‘Ray Donovan’ Season Finale: Exsuscito (Recap and Review)

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The season three finale of Ray Donovan starts with Avi bringing Paige to Ray’s apartment and Donovan telling Finney’s daughter that he will drop back by “tomorrow.” Paige responds by saying that her father has more helicopters around his house than OJ had covering his 405 white Bronco run.

As Ray goes to leave Paige asks him if he is sure he cannot stay. Donovan says nothing and leaves. Bridget pulls out all stops to get Donellen. Abby goes to the teacher’s house looking for her daughter but no one is home. She is terrified that Ray will kill the math teacher when he finds out about Bridget’s obsession.

Theresa and Bunchy have a midnight treat and go out and Terry tells Ray about Bridget while Abby looks for her.  The brothers get into an argument with Terry accusing Ray of acting like Mickey. Abby comes back, without Bridget and the three of them have a blazing row.

Abby gets a text saying that their daughter is with Mickey and Terry goes to collect her while Ray heads to Donellen’s house. Mrs. Minassian learns of Mickey’s deal with the police. Bridget calls Mickey, who is playing a coke game with the hookers and while she is talking with her grandfather, Donellen shows up at the hotel room.

She tries to get her math teacher to run away with her or to at least stay in the room with her. Theresa takes Bunchy out to the woods to give him some news and the couple have the only real comedic moment in this heavy duty finale.

“This is where I lost my virginity,” she tells Bunchy. There is a slight pause and he replies, “I didn’t know Mexican’s hiked.” With a look that could be instantly lethal, Theresa says:

“I’m gonna pretend you didn’t just f**king say that.”

Terry shows up at Mick’s and asks about Bridget. Mick reveals that she called asking him to cover for her. As he tries to call her back, Ray pulls up outside the El Dorado apartments.  As Mick hangs up, telling Terry that “she’s not answering,” two of Minassian’s thugs begin shooting through the windows with automatic weapons.

Apparently the agreement made by Hasmig in One Night in Yerevan was not enough to save Mick from retaliation.  After the men shoot Terry and Daryll’s “girlfriend,” they leave ducking bullets from Ray, the episode turns into a smaller version of The Wild Bunch. While not quite as  vastly outnumbered as Pike’s gang in the Peckinpah classic, Ray and Avi set out to take on Minassian’s thugs.

Mickey has the same idea and shows up as well. Avi is not pleased.

“Always in the middle of everything this f**king guy!”

Ray’s father goes in gun blazing and the two men join him. There is an intense firefight and on the Armenian side, Mrs. Minassian (Grace Zabriskie) is the last “man” standing. She pours out threats saying that they will eradicate the entire Donovan bloodline. She finishes with curses:

“F**k you, and f**k you and f**k…”

Her rant is cut short by Mick who grabs the mafia leader and slits her throat. As Minassian’s body hits the floor, Mick mutters, “And f**k you.”

During the shootout Ray is shot.  Ray and Mick drive off together. Lena tracks down Bridget and her teacher.  Ray and Mick arrive and after telling Lena to take Mickey to the hospital, Ray heads to the room where Bridget is with Donellen. Ray beats the teacher and tells him if he goes near Bridget again he will cut off his “f**king hands.”

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Ray goes off to room 215.

Terry is in hospital and Ray goes to see him after Bridget tells him he is suffocating her. Ray tells his brother that he was right about the way he treats the family. Fearful that Terry is dying, Ray goes to see Father Romero.

Abby sits with Terry in the hospital singing  to the unconscious man as Mickey drives to Reno and Bridget packs her guitar and a few clothes and leaves the house. She walks out leaving the door open behind her.

After telling the priest that he thinks Terry is dying, Romero heads to the confessional. Back at the hospital Terry goes into cardiac arrest as Ray confesses to the priest.  Ray tells Romero that he killed Father O’Connor. After an emotional catharsis where Donovan tells all, the priest drives him back to Los Angeles.

