When Ray Donovan jumped off the roof of a building at the end of last season, it was unclear if that’s what he wanted to do. He had followed a vision of his dead wife Abby up there, and he followed her over the edge. Was Ray in control at this moment? Was it a psychotic break after killing Doug Landry for Sam Winslow? Was Ray, who’d been showing signs of going off the deep end for some time, willing to take his life rather than live with his sins?
The season 6 premiere, “Staten Island Part One,” doesn’t answer that question definitively, but it does show that Ray will never, ever be done with his life of sin and violence. The premiere picks up in the immediate aftermath of last season’s finale, as an NYPD cop named Mac (The Wire‘s Domenick Lombardozzi) sees Ray fall into the East River, and promptly goes to save him. He pulls Ray out and gets him breathing again, but Ray’s more than reluctant. He hits Mac with a few fists and a knee and tries to get back in the water (back to Abby?) before Mac uses his stick on him and knocks him out, throwing him in the back of the squad car with a big Samoan named Fatu.
Mac drives them out to Staten Island, a detail that will come into play later, and throws them in lockup. While Fatu tries to make friends with Ray because “they have to stick together,” Ray gets a quick release. When he steps outside, he sees Lena, but more importantly, Sam Winslow is waiting in a Cadillac. She pulled some strings to get him out, and she wants a quick word. She tells Ray to stay in New York and take some time to himself. It sounds ridiculous, with Ray and all the Donovans bleeding Boston through and through, but it’s exactly what he does. With Abby gone, he doesn’t see much to go back for; sorry Bridget!
With that decision made, Ray hits up the local bar for a whiskey, only to run into Mac. The cop wants to know who let Ray out, but more importantly, he seems to want to know if he can trust Ray to keep his mouth shut about something. The two butt heads initially, but it isn’t long before they’re bonding over their broken souls and bones. They share a propensity for drinking themselves silly and getting involved in violent tussles. Like two stray dogs finding each other, they head back to Mac’s place and watch the Red Sox-Yankees game while sharing a bottle of whiskey.
From there, the episode flashes forward, and it’s a nice change of pace for the show. There’s no need to sit in Ray’s post-Abby headspace any longer, and even though the time jump is small, it creates some necessary distance from last season’s events. Ray’s living in Mac’s house full time; he’s gained weight and has a beard, TV’s telltale signs that, yes, we have flashed forward. It looks like he has a simple little life, drinking himself into oblivion and minding his own business. That’s why he’s so annoyed when a reporter from the New York Tribune shows up at his door and starts asking questions about the night he was arrested. It looks like Fatu went to the reporters with a story of racial profiling, partly based on the weirdness of Mac bringing them across the bridge to Staten Island rather than staying in Manhattan, and he’s been hoping Ray would corroborate it.
Of course, Ray sends the reporter away quickly, but she still drops her card through the mail slot. Ray shares the news with his new buddy, and Mac doesn’t take it well. Apparently, he’s got Internal Affairs looking into his behavior, and he’s about to have a custody hearing for his boy — he sounds like a real stand-up guy — and this article will only prove to everyone that he’s as bad as they say. (Recap continues on next page)