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Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Image Credit: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

'Ray Donovan' makes Stu-ing up trouble work for his benefit

Season 2 | Episode 3 | “Gem and Loan” | Aired July 27, 2014

Not too far from his Mexican refuge and yet worlds away, Mickey serves his parole as dishwasher/carrot peeler in a Mexican restaurant. His new job—his new life—is arduous, but he tries to make the best of it, mingling with other workers during a break. Just as he learns of the miracles of medical marijuana, Ronald show up, rocking no-nonsense Aviators and an ankle monitor kit.

Claudette calls Mickey to meet as soon as Ronald restricts his movements to only work and home. He thinks it’s a hot date. She sounds worried and serious. Mickey is determined to take her out, oblivious to her tone and Ronald’s warnings.

Back at his depressing studio, Mickey meets his neighbor, fellow ex-con Shorty. He offers Mickey his box of tools to take off his ankle monitor. They bond quickly, not having to say much to understand exactly who they are and what they’ve both gone through in prison.

Shorty even offers to wear his monitor while Mickey is out on his “date” in exchange for grilled white fish, no butter, if they got it. Mickey bursts into tears, touched by Shorty’s kindness. His outward display of gratitude is swiftly cut short when Shorty starts coughing. “You’re not contagious, are ya?” Mickey quips.

In greener southern California pastures, Ray, Abbie, and Bridget meet with Bridget’s principal/guidance counselor/who cares to go over her private school entrance exam scores. Bridget is bright, scoring well enough to attend the prestigious Bel-Air Academy. Bridget is keen to go, even the harried public school official thinks it’s a good idea. (Who wouldn’t want to go to Bel-Air Academy with alums like the Fresh Prince and Carlton?) The only obstacle is Stu Feldman, who last season banned Ray and Abbie’s kids from attending any area private schools. And so, it’s time to revisit the most down-to-earth movie producer in all of Hollywood! Yay.

Ray visits Stu’s office to see if the big-shot producer has mellowed out since their last encounter. Of course, he runs into Ashley Rucker, the unstable former Disney star and Stu’s mistress. Appropriately, she’s now rocking a Miley Cyrus–esque rebellious look. Yup, she’s still crazy. Yup, she’s still best in (very) small doses.

The new Stu, literally Stu on steroids, is quick to make a deal with Ray in order to rescind his threat to ban Bridget from Bel-Air Academy. He wants to have sex with porn star Lexi Steele or, as he describes, “the Meryl Streep of gang bangs.” Stu has tried in vain before and needs to know why all of his offers are rejected. Ray is on the case!

Tenacious Female Reporter has arrived in L.A., and she already making waves. Cochran gives her the official FBI explanation on Sully’s death. Undeterred, she asks him about Mickey and Catherine’s respective connections to Sully. Cochran feigns ignorance and a politician’s smile. He also refuses to let her interview Frank, explaining that he’s “on another case.” If “on another case” means he’s on another case of beer, then he’s right.

Informing Cochran of the “unpleasantness” that happened to Catherine in the desert, Ray takes it upon himself to “take care of” Tenacious Female Reporter. And by “take care of,” he means to sweet-talk her and mildly discourage her from investigating the Donovans.

Nevertheless, Ray deals with his Stu problem like a pro. He meets with Ricky, the mustachioed head of the porn studio, who also happens to be Lexi Steele’s husband. He’s vehemently, violently against nonprofessionals requesting to pay to sleep with his wife. Given that information, Ray allows Stu to dig his own grave, feigning failure to fulfill Stu’s perverted dream come true.

Stu, under the clever pseudonym Rod, rents out one of his own studios in a pretend porn shoot. It goes swimmingly for him—that is, until he puts down the camera he’s using to shoot the totally legit, not-fake porn movie. Pro tip for these, um, unique, situations: Never put down the camera. A shove and a blow to the head later, Stu has stewed up major trouble for himself—the perfect situation for Ray to swoop in and fix. Equipped with $200,000 for his new house and Bridget’s spot at Bel-Air Academy, Ray is making good on his word to his family.

Meanwhile, Abbie attends another session with Dr. Data Finkel. She lists all of the good things Ray is providing for her and the family and starts to cry. She says she feels guilty for her selfishness. Data asks if they’ve discussed the abuse. Of course, they haven’t. He writes one word on his notepad, displaying it to Abbie—”BRIBE.”

Speaking of bribes, one good look at Ronald’s watch and Mickey figures out why he’s receiving such special treatment. Ever the master manipulator, Mickey convinces Ronald to let him see Claudette at a real restaurant rather than his sad apartment. Despite Mickey’s professions of love to Claudette, Claudette remains uneasy. She reveals that she had to make another sworn statement with the Beverly Hills cops on Mickey’s whereabouts during Sean Walker’s death.

Ray and Tenacious Female Reporter meet for drinks, getting to know more about each other. When asked about his wife and kids, Ray tells her his daughter is “a lot like you actually.” That’s weird, right? Am I the only one who thinks that’s weird to say when you’re flirting with someone?

Anyway, they seem to like each other more than they expected. Not only are they attracted to one another, they’re attracted to each other’s tenacity. Oh, brother.

Stray Bullets

  • Don’t think I didn’t notice the phallic placement of Mickey’s last peeled carrot.
  • Want to drive me crazy? Say “irregardless” all the time.
  • Stu’s poor assistant, Scott, has to deal with so much: “What happens on Stage 6 stays on Stage 6.”
  • Judy Hoffman Neighbor Hi is the worst.
  • Long Story Shorty is the best.
  • It’s funny that Cochran calls Tenacious Female Reporter the “Boston Globe‘s Lois Lane,” because it’s too true.
  • Does every L.A.-era teen couple go to the quintessential cliff-side Makeout Point to hook up?
  • Despite my ambivalence toward Tenacious Female Reporter Kate McPherson, I love the fact that Vinessa Shaw is Allison from Hocus Pocus!
  • Number of f-bombs dropped: 23, plus or minus a few Stu muttered as he squirmed with steroid-related discomfort.

Ray Donovan, rated TV-MA, airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

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