Ray Donovan’s latest Season 7 episode “A Good Man is Hard to Find” appeared as bleak as ever, Ray on the brink of collapse… Until one of TV’s great all-time surprises.
Warning: This review contains major spoilers for Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 2.
In the ultimate bit of irony to Ray’s statement tonight, “There are no happy endings to a Mickey story,” there was one. We’ve become accustomed as TV viewers not just as Ray Donovan fans but for every series in the modern era to be pessimists. Thus, even though it seemed rational that Mickey Donovan would survive his brush with death, IMDB records listing future episodes for Jon Voight, promo photos, even a mention this episode of a missing body… It seemed less and less plausible as the episode went on that Mickey’s future appearances wouldn’t just be flashbacks/hallucinations. Abby Donovan style. Sure, the series has teased Mickey as a goner before. Last season with the faked heart attack in the Season 6 trailer but this time was different.
There was a gradual, sophisticated buildup with the clover leaf tattoo/gas tanker in the Season 7 premiere that made this occasion feel real. Especially, on the heels of losing massive co-lead Abby Donovan and Season 6 breakout star Mac, it seemed like everyone is fair game potentially.
Kudos to Writer/Director Joshua Marston for breaking away from the pack of TV grief givers. He had us all going, even the usually stone-faced Ray was shedding waterworks and showing raw emotion over his father’s “passing.” Then the door knock happened and despite being met with a customary Donovan family greeting, a punch to the face…. There was no Donovan fan or family member that wasn’t grinning from ear to ear. Marston has given TV audiences hope once again.
Nobody wants to see Mickey Donovan take that final bow, not now, not ever. For once, expecting the worst, hoping for the best came true. There will be no relishing and holding onto every flashback and hallucination as the cameos dwindle down this time around. Mickey is alive and in the flesh, taking actions in the present. Not a ghost, not living in someone’s mind when they’re on the floor, rock bottom. The Joker to Ray’s Batman, forever to continue this dance.
Amber’s internal debate and Ray’s best scene of the episode
Mac’s ex-wife Amber was offered money by Ray for the recently deceased to take the rap for several Donovan murders during Bridget’s kidnapping. Initially Amber accepted the offer reluctantly, a revised story for what would have been the equivalent of Mac’s pension. In the tale, Mac goes down heroically shooting after the crooked officers threatening his wife and child before taking his own life. Ray in turn, places Mac’s belongings/clothes and DNA at the scene of the crime. At the last second, however, Amber called Ray and decided she couldn’t do it. She offered the money bag back to Ray but he wanted her to keep it anyway.
Ray had been experiencing devastating guilt and emotion after seeing Mac’s son again. In an excellently acted scene by Liev Schreiber, he holds back tears as he tells Mac’s son that his “father loved him very much… He told him that.” There was something about this scene that really resonated as a change in Ray’s character after the therapy sessions on his own youth. Seeing Mac’s son as a younger Ray, feeling indirectly responsible for why his father wasn’t coming home anymore. Mac had told Ray to stay away last season after all.
Terry presumably drank Ayahuasca last episode, and both his body and mind don’t seem to have reacted well. Terry’s head was noticeably shaking as he left the ‘alternative medicine’ spot early in the episode. Later on, he was uncharacteristically verbally brutal toward Daryll, who just wanted a photo of Mickey with all the Donovans together for his urn. Terry also left his phone behind, which could provide major leftover evidence with all of Ray’s missed calls, voicemails and text messages. However, the brew did give Terry a vision of what would happen to his father… Will these visions continue as Season 7 progresses?
Liev Schreiber gave Ray Donovan fans hope on Wednesday night, writing on Instagram that “It’s too soon to say how or when, but with a little luck and your ongoing support, there will be more Ray Donovan.”
Ray Donovan’s cancellation may be on ice at Showtime after fan outcry on social media and Change.org Petitions for Season 8. Liev Schreiber took to Instagram to tell fans that “their voices have been heard” and with continued support and luck, Ray Donovan might get the ending fans, cast, and crew all deserve. Instead of the last symbolic image Ray Donovan fans would have now, Ray with a shovel burying someone six feet under (no spoilers!).
