The Kid’s Got It. He’s Got the Stuff.
“He’s got the stuff,” says one of my favorite Liev Schreiber characters, Ross “The Boss” Rhea in the movie Goon. Well, Ray Donovan has got the stuff — the stuff that makes him able to outlast everyone else and keep going when he hasn’t any right to keep going.
The third episode of Showtime’s Ray Donovan continues to develop it’s characters, tightens its story lines and prove that it has just more than a great cast with potential. Ray Donovan is showing that it has the stuff.
The characters are coming together and none of them are as confident now as they were in the first episode. The viewer is seeing their weaknesses, their wants and maybe (but not necessarily) their dreams.
Jon Voight’s character, Mickey Donovan, straight out of prison, is a clownish buffoon, but clearly lethal. In the first episode, he killed the Catholic priest whom he believed molested one of his sons, Bunchy (Dash Mihok). However, oops, wrong guy. It was the priest’s innocent brother. Although, Mickey comes off as a fool, one must wonder if he is doing so intentionally and has something bigger planned.
Gym owner, Terry Donovan (Eddie Marsan), reveals he is just a hard assed boxer siding with Mickey Donovan against Ray, but he clearly has reservations about Daddy Donovan being back in their lives after a 20-year vacation in prison. Terry is weak and worn down physically, but shows signs of life when he asks a nurse out, very awkwardly, on a date.
However, there are many story lines continuing to develop. It still feels like a few too many story lines at this point. Ray Donovan feels a lot like the early days of The Sopranos but not quite as good (at least not yet). There are similar family dynamics at home and in the business; there are ties to something much bigger in the underworld of crime; and there are Federal Agents in pursuit.
Frank Whaley appears as FBI Agent Van Miller who seems intent on busting a huge crime ring and bringing the Donovan family down in the process. Similarly to The Sopranos, it feels like Schreiber’s Donovan is just too savvy to let that happen. He’s the bad guy with a heart of, well something. And like Tony Soprano, he is very likeable. Even in the darkest and most criminal of moments, we are rooting for him.
The biggest complaint about this episode is the lack of actual fixing. Ray helps a hip-hop artist acquire, or rather buy, an up-and-coming youth. The artist, Re-Kon (Kwame Patterson) views his newly bought son, Marvin Gaye Washington (Octavius J. Johnson) as the next Justin Bieber. Whether or not he has what it takes to be a better parent than Marvin’s drug addicted mother is yet to be determined. Martin does seem to have ambitions towards Ray’s daughter, and she on him.
The surprise character is Avi, played by Steven Bauer. Avi is the Ray’s muscle, well, sort of. Ray is plenty of muscle himself, but Avi gets the extra, really dirty work done, like buying a kid and creating a witness to a murder. Bauer has made a career of playing side kicks and tough guys. Most notably he was Tony Montana’s (Al Pacino) right hand, Manny, in Scarface. He is a solid actor and this role suits him well.
Ultimately, Ray Donovan continues to develop into a solid drama with a ton of potential. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of this season, and whether or not viewers are willing to stick around until the end to see if Ray Donovan, indeed, has the stuff.
Review by Gordon Shelly, special to Influx Magazine