As Ray reclines in the car, The Vampyre of Time and Memory by Queens of Stone Age plays. As the credit’s roll, the city looms in the windscreen of the car.

As finale’s go, this one was not only action packed, it was blood soaked and full of enough angst to sink a battleship.  If Liev Schreiber does not get a gong come Emmy time, something is wrong with the voting system. His performance in the confessional was award winning.  Schreiber manages to evoke emotions so raw and powerful that viewers needed a box of tissue just to get through the scene. 

Eddie Marsan is another who should be getting a nod as well as Kerris Dorsey. Jon Voight manages to impress and proves that he is not getting older but better, if that can be imagined, since the Oscar winning performer is always on top form.

Grace Zabriskie’s Armenian mafia mother was truly out of this world and her “going out” performance was thrillingly done. One could quite imagine Grace’s Mrs. Minassian carrying out her threats from beyond the grave.

Ray Donovan finishes season three with Andrew Finney being turned in by daughter Paige, who is feeling a bit guilty for backing Ray. Bridget has departed for parts unknown and Mickey leaves for Reno after an angry Daryll severs ties with his father. Terry is still alive and it looks like Abby is more than a bit attached to Ray’s brother. Bunchy is going to be a father and Ray is still carrying a bullet.

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Daryll breaks ties with Mickey.

Exsuscito,  which translates to awake or awaken, ends a season where it seemed that Ray was about to become very wealthy after the deal he made with Paige Finney. As the third season ends,  it appears that all bets are off.  Ray Donovan  in its third outing was a brilliant roller coaster ride that should satisfy fans until season four starts in 2016.

What a ride.

Ray Donovan: One Night in Yerevan (Review)

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You have to love a Ray Donovan episode that opens with a performer that looks as if she were based upon Hilary Duff’s character in the John Cusack film War Inc. The song that Hasmig (played by Sarah Shahi) starts to sing in the opening sequence is “When Thighs go Boom” surely a huge nod and wink to Duff’s Yonica Babyyeah’s song “Boom Boom, Bang Bang.”  Of course this whole thing could be a coincidence but…Really?? 

Of course all this is in prelude to Ray’s fixing Mickey’s problems with the Minassian’s and the Armenian mob. Donovan turns to Hasmig for help with Grace Zabriskie’s scary mob leader Mrs. Minassian. This quest to have Hasmig save his father leads to another cameo by the delightful Bronson Pinchot (who got noticed in a big way back in 1984 in his standout  role in the Eddie Murphy vehicle Beverly Hill’s Cop – “Hello, my name is Serge, how may I holp you?) as the misbehaving former weatherman Flip Brightman.

The payoff, to get Mickey free from the evil Armenian mob, is to let the singer perform her “One Night in Yerevan” song. Telling the story of her ancestors who were murdered in their villages by the Turks , or as she says, “It’s about the genocide,” no one will play her song, which is sung in Armenian. The price to save Mick is getting her song aired, hence the arrival of Brightman as plot device and cute cameo.

Eddie Marsan gets the line of the night with his character’s  response to Conor’s question about  Terry’s  improved gaming skills on Assassin’s Creed.

“Damn Uncle Terry! Have you been practicing while I’m at school”

“It’s the new medication kid…Moves the blood from my d*ck to my hands.”

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Terry to Conor: “It’s the new medication…”

Hank Azaria as the former FBI leader Ed Cochran gets the runners up prize for lines of the night. He gets not one but several.  After being told that his boss will flag his employee evaluation, Cochran mutters, “Then flag me…you f***ing b*tch.” The vitriol dripping from every word is priceless. That line is almost as good as Cochran’s trying to get Paige to stumble with his “Bermuda” reference in their little exchange.

“Boy, I bet your ex-husband’s gonna kick himself when word of your team reaches Bermuda, huh?”

“Belize.”

“Belize, right. Yeah.”

