WTF Did I Just Watch A.K.A. Thoughts On ‘Taboo’

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I made it through the entirety of Tom Hardy’s television series, Taboo. Believe me, it was a struggle, but I managed to finish the first season. Taboo has an interesting premise. It is a Victorian era drama about James Delaney (Tom Hardy) a man presumed dead in Africa. But to the surprise of everyone, James returns to England after his father’s death to claim his shipping empire.

I am a huge Tom Hardy fan, so of course I was going to watch this show no matter what. Tom is a fine actor and I was impressed that he created the concept for the series with his father, Chips Hardy. I also enjoy Victorian dramas quite a bit as they are usually dark and gritty. Taboo does well to depict the grim realities of life in the Victorian age. But unfortunately as a whole the show is messy and a huge disappointment.

The biggest problem for Taboo is the character of James Delaney. He is the protagonist of the show, yet he has no redeeming qualities. He often references how horrible he is and the horrible things he has done. He sees everyone around him as a tool to be used. He doesn’t seem to care about money, yet he is willing to do anything and to kill anyone to have possession of his father’s shipping company. Delaney doesn’t even care about his own son! He says he cares about his sister, Zilpha, but his actions say otherwise. It is impossible to connect with Delaney or to care what happens to him. As a result, it is impossible to care about anything that happens on Taboo.

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Oona Chaplin as Zilpha Geary.

There is one character on Taboo that I have sympathized with: Zilpha Geary as played by Oona Chaplin (Whom I will never forgive for ruining Robb Stark). Now, James and Zilpha have had a complicated relationship. It isn’t fleshed out very well (as nothing is on this show). But it is revealed that at one time they had an incestuous relationship. Zilpha did not want to be with James though and married another man while James was in Africa. When James comes back to England his mission, other than obtaining his father’s shipping empire, seems to be to win Zilpha back. Yes, the fact that it is incest makes the whole scenario icky. But James’s love of Zilpha is the only human quality he possesses, so I accepted it.

Zilpha kills her husband after he puts her through an extremely disturbing exorcism in an attempt to exorcise James from her mind. Zilpha finally gives in to her desire to be with James. But he rebukes her. I have absolutely no idea why he rejects her (seriously someone please explain this to me). James’s rejection of Zilpha crushes her. So the season finale opens with Zilpha committing suicide.

WTF!!!!! Why?!?!?!?! It makes no sense to me to build this character up throughout the whole season. To have her struggle with herself and against her bastard husband. To then just unceremoniously kill her off. Zilpha was immensely important to the show. James Delaney as a character has no redeeming qualities. His love of Zilpha is the only emotion he ever shows. Even though their relationship was sick, I was rooting for them. It gave me something to hope for. Zilpha was the only character on the entire show to be fleshed out at all. She was sympathetic, a quality that is much needed in a show filled with horrible people.

James has such little emotional capacity that even Zilpha’s death gets hardly any reaction from him. He sits and mopes and grunts, but that’s it. THIS WAS THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE. But Taboo quickly moves on to explosions and shootouts because who needs character development???

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Tom Hardy as James Delaney.

Taboo never explores the issues that might elevate it above forgettable melodrama. The incest issue is given next to no consideration. Zilpha struggles with it, but James doesn’t give it a second thought. Until he rejects her. Then there is the mystery of James’s son. Is Zilpha the mother? Why does James not care for him? (That’s easy: James doesn’t care for anyone). Also is James crazy? Or does he really possess some voodoo magic? Again we will never know! All that the writers want to focus on is James’s battle against the East India Company, which is the least compelling element of the show.

I have been ambiguous about Taboo for the most part. I have watched every episode neither glued to the screen, nor completely bored. That is until I watched the season finale. It enraged me so much I wanted to turn the television off and ‘Eternal Sunshine’ this show from my memory. What a huge waste of time Taboo is.

James Delaney is a problem that I don’t believe the show writers will be able to fix if there is a second season. The writers had enough sense to kill off about two thirds of the cast in the last 10 minutes. But that won’t be enough to save this mess of a show. Don’t waste your time on Taboo. 3 top hats out of 10

Tidbits:

  • One thing I do love is Taboo’s title sequence. Beautiful imagery and music.
  • Why is the show so visually dark? I understand it’s the Victorian era, all dark and smoky, but I can’t see anything!
  • I also can’t hear anything. Tom please speak up and stop mumbling!
  • Can we talk about the King and his horrible makeup/fat suit? Laughably horrible prosthetics.
  • Tom does look awfully cool walking around in a top hat though.
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Tom Hardy as James Delaney.
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Why Do Good Shows Get Cancelled?: The Red Road

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I suppose the simple answer to that question is they don’t make enough money. But it is such a shame when there is so much potential within these shows. I only heard about The Red Road after it was cancelled by its network, the Sundance channel, and it showed up on Netflix.
Initially I was drawn in just by the appeal of watching Jason Momoa (I still miss Khal Drogo). But quickly other aspects of the show grasped me. The Red Road is about many things, but it is essentially about the tenuous alliance between Phillip Kopus (Jason Momoa), a member of a Native American tribe, and Harold Jensen (Martin Henderson), a white police officer that patrols the reservation and neighboring community.

