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‘Black Donnellys’: Daddy’s Lucky Charm

If Donnellys is indeed deader than a mob informant, we may never know why Sean Donnelly is so, well, different from his brothers.

In what appears to be the show’s final episode on air, the erstwhile head of the Donnelly clan returned in several flashbacks throughout the course of this week’s episode, and it was great to see his character involved in the fleshing out of the back story of one of his sons other than Tommy and Jimmy. The writers made use of several sweet vignettes depicting a young Kevin Donnelly and his father (interacting over what might have been the breakfast table) as a means of illustrating how Kevin got his start as a very unlucky gambler.

The flashbacks served to breakup an otherwise very tense episode of Black Donnellys, which I realize is like saying that last night’s Deal or No Deal was a little overcaffeinated. I was grateful for the reprieve they offered, and also because the audience got to see how charismatic the Donnelly brothers’ father was, and thus gained insight into understanding how their sense of family loyalty became so deeply ingrained.

Helen Donnelly, played by Kate Mulgrew, has clearly remained a huge presence in her sons’ lives, but the character is so overbearing that she nearly smothers her sons. The insertion of the boys’ father into the scenes with Kevin made for a nice contrast. The only parental figures we’ve ever seen interacting with Sean are his mother, the family priest, and his brothers.

It did seem as if the writers were beginning to move in the direction of a plotline oriented around this fourth brother, feasible now that they’ve brought him out of his coma. But if reports of the show's demise are to be believed, the audience will never see that angle brought to bear.

By Liz McKeon