“Always get my “B” countries mixed up.”

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Ed Cochran questioning many things, mostly about Ray Donovan…

Ray actually follows through with a vengeance on his promise to help his father out. Coming to Mick’s apartment, he flushes Daryll’s remaining coke and takes Mickey to see his lawyer.  Getting Mick declared “non compos mentis” and having Ray put “in charge” of his father, gets Mickey out of the enforced deal with the police. It also puts him completely at the mercy of Ray.

Later, the Armenian singing star stops Mrs. Minassian’s thugs from putting Mick in the hospital and/or killing Ray. But it is close. Grace Zabriskie rocks it as the old battle axe mob leader. Ray’s explanation of his father’s disability falls on deaf ears.

“He belongs to me.”

“Mrs. Minassian, I’m sure you can understand my father’s an older man.”

“Let him eat dog food. Let him sh*t his pants. I don’t care.”

“I own him”

“You want out? There is no out. ”

“This is so disappointing.”

All this while Mickey is being beaten and Ray has a stand off with another of Minassian’s men. Hasmig delivers, however, and Ray is identified as a “friend to the Armenians.” Mrs. Minassian orders pictures to be taken with scarcely a pause between emotions.

Cochran continues to find things in the NFL Finney file that adds up to something being wrong about Varick Strauss. For instance, the border photo of Avi as Strauss. As a stroke of genius, Ed fakes out the storage company clerk and gets a copy of the key  to Avi’s store room. Taking pictures of all the items in the lock up results in Cochran finding the poker, later in the episode that Andrew used to kill Varick.

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Andrew Finney chooses to be awkward about the NFL questioning…

On top of all the things going on over at the Finney place, and Mickey’s issues with the police and the Armenian mob,  Bridget gets into hot water at school for breaking a classmates nose. Her budding romance with Donellen has caused problems. Abby finds the Oxy and confronts the teacher at his house. After heated words are exchanged, she tells the widower to leave her daughter alone.

Abby now has one over the teacher just as Ray has one over his father. He tells Mickey to leave L.A. or he will have him committed. Paige drops by to give presents to the Donovan family and Abby flips out. She knows something happened between Ray and Paige and she tells Donovan that Finney is not to come to their house.

The Armenians are busted down at the docks with the sex slaves, Cochran pays Andrew Finney an impromptu visit, poker in hand, and Flip Brightman introduces Hasmig to the audience on his show and she prepares to sing her Armenian genocide song.

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Flip Brightman introducing Hasmig.

By the end of the episode, Ray may have saved Mickey and the Finney’s may have gotten past the NFL questionnaire, but Donovan has Cochran on his and Andrew’s trail. The find of the poker and the mistake of Avi being seen crossing on Strauss’s passport, has left Ray open to problems with the former FBI man.

It now appears that Ray has it made. His three percent will make him and his family very rich. However, Paige hits the nail on the head when she asks Ray if he is now happy that he has everything he wanted. Donovan answers, after a short pause, that no he is not. Andrew Finney’s daughter pegged Ray correctly, he is addicted to the fight and does not care about the things that most men do.

It looks like Ed Cochran has foolishly decided to either blackmail Andrew Finney or to take on Ray Donovan for a round two battle. Hank Azaria rocks it as the former FBI agent and it is hoped that this character sticks around for a while. Grace Zabriskie is another guest star that one hopes is around a bit longer.

Ray Donovan airs Sundays on Showtime. Brilliantly done crime/drama’s are hard to come by, don’t miss this one. It is worth the time taken to watch it if for no other reason than for the show’s music. Playing out this week’s episode was Patrick Wilson’s Good Morning Mr. Wolf and really, it does  not get much better than this.

