The following story contains spoilers from Sunday’s Ray Donovan finale — proceed at your own peril.
Ray Donovan entered the season with a death wish and ended it with a long overdue cry for help — the recovery is nigh, folks!
In the final moments of Sunday’s Season 6 finale, Liev Schreiber’s titular fixer phoned psychiatrist Dr. Amiot (Alan Alda) to get the ball rolling on regular therapy sessions. The breakthrough came in the wake of a brutal 12-episode stretch that found Ray’s hands once again covered in literal and figurative blood.
Below, Ray Donovan showrunner David Hollander discusses the episode’s big death (R.I.P., Susan Sarandon’s Sam Winslow) and answers our burning questions about the already-ordered Season 7.
TVLINE | If you would’ve told me at the beginning of the season that Sam Winslow would be willing to sacrifice Bridget’s life to further her agenda I would’ve been a little skeptical. Did you struggle with having that character cross that line?
Yes we did. [But] we assigned her a greater want and gave her a ruthlessness from the time we met her [last season]. Bodies were buried with Sam Winslow from Day One. When she came into our lives she was that kind of person. So I didn’t feel like it was a seismic shift in her character. I didn’t expect it to go there. But as you write, things happen. And her want had to be greater than her desire to take care of her employee, Ray Donovan. I also didn’t think she thought it was going to go as far as it did.
TVLINE | Did you know going into the season that Ray was going to kill Sam?
No. I had no idea. We were figuring out her character as we went.
TVLINE | A new, darker Bridget emerged following her kidnapping. How exactly did that experience change her?
The decision to have her evolve into that sort of matriarchal character was built out from Season 5. She carried a lot of emotional heaviness in Season 5. Abby’s death in Episode 508 really delivered her as the new adult. For me, we had already rung that bell; the kidnapping was almost more of a plot piece. Even before she was put into that position she was strong as hell. She was breaking up with her father, she was making choices with what she wanted to do… She was doing things that no one in our world has done before with Ray.
TVLINE | The final sequence foreshadowed a larger role for Alan Alda and, perhaps, a Sopranos-type subplot where we see Ray going to weekly therapy sessions. Is that what you’re planning for Season 7?
The real import of Alan’s character — and, yes, we will see [more of] Alan [next season] — revolves around Ray’s need for a loving father and an older authority figure who thinks he’s special. Or cares for him. There will be some therapy, but it’s going to be more about their relationship and less about Ray sitting with the doctor talking about his various character defects or neuroses or medications he should be taking. That didn’t interest me that much. But their relationship really interested me. And what it could stand for for Ray. And what Amiot might suggest Ray look at. And how Ray responds to those suggestions is interesting.
TVLINE | It appears Mickey is headed to prison again — perhaps for good this time. What does that mean for Jon Voight’s involvement in Season 7?
Jon is always around. No one picked up [Mickey]. He’s sitting there drinking with his family [in the finale’s last scene]. I wouldn’t rule out Mickey not being in prison. It was implied [that he was going to prison] but it doesn’t mean Mickey is going to play ball.
TVLINE | The finale also foreshadowed a larger role for Zach Grenier’s Ed Feratti in Season 7…
Zach will be part of the show. The underlying element in the relationship between Feratti and Ray [is that] Ray doesn’t really like Feratti. So how that relationship is going to play out may be a little different than [typical] employer/employee.
TVLINE | Sandy Martin has been a tremendous addition to the cast. Did you know instantly that you struck gold with her character?
We knew that this character was going to have a strong place in the year because we knew that, ultimately, Mickey was going to be living in this woman’s house once he got to New York. When we started writing [the role], it was always Sandy Martin [that we had in mind]. We didn’t even audition anybody else. That’s why the character is named Sandy. She’s a pistol.
TVLINE | How can Lena go back to work for Ray after what he’s done?
That’s some interesting and dramatic storytelling for me. They [speak a] different language. Even that odd little gift that Ray gave her is sort of a foundational apology. The idea that in their twisted logic that he left [that guy] tied up in a warehouse for her to [kill] is a little gift for her and maybe that will start a curiosity about how they might reconnect.
TVLINE | Back in October, Pooch Hall was arrested for DUI and child endangerment. Will his legal troubles impact his return in Season 7?
No. It won’t. We love Pooch. We understand Pooch’s struggles and we feel like Pooch is taking every step he needs to take to rehabilitate himself and get things right. We expect him to be here Day 1 [on Season 7] to get back to work.