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'Ray Donovan' forgets son's birthday, family dysfunction breaks loose

Season 2 | Episode 7 | “Walk This Way” | Aired Aug 24, 2014

This! This is the Ray Donovan I’ve been waiting for, and Liev Schreiber picked the perfect episode of the season to direct. All season we’ve seen Ray in control, intimidating and indecipherable. But we know better. Of all the roles Ray plays (fixer, father, Southie), he fits one most aptly—ticking time bomb. The bomb that is Ray Donovan is primed to go boom, and I’m not talking about f-bombs.

What is the first spark leading to Ray’s inevitable flare up? He forgot his son’s birthday. No one remembers Conor’s birthday except for Tommy Wheeler. Conor and Tommy have kept up their vaguely inappropriate friendship, which I can tell isn’t going to end well. It’s through eavesdropping on Conor’s Skype session with Tommy (and some topless friends) that Ray realizes he forgot his son’s 14th birthday. He looks for Abbie, but she’s already left home.

Is she out and about readying for a surprise party? Nope! She’s waiting for Jim the cop in a nondescript motel room. When he arrives, they swiftly get to business, yet Ray’s calls interrupt the action before it goes past making out in bed. Talking to Ray about Conor’s birthday shatters Abbie’s resolve to consummate her affair with Jim. She leaves to actually go out and about readying for Conor’s impromptu party.

Back home, C-money calls Ray out on his B.S. when he feigns a birthday surprise of floor seat Lakers tickets. As compensation, he gives in to Conor’s sole request—a family party including Terry, Bunchy, Daryll and Mickey. It should be a quiet, sober affair.

Despite spending most of the day focused on family, Ray readily ameliorates another stalker situation for Ashley. Bob the stalker is back, but he swears he’s there to protect her. Steve Knight is the one he should really be focused on, and Ray doesn’t necessarily disagree. Steve, not Ashley, called Ray to get rid of Bob. His presence dominates Ashley’s life and by extension, he’s creeping into Ray’s psyche. For instance, Steve greets Ray, stating, “Did you f— Ashley last night? ‘Cause when I f—ed her this morning I felt very close to you, Ray.” Insightful, disturbing, and absurd—Steve has started to distinguish himself from the Creepy Motivational Speakers of Showtime yore.

That night, the party starts, and the drinks are flowing! Pro tip: You don’t need a dozen bottles of champagne, multiple cases of beer, a pitcher of vodka lemonade, several decanters of whiskey, and assorted bottles of wine for a family party with nine adults and two teenagers. That is, unless you want juicy television. The more drinks Ray downs, the more “interesting” the party becomes.

Drink One

Ray and Bunchy give Conor the traditional Donovan birthday bumps on the head. Maybe that’s why the Donovans are so dysfunctional—ritualistic brain trauma. Conor squirms out of the birthday brain trauma tradition to greet Mickey, Claudette and Daryll at the door. Ray steeled himself to see and deal with Mickey, but he’s visibly shocked to see Claudette.

Claudette has never been anything but lovely, so Ray’s anger towards her is unfounded. I understand his pain and anger towards her before and after his mother’s death, but you would think as an adult he could grow out of his angst.

Drink Two (Drink Two times two; Mickey takes Ray’s first second drink.)

Terry insists on confronting Ray about his move to Ireland and intention to sell the gym. At first, Ray gives him the same spiel as Harriet the creative accountant, the market is bad, blah, blah, lies, blah. Terry knows less about Ray’s shady business ventures than originally assumed.

Bunchy invites his lonely group therapy friend, Stan, to the party. Stan, obviously smitten with Bunchy and jealous of Patty, is grateful to be there, savoring the opportunity to be close to someone and their family. 

Drink Three

Ray refuses to acknowledge Terry and Frances’s plans, making Terry all the more frustrated.

Drink Four

Ray broods and watches Mickey and Claudette through the window from the backyard. Mickey insults Stan with an off-color priest joke. He breezes past the awkwardness, one of several Mickey Donovan superpowers, and dances with Claudette. He calls out Ray to dance with Abbie, stirring the pot, another Mickey superpower. Ray and Abbie merely stare at each meaningfully. Abbie leaves to smoke a cigarette and contemplate her infidelity in the bathroom, you know, as one does at family birthday parties.

