Aug 02 2015

Ray Donovan – “Breakfast of Champions” Review. Lessons Learned.


Season 3, Episode 4

Airdate: Sunday, August 2, 2015 at 9:00 pm ET/PT on Showtime



I heard you ain’t living at home; that’s no good for you, Raymond…You’re the only one of us with a chance of figuring this shit out…having a family, leaving something behind that’s worth something. You’re the only fucking one of us strong enough and look at what you’re doing.” – Terry Donovan

While we’ve seen our fair share of intense, action-packed episodes, writer Brett Johnson takes an abrupt turn in “Breakfast of Champions” as the main players turn introspective, not only concerning themselves but their relationships within the Donovan and the Finney families. After the deal he struck with Anthony Finney (special guest star Ian McShane) in last week’s “Come and Knock on Our Door,” Ray (Liev Schreiber) must now live with the consequences. Now that Terry (Eddie Marsan) is home, it’s obvious he’s a changed man learning to deal with the life he’s been handed. And while Mickey (Jon Voight) is as bad a parent as he’s ever been, Abby (Paula Malcomson) isn’t much better as she struggles to relate to both her kids, Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) and Conor (Devon Bagby), and her husband.

Abby reminisces with brother Dave (Aaron Hendry, niece Lauren and former boyfriend Gus (Robert Rusler).

Abby reminisces with brother Dave (Aaron Hendry) (L), niece Lauren, and former boyfriend Gus (Robert Rusler) (R).

Somehow, even though you haven’t seen your family for years, they’re always there to help in time of troubles. Abby knows she needs to make a decision concerning Ray. He won’t forgive her for cheating even though he’s done the same numerous times. And, with Bridget and Conor fully aware of Abby’s shortcomings, she doesn’t have the respect a parent should have from their kids. Abby’s trip home to Boston forces her to think about what’s really important in life and turns out to be exactly what she needs. Even though Abby’s sister Margaret (guest star Karina Logue) still holds onto some grudges from the past, she loves Abby and hates seeing her sister in such pain. There’s nothing like a sister to have your back when you need it the most. That, plus the good time Abby has with Margaret’s daughter Lauren (guest star Lulu Brud) gives her the love and support she’s not getting at home.

Terry is more concerned about Ray than he is himself.

Terry is more concerned about Ray than he is himself.

Despite having committed a crime, Terry is an honest man, pure of heart, and hates that Ray is forced to work exclusively for Finney. He knows his brother well enough to know what that relationship is going to cost Ray. Despite his own medical problems, Terry always looks out for both Ray and Bunchy (Dash Mihok), and in a heartfelt speech, lets Ray know he understands what the price of his freedom is costing Ray. While it appeared Terry was close to suicide last week, killing yourself isn’t an option for a Donovan. It would be nice if ex-girlfriend Frances (Brooke Smith) would come around but from her conversation with Terry in “Breakfast of Champions,” she’s not ready to forgive him…yet. Brooke’s disappointment in Terry is palpable, although I doubt this is the last we’ll see of her; let’s not forget, she knows who killed the priest last season.

Does anyone really think Casey will win out over Paige?

Does anyone really think Casey will win out over Paige?

It is easy to see the distaste on Ray’s face when Varick (guest star Jason Butler Harner) calls him with an assignment. While it initially makes Ray seem like nothing more than an errand boy, he ends up playing a significant role in this plot point that pits brother Casey (Guy Burnet) against sister Paige (special guest star Katie Holmes). One of the things both Ray and I have been wondering about since the beginning of the season is who Varick is and what power he holds within the Finney family. Well, let’s just say Varick isn’t just “the Chief of Staff of the Finney organization.” The other interesting dynamic about this plot point is Paige’s relationships with both Varick and her father. From the resentment that is obvious when she orders Varick around, to her tone of voice when speaking to her father, it makes me wonder who’s truly in charge here.

Mickey (Jon Voight) is such a bullshit artist, taking credit for something he didn’t do. “You wouldn’t believe what your brother and I had to do to get you out.” Terry is no fool and knows there’s no way Ray and his father worked together to procure his release from prison. Everyone knows there is no love lost between Ray and Mickey, and particularly, Terry and Mickey. Terry knows exactly what motivates Mickey and doesn’t trust him one iota. Voight really plays Mickey with gumption. The unwanted welcome home party he throws for Terry showcases what a crappy father he truly is. Mickey doesn’t have a clue about Terry’s needs and wants. I had a good laugh when he tells Terry, “I started that business for your kids. I want to leave a legacy.” Mickey is out for one thing, and one thing only—himself and the money he and Daryll (Pooch Hall) make from the “whores and coke” business.

In the final scenes of “Breakfast of Champions,” Ray realizes he’s in the middle of a power struggle between Finney and Paige. Also, Margaret gives Abby the push she needs to make up her mind not only about Ray but what she truly wants for the rest of her life. I wonder whether Abby’s dog “Dog” returning is a foreshadowing of Abby’s decision. At home, Bridget turns out to be the most mature of any of the Donovans, making Ray realize the price of his actions. Is he ready to turn over a new leaf and stop punishing everyone around him?

Other Observations

I love the brief bits of levity Johnson includes in his dialogue. First, when Bridget tells Conor to stay home from school, saying “Go play with your mattress,” I couldn’t help smiling at the visual that brings. Then, when Ray tells Terry he’s going to buy him an automatic coffee machine, Terry answers, “Hell, I could use a new car.”

Conor has been exhibiting more and more anger as time goes on, and what he ends up doing when he and his friend Eddie (guest star Ian M. Hamilton) pick up some girls and take them home for a makeshift party during Abby’s absence is significant of a deeper problem. The kid needs help, and I mean like yesterday.

Kudos to Boyd Wilson, the location manager for “Breakfast of Champions”—Casey’s home is far and away one of the most beautiful residences with the most magnificent views. I’d give just about anything to live in a home like that!


“Breakfast of Champions” has some of the best acting by both Schreiber and Marsan. Ray reminds me of a caged tiger whenever he has dealings with the Finney family, wanting to lash out at the humans who imprisoned him but can’t. Prison has accelerated Terry’s Parkinson’s, forcing him to realize pain and suffering is not far off. Is Mickey to be believed when he tells Terry, “When the shakes get real bad, I promise not to go anywhere?” And with the headaches Paige has and the mention of “surgery,” is her demise not that far off in the future?


What did you think of “Breakfast of Champions?” Leave me a comment below or tweet me @SeasideTV. Let’s discuss!

Stay up-to-date with the series on the official Ray Donovan website:

LIKE Ray Donovan on Facebook at

Follow the series on Twitter @SHO_RayDonovan. And follow cast mates Liev Schreiber (Ray) @LievSchreiber, Pooch Hall (Daryll) @iam_POOCHHALL, Dash Mihok (Bunchy) @dizmihok, Devon Bagby (Conor) @DevonBagby, Kerris Dorsey (Bridget) @kerrisdorsey, Steven Bauer (Avi) @thestevenbauer, Kate Moennig (Lena) @katemoennig, and Eddie Marsan (Terry) @eddiemarsan.

Photos courtesy of Michael Desmond © 2015 Showtime Network, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


© 2015, Linda. All rights reserved.


Love TV, movies, and books--mostly mysteries, with a good love story thrown in every now and then. I have four adopted dogs who I adore. I love trying new recipes, and enjoy eating what I make. English language perfectionist. Reading in bed, Italian food, warm weather, the beach, all types of games = favs!

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