SPOIILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the season premiere of “Ray Donovan” then read no further unless you want to find out about the shocking death in Sunday’s premiere.
The fifth season of “Ray Donovan” kicked off with a time jump, with the debut episode taking place 10 months after the events of the season-four finale.
As viewers quickly learned, things have changed a lot in the intervening months, revealing that Ray’s wife, Abby (Paula Malcomson) had lost her battle with breast cancer.
That’s right — Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) is now a widower.
Meanwhile, Abby’s death has led to the disintegration of Ray’s family, with son Connor enrolling in military school, daughter Bridget moving to Chicago, and Ray ordered by a judge to attend therapy sessions after a violent, grief-fuelled incident involving his father (Jon Voight) and brothers.
In an interview with TV Line, “Ray Donovan” showrunner David Hollander explains the decision to kill off the character.
“It was a narrative decision,” says Hollander. “It was about finding the best story to tell to get deeper into the character of Ray. And I thought it would give the show a chance to explore how important she is in a way that we’ve never been able to do.”
Yet despite Abby’s death, Malcomson remains a series regular, and will actually play a large part in the season’s drama via flashbacks. “She is absolutely integral to the show this year,” Hollander insists.
Nevertheless, Hollander admits that killing Abby wasn’t easy for anyone. “It’s always painful. It’s painful because we’re a family, and it’s painful because we care deeply about each other as artists,” he says. “So initially it was hard for everybody, including myself. It was a compelling thing to do creatively, but I didn’t personally want to do it. However, the story always comes first. We don’t make the show to keep everyone around all of the time. We’re telling a grand story that’s bigger than we are. But it’s hard. Paul is an incredibly talented actor and one of my favourite people. And, to her credit, she got a hold [of the material] and turned in a performance that’s just extraordinary.”