'Ray Donovan' Boss on That Character Death and Terry's Heavy Absence

Ray Donovan Still, Katie Holmes - H 2015

Ray Donovan Still, Katie Holmes - H 2015

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

It was a swift but emotional goodbye last week when Ray Donovan returned for its third season, only to kill off substitute patriarch Ezra Goodman (Elliott Gould) in the first few minutes. 

During Sunday's second episode — titled "Ding" — viewers will begin to see the fallout of Ray (Liev Schrieber) losing that fatherly figure, the new relationship he forges with fatherly figure replacement Malcolm Finney (Ian McShane) as well as the resulting interactions that come with Malcolm's daughter, Paige (Katie Holmes).

More importantly, audiences will finally check in with Ray's brother Terry (Eddie Marsan), whose absence was heavily felt in "The Kalamazoo" as he sat in jail thanks to Mickey's (Jon Voight) failed robbery attempt at the end of season two. 

To get the scoop on Sunday's new installment, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with showrunner David Hollander, who previewed a huge storyline for Marsan, talked about saying goodbye to Gould and hinted at where the series goes from here. 

Why was now the time to say goodbye to Ezra?

A big theme in this series that's been present since (creator) Ann Biderman wrote the pilot is Ray seeks father figures. That’s a dynamic story for a man who rejects father figures. He wants them, they get close, he rejects them. His abuse at the hands of a priest, his own father. Even Ezra. Look at what happened with Ezra last year, and the line that Ezra crossed. It became imperative that Ray might be seeking another figure of that nature. So it was both a conditional, emotional idea and a plot point we had to allow in order for Ian McShane’s character to step into that role. Albeit in a stranger and maybe more complicated way.

Will the Ezra flashbacks continue?

No, that’s not the plan. As a visual touchstone to work through the run of this year that didn’t appeal to me so much just as allowing a little access to it in this episode. Ray has an emotional off switch that’s pretty strong. 

How will his death affect other characters?

For Avi (Steven Bauer) and Lena (Katherine Moennig), it’s an economic impact because his death also really impacts Ray’s business. Avi is working for Ezra when it begins and that directionless nature of where Tay goes creates an impact for all these characters and their business. And emotionally, again, Ray is without the man who guided him, so he grows into a sort of new idea of what he might become on his own.

How does Malcolm Finney (McShane) compare to Ezra in terms of father figures?

It’s night and day. The only thing they have in common for the emotional life of Ray Donovan is they’re charismatic and powerful men that offer Ray approval, employment and utility. McShane's character is phenomenally wealthy, of a totally different class of wealth and background, and is a person with a darker, more violent nature. Or a more mercurial nature. He's less loving, whereas Ezra was really a character built in the entertainment industry in way of a service job. He’s a lawyer that is of service to successful people who do crimes. McShane's character owns the industry and other parts. They're very different entrance points.

What was the thinking behind not showing Terry (Eddie Marsan) in the first episode back?

That was really my choice. It was important that we felt his absence, that the show find itself without him there because it's a heavy absence. I also thought it was invigorating for the show because when we do get to him we have such a big story planned for him this year. His absence creates a want and a question. The first episode in many ways is about isolation and missing. Mickey misses Terry and a lot of his actions are motivated by his guilt. Ray is very isolated and Terry is in many ways his touchstone brother; without Terry in that episode I think we’re able to explore those characters in a different way.

Ray Donovan airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime. What do you think is in store for Terry this season? Sad to see Ezra go? Sound off in the comments below. 

Twitter: @amber_dowling