January 14, 2019

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Ray Donovan”


Only in the world of RAY DONOVAN would a season’s (more or less) happy ending commence with the chainsaw dismemberment of corpses, but that’s Showtime’s twisted family saga.  The headline of Season 6 was the show’s relocation from Los Angeles to New York, which hardly seemed affect its DNA at all.  In fact, at its worst, the season was caught in a familiar rut, with the main storyline having Ray (Liev Schreiber) caught up in the deadly consequences of a NY Mayoral election, much as he’d been in the deadly consequences of a California gubernatorial election in Season 3.

Tonight’s season finale, however, written and directed by showrunner David Hollander, suggested that Ray Donovan may be ready to shift its tone just a bit.  That dismemberment sequence had the black comedy of a Coen Brothers homage, and found Bridget (Kerris Dorsey, a season MVP), who once wanted to have nothing to do with her family’s darkness, enthusiastically pitching in with the chainsaw.  There was also humor to be had in her courtship of Smitty (Graham Rogers, one of the busiest actors around with recurring roles on Atypical and The Kominsky Method as well as here), who’s only begun to find out what he’s getting into with the Donovans, and who’s now Bridget’s husband.  A series of late episodes brought Ray Donovan into all-out action movie territory with Ray as Liam Neeson in Taken when Bridget was kidnapped.  Best of all was the introduction of Sandy (Sandy Martin), a phlegmatic associate who never lost her mordant sense of humor whether she was betraying her partners or helping them dispose of bodies.

The finale was entitled “The Dead,” a reference to Joyce’s story, which contrary to Ray’s recollection, Mickey (Jon Voight) was there to read to the children at their bedtime, and the season’s final sequence echoed Joyce’s evocation of snow falling on the living and the dead.  The latter of those included suitably nasty ends for Sam Winslow (Susan Sarandon, underused) and her henchman–that one at the hands of Lena (Katherine Moennig, who had little to do this season but as usual made the most of it), in retaliation for the murder of her girlfriend.  But the snow also fell on Ray as he made a first tentative step to pull himself out of his grim and sometimes suicidal depression, calling the psychiatrist played by Alan Alda in an earlier episode.

Things are not all rosy for the Donovans, of course, as Mickey, having proven some level of loyalty to his children, is apparently headed once again to prison, and Terry (Eddie Marsan) was punched back into his Parkinson’s.  It’s also unclear whether Ray will take the job offer he received from corrupt and newly re-elected Mayor Feratti (Zach Grenier).  Still, this season of Ray Donovan seemed to have a destination in mind, rather than simply being more of the same.  The ensemble was, as ever, superb, as Schreiber continued to express decades of fury and utter shrewdness with a glare and a grunt, and with fine work, apart from those named, by Dominick Lombardozzi as a cop unlucky enough to save Ray’s life.  With its 7th season in sight, it may be time for Ray Donovan to think about its home stretch, making use of the momentum it’s generated as it heads for its next chapter.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."