What happened in “Las Vegas” was a total freakin’ bummer.
The second episode of Ray Donovan‘s time-tripping fifth season flashed back to Ray and Abby’s year-ago 21st anniversary-themed road trip to Sin City, which ended with Abby suffering a seizure in a hotel room. She and Ray would soon learn what we’ve known since last week’s season premiere: Her cancer has (presumably) not only returned, but has metastasized the brain and is now terminal. (Abby’s seizure was foreshadowed at the beginning of the hour when she brought in a handyman to help troubleshoot the mysterious noises she’d been hearing around the house, including behind the wall in the foyer, where that piece of the wall had been mysteriously busted in.)
Despite the depressing conclusion, the episode was uncharacteristically light and romantic, as it provided the most intimate window yet into Ray and Abby’s marriage. And, tragically, they never seemed happier or more in sync. In fact, I’m fairly certain Liev Schreiber cracked more smiles in this outing than he has in the 49 that preceded it combined. Paula Malcomson’s Abby was also at her most relaxed and angst-free.
A portion of the episode was set in the present day, with the family gathering for Terry and Maureen’s wedding (and Ray getting thrust further into this season’s central case involving Hollywood starlet-turned-possible killer Natalie James). But for all intents and purposes, “Las Vegas” was Ray and Abby’s hour. Heretofore are six standout moments from the couple’s quasi-last hurrah.
* A tickled Ray quietly watching/listening to Abby sing along to “I Only Wanna Be With You” at the start of their road trip, before playfully telling her that two of her best qualities/characteristics involve her prowess at pleasuring his penis.
* The look of pure joy on Abby’s face when Ray handed her the keys to Andy’s Diner before informing her that her dream of opening a bar could now be realized. “Oh my God are you f–king kidding me?” she shouted as she began wrapping her head around the insanely sweet and extravagant gesture.
* The sweet, subtle look of adoration the couple exchanged just moments after receiving Terry’s SOS call from jail. It was as if they were assuring each other, “We got this.”
* A hilariously “on fire” Abby assisting Ray on what would be their first joint caper. The mission: infiltrate a brothel — while posing as a randy, ménage à trois-seeking couple — and rescue Maureen’s would-be engagement ring from the clutches of Terry’s for-hire side piece. “You’re gonna talk to a hooker in a brothel on our anniversary?” a stupefied Abby dinged Ray, before mischievously adding, “I wanna watch.” She did more than watch. Much to Ray’s astonishment, Abby played a leading role in the entire jewelry extraction. It was her quick-thinking threat to Nair off the hooker’s precious mane that led to the ring’s safe return.
* Abby revealing to Ray how Terry’s dismissive attitude towards his one-night-stand — and Ray’s acceptance of his brother’s indiscretion (“I don’t think he was thinking,” he shrugged) — served as a painful reminder of their own past marital struggles. “Is that how you rationalized it all those years,” Abby asked Ray, prompting him to assure her, “That’s not us anymore… I’m not that anymore.” To which Abby tearfully, resolutely whispered, “I know.” (That noise you hear is Malcomson making a serious case for her first Emmy nomination.)
* Ray’s panicked reaction to finding Abby lying on their hotel room floor in mid-seizure. “Please stop,” he cried out while cradling her, his love for her never more palpable. “Please stop.”
What did you think the Showtime drama’s love letter to Ray and Abby? Are you still in denial about the latter’s death (and Malcolson’s impending departure from the show)? Weigh in below!