Ray Donovan: Handshake Deal Review

Mickey and Daryl meeting Mrs Minassin
Ray Donovan proves that crime, regardless of its class structure, or family ties, is addictive. While Liev Schreiber’s character may be a sentimental slob underneath that rock hard exterior, he is surrounded by many who have no soft and gooey center. Handshake Deal continues this season’s theme of familial contrast; Ray’s, Abby’s and the Finney’s. It also looks at sex and the penalties it causes when people play away as well as how much fun it is to be naughty.

Mickey’s daydream, at the start of the episode, is revealing as it is humorous. The 1960s feel to his vision, down to the matching Hawaiian shirts, highlights Mick’s wish. He wants to have a relationship with Ray and mourns the time lost where he severed the bonds with his son as evidenced by the time period hinted at in the “dream.”

This week Paige finally makes her move on Ray, Terry steps in to protect Bunchy, Abby buys the bar, Bridget gets her father’s, awkward, help at the college counseling session, the Mexican wrestling team moves out of the gym and Daryl screws up. Before the end credits roll, Mickey has been put in a position very similar to the Gary one, “Father Romero makes his move” like Paige, he is also targeting a Donovan; Bunchy. Mickey and Daryl throw a 15K party for some computer geeks that turns into a headache for Mick.

Ray’s Finney mission this week is to get back a burner phone that has very incriminating information on it, the cell belongs to Governor Verona. Varick Strauss tells Ray the assignment, a young former aide, aka lover of Verona’s took the phone and refuses to return it. Paige’s husband tells Donovan that this should stay between them; Varick and Ray.

Moments of note:

1) Bunchy and his not so little Mexican wrestler in the office. She has taken her boobs out of her top and begins fondling them while Bunchy, as ordered, watches from the floor. Ordered to fondle himself, Bunchy begins only to be interrupted by Terry. Cue much fumbling of body parts and clothing.

2) Abby visiting her father. While the encounter itself is not too memorable, it feels too real to be classed as entertainment, however, her father’s line about his illness is priceless. Abby asks, “What’s wrong.” “F***ing heart disease. Fall over a few times, they strap you to the bed, bill you to death.” Not only is this a true picture of health care in the US, but it is an accurate picture of how those suffering from that ailment must really feel.

3) Terry smacking the wrestler’s brother after he witnesses what he believes to be a “shake down.”

4)The two “film student” types earnestly discussing Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) and Bodie (Patrick Swayze) and their respective themes from the 1991 film Point Break. “It’s an emotivist recantation of Kant, dude,” says one, “Bodie’s a bank robber but he’s also a cool surfer guy which short circuits Johnny Utah’s whole FBI agent deal.” The other student replies, “Morality’s slave to passion…Classic f***ing Hume.” “Yeah,” says the first student, “how did you not see that.” The two move off camera leaving Ray to look on, his expression says he feels just like we do about this discussion; huh?

5)That recording on Governor Verona’a phone of Paige, a snippet of faux passion that threatens to, “bite her in the a**.” Add to this surreal moment of a bit of “posh totty” aka high class female on the pull, talking “dirty” to a fat politico, Ray’s reaction, and this is a premium standout moment.

6)Mick’s reaction to Grace Zabriskie‘s Mrs. Minassian and her veiled threat towards young Conor Donovan. Jon Voight does it all through the eyes. His look is the same one he got before “taking care” of Gary, the douchebag pimp.

*Sidenote* On the commentary track of The Grudge (the American remake of Takashi Shimizu’s cult classic J-horror Juon), the beautiful and talented KaDee Strickland talks about her awe at getting to work with Zabriskie who, according to KaDee “has been in everything.” With 148 credits to her name, Grace may not have been in “everything” but she has worked a lot. Mainly in roles that might be comparatively small, but in Grace’s hands, become infinitely memorable.

Back to the episode’s main plot. Paige is furious that her handshake deal has been circumvented and she orders Ray to “get rid of the guy.” Andrew, father dearest, reminds Paige that Ray works for him. This segues off into Ray’s meeting with the young former aide and lover of the governor who took the phone and then gave it to a legal professor.

The professor, a lawyer, is Ray’s next port of call and the teacher quotes the possession is 9/10 of the law adage and Ray leaves without the cell phone. Since he has made plans to attend Bridget’s school meeting, Donovan enlists the aid of his former employee, Lena. She agrees to help for twice her normal fee and Ray replies that she will get three times her rate. “I know what you’re worth,” he says smiling.

Bridget learns the truth behind the urban myth of her instructor’s wife’s death, and apart from learning that she got an ‘A’ on her latest Calculus exam, she also finds that he has a sense of humor.

The poor kid who started the whole mess with the phone, Briana, learns that no one is trustworthy in the world of law and politics when Ray tells her that the professor has plans to take the phone, and its incriminating evidence, to a press conference. This, after telling her that he would give it back. Ray, Briana and Lena get the phone back and Donovan flings the quote back in the prone lawyer’s face.

Ray talks Lena into coming back. Ray listens to the phone’s saved messages. Terry hits the wrestler’s brother and Mickey, along with Daryl, meet Mrs. Minassian. The meeting does not go well as the “bank” tells Donovan that they will be partners.

Andrew Finney asks for the phone and Ray tells him that he “got rid of it.” Finney is furious, “What part of bring me the phone did you not understand.” On the way out of Andrews office, Varick, the cuckold, asks about the phone. As does his wife Paige later when she meets with Ray. He offers to give Paige the phone later for a piece of the NFL deal. “Five percent,” he says. After a very short negotiation, he accepts three.

“You get the phone when I see something in writing,” Ray says. Paige moves forward, “You need that? You don’t trust me,” she says smiling as she moves forward to kiss Ray. After another very short conversation, they kiss again and Paige grins like a little girl, she has gotten what she wants, which is, apparently, Ray Donovan as well has her NFL vision and the chance to defeat daddy.

Bunchy mourns the loss of his female wrestler “dominatrix” and snaps at Terry. “We don’t all have to spend our life f***ing miserable,” he says to his brother. Mickey stops by Ray’s house with Conor. The two grownups talk after Conor goes upstairs. Mick offers to listen if Ray wants to talk. As he starts to leave, Ray asks his father about North Hollywood. Mickey tells him about the two bedroom apartment and the top-of-the-line grill (the kalamazoo).

Father Romero (played with splendid foreboding by Leland Orser) says a prayer for Bunchy and Abby comes home to find Ray and Dog on the couch. She smiles.

Another layer of Ray Donovan has been exposed. Rather interestingly, he never responded to Paige’s “open invitation” or interest in him until he heard the message she left Verona. After their short conversation, where she wept crocodile tears and claimed that they “just got carried away,” and Ray sliced through her theatrics to reveal that she was in it for what she could get, Donovan’s response to her changed.

For all her power, money and highbrow lineage, Paige revealed herself to be a flawed and normal human being underneath that cold exterior. Added to this was the revelation that, like Ray and Mickey, Andrew and Paige were a relationship broken by unreal and poor expectation. “I wanted to be accepted and he wanted to be needed,” [sic] Paige reveals.

It is ironic that Abby has returned just after Ray allows both Lena, back, and Paige, in. Ray Donovan airs Sundays on Showtime. Splendidly dark and brilliantly noir television.