It's no secret that a great gulf exists in "Ray Donovan." On one side you have the stuff that, frankly, is dullsville- some generic crime elements here, some waaaaaah, Ray's not a particularly capable father/husband/business partner there.
And on the other side are the talking dolphins, porn kidnapping schemes, and nearly every morsel of dialogue coming out of Jon Voight's mouth (here's a fun quote from last night: "Well, they say write about what you know. I know about two things: robbing banks and f@#king black chicks").
Normally, that gulf tends to favor the doldrums, even if it always throws us crazy-lovers a bone or two. But this most recent "Ray Donovan," the fittingly titled "Viagra" (its namesake being one of the episode's weirder segments), swings the other way.
There are still a few minutes that have been sprinkled in from a can of Generic Crime Drama (Fat-Free, of course), but mostly "Viagra" is a solid hour of the Donovan clan doing absurd and semi-dangerous things, or being in the direct presence of people doing absurd and semi-dangerous things.
What a beautiful episode that makes.
Let's get the flat parts out of the way first. Abby's affair with her officer/gentleman continues, this time to a bar, where darts are thrown and fermented barley and wheat (you know, beer) is consumed.
Ed Cochran and his wife are officially swingers ("Ray Donovan" beat around that bush for a few weeks, but after seeing that much of Hank Azaria's hind parts, their extramarital activities are pretty unambiguous).
Ray uses his powers of intimidation to get footage of such a foursome in action, but we all kinda saw that coming- as soon as Cochran had a flaw, Ray would exploit it. At this point, that's the simplest, most obvious path the Cochran plotline could take.
Even Ray, watching a video of weird sex between four people, seems close to yawning. Not a great omen for this particular storyline.
But who cares about that, because every single other story in "Viagra" is completely on point. And by "on point," we mean absolutely freaking insane.
The good news for Terry is that he's finally back together with Frances (note: this not particularly good news for Frances' family). But he regained her love with a crazy scheme to move to Ireland as pioneers of American business. Terry also mentions renting a castle, but that may have to wait until later (also, totally not clear if Irish castles are even rentable).
All season long, Terry has been moping around and watching videos where people repeat the word "potato" in an Irish accent. New narrative material for Terry is a treat (it's criminal how little the show has used an actor of Eddie Marsan's talents), but new narrative material that still includes those Irish potatoes is an even bigger one.
Bunchie, too, is snail-crawling his way towards what could be considered a season-long plot arc (although he's got a bit more momentum than Terry). A date is good. A romantic date is better. A romantic date that suddenly includes a prepubescent third wheel is not even a little good.
And a no-longer-romantic date that coincidentally rests the head of a child in the lap of a man who was previously molested and who's currently in possession of a medically-induced erection...
That's either hysterical or horrific (probably both). "Ray Donovan" seems just as torn, because Bunchie's eyes show unmistakable terror, but slowly zooming in on those eyes is (we have to admit) pretty funny.