The Donovans reckon with the past, and forge towards an uncertain future.
Warning: This post contains details about suicide and rape discussed in the finale of Ray Donovan season 7.
This season of Ray Donovan was always going to end with a few bodies in the ground, but the question has always been who’d be unlucky enough to meet their demise. Would Ray kill Mickey? Would Mickey kill Ray? Would Daryll end up six feet under after getting in way too deep with his father? It all seemed possible, and the finale begins with Ray burying somebody out in the middle of the woods. Just another body added to the seemingly endless list.
Back to the woods we go, as Perry and Ray sneak around in the pitch black looking for the men who went after Judge Shoal. It’s a tense, quiet scene punctuated only by the sounds of gunshots. Perry kills the first man. Ray gets another. Then Ray saves Perry from the final shooter. They track down Shoal and head back to the cabin, where the detective tells Ray that he’ll keep Bridget off the stand and make sure no one knows Ray was here in the forest killing people.
Back at home, Ray has to reckon with the past that won’t go away. Ever since learning that something happened between Bridget and the Sullivans, it’s been haunting him. Now, he finally has his answer. Molly’s been listening to the tapes, and one of them reveals that Bridget was pregnant when she killed herself by jumping off a roof. Suicide permeates the entire episode: Dolores jumps to her death, which prompts Terry to visit Arthur and talk about how long he’s been contemplating killing himself. Of course, Ray’s also had his own attempt at jumping to his death. This family is haunted by inescapable trauma.
All things considered, this finale doesn’t have much in terms of plot that ties up a lot of what happened during the season. Shoal being alive does that on its own, offscreen. And yes, there’s the disastrous end to the play for the Sullivan stock, as a shootout ensues and Smitty and Declan end up dead, and Daryll comes close to killing his father. Those are moments that deal with the events of the season. But more importantly this is a finale that aims to put the characters in new places, and to change the dynamic of this family.
Telling that character-based story hinges on Bridget, the sister of the Donovan boys who killed herself when she was a teenager. She’s been a ghost throughout the show’s entire run, and now we finally get to know what happened to her. Essentially, this life, the one Mickey set his kids up for, happened to her. Back in the day, she babysat for the Sullivans. But that’s not what was happening. Jim Sullivan was raping her. Then she got pregnant and he told her to get an abortion. She killed herself instead, after one final attempt to reach out to her absent father. It’s heartbreaking stuff.
Ray learns about all of this, and he’s filled with both anger and guilt. He kept Bridget working for Sullivan because he needed to keep working for Sullivan. He feels responsible, as he always does, for what happened to the family. Now, he wants revenge. He tells Sullivan he has his papers, and that he’ll hand them to him at the office. Sullivan shows up and Ray kills him. He doesn’t even have the papers anymore. He gives them to Mickey, who threatens to kill Ray if he doesn’t get the stocks, and goes in on his old man for always trying to solve the family’s problems with money while ruining their lives in every other way.
This might be the season where everyone finally exiles Mickey, realizing that he’s pure poison. He gets Smitty killed, which will surely push Bridget away, and Daryll has learned his lesson at this point. Even Bunchy, long an ardent defender of his father, doesn’t utter a word to him as he wanders into the night. But who knows. The Donovans are cursed. Terry ends the season looking out from the top of the Empire State Building, thinking about his life or the end of it, and Ray ends the season by burying Jim Sullivan.
There’s always going to be more bodies.
- Ray Donovan recap: A whole new mess
- Ray Donovan recap: The end of the line
- The best (and worst) TV shows of 2019