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The Red Road tackles two very interesting issues that rarely get covered in mainstream media. First, there is the lives and issues of Native Americans. The characters are all very well formed and never veer into becoming stereotypes. It is also interesting to see the Native community cope with the problem of preserving their own way of life or whether they need to assimilate into Western culture in order to survive.
The show also delves into exploring mental illness, something that I think needs more coverage like this in society. Harold’s wife, Jean (Julianne Nichlolson), suffers from schizophrenia. It is one of the best depictions of mental illness that I have seen. How can Jean and her family cope with this illness that she has hidden for years? Can the stigma of mental illness be erased from society? I wish there was more work like this that could bring attention to these issues in a thoughtful manner.

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I also love The Red Road for its great cast and fast paced plot. Each season is only six episodes long, so every moment counts. There were quite a few shocking moments as well as very humorous ones. Jason Momoa is a real star here. I have heard people say that he can’t act; that he can only play Khal Drogo type characters. But here as Phillip Kopus Jason holds the whole show together and displays a wide range of talent. He is menacing, but also caring in his own way. His comedic timing is brilliant and he also uses his physicality extremely well.
I hope that this post may convince some of you to give this show a chance. It is very entertaining and worth your while. It is currently on Netflix (at least here in Canada). The second season ends on a real cliff hanger, so I am hoping that some way the show will be able to return for a third season, maybe through Netflix. And after watching this series I am more excited for the upcoming Aquaman film than ever before.

Who is Walton Goggins? Justified and The Hateful Eight

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Well, he is one of the most talented actors working today and probably hardly anyone knows his name. Although that is sure to change after the release of Quentin Tarantino’s western, The Hateful Eight.
When you look up Walton Goggins on IMDB the film that first comes up next to his name is Django Unchained. I find that extremely funny because he has quite a small part in that film and he has done much more substantial work. He is one of those character actors that you have probably seen in many works, but you just don’t know his name. His best work is mostly on TV; The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Justified. But now Walton is (arguably) the star of The Hateful Eight.

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In The Hateful Eight, Walton Goggins plays Chris Mannix. Chris has the most lines of any character in the film (and that’s A LOT of lines since it’s a Tarantino movie). Quentin specifically wrote the part for Walton. That’s pretty amazing, especially since Walton isn’t a very high profile actor.
But he deserves to be, and hopefully now he will get the attention he deserves. I recently started watching Justified not too long ago (I’m only on the fourth season still, so no spoilers!). Justified is a very good show that really hits its stride in its third and fourth seasons. The show hinges on the relationship between Raylan Givens (played by the wonderful Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). It is so interesting to watch these two amazing characters/actors face off against each other. Raylan is a Deputy Marshall and Boyd is a hillbilly criminal mastermind. Often times the two are struggling against each other, but they also have moments when they are allies. Their interactions always feel organic and it is hard to know which character to root for. Walton has this great cadence as he plays Boyd. When Boyd speaks it feels as though the audience is being treated to a piece of poetry. Hard to believe when faced with Boyd’s appearance of wild hair and swastika tattoos. Walton creates so many layers to this character; Boyd is someone to be feared, but he also has a sympathetic heart at times. And he is also very funny. Boyd does terrible things at times, but when he proposes to Eva, his brother’s widow over a stack of drug money, you can’t help but feel your eyes tear up and hope that everything turns out the way Boyd wants it to. There are a million reasons to dislike Boyd, but Walton’s acting instead makes you love him.

When I was watching The Hateful Eight I was so excited when Walton came on the screen. I was so looking forward to hearing his lovely voice a la Boyd Crowder. After all, both Boyd and Chris Mannix are southern boys, so I figured Walton would play them in a similar way. But I was dead wrong. I was disappointed at first because Chris’s voice isn’t as poetic as Boyd’s. But Chris still has some of that same charm. I am amazed actually by how different Boyd and Chris are. The two characters are completely distinct from each other and both are quite amazing. The Hateful Eight is a very good film (not Tarantino’s best, but still good). I found the film lacks energy at times, but whenever the attention shifts to Walton suddenly everything becomes lively again. Chris seems to always be playing everyone else in the room and it makes me wonder whether he actually really was the sheriff.
Walton imbues Chris with all these little nuances and effectively steals every scene he is in. If you didn’t know who Walton Goggins was before, you’ll never forget him after The Hateful Eight.

