What a taut, complex and darkly funny hour! This show really grows on you. With three episodes to go, it's nice to follow last week's quietly intimate temperature-taking with this little comedy of errors, but even more satisfying in the relationships and characters revisited that make it up, and the narrative momentum it continues to pick up as the ironies and ambiguities accrete. Still not perfect, but between last week and this one it's really setting the bar for itself.
As Avi drives Sully -- and the girlfriend, after all, and the poodle -- across the country toward LA, it becomes clearer and clearer to him that they are both crazy people. This theory is tested and proven when, after her dumb ass calls home and rats them out for no reason besides dumbness, Sully strangles her. To death! (Of all the James Woodsy scenes on this show, this is the James Woodsiest by far.) Avi is forced to dig a shallow grave somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico, and by the time he gets to LA he's just a frazzled nerve.
As is Ray, who figures out that Van Miller has sent Mickey Donovan into a meeting with Sean Walker, wired, and will be getting a full confession on tape... And the assassin he ordered up precisely to keep this from happening is delayed on a road trip. And his FBI contact Frank is pushing back, meaning Lena has to lure Frank's bigamist second family to the office under fake pretext. And fifty other things, all at the same time, all amazing.
The marvelous Tommy Wheeler promised to take Conor to the Kids' Choice Awards tonight, but this morning finds him distraught and as amazing as ever: He's getting shaken down by the Donoverse version of Harvey Levin, who wants to publish pictures of his quickie Vegas wedding to (yep) good old blackmailer Chloe, who has ditched him once again. So Ray has to spend the whole day getting him cleaned up and ready to take his kid on a fantasy date, while taking time out to do Ray Donovan-type fixer violences to Harvey and his bodyguard/boyfriend, and the whole thing is amazing. There's an extended sequence where he just wanders the office in his leather pants with a niacin drip -- giving people backrubs, switching clothes with Lena, being a total trainwreck -- that is simply riveting.
Meanwhile, Mickey is getting the whole story out of Sean Walker while pretending to develop their screenplay, which by the end has them both in tears of joy and excitement -- so much so that when Mickey and Van Miller go back to Miller's basement lair for a debrief, and he learns that Miller's been keeping this entire investigation secret from the rest of the Bureau, he takes a quiet moment to let Van savor his near-victory before, of course, blowing his head off.
Meaning that Mickey has just saved his son's bacon, his own movie deal, and rendered pretty much the entire conspiracy pointless. Which is great, because it means the conflict between them goes back to being about whatever Ray is so damn upset about: Nobody knows about Colleen, nobody knows about Sean Walker, and nobody knows about Sully. It's really just back to being about Ray hating his dad for reasons nobody else can really get behind or comprehend. And by the time Sully finally arrives, even though Ray doesn't know the investigation's over, even he seems fairly exhausted by the whole Sully/assassination thing. Me, I'm just glad the lady and the poodle are dead. Those guys really brought out the worst in him.
Next week: Bunchy find a priest to beat up, Daryll and possibly other Donovan boys finally find themselves disillusioned with old Mickey, Ezra warns Ray not to throw away his beautiful life (and rather functional marriage) on this vendetta he still can't explain to anybody, and Abby holds Ray's hand through another breakdown, and presumably nobody mourns or remembers or ever again mentions Van Miller.
But I do. RIP, Van Miller. You are my favorite, forever and ever.
Ray's pressuring his FBI contact Frank trying to stop Van Miller's investigation before it takes down his whole operation, while also engineering his father's murder: Mickey's on the hook, working undercover for Van Miller to clear his own name. What Ray doesn't know -- and would prefer not to know, frankly -- is that working Sean Walker has Mickey falling back under Hollywood's spell. On the homefront, Ray's working his way back into his children's good graces after a violent loss of control, and his client Tommy Wheeler is off the wagon again.
Catherine: "Sully has to pee!"
Sully: "Shut the fuck up."
Catherine: "He has old-man issues with his bladder!"
Sully: "Shut the fuck up."
Avi: "We like just stopped."
Catherine: "But he has to pee! You have to stop! I somehow don't understand how being on the run from the FBI works, despite having done it for like twenty years."
Sully: "Shut the fuck up."
Avi: "Shut the fuck up."
Everybody: "Shut the fuck up."
She does not shut the fuck up. She will never shut the fuck up. It is time to pull over again.
Ray: "So we're good? I know we haven't talked about how I put a gun in your grandfather's mouth in front of a burning-down house, but since you haven't gotten any piercings I guess we're doing okay?"
Conor: "I am my mother's son. If you can get me a date with Tommy Wheeler to the Kids' Choice Awards tonight, I'll stop withholding my affection."
Ray: "Primarily I am resistant to that because my priorities lie elsewhere, but I also have a fear that he is going to give you blowjobs."
Conor: "Grow up. He likes trannies. And girls, when he's drunk. I am neither of those."
Ray: "Valid points, all. Don't say 'tranny.' I'll call him."
Ray: "What I hear you saying is, you double-dog dare me."
Catherine: "[More bitching.]"
Ray: "Avi, why does my GPS say you are stopped in the desert? Because I don't know if you know this, but we hired the FBI's Most Wanted Man to come kill somebody on the other side of the country."
Avi: "I understand the gravity of all of this but I think you're underestimating the bullshit that Catherine brings to the table. Also, it is becoming clear to me that your friend Sully is also 100 percent fucked up."