The feeling of sheer disappointment when a favourite TV show is cancelled is an experience that happens to most of us at some point in our lives. It is even more raw when the series is denied a dignified conclusion which satisfyingly ties up all loose ends. This is precisely the case with 'Ray Donovan' which, after seven thrilling and superbly written seasons, Showtime has regretfully put an end to.
It’s been a while since I’ve found a TV show as intriguing and gripping as 'Ray Donovan'. In this melodrama, Liev Schreiber plays the titular character as we see him navigate between his family life and profession as a fixer for the rich and famous. But the perils that come with the nature of his job often infiltrate his family life and jeopardise the meaningful relationships he forms. Depicting fantastically how the mistakes of one person can result in the collapse of everything is what makes this crime drama remarkable. The Donovan patriarch, Mickey Donovan (Jon Voight), arguably starts the chain of downfalls just after his release from prison by reverting to the same ill-advised exploits that got him behind bars in the first place. What motivates him above all is money: his cupidity is founded on the belief that it will compensate for the years he spent incarcerated. His return brings a series of revelations and buried secrets which affect each of his sons differently.
What then becomes apparent is that Ray Donovan is a man who is severely afflicted by his intense hatred towards his father, which then incites his harmful urges. He is extremely skilled as a fixer, regularly rectifying other people’s wrongs, covering controversies and ruining reputations with aplomb. The issue is that he cannot fix himself. In the final season, Ray attempts to address the issues of his past by seeing a therapist. Even though only small snippets of his sessions appear, it is the most candid we ever see him: a different, more vulnerable side masked for years under his violent outbursts and bouts of alcoholism becomes visible. It is therefore unfortunate that the series’ cancellation doesn’t allow us to see how therapy works out for him. Another story-line with an open ending is that of Ray’s daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsey), who planned to move to Los Angeles with her husband after becoming disillusioned with life in New York: unknown to her, he has tragically been killed in crossfire just as they are about to embark on this new journey together. How will Bridget learn the truth? Finally, Mickey’s plot-line remains loose ended: although he has attained his lifelong goal of getting rich by stealing shares, we are not even given the chance to see what he does with his newfound riches. These pressing questions may now never be answered.
While it is difficult to accept these cliff-hangers in the final episode, a series’ ability to keep you engrossed and wanting more indicates how powerful it is. 'Ray Donovan' not only has a stellar cast but throughout its seven year run the episodes have consistently been stimulating and compelling. I find solace in the series ending on a strong note, and in a bittersweet way, its uncertain ending actually endows us with the freedom to create our own ending to this phenomenal series.
Edited by Juliette Howard, Deputy Film Editor