The Man from Uncle and Quick Ray Donovan Review

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Sorry I’ve been absent from blogging lately, but as we all know, life happens. I haven’t been watching too much lately (other than speeding through some Sopranos which is for a future post), but I did manage to see Guy Ritchie’s film adaptation of The Man from Uncle.
The premise of the film is right up my alley: two cold war spies, one American and one Russian, team up to take on some generic bad guys. The film ended up being fairly average overall. The plot was okay and the film was never boring. But it was also never exciting. I really enjoyed the chemistry between the three leads and that’s why I hope there will be a sequel. Armie Hammer is brilliant even if his Russian accent isn’t always perfect. Henry Cavill looks beautiful and he displays a lot of charisma, something that he wasn’t able to show in Man of Steel. The two men bounce off each other quite well and carry the film. Alicia Vikander is good as per usual, but she is nowhere near as good as she was in Ex Machina. She is serviceable, but other than some scenes with Armie she doesn’t elevate the film at all. The worst part of the movie: the editing. At times it was very bizarre and the flashbacks to five seconds before hand seemed unnecessary. The Man from Uncle gets 6.5/10.

Teresa (Alyssa Diaz) and Bunchy Donovan (Dash Mihok).
Teresa (Alyssa Diaz) and Bunchy Donovan (Dash Mihok).

Ray Donovan: Season 3 So Far…
I haven’t been posting about Ray Donovan because it’s been so…dull. Things have picked up a little with the last few episodes. But I recently re-watched season 2. It was a great season because by about the third or fourth episode the stakes felt very high. So everything that happened was exciting and felt vital. Season 3 got to about episode 7 or 8 before it became mildly exciting. The characters all seem to be spinning their wheels. Other than Bunchy and his new bride, Teresa. Bunchy has evolved into a stronger character that I really wasn’t expecting. And I love the way Teresa talks to Ray and stands up for Bunchy. The last episode, “The Octopus,” was touching as Ray gave Bunchy away to Teresa (figuratively, not literally). The episode was also good because there were no Finneys. Katie Holmes, and yes, even the wonderful Ian McShane, have been very disappointing.

Ray Donovan: Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2; The Kalamazoo and Ding

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Congrats to Liev on his first Emmy nomination for Ray Donovan!

The first episode of this season worried me a bit, so I was waiting to post anything until the second episode, when I got a better feel for where the show is going this season.
I’m a little worried because I think Ann Biderman, the show’s creator, did a great job as showrunner for the first two seasons. She had a distinct vision and certain things about Ray, LA, and the Catholic Church molestation scandal that she wanted to explore. But apparently she went over budget both seasons, so Showtime fired her and brought on a new showrunner for season 3. I’m worried that as a result the show is becoming boring and mediocre as there is now a severe lack of creative energy that drove the first two seasons.
The worst thing about The Kalamazoo (episode 1) is that it is boring! What a terrible sin for a television show to commit. I’m a huge Ray Donovan fan and it really hurts me to say that. But I could anticipate all the beats of the episode before it even aired. Ezra dies. Ray’s separated from Abby. Ray hates Avi. It was all so predictable. Other than Abby rescuing that beautiful dog, that was somewhat surprising. Ray has virtually nothing to do, but look morose. And Ian McShane and Katie Holmes also had nothing to do. A very lackluster season opener.

Surprisingly my favorite moment so far.
Surprisingly my favorite moment so far.

Episode 2, Ding, was a mild improvement. The episode is largely about the characters enjoying punishment, self-inflicted or otherwise. Ray gets beat up, Terry gets stabbed, Bunchy gets verbally abused. Bunchy and his budding, abusive relationship with the Luchadora is very funny. I don’t know how believable it is, but it’s a nice twist for the character. Paige (Katie Holmes) and her duplicity was also a nice twist. As much as I love this show, the female characters have always been a major problem. They’re all bitchy and unlikeable. Paige is both these things, but I think there’s potential for her to be a great character. So far Katie Holmes is doing a great job. Superficial critique, but OMG I was shocked by how terrible her teeth look. Fix that shit Katie!
These two episodes of Ray Donovan get a 6/10.

Eddie Marsan as Terry Donovan.
Eddie Marsan as Terry Donovan.

Tidbits:
• Mickey is a hero/pimp. Sounds about right.
• Terry in jail. How long can he survive?
• Andrew Finney (Ian McShane): “Kafka said in man’s struggle with the world, bet on the world. Do you agree?”
Ray: “No.”
Finney: “People like us, you bet on the man.”

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• Ray’s coping method (screwing random chicks) hasn’t changed.
• Mickey is babysitter to bratty, Shirley Temple wannabe, Audrey (the daughter of a prostitute).
• In Terry’s absence, Bunchy is now manager of the gym. WTF, Bunchy can’t even hold down a job, now we’re supposed to believe he’s managing a business?
• Bridget is very upset that Ray isn’t around and blames her mother. Both Ray and Abby are being really shitty parents.
• Creepy Priest is creepy. He’s spying on the Donovans, trying to figure out what happened to the dead priest.
• Episode 1 ends unoriginally with the song “Hotel California.”
• SNAP meetings are taking place at the gym?! Bunchy is leading them?! WTF is going on here????????
• Ray: “I don’t call cops, Abbs, that’s your thing.” BURN!
• Avi has started his own business, wants Lena to be his partner.
• WTF WAS CONOR DOING?! FUCKING HIS BED?! WTF?!?!
• Damn, I like this Luchadora, she has a wicked attitude.

