‘Ray Donovan’ Recap: “The Bag or the Bat”

By July 3, 2013

With “Dexter” in its final season, has Showtime found its new anti-hero in Hollywood fixer Ray Donovan? With 1.35 million viewers, it’s certainly off to a promising start.

Ray spends his days doing damage control for the rich and famous. A star athlete (Deonte Frasier) wakes up in bed with a dead girl? No problem. A male sex symbol (Tommy Wheeler) gets caught with a transwoman? Erase the story by creating an even more tantalizing one: after a drug binge, Tommy woke up next to a woman who’d overdosed. Deonte’s off the hook, and Tommy’s career will survive a trip to rehab.

Ray’s next client, Stu Feldman, asks him to spy on his girlfriend, Ashley–a former child star turned singer. In the process, Ray discovers that Ashley has a stalker and, against the advice of his cronies, lets her know. Years ago, Ray had helped Ashley after her parents had stolen her money. She’s in love with him, and though he rebuffs her advances at first, they’re soon making out…until Ashley has an epileptic fit. Ray leaves to confront Ashley’s stalker, giving him a choice between a baseball bat and a bag of green dye. He chooses the latter as his punishment, soaking in a green bath and turning into a scrawny version of the Hulk.

Though Ray has the power to control the destiny of others, his own life is a disaster. His wife, Abby, hates living in Calabasas. His father Mickey has just been released from jail. His brother Bunchy has fallen off the wagon after receiving a settlement; as a child, Bunchy had been molested by a priest (whom Mickey tracks down and kills immediately after making parole). To add insult to injury, Bunchy and Terry (Ray’s other brother) have been hiding a half brother–Daryll–from Ray for years. Even more surprising? Daryll is half-black, despite Mickey’s racist streak.

Ray’s relationship with Ashley isn’t over, either. Ashley tries to get close to Abby, much to Ray’s consternation. He drives her home, and Ashley gives him a blow job. Suspicious, Abby calls Ray and tells him not to bother coming home.

Ray’s life begins to further unravel during a pool party. Abby asks Stu to help her get her daughter Bridget into a private school; he lashes out, confirming that Ray and Ashley have had an affair. Ray breaks his finger, but the damage is done. Meanwhile, Tommy seems to be getting a little too close to Ray’s son Conor. And, if that weren’t bad enough, Ray’s associate, Ezra, a recent widower, is hell-bent on coming clean about all of the bad things they’ve done over the years.

Ray helps Bridget with a family history project; in the process, he tells her that her aunt (also named Bridget) jumped off of a building while high on drugs. What happened to his mother is unclear, although Ray flashes back to an image of a woman being given her last rites as children play in the hallway.

Mickey comes into town and pays his sons a visit. Ray demands that he stay away from his family, but Mickey pays no heed, and later shows up on the Donovans’ doorstep. Abby lets him inside, and he meets his granddaughter.

Ashley’s stalker returns to her house, and Ray pays him another visit. This time, he’s given no options; Ray bludgeons him with the baseball bat.

“Ray Donovan” airs Sunday nights at 10pm on Showtime. The pilot is currently available for viewing here.