Ray Donovan: Tulip (recap and review)

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It is hard to define just what made last night’s episode of Ray Donovan so pleasing. Tulip felt like a lot of things; a touch of Breaking Bad, for instance that opening with Ray in the desert breaking up that hard dry soil with a pickaxe and flashing back to this scenario throughout most of the episode, and a final  touch of musical genius. The music playing at the end of everyone’s day, Barbarossa’s Bloodline, overlapping Father Romero praying, Bridget laying her head on Donellen’s chest, Avi driving to Mexico, Terry asleep on the bed; clutching the family bible, Ray coming in seeing his brother and reading the note from the pedophile priest and Abby saying “Come to bed,” shows the masterful touch of director Michael Uppendahl.

Perhaps it has little to do with the dressing. The storyline, continuing from the previous weeks has Ray still juggling the football deal (and now Paige) along with the Bunchy problem, aka Father Romero and this newest episode has him karmically getting one over on Andrew Finney. Tulip feels a lot like “what comes around, goes around.” There is a message here, those who are patient get the brass ring, or if you are Ray Donovan, you jockey things around rather than wait. Ray is, after all, a fixer.

Andrew Finney gives his lover Varick the push after Paige serves him with divorce papers. Daryl’s cadillac goes up in flames, via a good sized explosion, and Ray gets Lena and “Helen Miller Game and Fish” lady to help set up Napier with vipers full of heroin.  The last bit is easily the funniest sequence of events in the season thus far.

After injecting the snakes with sedative, the vipers are put into a bag. Helen is to stand by while Lena inserts the bag of snakes into Napier’s golf bag. As the trio stand in the hanger Miller gets increasingly nervous as Ray briefs her on the part she is to play. Helen panics and grabs for the bag.  Yelling that she will give back all the money while holding on to the bag of snakes.  Lena punches Miller knocking her down. Laying on the floor, with the now open bag of vipers, Helen complains that Lena hit her. A lone viper slithers out and bites Miller on the leg.

*Sidenote* This sequence as completely laugh out loud funny. Stephanie Erb rocked it as the bribed official who “bottles it” (loses her nerve) and gets bitten, beaten and driven away. Sidesplitting does not even come close to describing this comic interlude.

The camera moves back to Ray, working that hard soil to dig what can only be a grave. This is, after all Ray Donovan, why else would the man be digging in the desert? Avi shows up in a small mini-van and he brings a shovel to help Ray. Back at the hanger we see Lena shoving Helen into the back of a car (with Miller complaining nonstop, she  clearly believes she is going to die) to be taken to the hospital. The question now is, did she make it or is this hole in the desert going to be Helen’s final resting place after that snake bite?

As the show moves through its paces, other characters become candidates for that hole.

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Father Romero shows up at the Fite Club and tells Bunchy that he needs to speak with Ray. Bunch calls his brother and Ray immediately heads to the gym.  Meanwhile Varick has gone to see Andrew Finney after his former lover has fired him and booted him out of the company. Back at the club, there is a tense meeting with the cleric who asks Donovan to accompany him outside. As they head to an alley behind the gym Ray tells Brendan to clear the gym out and to lock it up.

The camera heads back to that hole, which now has a body in the bottom of it and Ray takes the box of evidence that Romero was seen with earlier in the show. Is the body in that bag Romero? Ray tosses a book of burning matches into the hole that Avi has poured petrol in.

Back at the alley, Ray takes a gun out and points it at the priest. Father Romero pauses for a split second and then he recounts Ray’s backstory with his family tragedies. He explains, as he hands the box of evidence to Ray, that Donovan has suffered enough. “Excommunication, ” he says, “Is not a punishment. It is a rest.” Romero gets in his car and drives off.

Clearly the burning body is not that of Romero.

Back at Mansion Finney, Varick has accosted his former lover. Andrew tells the man it has been over for a long time. He kisses Varick and tells  him that he felt nothing. Paige’s soon to be ex husband starts goading Andrew until he gets angry and grabs a fireplace poker. Yelling that “I’m not f**king gay,” Finney  hits Varick killing him.