• Abby feeds her dog off of Ray’s diner plate. That simple action speaks volumes.

My Second Liebster Award/Ray Donovan is Tonight!!! AKA I’ve Been Slacking on My Blog Lately, But Someone Still Thinks I’m Awesome

The clip up there is one of my favorite moments on televison. Anyways, Drew over at Drew’s Movie Reviews recently gave me my second Liebster award! Thanks so much Drew, it still amazes that people actually read and enjoy my blog. Drew has a great blog filled with movie reviews and weekly movie quotes.
So here are my answers to Drew’s questions:
1) Can you wiggle your ears? I just tried and the answer is no, I cannot.
2) Do you watch any web series? If so, what’s your favorite one? No, but shout out to my favorite Youtube channel CineFix which is about, you guessed it, movies.
3) What is the first movie you remember watching in the theaters? I’m not sure, I think it was possibly Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But my most memorable experience was years later when I saw LOTR: The Return of the King with my mother. She’s not a big fan of the trilogy, but she likes the costumes and Liv Tyler. So we’re watching the movie, I’m loving it, she’s not, and then halfway through the power goes out. We sit there for half an hour in the dark. My mom’s bitching, saying she’s not gonna come back and sit through the movie all over again. The theater people are starting to hand out free tickets to see the movie another time when, bam! The lights come back on and we get to watch the rest of the movie. I was thrilled, my mom was not.
4) Do you prefer 3D or 2D movies or are you indifferent? Don’t really care, but I haven’t ever seen a 3D movie that wowed me or where the 3D seemed essential.
5) Do/Did you play any sports? Which ones? Nope, but I would love to play more tennis (someone be my partner!)
6) What is your favorite card game? Desert Rummy! My boyfriend and I played that a lot last summer.
7) What is your favorite board game? Monopoly, especially on my Disney themed board.
8) What is your favorite video game? Ooooh, really tough question. Batman: Arkham Asylum has my favorite video game story, really excellent. But I love the Tomb Raider games, I love playing as Lara Croft. These days I’m playing GTA V which is really excellent, great story and game play.
9) If you had a time machine and could go back in time without consequence of messing up the future, where and when would you visit and why? It’s really hard for me to choose, but I would go France prior to the French Revolution, when Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI (is that 16?) ruled. The opulence, the dresses, I love all of it. It would be great to see Versailles during that time.
10) Do you have a motto or mantra? No, but I like “Kindness is magic” from Ricky Gervais’s show, Derek. It’s probably something I should practice a little more.
11) What is your favorite thing about blogging or being a blogger? Simply feeling heard. I don’t really get to discuss my love of movies much in my day to day life, so here I can unleash all that passion with people who understand.

That’s it for my Liebster post, you can go check out my post from May to see who I nominated then and some random facts about me. It just seems too soon for me to nominate more people right now.
Ray Donovan Season 1 Half-assed Review
The third season of Ray Donovan premieres tonight!!!!! I am so excited to see what Ray and new addition, Ian Mcshane get up to this season.
So I managed to re-watch the first season recently. Admittedly the show starts off a little faulty; so many characters to introduce at lightning speed. But around episode 9 the show goes from pretty good to amazing, edge of your seat tension. I love the dramatic action that occurs near the end of the season. In part because it has some surprising twists and turns. But I really love that the action serves to further show the audience who these characters actually are. Because that’s the real strength of the show: the acting and the characters. It’s an amazing ensemble cast that works best when they can bounce off each other, for instance in a locked up gym with three brothers and a pedophile priest. My favorite episode, possibly of the whole show, is episode 11 “Bucky Fuckin’ Dent.” The other great thing about the show is that there are real consequences for everything that happens. That’s what Season 2 is all about, the consequences of all the characters’ actions at the end of Season 1. Here’s a post I did last year that sums up the end of Season 2: https://furiousreviews.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/ray-donovan-season-2-episode-12-the-captain/
Liev and Jon Voight are two of the best actors around and their confrontations are incredibly compelling, especially when the audience finally learns why Ray hates his father so much. I love the show because I love Live, but I also love Ray and can somewhat relate to him. His troubled relationship with his father, as well as his struggle to be the best man he can be are very relatable issues.

Tune in to Showtime for Ray Donovan Season 3 starting tonight!

