‘Ray Donovan’ 4×9 Recap: The Russians Rush In

Ted Levine as Little Bill and Paula Jai Parker as Sylvie on Ray Donovan.

Ted Levine as Little Bill and Paula Jai Parker as Sylvie on Ray Donovan. Photo via Showtime

Well, well, well. Look like the chickens are coming home to roost for the ol’ Donovan boys.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the lack of the accountability Ray Donovan affords its characters, Ray especially. The man is, for the most part, untouchable. Always smarter. Always one step ahead, even from Lena and Avi, whose jobs it is to keep him safe and informed. While this can be a bit of a drag for week-to-week storytelling, in which Ray continually scrapes together a victory by the time the episode’s credits roll, it also means, when the consequences do arrive: boy, do they arrive.

We all knew Belikov wasn’t going to go quietly into the good night, but before we get to that, let’s talk about Abby: who faces a reckoning of her own and gives Ray and Abby their best tandem material since the season began. Sonia arriving, daughter in tow, at the Donovan’s doorstep and coming face to face with Abby for the first time since Ray’s half-confession of infidelity, is a wonderful little scene. The women of ‘Ray Donovan’ get their due all over the place this week. Embeth Davidtz and Paula Malcomson do some fine work together, and Abby’s inclusion into the A-plot is welcome. Like Conor last week, she’s tired of her specter of a husband. She’s tired of things happening to her. Refusing to be sent away to Boston while Ray deals with Dimitri, Abby’s finally taking a stand: she’s in it ’til the end.

Sonia herself, always somewhat a frustrating cipher, also gets to flesh herself out a little more. Her love for her daughter, he respect for the Donovans, her absolute, reverential terror of Dimitri, they all come through brightly, and never more tellingly than when she tell’s Ray he’s better off disappearing than going toe to toe with Dimitri, if it comes down to it. She’s seen what Ray can do, and still knows he could never win.

We may get Ray’s decision on that sooner rather than later. We still have three episodes left of the season, but it certainly feels like an endgame has come screaming into focus this week. In fact, over in the Desert, it sure seems like things with Mickey have kind of been… wrapped up?

Mickey’s attempt to re-rob Bill Primm with Bunchy showcases Ray Donovan at its best and its worst, never quite sure whether it wants to be a screwball caper or a violent, nasty crime thriller. We get both here, as the botched job goes just about how one would expect. Alongside the implications of sexual abuse towards Sylvie and a tense, vicious standoff between Primm and Mickey, we also get Bunchy doing his best to intimidate Primm’s mute, wheelchair-bound mother, which amounts to him holding a gun and telling her (with futility) about how he was never a strong swimmer.

Of course, as we all had some to expect, Sylvie is shot and killed during the standoff. Mickey was never going to get his dream getaway to Boston, and the show naturally wants to keep Jon Voight around, so it was inevitable she would bite the dust. Ray would never admit it, but there’s a lot of him in his father: pushing themselves, and those around them, further and further. Their pigheadedness eventually hurting someone. Mickey gets his money, he gets away, he gets to live. But those who love him don’t. Not always.

That leaves us back with Ray, who, for the one thousandth time, completely ignores Lena and Avi, and concocts a hugely convoluted plan to fly Sonia and her daughter out of the USA and into hiding. Ray gets advice on how to handle the situation left and right: Avi staunchly advocating for Sonia’s death, and Abby pleading with Ray to let her live. “Don’t kill her, even if you should.” She tells him.

And so, Sonia emerges from LA unbloodied, unlike Lena, who must pose as Sonia, lure Vlad from the Donovan household, and shoot him in the head. After countless episodes of Lena doing nothing but sitting in a dark room speaking into a phone, it was nice to have her back in the action, even if, y’know, she had to commit murder.

Avi fares… less well, getting himself almost immediately captured by the Russians. Ray Donovan pulls off a neat little trick at the end of the episode here: wrapping everything up with a neat little bow and then blowing the whole thing to smithereens. As Ray watches Sonia’s chartered flight take off to greener pastures, he gets a call from Avi, who’s beaten to within an inch of his life. “Bring me my niece,” growls Dimitri, “or I kill your Jew.” Gotta hand it to the guy: he doesn’t mince words.

There’s a fight coming to Ray Donovan, and he’s going to be without one of his greatest assets for it. With three hours to go this season, it’s hard to tell exactly what’s planned for the endgame, but I can only hope Terry’s date with the lady cop goes well. Really looking forward to that.

‘Ray Donovan’ 4×9 Recap: The Russians Rush In