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We now know who was in that bag…

Before Varick expires, he calls out to Andrew “Oh. Finn.” Back at the gym, Ray tells Brendan that everything is alright with Romero. Bunchy beats himself up, blaming himself and SNAP for whole thing. Ray tells him that the priest is not going to the police. Ray, somewhat predictably,  gets a call from Andrew Finney.

The remainder of the episode deals with Ray taking care of the Varick problem and getting Paige’s deal for the football stadium sorted.  Abby wins Terry over and he decides, seemingly, to stay with his brother’s family. Bridget goes to Donellen’s house and he is not pleased. The man is on a load of pain medication and not doing at all well. The Donovan girl has found what she wants.

Mickey ends up doing a deal with the cops after the Armenian’s bomb Daryll’s caddy.  Avi and Ray sort things out between the two of them while digging that hole and burying the burnt evidence.

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Mickey celebrating with his boys before the caddy gets torched.

The tulip theme appears  throughout. Mickey gives Theresa tulips when he welcomes her to the Donovan family, there is a program on television about the flower in the scene where Varick sneaks into the Finney Mansion. At the pool side, just before the cadillac is destroyed, Mickey talks about tulips. He tells about a beautiful girl from Amsterdam who died of cancer. The tulips, like the flashbacks to the grave digging, is an underlying theme of this episode.

Oddly enough, everything works out for Ray and Paige. Donovan uses his new “Varick” leverage to force Andrew to give Paige what she wants, giving him the 3 percent back. Terry allows Abby to woo him into the room she prepared. At the end of a busy day, Terry lays on the bed and looks through the family bible. Abby asks if he is ready to leave and he says he wants to give Ray something.

Later Ray tells Paige that the football deal is back on. She is suspicious. Earlier, Ray had come to her house to get Varick’s passport. Paige was annoyed that the Napier problem was not solved. “It still needs to be fixed [sic],” Paige says. “The passport is the fix,” Ray tells her. At the end of the show she repeats this to Ray. Strangely, she is not overly happy that she has won.

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Paige, the morning after…

Back at his house Ray finds Terry asleep on the bed and takes the bible. Looking inside he sees the note from the perverted Father Danny. Irony at its finest.

It looks like Ray may have problems with Paige, she too is addicted to the fight.

This episode had Andrew Finney’s daughter getting what she wanted all along, and it was not the football stadium deal, and Andrew himself now owes Ray a great deal.

Performances by Liev Schreiber, Ian McShane an Steven Bauer were all spot on, as was Kerris Dorsey as Bridget. Kudos to Stephanie Erb as the hapless Helen Miller. Her comedic timing was just perfect. 

 

Tulip, with its “back and forth” to that hole and the trotting out of suspects for that body bag was spot on. Add to that the other things on the periphery and it was Ray Donovan at its finest.

Ray Donovan airs Sundays on Showtime. This crime and drama show continues to entertain almost effortlessly. Miss this one and miss out.

Ray Donovan: All Must Be Loved (Review)

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Last week on Ray Donovan Abby asked what he was doing with “these people.” This week, in All Must Be Loved Paige answers that question “Because you’re addicted to the fight,” she tells Donovan and she is partially right, it is not necessarily the fight but the challenge, the game, that draws Ray in.

Although it could be said that the entire Donovan clan is addicted to the fight. Punches and lead pipes are thrown in this episode. It is easy to see where the “boys” get their aggression from. Mickey takes after the Armenian’s who grab Daryll’s caddy in lieu of the $30K that the two men owe Mrs. Minassian who now owns 50 percent of their new business.

While this week’s title may be “all must be loved” there is quite a bit of violence throughout. Bunchy punches Terry in the mouth after saying he cannot marry his luchadora, Mickey, Bunchy and Daryll beat the Armenians down, but not until Mickey gets bloodied up pretty good and Ray beats Father Romero to the ground.