Schreiber even subtly referenced fans as the Fixer this time around, commenting “To all the Donofans who got their bats and beat the odds. Thank you” A miraculous resurrection on Showtime would prove the strength viewers wield today with their subscriptions, and really their wallets. There’s endless entertainment content to be had today on countless competitors, so every ounce of fan goodwill counts more than ever.
Of course, Schreiber’s message didn’t necessarily say that should Ray Donovan continue it would 100% be on Showtime. There’s still the chance the series will move to a Netflix or other streaming platform ala Designated Survivor but it seems unlikely on Showtime’s side. It’s the perfect PR storm on behalf of Showtime to bring Ray Donovan back on their network and show their subscribers how important they truly are. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.
The first hints that perhaps the Ray Donovan cancellation decision was could be on ice came on February 5th… Showrunner David Hollander did an interview with Vulture’s Brian Tallerico, where Hollander commented, “The sets are still standing. The people are still contracted. The mechanisms are in place.”
Seemed like Hollander was alluding to Ray Donovan not being 100% finito yet. Hollander also cited the expensive cost of shooting in NY as a big factor. Does that mean that if a Season 8 does occur, the series will return to Los Angeles? It did sure seem ominous when Bridget Donovan wanted to move back to LA with Smitty…
Ray Donovan fans have opened multiple Petitions on Change.org imploring Showtime or even Netflix to resurrect the series from its still-fresh cancellation for Season 8.
Ray Donovan fans will not let cancellation happen without a fight, they will “not go gentle into that good night.” Paraphrasing poet Dylan Thomas. Five separate petitions have sprung up on Change.org, some demanding Showtime keep the series alive for at least a final eighth season… Others looking ahead to a Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime move. Of course, the chance Showtime would give a cornerstone brand of their network to Netflix (last season or not) or any other competing streaming brand is probably a long shot. * All currently running petition links available later in this article.
Showrunner David Hollander potentially ignited this petitioning spark in a recent interview with Vulture’s Brian Tallerico, where Hollander commented that he “would never say never” about doing the series somewhere else. Adding, “The sets are still standing. The people are still contracted. The mechanisms are in place.” Thus, Ray Donovan fans are trying to make something happen before those sets are torn down and the actors involved move on to other projects. As Jim Carrey once famously said as Lloyd Christmas, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?!”
‘Bring back Ray Donovan’ Petitions:
Showtime, Bring back Ray Donovan for Season 8 – 2,046 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Marana Coluccio, started 4 days ago
Petition for Showtime/Netflix to bring Ray Donovan back for 8th Season!!! – 1,934 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Eric Cox, started 1 week ago
Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu pick up Ray Donovan for final season – 827 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Allison Massimini, started 1 week ago
DO NOT CANCEL RAY DONOVAN – 272 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Jacqueline Herrera, started 1 week ago
Bring Back Ray Donovan For Series Ending Season 8 – 27 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Mark Uliano, started 1 week ago
Exploring factors that may have led to the series’ cancellation:
Be sure to read Stained Lullaby: The end of Ray Donovan, why great shows are canceled for an in-depth analysis of the show’s declining ratings and how key cast members like Paula Malcomson (Abby Donovan) departing may have ultimately contributed to the series’ cancellation.
Another contributing factor? Reportedly, production costs. The same thing that is said to have led to the original demise of HBO’s Deadwood, one of television’s greatest shows. Showrunner David Hollander mentioned in the Vulture interview (Published Feb. 5th) that there were expensive costs for running the series, particularly the move to New York City. “To be fair to our bosses, Ray Donovan, for the Showtime model, was a very expensive show.”
The writing was on the wall the moment Ray Donovan’s cast publicly appealed to fans on social media to lobby Showtime to keep the series going. If Ray Donovan of all people needs someone else to be a Fixer, all is lost. Cancelation was already imminent and underway.
If you’ve been following the TV industry for any length of time, you know ratings and social media numbers are the defacto judge and jury. When those numbers fail to exhibit much-worshipped growth for an extended period, the series will meet its executioner via guillotine in short order. There is no escaping this symbiotic waltz. No critical acclaim or eyewitness testimony of prior good deeds/scenes can rescue from the fate of the public square.