Ray Donovan: Season 1, Episodes 7 and 8; New Birthday and Bridget

All you really need to know is this happens:

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No, no, I kid. I am definitely behind on my Ray Donovan viewing, so I doubt I’ll be all caught up by July 12th, when the third season premieres. But I’m giving it my best. I’m also trying out a new theme, so let me know what you think.
These two episodes focus largely on the two Bridgets in Ray’s life: his daughter and his dead sister, who still looms large in Ray’s mind. Young Bridget is engaging in a Romeo and Juliet-esque relationship with Marvin. Ray believes that Marvin is dangerous and a bad influence. And it turns out he’s right when Marvin grabs Bridget and forcefully demands a blowjob since, and I quote, “My moms got murdered ‘cause of the money your dad gave her to buy me. So pipe me, bitch.” Luckily Bridget runs away, more scared than anything. Ray retaliates by grabbing Marvin and driving away with him. Bridget is understandably upset by this since last episode Ray nearly shot Mickey in front of her. Bridget thinks there is a good possibility that Ray will kill Marvin. Ray does stick a gun in Marvin’s mouth, but he doesn’t pull the trigger. Instead he takes him back to his former home in Compton and leaves Marvin there.

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Around this time it is also Ray’s sister’s birthday. That combined with his recent trip to Boston mean that his sister weighs heavy on Ray’s mind. Why did she kill herself? Was it in some way Mickey’s fault? Did Ray fail her? Could he have somehow saved her from herself? These are all the questions that go through Ray’s mind. His sister is the Bridget that Ray feels he failed, the one he lost. So he is determined to not fuck up with his daughter. But his heavy handed parenting inevitably alienates him from his daughter. She screams that she hates him and that he’s an animal.

But by the end of the episode the two reconcile in a very sweet moment. Ray reveals that he believes his sister killed herself because she was pregnant and that Ray is only trying to protect his daughter from a similar incident. In one of my favorite moments from the show the father and daughter sing Cat Stevens’s “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out.” As the show progresses Ray’s relationship with his daughter becomes extremely integral to understanding Ray, so this moment becomes very important.

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Tidbits:
• Ray heads to Boston to find the ever elusive Sully (played by the wonderful James Woods). Ray runs the gauntlet (i.e. getting beaten up, told repeatedly that Sully is dead, confronting Sully’s mom) until he finally meets with the man. Ray offers Sully an escape from the US (and hiding) in exchange for killing Mickey. Sully accepts the offer.
• “Amen motherfucker.” Sean’s awesome Priest action film Black Mass that Mickey was a ‘consultant’ on.
• Mickey successfully blackmails Sean: Mickey’s silence in exchange for a screenplay deal and basically whatever Mickey wants.
• Abby tells Marvin that she is there for him and he can talk to her in the aftermath of his mother’s death. But it turns out she really just wants info on Ray. She can be so sleazy, it is such a low moment for her.
• Re-Konn, Marvin’s adopted dad, seems like a pretty good guy, if somewhat misguided. To cheer Marvin up, Re-Konn decides its Marvin’s “new birthday,” the beginning of his new life.
• Marvin and Bridget make an interesting duet of “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”

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• Abby and Deb (Ezra’s mistress), get drunk and go shopping. Abby has the genius idea of stealing some hideous shoes. Inevitably Abby gets caught and Ray bails her out.
• Ray torches a house and tortures Bunchy’s realtor until he gets Bunchy’s money back. Ray doesn’t give it to Bunchy though, instead keeping it safe so that Bunchy doesn’t fuck it up again. As Ray says, “I’ve always taken care of you Bunchy, and I always will.”
• In order to “reclaim her body” after the blowjob incident Bridget gets her belly button pierced (against Ray’s rules).
• The brothers Donovan mourn their sister’s death over whiskey shots and Shakespeare. This is in contrast to Mickey, who doesn’t even remember his dead daughter’s birthday. He does cry about it near the end, somewhat redeeming himself. Just a little.

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• Mickey meets some blonde chick at a spa. She’s only attracted to him because she thinks he’s some big shot. Mickey is disappointed that she can’t twerk. Mickey asks for a blow job and the woman causally remarks, “You’d have to put a gun to my head.” Being the romantic guy that he is, Mick obliges, holding a gun to her and saying, “Suck it.” The woman freaks out, Mickey feels bad. As she storms off he tells her, “You think I could stick my dick in you?! With your white ass and fake tits?!?!”
• Frances shows up at Terry’s with a black eye. So, naturally, he goes and beats up her husband because “you don’t hit women.” Despite this chivalry, Terry breaks up with Frances since he can’t commit ‘adultery.’
• Lena is engaged in a “mid-life crisis, fuck a lesbian thing.” Lena does not have feelings. Lena punches out the woman who suddenly dumped her. LENA WINS EVERYTHING.
• Interestingly, Terry and Bunchy reminisce about dislocating their sister’s shoulders (kind of creepy, especially how funny they think it is). But Ray is confused, all this time he had thought it had been Mickey. Maybe Mickey isn’t as bad as Ray thinks?

