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'Ray Donovan' Moves to NY and Returns Strong
October 28, 2018  | By David Hinckley
 
 
Partway through the first episode in Season 6 of Ray Donovan, Liev Schreiber’s Ray (top) – that’s Ray from the South Boston Donovans – walks into a bar wearing a Yankees cap.

That, my friend, is how a TV show signals a reset.

Season 6 of Ray Donovan, which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime, shuffles all sorts of people and places – though part of the message also seems to confirm the old line about how you can run, but you can’t hide.

Ray still has his off-center family, including his neurotic brothers Terry (Eddie Marsan) and Bunchy (Dash Mihok), his half-brother Darryl (Pooch Hall) and his exasperating criminal father Mick (Jon Voight).

As long as they’re around, and sparring with their multiple demons, Ray’s new life is going to include a lot of his old life.

Ray would like to start all over. Or at least he thinks he would. His wife, Abby (Paula Malcomson), died of cancer last season through one of the most extended departure arcs in television history, and Ray hasn’t begun to cope with that loss. He moved from L.A. to New York. He finished what he hoped would be a last job for media mogul Sam Winslow (Susan Sarandon). He seems to want to start over, though he also seems quite unsure at what.  

Ray’s smart and not a bad guy. Trouble is, he’s spent his life as a fixer, doing shady things for which he’s barely avoided consequence. Because that hasn’t exactly positioned him to launch a new career, this season starts with him making a rather drastic decision.

Soon enough, however, his instincts and his old life track him down, and he spends a good part of the first episode getting beaten up. While that sounds dire, in a way it’s his comfort zone.  

In between punches, he manages to set the pieces in place for a couple of this season’s potentially gripping new storylines.

One involves Sam Winslow, who isn’t about to let a competent fixer turn in his baseball bat.

Others involve two new friends he meets as he lurches around the city: policeman Mac McGrath (Domenick Lombardozzi) and mayoral candidate Anita Novak (Lola Glaudini).

Mac isn’t as tough as he looks. He’s got a slew of problems, including a divorce and some professional pressures. So a cop isn’t as unlikely a new quasi-buddy for Ray as it might seem.

Anita, on the other hand, is way tougher than her smiling campaign posters would suggest. Politics is blood sport to her, and did we mention that Sam Winslow is her chief backer?

In other words, the odds of Ray getting out of the fixer business look slimmer by the minute – and that’s even before we get to Bunchy’s predicament over child visitation, Mick’s scheme to mitigate the prison term he’s serving, and whatever issues Ray’s daughter, Bridget (Kerris Dorsey), and her boyfriend, Smitty (Graham Rogers), may bring to the table.

A number of shows are gasping for air around the time they get to a fifth or sixth season. Ray Donovan clearly hopes that by introducing new core protagonists and moving to New York, whose streets immediately become a prominent character, it can keep the stories fresh.

Toward that end, it couldn’t send a stronger message than the Yankees cap – whose progress through the show, by the way, is worth following – or by introducing the weirdest version of “New York, New York” that you’ve ever heard.

Thanks to good writing and an equally fine cast, Ray Donovan may not need a fixer.

 
 
 
 
 
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