Come back, Ann Biderman, come back!!
Ann Biderman was the creator of Ray Donovan who left at the end of Ray Donovan Season 2. She made some stunningly beautiful episodes of the series before she left that focused on family. A flawed family. A very flawed family, but one that was humorous and one for which you could see hope.
If you watched along with me for Ray Donovan Season 3, you know I saw more than just a flawed family, but a flawed show. It was meandering, seemed to have lost its purposed and lost sight of the characters.
By Ray Donovan Season 4 Episode 2, I'm wondering if anybody knows these characters at all anymore. They're barely recognizable.
And when the people they once were do appear, they're dragged down with bad dialogue and attempts to make the show edgy. How may times do you have to say fuck and cock in any one episode? Those words used to be used to enhance the points that were being made, now they feel trashy because they're too common.
Take a look at the Ray Donovan quotes for this episode to get a feel for what I'm saying.
On top of the language, Ray is an utter mess.
After what he went through last season and his heartbreaking confession, I'd expect him to be different. He was crying on the floor of the church for God's sake! This was a man who had had enough of his lifestyle and wanted to turn things around!
As a matter of fact, we were told – granted in a 30 second snippet of dialogue – that Ray had changed. He was going to church and had stopped drinking and from that, I assumed he was a better man. He speaks differently to Abby, if they speak at all.
But in two episodes, he's managed to kidnap three people, plant evidence on two (including one police officer), start drinking again, lie to his priest, his wife, his entire family. Who the hell is Ray Donovan? Who the hell is he supposed to be?
I'm open to suggestions here, because I'm not sure the writers have any idea. It feeling like they're just throwing him into strange situations and thinking we're going to enjoy it because, hey, it's Ray.
While I can understand (in some wacky world), what he did with the kidnapped fellow to set Mickey free, it doesn't make sense beyond the point Mickey is free. How is any of that evidence going to stand up in court?
Does Ray really think they guy won't lawyer up and talk about being kidnapped and drugged? That they won't test his blood for drugs? Even if he's Armenian, he still has rights in our country. On July 3, I think that would be self-evident.
For all the talking Marisol did browbeating men formerly abused by priests (she's a real peach), she never did cop to what she planned to say in her big on-air speech.
Nor did we learn anymore about the friendship between Ray and Hector, which is growing more important by the minute when Hector continues to say things like, "I'd do it for you," when it comes to Ray kidnapping his sister. Would he? And why? Why would Hector kidnap a member of Ray's family?
What is between Hector and Ray that is making the two men go to such great lengths for one another? Well, at least Ray for Hector.
Father Romero, who was once thought of as a bad guy, now has the most sense.
You know, if you can't see the trail of broken souls you leave in your wake, Ray, there's nothing I can do to help you. Nothing at all.Father Romero
That quote felt the most important of all to not only the character of Ray Donovan, but the show. Is there anybody at the wheel?
And I know people are in love with Bunchy and his new wife, Teresa, but I'm still not on board. Just because they're both weird doesn't make them a great couple. Bunch should never have gotten married.
He's not any more ready to be married than he his to be a father. Teresa's attitude to snap out of his sexual problems is ridiculous, even if he does run a group called SNAP. Snapping does not work. Here's hoping the dildo makes her happy.
Terry and Abby were a bit of a bright spot despite their story being another downer. Abby has breast cancer, Terry can't be a priest and she had to have her purse stolen and he had to have his pride whipped? Really?
Good for Terry for finding the butter on the toast when he thought to discover the kid who robbed them by maybe bringing him into Fite Club. That was the best moment of the episode, hands down.
The biggest surprise was that Bridget was still at home. How did that come about? I thought she was just going for dinner? Suddenly she's living there again?
The number of bad things Ray has done in the brief time since he found God again are astounding. Ridiculous, actually. We never saw him saved. Not for an instant. That's poor storytelling. It gives us nothing to root for, because we don't have proof it can be accomplished.
I would have written this season a whole lot differently. A slower pull back into the terrible times and his draw into felony crime wouldn't have been so easy. That's just not the Ray I knew and loved. It's not the Ray I want.
What do you guys think? I guess Ray Donovan Season 4 Episode 3 will be about Mickey trying to steal all the money out of a big green horseshoe at Buffalo Bills. Because why not? At least I don't expect anything more from the guy.
If you've missed anything, you can watch Ray Donovan online right here at TV Fanatic.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.