Ray Donovan has been in some bad situations, and come up against some bad men. He’s fought off mob bosses and high-powered Hollywood types for a long time, but there’s a good chance he’s never been in as troubling a situation as he’s in this season. Going back to work for Winslow seemed like an easy choice at the time, a way to keep doing what he does best, but without all the violence and trauma that haunted him back in Boston. Of course, violence follows him everywhere, and it wasn’t long before he found himself inserted into a political struggle between a mayor, the NYPD, and a mayoral candidate. Now, having been abandoned by both sides, he’s on his own.
Isolated and alone is exactly where Ray is at the beginning of tonight’s episode, “Baby.” He’s managed to escape from NYPD officers Bianchi and Radulovic, but he’s on the run. They want to kill him after finding out that he recorded Ferrati ordering a hit on a judge, and that means that Ray has to be careful about where he goes and who he contacts. He heads to a diner, pulls a piece of glass out of his shoulder, and calls Sam Winslow. She meets him at the diner, and he hands over the recording, saying it’s everything she needs to seal the win for Novak, thus ensuring Winslow’s plans for converting the Arthur Kill prison into a server farm.
“Baby” is a much better episode than most this season, mainly because it’s focused on telling a single story. So much of this season had been bogged down by meaningless, dull storylines, but now it feels like we’re getting to the good stuff. That means “Baby” focuses on Ray and the tight spot he finds himself in. Sure, there’s a brief scene in which Bunchy tells Terry about his vague plans to leave the United States and start over, a plan thwarted when the FBI comes for him later in the episode, but that’s about it for extraneous plot.
When Ray finally makes it back to his apartment, he finds Mickey waiting for him. It’s the last person he wants to see, and Ray collapses from his night of beatings at the hands of the NYPD. Upon waking up, Mickey waves a gun in his face and tells him he wants the $3 million he took from Bunchy. “I gave it back,” says Ray, and that just about settles it. There’s no way for Mickey to get that money, which means he’s stuck in the U.S. for now, with the FBI still looking for him. So, when Ray gets a call from Smitty saying that Bridget’s gone missing, followed by a call from Mac telling him the corrupt cops are holding her until the election is over, Mickey joins in the rescue attempt.
First, Ray has to see Winslow about the recording. The cops threaten to kill Bridget if the audio gets out, so Ray convinces Winslow to give it back to him and delay any release. But when Ray calls Mac to offer up a trade—the recording for Bridget—Mac says everyone wants to wait until the election is over because there could be any number of copies of the recording out there. So, they’ll hold Bridget for a few days, and when Ferrati wins, they can all discuss a plan for the release.
With no clear path to getting his daughter back, Ray is panicked. It takes Mickey, of all people, to calm him down. “Stop and think. You’re smarter than these guys,” he says. So, Ray and Mickey come up with a plan to kidnap Bianchi. “This is war. They take one of ours, we take one of theirs.” Ray calls Daryll and asks him to pick up Smitty. Then they all stake out the bar where the cops hang out. Ray waits outside in the car as Daryll, Smitty, and Mickey sip their drinks and wait to make their move. When Bianchi comes into the bar, Mickey strikes up a conversation with him before punching him in the face and pulling out his gun. They drag him out of the bar to a remote location by the water, beating him until he gives up where Bridget is being held.
Ray’s not the only one in a tight spot; Mac’s wrapped up in all of this too. He genuinely seems to regret the choices that have led him here, to holding Bridget hostage and hitting her when she makes noise, but then again, he only regrets it because he’s been caught. If it weren’t for Emerson, he would have continued his shady business, so it’s not like we feel sorry for the guy. I mean, he won’t even turn off Dirty Dancing when Bridget asks him too, saying it’s a movie she used to watch with her mother before she died. That’s cold.
Bridget doesn’t seem to be in any immediate danger…until Winslow asks for some poll numbers, sees that the race is too close to call, and decides that she needs to release her copy of Ferrati putting a hit out on a judge to tip the scales in Novak’s favor. She uses her control over a newspaper to get that information out, the final copy is approved at the very end of the episode, leaving us waiting to find out what consequences will come from her actions.
All we know for sure right now is that Winslow is hungry for power— “you’ll win the election, but I’ll be Mayor,” she tells Novak — and that, for once, Ray and Mickey are on the same side. They sneak into the house where Mac is holding Bridget, and Mickey saves his son’s life by shooting one of the men who creeps up behind Ray. Ray heads into the basement, the same place where we last saw Mac watching a movie with Bridget. Now though, the room is empty. All that’s left is the furniture and Bridget’s necklace. The episode cuts to black, and Ray is left with nothing else to go on. Bunchy’s in FBI custody, Winslow has turned her back on him, and his daughter is still in the hands of corrupt, violent cops. It’s an especially cruel twist of fate that all Ray has right now is Mickey.
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