Ray Donovan Season 2 Review “Sunny”

Last night’s episode of Ray Donovan, “Sunny,” was anything but that. As we’ve repeatedly seen, Ray is excellent at dealing with his neurotic, demanding client base. He understands their motivations and what makes them tick, which allows him to fix their problems with aplomb. When it comes to his family life, however, Ray has not proven so adept at solving problems. He tries to fix things, but as we saw last night, those efforts are often misguided and rightfully rebuffed.

After the debacle at Conor’s birthday party, Ray tried to make amends with Terry and apologize for his use of the family gym as a laundering front. Terry is constantly reminding people that he is not a charity case, so it wasn’t a surprise that Ray’s explanation about using the gym to support his brother and launder his money was not well received. I still find it baffling that Terry really thought that the gym alone was making enough money to pay operational bills and a salary for him.

The writers made a great choice in not dragging out the revelation that Abby was cheating on Ray. Having warned Abby in last week’s episode that he was on to her, Ray charged Avi and Lena with the job of collecting evidence. Given Abby’s penchant for public displays of affection, it didn’t take much for the duo to take a few pics of Abby smooching Jim. Avi was devastated at having to tell Ray that Abby was cheating on him and offered a much “simpler” solution to the problem than showing Ray the pictures or allowing Ray to confront his wife and her lover – he’d just kill Jim. Lena was much more practical about the situation and had the reaction that most of us at home had – Ray has had numerous extra-marital affairs, so Abby finally stepping out really shouldn’t be a big deal. Avi’s reaction was a reminder of how grossly underused he and Lena are on the show. I realized how little I knew or understood about Avi when he reacted so emotionally to the revelation that Abby cheated.

The confrontation with Jim and Ray was great. It’s good to see that Jim isn’t the typical person that Ray is used to pushing around. He was quite unapologetic about his feelings for Abby and even told her that Ray came to see him. That, of course, led to a very uncomfortable confrontation between Ray and Abby as he continued to push this idea of the Truesville house as a cure to their marital problems. Abby’s rejection of the home led Ray to kick her out, followed by her kicking him out. For now, it looks like Abby won that battle. I’m still not convinced that Jim isn’t manipulating Abby at the direction of someone else or in an effort to climb the career ladder. For the first time, Ray appears to finally get that Abby’s issues are with him and him alone. It has nothing to do with a new house or her affair with Jim. If the solution requires him to change, this might be one problem he can’t fix.

Ray’s efforts to confront and make amends with Abby might have come off as sympathetic if he wasn’t still chatting up Kate and attempting to forge an emotional connection with her. After the reception to her article, Ray will likely get just what he’s asking for and then some – Kate will return to LA, but she will be there to pull at all the loose strings from Ray’s story about what happened with Sully.

Ray wasn’t the only Donovan spiraling in last night’s episode. Mickey can’t quite find a hustle that works for him. He was making inroads with a film producer, until Claudette’s husband showed up at a cocktail party with a Black woman on his arm who was not Claudette. Mickey’s future as a film producer is over for now, but he seemed content with his stolen silverware as a consolation prize.

And then there was the darkest storyline of the episode, which centered on Cookie. Fresh out of jail, Cookie is looking to recoup the money he gave to Recon to start up a record label. Instead of getting his repayment in cash, Cookie prefers to have managing rights over budding superstar, Marvin Gaye Washington. Cookie makes his intentions known with a surprise home invasion at Lee Drexler’s house. These scenes were extremely tense at times and downright comical at others. Lee reprimanding his wife for offering coffee to intruders was a fun break in the tension, as was Cookie noticing that Lee had a facelift and calling him out on it. Moments of levity aside, it was clear that Cookie was very serious about getting what he felt was owed him and had no interest in discussing contract law with Lee.

I have no idea how Lee walked away from the confrontation with Cookie and thought to himself that this was the kind of situation that could be resolved in a courtroom. Not only did Lee decide to renege on the deal in which Recon would turn Marvin over to Cookie, both Recon and Marvin made the fatal mistake of backing out of the agreement as well. With the character of Cookie seemingly created from a combination of every shady music executive stereotype of the late 90s, my first instinct was to cover my eyes as soon as Recon, Bridget and Marvin arrived at a stoplight after a day that left them high on love (and marijuana). I knew Recon wasn’t long for the world, but I was genuinely shocked when Cookie chose to shoot Marvin to send a message – instead of forcing the boy into a contract and earning money. Contrary to Lee “I know Black people, Ray” Drexler’s statement earlier, Cookie’s reputation meant more to him than “the Benjamins.” As a viewer, I was a bit put off by Lee’s statement, particularly on a show where we’ve mostly seen Black characters as rappers, prostitutes or on twerking videos for Mickey’s amusement. Daryll and Claudette have been the exception, but there’s been very little development of either character.

That aside, Recon and Marvin will now join Sully and Linda as dead characters who continue to loom large over the living. Despite what the previews suggest, I’m not too worried about Bridget being in the unenviable position of eye witness to Cookie’s double homicide. Although Cookie is as menacing as they come, I’m still putting my money on Ray Donovan‘s ability to fix this situation.

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