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• Ray gets drunk and is feeling in love with Abby, “I love you Abbs, I’ll buy you whatever you want.”
“What I want, you can’t give me…emotional honesty.”
• Terry goes to Church to confess his sins. The priest is very understanding and tells Terry that he is too hard on yourself. He also says, “You know Terry, everyone needs love.”
• Bunchy waits outside the Church for Terry. While sitting there he sees a bunch of boys with a priest. Bunchy looks quite shocked, is he having another flashback to his past?
• One of my favorite Ray quotes: “Some things in life you can’t take back, some things change you forever.”

Ray Donovan: Season 1, Episode 6; Housewarming

This is one of my favorite episodes of Ray Donovan. Last episode Bunchy bought a house. So this episode he decides to throw a housewarming party. The party is about as pathetic and disastrous as you would expect.
Terry is there with Frances, his secretly married to someone else girlfriend. Mickey hires some hookers (of course). And even though they are banned from going to the house Conner, Bridget, and her boyfriend Marvin show up.
There are three absolutely great moments in this episode. One of them is a quiet yet powerful moment between Bunchy and Abby. Abby sneaks over to his new house to help Bunchy decorate. We see now more than ever how much of a man-child Bunchy is. He sits in his new room like a little boy while his ‘mother’ makes his bed, etc. Bunchy reveals his insecurities, fretting that he bought the house and Ray must be mad at him. He also goes on to talk about the sexual abuse he endured from his priest. The moment is touching and very sad as Bunchy blames himself for what happened to him; Terry broke the priest’s hand when he tried to molest him, why didn’t Bunchy retaliate too? Abbey tells him “That’s what monsters do. They make you think you want something you don’t want.” This emotional moment makes Bunchy’s breakdown later on at the party all the more powerful and effective. Mickey encourages Bunchy to ‘christen’ his new house with one of the hookers. The hooker gives Bunchy a blowjob, but as he looks down at her head he suddenly has a flashback to his priest. Bunchy freaks out, she freaks out. Drunk and high on coke, Bunchy lights his Boston Red Sox poster on fire in an attempt to burn away his memories. All he really accomplishes though is ending the party and ruining his new room. This episode makes Bunchy’s pain more palpable and real to the audience than it was before.

Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan.
Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan.

My favorite moment of the episode comes during the aftermath of the party. Ray has been at the hospital, waiting for Ezra to get through his brain tumor surgery. Terry calls Ray, telling about him about the fire and that his kids are there. Ray flips out quite dramatically and wonderfully. Liev is exceptional throughout the episode, but especially here, showcasing Ray’s anger, pain, and reluctance to pull the trigger. Ray storms up to Mickey, pistol whipping him and nearly shooing him in the head as Ray’s kids look on. I love watching the emotions Ray goes through, especially when he sees that he’s scared the shit out of his kids. Terry is also great here, as the calming voice of reason (although he should’ve known better than to phone Ray like that).
Lastly it is a ‘trip’ to watch Van Miller, FBI Guy, unwittingly ingesting some LSD and hallucinating seeing a monkey in a suit. It’s Ray’s way of gaining evidence to blackmail Van with, to get him to stop investigating Ray. But it turns out Van isn’t going to be that easy to deal with.

Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Michael McCrady as Frank.
Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Michael McCrady as Frank.

Tidbits:
• Ray has an FBI connection named Frank. Funny enough, Ray isn’t afraid to drop kick him into the water since, as always, Ray has info to blackmail him with.
• Abby to Ray: “I just don’t get you anymore.” Ray’s answer is to stalk off in silence.

Elliot Gould as Ezra Goldman and Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan.
Elliot Gould as Ezra Goldman and Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan.

• Ezra escapes the hospital just before his surgery. Not totally implausible. Ray suddenly finding him on a random street? COMPLETELY implausible. Like wtf, the first place he looks he finds him?
• Terry continues on with Frances, acting as though he doesn’t know she has a secret family.

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Devon Bagby as Conner Donovan and Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan.

• Mickey shows this interesting dynamic of wanting to appear cool to his grandkids and putting them in dangerous situations, but at the same time he is fiercely protective of them.
• Bunchy’s roughhousing with Conner feels incredibly inappropriate, showing that he doesn’t know how to act with a young boy. Fortunately Mickey quickly puts an end to it before Bunchy can finish his “Father Nelson” joke. You know it’s bad when even Mickey’s like, ‘whoa, too far.’
• Ray tells Ezra about their FBI problem. Since they can’t make Van go away, Ezra concludes that Mickey has to be killed. In a wonderful moment of vulnerability, Ray replies, “It’s not that simple. He’s still my father.”
• So, who wants Mickey dead more than Ray? Who can be the one to pull the trigger? How about that guy Mickey stole $500,000 from? Hmm…..

Episode MVP is a real toss up between Liev and Dash Mihok (Bunchy)…. I’m going with Liev, only because his last scene with Ezra was so great and subtle.

Ray Donovan: Season 1, Episode 5; The Golem

Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Elliott Gould as Ezra Goldman.
Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Elliott Gould as Ezra Goldman.

