In one way or another, Ray Donovan has always been about family. Across two seasons the show has explored what it means to be part of a family, how those blood ties can make us stronger or more vulnerable, or in the worst case scenario—and let’s be honest, Ray Donovan is all worst case scenario—lead us into oblivion. “Breakfast of Champions” has a lot going on in terms of plot, but it all boils down to that one theme: family.
We’re thrust right into that theme as Abby, having left her children behind like any other responsible mother who’s just lost their stray dog, heads back to her hometown of Boston. She hits up Kelly’s, a bar owned and operated by her family. It’s her brother Dave who’s running it now, with Abby’s father living in an assisted care home.
Abby’s entire storyline in this episode is about letting us know where she comes from and perhaps how she’s gotten to where she is. We learn that nobody in the family really liked Ray, and her sister certainly didn’t. Abby comes from a pretty tumultuous and dysfunctional place.
Her family argues non-stop and then acts like family is all they have. It’s a pretty typical depiction of the working class in fiction, where the family members are often toxic towards each other but have this unbreakable bond.
Abby broke that bond though and left for a life with Ray, running back now when things get rough. Lucky for her, her sister takes her in, even after Abby basically lets her niece miss a deadline on a college paper.
Abby tries to tell her sister that it’s not a big deal, which is hilarious because she just put her daughter in a fancy private school in order to give her the best possible opportunity to succeed. Abby, like Ray, can be very selfish. Still, the sister tells her she can have her old room and stay for a while to rest up.
Nobody does dysfunctional like the Donovans though: Terry’s out of prison now and the first thing on his mind is what he owes Ray. He’s convinced Ray must have agreed to something terrible in order to get him out of prison, but Ray keeps deflecting, refusing to offer up the truth.
Eventually, Terry is persistent enough that Ray tells him about agreeing to work for Finney. As he says though, he’s not sure what that entails yet. That doesn’t sound like a good thing to his brother, but there’s nothing he can do; this is Ray’s situation now and they just have to hope it works out for the best.
Still, Terry is pissed at the Donovans. He’s angry when Mickey, Darryl, and Bunchy throw him a “coming home party.” He’s especially mad at Mickey, his dad, who left him at the scene of the crime, abandoning his kid once again.
Then there’s Ray, who he berates for throwing his life away. Terry sees Ray as the only Donovan who truly has a chance to make a decent life for himself, and here he is, letting his family slip away. Considering that Ray goes back (to an empty) home at the end of the episode, maybe things are starting to sink in for him.
NEXT: Immensely well-adjusted or seriously messed up…