'Ray Donovan' Finale: Ray Will Face His Past in Season 4

Boss David Hollander breaks down the tense season three finale and promises a "new city" in season four.
Courtesy of Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season three finale of Showtime's Ray Donovan.]

A near-death. A pregnancy. A high-stakes shoot-out scene. A religious experience. Ray Donovan’s season three finale, “Exsuscito,” packed it all in, paving the road for new beginnings in the previously announced fourth season and placing many of its characters in jeopardy.

After the Minassians put a hit out on Mickey (Jon Voight) the snitch and his family, it was Terry (Eddie Marsan) who wound up in critical condition with his life on the line. That forced Ray (Liev Schreiber) to seek solace with Father Romero (Leland Orser), culminating in one of the biggest character releases on the show to date.

In order to dig into Terry’s near death, Bunchy’s (Dash Mihok) good news and Ray’s awakening, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with episode director, writer and showrunner, David Hollander.

Did you always have that final shot of a wounded Ray being driven back to L.A. by Romero in your head?

The title of the episode is about awakenings and change. The translation of the word is really “to awaken.” I wanted Ray to be in the most vulnerable place he’s ever been, in the hands of somebody who knew the truth about him. So that’s really where the season was emotionally driving. That image was the only image I had in mind for the end of the year. You see the promise of Los Angeles, and what Los Angeles means to Ray  the good and the bad. To be taken back to that place by this man who initially was his sponsor and imagined persecutor and now confessor and perhaps savior.

Mickey was also driving off, this time to Vegas. What can you tease?

Mickey is grieving, so he’s taking an emotional turn. It’s never the end of Mickey. We have plans for him in many different ways next year, but Mickey of course will not be disappearing from Ray Donovan.

What parallels between Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) and Ray were you hoping to achieve?

Both Ray and Bridget are seeking a feeling state with their parent, and they’re not really getting what they want from them. Bridget wants to feel less controlled, Ray wants to feel less haunted or angry. Ray’s worst nightmare is that Bridget becomes like his sister. His controlling elements and the way that he lords over her and loves her felt really good to her as a young girl, now as a young woman it’s proving to be something quite different. Anytime a young person seeks an older person, as Bridget does, there’s got to be some element of looking for guidance and looking for a different feeling or way of being loved.

The Minassians promised this wasn’t over before their deaths. Is this the end of that storyline?

They got involved with a pretty serious group with pretty serious tentacles. It’s not my immediate interest to make that the forefront of another season, but it’s certainly something that will linger and always have its threat.

What about Paige (Katie Holmes) — will she be back next season?

I’m never finished with anybody. But her family certainly is not going to be a centerpiece as a plot initially. If something about it becomes relevant to the story and can be additive and bring up more places to explore, sure. I love those actors and characters.  

Terry nearly died, did you consider killing that character off?

You have to believe the character is going to potentially die before you bring them back. With Terry, the purpose of the story in a way was to bring Ray to an emotional place where he thought he needed redemption for his brother’s sake, and he realized he needed it also for his own. In doing that there’s kind of a mystical element in the thematic of that particular episode, where Terry gets an awakening as well. I felt comfortable writing it that way knowing this was all a bigger piece of the characters waking up or looking at some type of change.

How do you feel you evolved Terry this season so the storyline with Abby (Paula Malcomson) was justified?

Terry, in many ways, is the voice of the mother in the story of Ray’s mother. And in a lot of ways we envision his voice being that voice that disappeared. He had a judgment on Ray’s behavior toward Abby and he has great care for Abby. It was never meant to be a love story, it was more meant as a comfort story and a deep, deep friendship. That line being crossed was in a strange way devastating to Terry, but also I think in a way it was his way of showing comfort to Abby.

Has Bunchy always been the Donovan most likely to have a normal family life?

In my mind yes, because he was the only Donovan who didn’t suppress the truth. As scarred and broken a character as he is and is presented as, he was honest about his past and willing to be honest with others about his past. And in concocting this character that could sort of speak to his abuse and allow comfort in his sexual life, this felt like he was the guy who might have a shot of all of them at this type of a relationship.

How will he be as a father?

Bunchy is probably going to be a spectacular father. He’s going to be a Donovan, always. The Donovan family because of the injuries and history is always going to be a family of origin that sticks together. That doesn’t always include putting their new families ahead of the origins family and that’s the trick and the hard part about being any of these brothers. As good a father as Bunchy will be, he will always be a Donovan brother.

What else can you tease about season four?

Season four is going to look closely at Ray’s option or desire to go further with facing his own past, but that desire is going to lead him into a new form of relationship, a relationship that is going to open up his life personally and professionally in yet another large city. There will be new situations, a new family dynamic, and along the way that will really impact every member of his family and in a strange way conflate with Mickey again. We’re really excited about where we’re going in season four, it’s going to be an emotional, but big and loud and brassy and visually fun year. With Los Angeles and another city becoming enforcer frames at the same time.

Is Boston too obvious, and will L.A. still play a large part?

It’s not going to be Boston. L.A. is our home and L.A. is the second part of our home that we live and breathe through celebrity and wealth culture. We are going to be drawn to places that have the kind of audacity that Los Angeles has and kind of suburbanize that other place as almost an offshoot of Los Angeles.

Ray Donovan returns for season four in 2016. What did you think of the finale? Sound off in the comments below.

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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