Thus, when cast members of any show, not just Ray Donovan rally the troops for one last run, consider it a last stand. The Alamo. Sure, once in a blue moon, the strategy works and a series gets to live on borrowed time like Designated Survivor did for one more season on a different platform or network… But it’s typically staving off the inevitable cancellation if the numbers were already dwindling.
A good portion of the gavel is a simple game of math. Showtime’s Homeland made it to a final season not because it was an objectively better show than Ray Donovan but because it was able to maintain its numbers over a 1 rating consistently. Homeland has not dipped under a 1 rating for more than three episodes of its entire run, a pretty remarkable achievement. Family Guy lived on because of exceptional DVD sales after its initial cancellation, Last Man Standing was averaging high ratings still on ABC when it got the axe and FOX was always its parent company.
Despite Ray Donovan’s consistent output of excellent writing and acting, the series genuinely seemed to never fully recover in the ratings department after Abby’s character death. Paula Malcomson’s impact and dedicated fanbase can’t be understated, in fact, her departure from the series may have led to its end. Some may argue it was the move to New York narratively. But it was the logically place to go to soft reboot the series after Ray lost Abby. A universal concept of ‘getting away from it all’ after losing a loved one.
Ray Donovan’s opening Season 6 episodes were a thing of beauty even if you had never watched the series before. Domenick Lombardozzi as Mac was a perfect new addition alongside Ray and you had Hollywood royalty in Susan Sarandon as Samantha Winslow continuing on a series regular. The scripts were must see TV. Yet, Ray Donovan’s sixth season slipped under a 1 rating until episode six “A Girl Named Maria” (1.05 rating)…
Let’s be a bit more generous and count episode 5 “Ellis Island” which scored a 0.99 according to Show Buzz Daily, that’s still close to midway through the season. The show would once again slip below a 1 for episodes nine (0.93 rating) and ten (0.95 rating). The warning signs were in place. Perhaps, had Mac lived on another season, numbers would have gradually improved as the character was much loved on social media.
However, Ray Donovan’s seventh season opened under a 1 (0.91 rating) and only hit over it three times all season (1.00, 1.02, 1.05). Just enough to make Showtime consider giving the long running series another chance but apparently not enough to grant it. Ray Donovan’s Season 7 Finale scored a 0.12 in the coveted 18-49 department according to Show Buzz Daily, that’s #52nd for cable shows that evening. Behind Lego Jurassic World on Nickelodeon and ‘Naked and Afraid: Alone’ on Discovery Channel.
Mike Tyson Mysteries in comparison on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block scored a 0.37 in the 18-49 demographic and came in sixth. Starting to get the brutal, icy picture of what happened? Remember, if actors are appealing to an audience they likely already know something the audience doesn’t. It would have taken Ray Donovan trending #1 on Twitter for a few days at the very least to fight off the cancellation reaper.
Truly, when is the last time you really remember a cast appealing publicly and fortunes being reversed? It certainly did not work for Lodge 49. A public plea is almost like a kiss of death to a Television series, a surefire warning signs thing are even worse behind the scenes than imagined. The castle has been infiltrated, and there’s not enough firepower to fight them all off. Before you know it, another excellent show is buried before its time.
Notice earlier, it’s mentioned a good portion is numbers. A hearty slice, not the entire pie. It’s not necessarily all black and white, hard math. Even raw numbers aren’t always enough. 24’s original run was canceled with a 9.31 rating for its eighth season finale. Married with Children’s close to end of Season 11 two-parter hit a 15.20. Yet, their overall ratings at the time were still considered ‘declining.’ It’s all relative. They would be an advertiser goldmine today in the age of streaming. One of the greatest TV shows of all time in Deadwood, once got cancelled due to budgeting concerns.
Don’t underestimate how an executive board’s subjective pen can change the entire fate of a show or network either. Just don’t bring critical merit into the equation. Merit never had anything to do with why a show lives or dies.