Drink Five

Bunchy apologizes to Stan for Mickey’s behavior. Stan takes his apology and arm hug to mean…something more. He goes in for the kiss, and Bunchy jumps back. “I’m not gay!” Bunchy exclaims. “How do you know?” Stan replies. Yeah, Bunchy, how do you know?

Hurt and embarrassed, Stan walks out of the party. From inside, within an arm’s reach of the whiskey to be exact, Ray witnesses the entire scene. Tipsy Ray finds the situation amusing, but it sends Bunchy into a tailspin.

Drink Six

Bunchy chugs a glass of whiskey, breaking his sober streak.

Drink Seven

Ray gives a tipsy toast to Conor, then Abbie, sounding sincere-ish. Bridget walks out on the happy scene, calling it B.S. Mickey, breezes past the awkwardness once again, makes his own toast, and presents his surprise. After spending the ride hearing Claudette and Daryll reminiscence about their old car, Mickey gifts it to Conor. Claudette and Daryll look on as Mickey and Conor bond over the car. The look on their faces is heartbreaking. It’s not just a car—it’s a flagrant display of Mickey’s affections towards Conor, affections he has never (and will never) express to Daryll. Claudette may be his “lady,” but Daryll is only his son when it’s convenient for Mickey.

Ray checks in on Bridget, who is back to brooding and texting in her room. He reminds her that Marvin attacked her and runs with a dangerous crowd, once again forbidding her to see him. She asks if he’s ever loved anyone that was wrong for him. He says yes. In a brief moment of candor, he talks about his love for Colleen, the woman whose death put Mickey in jail and Ray on the road to becoming a Hollywood fixer for Ezra.

Drink Eight

The family dances to ‘70s-‘80s funk. Fed up with seeing Mickey happy with Claudette, he grabs another drink and his dad throws out of the house. When Terry remarks that this is why they’re going to Ireland, Drunk Ray lashes out at him. He forbids Terry to move and sell the gym. Mickey, ever the pot-stirrer, goads Ray to tell Terry about the money laundering going through the gym. Ray admits it and goes on a tirade about he’s solely responsible for cleaning up Terry’s life. Terry and Frances storm out, only to find Daryll beating away at Mickey’s Daryll’s Conor’s car with a baseball bat. The car was the only legacy Mickey left him, and without a second thought, it was taken away and given to Mickey’s “real” family. Claudette calms Daryll down and everyone leaves the party. Conor gives the keys back to Mickey, which is definitely for the best.

Drink Nine

Abbie sits alone in the living room, staring at Ray. She doesn’t speak, but her eyes say a thousand words. Ray stares back, not saying a word. He grabs another drink and leaves, still refusing to address their issues even after such an eventful night. Ray’s façade may be cracking, but it’ll take more than a night with “the family” for it to truly crumble.


Terry, still fuming, needs to process the night’s events before making a decision about his future with Frances. Claudette needs a break from Mickey. Bunchy insists he’s not gay to no one in particular. Ray calls Tenacious Female Reporter. (She falls asleep in bed with her notes, so you know she’s just as tenacious in Boston as she is in LA.) Bridget leaves home with Marvin. Abbie returns to her motel getaway with Jim.


Helping himself to Champagne and cake, Conor blasts Run-DMC and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” Ray enters the kitchen and breaks out into a White Man Dance. Conor joins in on the fun, and the father-son duo give Taylor Swift a run for her money in arm-dancing skills.

Just another day in the Donovan residence. Happy birthday, C-money.

Stray Bullets

  • Why don’t Abbie and Jim go to Jim’s house for alone time? What is he hiding?
  • Creepy Motivational Speaker is now Creepy and Abusive Motivational Speaker.
  • Stan has the potential to be, heck he already is, an unhealthy addition to Bunchy’s life. But I still think his infatuation with Bunchy is adorable!
  • Are we dropping the Trousdale house plotline? It wouldn’t bother me much besides the fact that it would mean we wasted six episodes on that hullabaloo.
  • Speaking of wasted plotlines, Wendell Pierce hardly has anything to do as Mickey’s probation worker. Hopefully, he gets a meatier story soon.
  • I’m still not down with the use of Cherry (Jeryl Prescott) as a prop, but maybe that’s the point.
  • Number of f-bombs dropped: 40.

Ray Donovan, rated TV-MA, airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.


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