what he did. Terry tells Ray about Emily Chu and her successful surgery, and then he tells Ray to stop blaming Bridget. For what? Well, for killing her mother. It turns out that Abby wanted to end her life, so she took a number of pills to do so.
All along Ray has blamed Bridget in some way — a previous episode showed her sitting outside the bedroom door crying shortly after the moment — but Terry tells him that he was the one in the room helping her do it. With that hanging in the air, Ray downs his whiskey and punches Terry in the face, knocking him out and leaving him lying on the floor. It’s meant to be a dramatic moment, and Liev Schreiber and Eddie Marsan do a good job selling the emotional weight of the scene, but for me, it falls a bit flat. Ray Donovan took too long to get here, and that means the impact of the moment is dulled. Perhaps, though, the show can find something interesting in the mess this will leave.