Q: What is the true reason "Ray Donovan" killed off [that character it killed off]? It doesn't make sense to me.

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

It seems crazy to offer a spoiler alert for a fact that defined the entire previous season of a show, but in the age of DVRs and binge-watching, who knows how far behind people are. In that spirit, here goes: spoiler alert. I'm about to reveal a major plot point from the beginning of the most recent season of "Ray Donovan."

The gritty Showtime drama killed off Abby, Ray's (Liev Schreiber, "Spotlight," 2015) wife, between seasons 4 and 5 -- she was alive at the end of one, and dead by the next. A reviewer at Vulture.com called it "as shocking a development as any major show has attempted in years."

As for why the show made such a bold move, it seems that it was all done in service of the plot.

An Entertainment Weekly review of the entire fifth season argued that Abby's death was the plot point that shaped the whole thing. "Death has been the one reliable thing in this season."

However, note that killing off the character didn't mean she stopped appearing in the show. She showed up almost as frequently in season 5 via flashback scenes as she did in contemporary scenes in the first four seasons.

This is proof that the actress was at least somewhat complicit in the process -- there was obviously no dramatic, behind-the-scenes blow-up that led to actress Paula Malcomson ("Sons of Anarchy") quitting or being fired, since she showed up to shoot the flashbacks.

Indeed, even before her character died, Malcomson had to play her as a cancer patient, which was when she learned she was being written out of the series. However, she was given a lot of room to guide how that death played out. In an interview with GoldDerby.com, she said that she insisted on a representation of living with cancer that was every bit as heavy and raw as the rest of the show.

"We talked about it and we agreed to show some of the very painful side of what cancer does. Otherwise let's just shoot her in the head and call it a day, you know?"


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