Before the end credits roll Ray finally looks to be hooked by Paige, Bunchy’s new fiancee sticks up for her man, Terry turns down the offer to move in with Abby and Ray, Mickey stands up to Mrs. Minassian and her brother Davros and Ray learns what Bunchy told Father Romero. The priest then reveals to Ray what he really wants. All the Donovan brothers are excommunicated from the Church and Bridget begins her campaign to catch her widowed teacher.

Romero, it turns out, wants to forgive Ray for killing the priest who abused him and his brother. Ray almost goes for it and then stops. Enraged he beats the priest who then excommunicates Ray and his “accomplices.” Terry stops Ray from doing more damage to Romero but he is upset as he thinks the priest kicked him out of the Church as well.

Bunchy tells Ray and Terry about Teresa and Terry tells his brother that he cannot marry “that Mexican.” This earns him a punch in the mouth and Ray tells Bunchy that he cannot do that. Teresa comes in later and tells the two Donovan brothers to stop treating Brendan like a kid. She also tells them that they had better get used her being around.

Paige serves divorce papers to her husband Varick and when Ray asks if this will cause problems she replies, “All kinds.” Donovan has not given up on the NFL deal. He tells Paige to collect $200K which he takes to the Wild Life Commissioner. He sets Lena up to work on the next obstacle, Napier, when Romero calls him. Ray immediately asks Lena to find out who the priest is.

The largest part of this episode was devoted to the Father Romero reveal. It did seem like the priest was going to blackmail the family but the truth was much more bizarre. Romero runs a halfway house for pedophile priests and he too was abused by a priest. He wants Ray to confess so that God can forgive him his sin. While Romero seems sincere, he threatens Ray with excommunication if he does not confess.

Romero follows Donovan out of the church and then tells him he knows how much the priest hurt Ray and how much Donovan loved him (the priest). Ray loses it. He knocks Romero to the ground shouting “I’ll f**king kill you! F**k you! I’ll kill all of you and every one of these f**king freaks you got hiding in here.” Terry grabs Ray and pulls him off of Romero who begins speaking in Latin and follows through with the excommunication threat.

Obviously the Romero issue is not over and one feels that he will continue to be a problem for Ray. Daryll is concerned that since they faced up to Davros that repercussions will be forthcoming. There is an air of expectancy from more than one Donovan by the time episode ends.

The Paige and Ray issue is not over either. He may have turned down Paige before when Abby returned but as Andrew Finney’s daughter has proven she does not stop until she has won. She rings Ray and tells him meet her at the house. Paige tells Ray she has figured out how to handle Napier.

Abby rings Ray as he drives to Paige’s. He tell her about Terry not wanting to live with them and when she asks where he is, Ray tells Abby he has work. “Okay Ray,” Abby says. At the house Paige reveals that she lied about Napier and it is here that she says what makes Ray tick. Ray tells her he has to go. “No you don’t,” Paige whispers and goes up the stairs to the bedroom expecting him to follow.

The dysfunctional Donovan family continues to lurch along from one crisis to the next. Ray is addicted to the fight, to a degree, but he responds aggressively to every challenge not just the fight, as Paige believes. To Ray, like the title of the episode says, all must be loved. Bunchy, Terry, Abby, Bridget and Conor, Ray loves each one and he may even have a little love for Mickey. This love means he has to rise to each familial challenge as well his personal and professional ones.

What remains to be seen is whether Ray will follow Paige up those stairs; all for the love of that NFL deal and his three percent or whether Abby will win this one. Kudos to Katie Holmes, Liev Schreiber, Dash Mihok, Eddie Marsan and Paula Malcomson for raising the bar. Kerris Dorsey knocked it out of the park tonight as Bridget, this performer has made her character a major player with her “To Sir with Love” story line.

Ray Donovan airs Sundays on Showtime. Do not miss this quality drama television show that has a powerhouse cast and entertains thoroughly.

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