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Ray Donovan Season 3: Liev Schreiber Ups His Game as Series Becomes One of 2015’s Finest [Review]

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From Showtime and creator Ann Biderman comes an original series about the dark side of Hollywood: Ray Donovan. Starring Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight, Eddie Marsan, Dash Mihok, Paula Malcomson, Pooch Hall, Kerris Dorsey, Devon Bagby, Steven Bauer and Katherine Moennig the show will return for it’s fourth season in 2016.

Ray Donovan, a professional “fixer” for the rich and famous in LA, can make anyone’s problems disappear except those created by his own family.

Eddie Marsan as Terry Donovan in Ray Donovan (Season 3, Episode 05). - Photo:  Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  RayDonovan_305_3139.R

Jon Voight has been stealing the spotlight for two seasons of Ray Donovan but Liev Schreiber has delivered his finest performance to date in season three and taken the show’s crown away from the acting vet. Battling his own inner demons while his family continues to fall apart (let’s get used to that being the overall theme of the series), Ray is struggling to keep not only his loved ones from either dying or going off the rails, but himself as well. The confessional sequence in the finale is hands down the best work of Schreiber’s career. He was so vulnerable and so uncomfortably real that it was hard to watch this tough-as-nails guy break down that hard. It was the right time and the right season for Ray to finally confront his past and try to move forward.

Ian McShane as Finney and Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan in Ray Donovan (Season 3, Episode 01). - Photo:  Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  RayDonovan_301_1154.R

After last season saw Terry Donovan arrested during Mickey’s botched robbery, we catch up with the former boxing gym manager turned inmate as he tries to stay alive in prison. Eddie Marsan’s supporting performance this season as Terry was magnificent and likely the actor’s strongest work to date. He runs the gamut from broken man, violent aggressor, all the way to someone struggling with a disease that he knows is rapidly deteriorating him. We all love Terry and this was the best season for Terry by leaps and bounds.

Dash Mihok finally gets his time to shine in the spotlight as well now that Bunchie has a significant surplus of screentime. After last season, Bunchie attempted a relationship and failed miserably when he thought that he may have paedophilia tendencies himself after so many years of abuse by a priest. It was a sad and uncomfortable result for the lovable Bunchie so it was nice this season to see him try yet another relationship…. This time it just worked for some reason. Teresa (a Mexican wrestler) winds up in this strange romance with Bunchie that results in the two falling in love. Actress Alyssa Diaz comes out of nowhere and is such a nice addition to this cast of eccentric characters. Her rough and commanding performance as Bunchie’s girlfriend is unique and heartwarming in it’s own twisted way.

Alyssa Diaz as Teresa and Dash Mihok as Bunchy Donovan in Ray Donovan (Season 3, Episode 05). - Photo:  Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  RayDonovan_305_2921.R

While Mickey is starting his own brilliant job venture as a pimp, because well, we needed to see Jon Voight snorting coke off a whore’s ass, Ray starts a new venture himself working for a powerful businessman played by Ian McShane. Any time you toss McShane into your cast you’re only increasing your points and the man does fine work here as Ray’s new employer. Katie Holmes plays McShane’s daughter and for some reason her character wears braces. It’s a disturbing choice and one I’m not sure worked. It could just be that the actress annoyed me… Still not sure, but she freaked me out.

Hank Azaria returns this season after his disastrous run as the new FBI director last year and thank god he decided to come back. I love this character and Azaria is always welcome back on this show. Aaron Staton (Mad Men) has a great guest spot as well playing Bridgett’s math teacher who is continuously having to deal with Ray’s daughter trying to seduce him. It was an interesting subplot made only more intriguing by the teacher’s resistances to his student’s advances. Staton’s portrayal of the teacher was really, really good because he comes across a genuinely good person who  is being forced into this uncomfortable situation when in life it’s usually the other way around.

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Ray Donovan season three was easily it’s most powerful string of episodes yet and featured so many entertaining storylines that it was hard to keep track of them all. The ensemble cast was stellar and the leading performance from Schreiber was outstanding this year. Ray Donovan continues to up it’s game and has quickly become one of the finest TV series of the year in the process.

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Editor-In-Chief of Fox Force Five News. I had a zombie cameo on the opening page of The Walking Dead issue #91, where I was killed with a machete... It was awesome.