"Ray Donovan" is taking a figurative plunge into the unknown in its next season, after having depicted a literal one in its fifth-season finale.
The Showtime series about the Hollywood fixer will be relocating to New York, following an emotionally wrenching season that saw the title character (Liev Schreiber) lose his wife, Abby (Paula Malcomson), and descend further down the moral ladder he has often unsteadily occupied.
In the finale, that included Ray committing a cold-blooded murder of a movie studio chief in order to secure a favor from the executive's corporate rival (Susan Sarandon). Moreover, the killing happened after Ray sees a teary-eyed actress leave the victim's room, in what felt like an echo of the alleged real-life scandal involving entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Following a spectral vision of his wife, Ray then took his own leap into the river, in a gauzily shot sequence that implied a desire to be cleansed of his sins and felt like a suicide attempt -- as it was intended to be perceived, according to showrunner David Hollander.
Although the renewal wasn't official when the episode was shot, Hollander said all indications were that the series -- one of Showtime's most popular -- would be back. Yet the ending was designed to allow for a degree of ambiguity in the event that "Ray Donovan," the series, had actually met its end.
Hollander described the closing shot's dream-like quality as the "fugue state version of it, almost a music video" of Ray's action, one that will be revisited from another angle when the show returns. As for the lingering effects of the finale, Hollander said, "I think we'll see a different Ray Donovan, however we resuscitate him. It is a resuscitation of a drowned man, a kind of back-from-the-dead story."
The producer recognized the inevitable comparisons regarding sexual assault and harassment allegations in Hollywood, while noting that the finale was written and filmed long before any of the recent headlines.
"This is unfortunately as age-old as MGM in the 1920s and '30s," Hollander said, adding that the show shoots scenes on the Sony lot that the legendary studio once called home.
While production will move to New York, various plot threads will continue to unfold on a bi-coastal basis. The character of Mickey (Jon Voight), for example, finds himself in a California prison, having been betrayed by two of his sons.
"I wanted that messiness," Hollander said. "The idea of them all packing a truck and moving to New York felt extraordinarily nondramatic."
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