TV Show Review

TV Review: RAY DONOVAN: Season 4, Episode 1: Girl with Guitar [Showtime]

Liev Schreiber Ismael Cruz Cordova Ray Donovan Girl With Guitar

Ray Donovan Girl with Guitar Review

Showtime’s Ray Donovan: Season 4, Episode 1: Girl with Guitar contained a moment that the viewer probably thought they would never see: Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) attending and taking part in a S.N.A.P. (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) meeting. It was an extraordinary character moment for a character whose lifestyle was keeping secrets and not sharing his feelings.

Near death experiences change people as do coming into close association with people that have suffered what you have. Both happened to Ray in the opening moments of Girl with Guitar. Both introduced Hector Campos (Ismael Cruz Cordova), a new character in the series that will most-likely be a major narrative player this season.

Humble, sober, church-going Ray didn’t just say he was trying to change by doing “the work,” he was actually in the midst of it during Girl with Guitar. Ray was actively trying to restrain himself and change. This was illustrated when he didn’t take a top dollar offer to solve Sonia Kovitzky (Embeth Davidtz)’s problem.

Solving problems and troublesome situations is Ray Donovan’s bread and butter.

The problem and eventual situation in Girl with Guitar between Los Angeles Police Officer Vincent Simmons (Billy Lush) and Ray Donovan was laughable. Let me see if I’ve got this straight: a police officer, in the middle of the worst spree of cop-on-citizen crime in American history, gets subdued by a world-famous boxer, gagged, has his service weapon taken away, and gets shoved into a hotel bathroom. Then when that police officer is released by an accessory to those crimes, that police officer decides to have multiple alcoholic drinks (and swap stories) with one of his captives, a no-name criminal fixer, while still on the job. GTFOOH!

I thought this was all going to be revealed as a elaborate dream sequence but it wasn’t. The writers of Ray Donovan actually wanted the viewer to buy that sequence of events as something plausible that could or would actually happen. Surreal scenes work best when they skate the line of fantasy and reality, balanced somehow, never veering too far into the realm of one or the other. The hotel scene with Officer Simmons when he was released and ungagged was non-sense. Being an alcoholic doesn’t mean you are stupid, are ignorant of the world you live in, or lack base-line common-sense. Simmons was manufactured to be a mixture of all those elements. Instead of simply paying the cop off, making him an offer Simmons would have been a fool to refuse e.g. a million dollars to keep his mouth shut, Ray enacted a Huckleberry Finn-like elaborate plan that contained multiple variables that could have spelled Ray’s doom (e.g. people on the sidewalk recording Ray behind the wheel of Simmon’s patrol car with HD cellphones, etc.). As Ray staggered out of the crashed patrol car, his DNA dripping from his head, I didn’t know what to think. I knew I had really seen all of that play out but I couldn’t believe it.

Mickey Donovan (Jon Voight)’s latest criminal scheme in Girl with Guitar was low-ball and short-sighted. What was interesting about Mickey’s new situation was Mickey’s evidenced charm and ability to: 1.) cultivate nefarious and like-minded associates out of thin air and 2.) execute plans somewhat successfully with multiple moving parts. It has never been explained on the series why Mickey can’t work a normal job, except his infantile belief that Donovans make their living on the fringes of society. Mickey is on the fringe of returning to prison yet he can’t stop himself from gleefully dancing on that edge. In Girl with Guitar, Mickey threw away a prized bar-tending position in a casino to “roll” would-be Johns for nickles and dimes. When you watch Mickey, the viewer is seeing a man that is his (and his family’s) own worst enemy.

Abby Donovan (Paula Malcomson)’s medical situation in Girl with Guitar brought Abby from the background of the TV series to the forefront again. Abby spoke about the proposed treatment for her breast cancer like many Americans would whom only possessed a high school education: directly and laced with profanity, making it all the more real. Like Ray working S.N.A.P. in Girl with Guitar, Abby was clearly working the six stages of grief about her cancer diagnosis.

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

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