Ray Donovan “Exsuscito” (Season 3-12) confession scene is sickening and emotionally charging

Drama, Reaction, Showtime TV series, TV Characters, TV Series

I went through the scene three times (more if I count the replay in my head) where Ray Donovan is in the cramped bleak confessional to ask pardon for his brother Terry. First take on it, it was already deeply troubling hearing from Ray when asked by the Father Thomas Romero why he killed Father Danny O’Connor. It is hard to believe Ray was breaking down. But it is a lot more emotionally unsettling to have him before our eyes dealing and renewing his childhood trauma from being raped by O’Connor. From there, we are able to pull out the reason behind his cold, tough-as-ice exterior as we hear him say:

I see the fucking pictures in my head every fucking day! Every night! When I hug my kids, I see these fucking pictures.

It is a very visceral depiction of a rape sans rape. 

Just as much Ray Donovan’s pent up trauma resurfaces and pain grinds through him, we get to wonder why again does he have to go through that horror. Any rape account is brazenly difficult, unimaginable, sickening and tormenting – and it’s even made more detestable by far immeasurable degree when the perpetrator is in power and uses it as a leeway to execute it.

Yet Father Thomas Romero is too intruding he badly and nosily needs to know why Ray murdered his colleague O’Connor. (Give him a break, priest.)

The details give no graphic illustration (and thank God), but the context of being taken advantage at the height of vulnerability is vividly and palpably presented it makes us too suffer and elicit hatred directed to Romero.

Ray Donovan: He told me I was smart. All right? He took me places. Bought me things.

Fr. Romero: And no one else in your life was doing that?

Ray Donovan: When he started in me, he said I was special. He said he saw something in me. The things he did. After a while, I stopped fighting him.

The confession is not about his redemption. He is there for his brother Terry, whose life is at the brink of the end. Yet for Romero’s conviction of Ray Donovan’s apparent selflessness – who now seems a bully God sent to impose his upper-hand – it’s should be about Ray. Then he goes on to be more appalling condescendingly claiming he knows how it feels for Ray when he says he stopped fighting O’Connor:

Ray Donovan: After a while, I stopped fighting him.

Fr. Romero: Of course you did. I know how that feels. You wanted to please him.

Those three sentences are a real nightmare. It looks that after all his gentle, strong-willed front, he belongs to the clandestine rank of pseudo-omniscient, lunatic religious leaders who are either thieves, or sex offenders, or unthinking hypocrites. He could have said nothing to maintain his credibility. Or he could have said something that is humble. And again, best nothing at all.

Ray Donovan is special. No one can’t see it. As it is, it turns out that his understandings are more poetic and far outweigh than those of Romero. Just as most (note: not all) religious ministers trained to see a one side, most of them are close-minded. Romero is deeply embedded into this “most.”

For Ray, it wasn’t to please O’Connor; it was because he cares for him:

Fr. Romero: Of course you did. I know how that feels. You wanted to please him.

Ray Donovan: No. It was more than that. I cared for him. I did it because I care for him.

Romero’s reading of Ray is arguable. It might insinuate that for him Ray was selling himself to O’Connor. But Ray’s submission (if we consider it when he stopped fighting O’Connor’s rape) to the abuse was filled with suffering and helplessness. He didn’t want it, not in any single way it ever resembles that he did. He was torn to be caught up in the turmoil of having someone who he trusts, who he respects, and who he cares for – a parent figure takes advantage of his personal vulnerability for personal gain and carnal pleasure. It was pure abomination.

As Ray breaks down, the priest’s already-hollow head empties further. Exactly at this point he makes himself a paragon of an unintellectual, callous catholic clergy. Trying hard to conjure a sympathy, he gets on:

He shouldn’t have done that to you, Ray. You were just a boy.


He shouldn’t have done that for many reasons. Among the least of them was Ray being just a boy.

First, second, third, fourth and forth, he shouldn’t have done that for humanity’s sake. He shouldn’t have done that not because he’s a priest or Ray was just a boy. He shouldn’t have done that because it violates a human being.

Watching that scene is a hell lot of an ordeal

I found myself weeping thrice (more if I count the replay in my head and while sieving my reaction). It wasn’t only for Ray Donovan. The abuse to him in the series happens all the time and manifests differently. Majority of them are left forever as haunting injustices due to power misused and abused.

The psychological charge it lends to its audience is reminiscent of Jodie Foster’s 1989 The Accused. Both performances equally give justice to their characters. Congratulations to Liev Schreiber. 


The title is a latin first person present active indicative conjugation of the verb “exsuscitare,”  which means to awaken. The title “Exsuscito” then translates to: I awaken.

(I know a bit of Latin – enough to crack “exsuscito.” :))


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