On the second season of Showtime's Ray Donovan, Liev Schreiber's titular Hollywood fixer will have to find a way to fix his biggest problem: himself.
The drama's first season dealt primarily with Ray's complicated history with his father Mickey (Jon Voight), whom Ray eventually tried to have killed by Sully Sullivan (James Woods), one of Mickey's old Boston rivals. Although Mickey actually ended up killing Sully instead, the biggest twist of the first season revealed that Ray, like his brother Bunchy (Dash Mihok), had been sexually abused as a child by a priest.
While the revelation helped color exactly why Ray carries so much hatred for Mickey, who failed to protect his son, it also provides fertile ground for the show to explore its main character in Season 2. "It was a big reveal and we need to deal with it and we do," executive producerAnn Biderman tells TVGuide.com. "It continues to be an issue, but in a different way. Now that that secret is out, how does Ray deal with that? He deals with it — or doesn't deal with it — in a very specific way that will have repercussions."After telling his wife Abby (Paula Malcomson) about the abuse, Ray has agreed to see Abby's therapist. But don't expect that to solve many of Ray's issues. "The therapy's not really important to him. It's important to her. That's how she deals with it," Biderman says. "He loves his wife and he loves his family ... but he's not a person who is going to be comfortable in therapy. He's not Tony Soprano. That's not the answer for him, but he is trying. He's very much alone and it's a struggle."Of course, Ray has bigger fish to fry, particularly when Mickey's involvement in Sully's murder puts Ray directly in the crosshairs of James Cochran (Hank Azaria), the head of the FBI's L.A. Bureau. Although Cochran doesn't necessarily want to throw Ray and his father in jail — he's much happier to tell the press that the FBI killed America's most wanted — Cochran does want to keep the Donovans on a leash. So, Cochran forces Ray to track down his father and bring him back to L.A., where he is put on parole under the watchful eye of Wendell Pierce's Mr. Keith."Mickey is the problem [Ray] just can't solve," Biderman says. "He both loves and hates Mickey. Mickey is toxic and complicated, and Ray just can't seem to get rid of him. That's the story. ... How do these two reconcile their feelings for one another?"
For his part, Mickey, who has escaped to Mexico when the season begins, is a bit haunted by his run-in with Sully, which ended with the death of Lisa (Rosanna Arquette), one of Mickey's flings. "His conscience is bothering him," Biderman says. "There was collateral damage with the Sully thing, and I think he feels very haunted by that woman in particular. It's one thing for gangsters to kill each other, but that woman didn't do anything to deserve the death that she got."
Even though Ray has painted Mickey as an evil person, Ray seems to go even further in order to put Mickey out of his life. But is Ray aware of that irony? "Ray's an impacted character. He doesn't have a lot of language at his disposal, but he's sensitive," Biderman says. "I think he has flashes of insight that are devastating to him when he sees and knows how corrupt he is."
However, Ray isn't willing to let all of his dirty secrets come to light. So, when a Boston reporter (Vinessa Shaw) comes to L.A. to investigate Sully's murder and the FBI's cover-up, Ray is naturally concerned that she could blow his deal with Cochran — and do much worse.
"Cochran's very powerful. He's next in line to be head of the FBI, so he's going to be a formidable enemy," Biderman says. "Ray's concerns are two-fold. He needs to be careful with this man. But Ray is also concerned about self-exposure, certainly. I mean that secret might be out to Abby, but it's not out to [everyone]. He has a lot to hide."
Then again, Ray may be tired of being the clean-up man for the rich and powerful. "Part of him is longing to stop it all and to be exposed," Biderman says. But the question is, does Ray simply give up or does he try to become the shot-caller himself? "The theme this year is: 'Who is the captain?' By the end of this year, it kind of is answered," Biderman says."How do you take an authority figure and corrupt them?" she continues. "What's their weakness and vulnerability? [Cochran's ambition] is his Achilles' heel. But he has a bigger character defect, a flaw, something that Ray is able to use. Ray will find that weakness, whatever it is. People have secrets, even powerful people. Cochran is a very slick character, and that game of chess between them will, I hope, be interesting to people."Ray Donovan airs Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime. Watch This Tonight — See why Masters of Sex is our editors' pick: