Ray Donovan Season 4 Episode 1 Review: Girl with Guitar

That's not a premiere anyone has to watch more than once.

As a matter of fact, Ray Donovan Season 4 Episode 1 was a bit of a disappointment. The series normally starts out strong, but there was nothing in the premiere to indicate that what we'll see this season will be anything we haven't already seen before.

While it's always a pleasure to see more of Liev Schreiber's stellar performance as the titular character, it's not enough to carry an entire series. Maybe if we had been given an opportunity to see the new, improved Ray Donovan (the man), things would be different. 

Abby's Men - Ray Donovan

Instead, we were given lip service to a new, improved Ray Donovan (the man) who has been going to church and to confession and no longer boozing it up. He never even made it a week to Sunday mass before the only way he could see to rescue a new client (and good friend) was to booze it up.

I appreciate that it could be the nature of his job to do that sort of thing, but it just didn't add up. Ray was always more intelligent than the writing lent itself in this premiere episode, and that worries me.

We were barely shown any story behind Ray's great friendship with Hector Campos. So Hector is a wealthy man who had a similar problem and also worked with Father Romero. 

To show his gratitude to Romero, he helped out Ray. That much was clear. it was also easy to understand Ray would become indebted to the man for being somewhat of a savior when Ray had nowhere else to turn.

But would it have been too difficult to pare back on the useless Mickey drivel to develop the friendship between Ray and Hector a bit more?

Or even cut the 30-second segments of Terry trying to become a priest (wasn't he excommunicated just 20 seconds ago?) or of Abby discovering she has breast cancer.

Those two stories are big enough that they deserve more airtime to be fleshed out than what they were given. Frankly, the way they were introduced was kind of embarrassing.

But, thank goodness the precious minutes that should have been giving more meat to Ray's backstory with Hector or the new plots with Terry and Abby were gobbled up by Mickey being an ass, something he has been repeatedly and without changing for over three seasons.

Oh heck, let's just get it out there. I wasn't a fan of Mickey's storyline during Ray Donovan Season 3, and if this cockamamie Buffalo Bill's Casino beginning is how he'll be utilized all of Ray Donovan Season 4, then I'm going to have a lot of nits to pick this summer, as well.

Jon Voight can be surrounded with Emmy Awards and Oscars and nothing can make a deadbeat Mickey Donovan who tries the same petty schemes time and again getting the same results entertaining this far into the game.

The character needs to grow. Something has to give. He needs to be arrested and go to prison, he needs to be killed, or he needs to become a feeble imbecile playing bingo at the old folks home because the old man into petty crime isn't amusing anymore.

And watching Mickey on a one-direction charge going nowhere is exactly what has me worried about the decision to give lip service to Ray and his new life without showing us what that man looked like.

I guess the best we're going to get are visions of that time period through Ray's dreams or...daydreams. He's not always asleep when his mind wanders. And he's not smoking peyote like his ass of a father. 

Oh well, maybe Ray will pick himself back up and won't skip a beat. Maybe staying clean will be easy for him despite drinking an entire bottle of whiskey. From what I know of drinking, it doesn't work that way. It's hard work staying on the wagon, and to make light of it is missing the point.

Similarly, it's surprising Father Romero partnered up Ray with a guy who was walking such a thin line like Hector. Not knowing more about him and the time he and Ray spent together robs us of understanding too much, including why this guy is suddenly so into drugs and why it's such a surprise to Ray.

A clean and straight Ray doesn't seem like the kind of man to ruin a good policeman's career for a man who may not be that honorable. He never was before, but we're to believe it of him now? Why? 

And why would Ray think for a second that having a cop wreck his patrol car from the passenger seat would pass muster when it started to be investigated? It won't. But they'll probably pretend like nobody notices the discrepancy in Vincent's injuries. I have to hope I'm wrong.

I've never been a fan of Bridget, but she's the smartest person in the family right now. She's taking a break and trying to figure things out. It makes sense. Quit calling her home. Let her find herself. Maybe she'll get lucky and break free.

And Ismael Cruz Cordova, who plays Hector? Good looking guy. At least I can't complain about the lack of eye candy. His acting is impressive. Maybe we'll get lucky with his character down the road. The chemistry between him and Liev Schreiber so far is on par, and that's half the battle. 

There. Something positive! Please remember a less than stellar review seasons in only comes because a series has proven to that much better previously. Ray Donovan can do more than "Girl with Guitar" offered.

Maybe they knew it would be up against the Game of Thrones Season 6 finale and threw the worst they had to offer at the beginning. Hey, it could happen.

Were you more impressed with the premiere than I was? What do you hope happens with the family as the season progresses? What new could occur that you'd find interesting? 

If you need to catch up with any of the madness, you can watch Ray Donovan online via TV Fanatic.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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