This episode of Ray Donovan feels kind of like a filler one. There is some great acting from Liev Schreiber and some really funny moments. But otherwise it just serves to slowly progress the story. It’s necessary, but as a result it isn’t a stand out episode.
Since the beginning of the series we have seen Ezra struggling with his sanity. It seemed lie Alzheimer’s at first, but this episode it revealed to actually be a brain tumor. This isn’t a big shock or loss to the audience, Ezra hasn’t had very many scenes. But this revelation is huge for Ray. Ezra is probably the most important figure in Ray’s life. Ezra is Ray’s true father figure, not Mickey. Mickey has only brought Ray down while Ezra supports Ray and has helped become a success in Hollywood.
So Ray is devastated by this news. And his reaction to the news is really interesting. Ray is a quiet, withdrawn man who rarely shows emotion. Immediately after hearing the news Ray gets shit faced. Then he goes and fucks Ashley. Bat shit crazy Ashley. Of all the girls he picks the one who handcuffs herself to his towel rack. Oh well, I guess she was immediately available. Anyways, Ray has to be in a bad way if he chooses to fuck her. The way they screw is also kind of interesting, it’s from behind and very aggressive, seemingly all about Ray. After this Ray drunkenly staggers into his apartment. As he stares at Marvin Gaye’s blood splattered adoption papers he breaks down, sobbing relentlessly. The Abby, the bitch from hell, appears asking, “Who the fuck are ya Ray?” It’s the question that plagues Ray throughout the series.
Tidbits:
• Terry and Frances are sleeping together now. Also Terry is a “sex god.”
• Bunchy cashes in his $1.4 million cheque from the Catholic Church. All he wants is $50 and a bike. Mickey wants enough money to get some hookers.
Mickey-ism #1: “Last time I was in a bank I had a stocking on my face.”

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• Ashley shows up at Ray’s apartment, telling him, “I’m not leaving here until you fuck me.” She then handcuffs herself to the towel rack in his bathroom and flushes the key down the toilet. Ray’s just like fuck, let her be crazy, I got shit to do and leaves.
• Abby has a little chat with a fellow yoga goer who is concerned because Abby is always crying in class. Yoga Girl observes that “Men are naturally really secretive animals” (has she met Ray???) Abby ends up telling her, “You’re a nosy cunt.”
• The Hollywood divorce that Ray and Lee are helping reach a settlement is pretty funny. I imagine that’s actually how it goes down in real life. One barely used penis pump and all.
• Prisoner Ashley is bored so she tries shaving her legs only to cut herself. She is so bored she tries to write her name in blood on the mirror, but gives up. Ashley proceeds to put on Ray’s deodorant. Craaaaazy.
• Abby’s talk with yoga girl has got her thinking…. She goes and checks out Ray’s ‘cave’ i.e. his office and his apartment.
• Mickey is the Golem of the episode’s title. I’m not sure what Golem means exactly, but judging by how Ezra freaks out it’s not good.
• Mickey and Ezra talk about how Ezra and Ray sent Mickey to jail. It’s a surprisingly decent, calm conversation. Mickey tells Ezra, “My son, he’s my son, he did what he thought he had to do. But you, you’re a piece of shit.”

• Marvin’s (remember him? The neighbor?) mom never sent in the signed adoption papers. Ray investigates and finds that she’s been shot, but she did manage to sign the papers.
• Sex God (Terry) is being brushed off by Frances. But why? Oh, it’s only because SHE’S MARRIED AND HAS A SON. Poor Terry.
• Bunchy decides to buy a house. A shitty one. In the middle of the night. Because he is a functioning, independent adult, goddammit!
• Avi and Ray track down Van’s (FBI Guy) address. They sneak in and find that he’s extremely fond of action figures and has Ray’s picture on the wall, along with Ezra’s, Lee’s and Mickey’s. Nothing creepy there at all.

Kerris Dorsey as Bridget Donovan and Octavius J. Johnson as Marvin Gaye Washington.
Kerris Dorsey as Bridget Donovan and Octavius J. Johnson as Marvin Gaye Washington.

• Since Ray and Abby are too busy with their own shit, their kids decide to have a little party with Marvin. Marvin and Bridget make out and Conner pukes all over Ray’s watches. Fun times.
• Lena is given the task of getting rid of Ashley before Abby shows up at Ray’s apartment (having handcuffed girls in your apartment would be a no no). When Ashley sees Lena she says, “You’re hot.” Damn right she is!

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• Ashley: “You can’t hit me, I have epilepsy.” Lena punches her anyways.

Episode MVP is Liev Schreiber he does some incredible work here, especially at the end.

Ray Donovan: Season 1, Episode 4; Black Cadillac

Sheryl Lee Ralph as Claudette and Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan.
Sheryl Lee Ralph as Claudette and Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan.

This episode Ray decides to take a break from his job. Well, actually Abby forces him to go to family day at Bel-Air academy, a private school she wants their children to attend. Somewhat predictably the day ends up being a disaster and Ray can’t escape his work. But it isn’t Ray that spoils the day, it’s his son, Conner. Conner seems to have inherited his father’s violent streak.
The Black Cadillac of the title is actually Mickey’s old car. It’s symbolic of the past and his relationship with it. Mickey takes a trip to Palm Springs with Bunchy and Daryll. Mickey wants to catch up with Daryll’s mother, Claudette. Mickey thinks that he can just show up 20 years later and take Claudette back, even though she is now happily married to someone else. Claudette and Mickey have a special bond. Mickey stole half a million dollars for her back in the day from some gangsters. He got in trouble for it. Mickey loved Claudette fiercely and he still does. Claudette is grateful to Mickey, she saved his old Cadillac for him, and she still cares for him. But Mickey learns that “things have changed” and he can’t have his old life back. It’s a notion that the audience knows long before Mickey does, but it still has quite the emotional impact. Even though Mickey can be a total asshole he genuinely cares for Claudette and to see him rejected is truly heartbreaking.
Tidbits:
• Ray has a very disturbing nightmare at the beginning of the episode. It involves Mickey fucking both Ray’s ex-girlfriend and Abby. It is jarring and will emotionally scar you for LIFE.
• Marvin still isn’t in school.
• Mickey is supposed to get arrested for the priest murder today. Ray has Avi stalk him to make sure it actually goes down.
• Palm Springs road trip!
• Ray is pressured by Abby to attend this family day crap because she is so set on being part of upper class society. I find it funny that Abby so fiercely desires this when most of the show is about critiquing the superficial upper class of Hollywood.
Mickey-ism #1: “Great kids come from great fucks.” i.e. Daryll. Bunchy, not so much, “Your mother was a great cook.”
• The sibling rivalry between Bunchy and Daryll is hilarious. It’s like they’re ten year olds, living out the childhood they didn’t have together. Teasing each other, making fun of each other, Bunchy throwing Daryll into a pool… It’s really touching as well because by the end of the episode they have bonded and come to like each other.
• Bunchy’s opinion on the song Daryll made when he was 16: “You dropped out of school for this shit?”’
• Marvin when he sees Ray: “Hey Mr. Donovan, you buy me yet?”
• Terry’s getting ready for spaghetti night with his nurse, Francis. His buddy, Potato Pie (seriously), gives him this golden advice: “You can’t get pussy from shit from a jar. You gotta make it from scratch.”
• Mickey brings Alan, Claudette’s husband, the gift of a small cactus. Alan already has a huge cactus. Symbolic phallic imagery? Alan is rich and has Claudette. Mickey is…. An ex-con who just got out of jail.

Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Josh Pais as Stu Feldman.
Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Josh Pais as Stu Feldman.

• Stu Feldman is at the family day gathering, wearing a wonderfully hideous shirt. His son attends the school and gives Conner a tour. Stu wants Ray to handle Ashley for him, but Ray gets to tell him he’s “not working today.”
• Alan is a dickhead.
• Mickey suddenly encourages Bunchy’s sobriety in order to get more cognac for himself.
• Daryll slings back his cognac. Alan forcefully admonishes him to “Sip it DOWN.”
• To try to look cool, Conner tells the kids at school that he’s friends with Tommy Wheeler, the action movie star. Stu’s kid shits all over this by saying Tommy “is a degenerate pervert” and “He only wants to suck your dick.” Conner is PISSED and everyone laughs at him. Thus later on, Conner whacks Stu’s kid in the head with a foot ball tee.
• Alan is willing to pay back to Mickey the money he stole for Claudette if he promises to stay away from her. But Mickey replies, “It isn’t the money I’m after…” [Enter Claudette]

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• Lena’s job seems to be listening to people have sex all day. Except this time the people find one of the microphones. Ray has to sneak out of family day to handle it. But he ends up getting scratched on the face by a “Bel-Air cougar.”

• Stu awkwardly apologizes to Abby while Ray is off fighting cougars (the human kind). He says Ray and Ashley never fucked. Then they sit in awkward silence.
• Claudette gives Mickey back his “other beautiful black baby,” his black Cadillac. They dance and reminisce about old times. Then Mickey plants a kiss on her. But Claudette denies him.
• Mickey, Daryll, and Bunchy go out for dinner. They gleefully enjoy the cognac Bunchy stole from Alan. It’s a hilarious bonding moment.
• Van (FBI Guy) tells Mickey that in order for Mickey to stay out of jail he will have to turn in Ezra, Lee, and Ray to the FBI. This is Mickey’s big chance to get revenge on Ray for putting him jail.
• The spaghetti dinner is awkward because of course, its Terry we’re talking about here.

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• Mickey is eager to go to the Buggy Whip bar, not knowing it’s a gay bar. And he doesn’t even care! Mick just wants to dance and snort some coke! He’s free, and happy.
• This episode’s song: “Now that we found love” by Third World.