Some significant revelations on Damages this week as we get closer and closer to the series finale. Thankfully, there are no new flashforwards to poor (dead?) Ellen (Rose Byrne), although we do get some interesting flashbacks (reenactments?) from season one.
Let’s take a closer look after the jump…
First off, big thanks to cinephilactic for covering for me last week. I just wanted to take a moment to address one of his predictions. I actually wasn’t annoyed with the obviousness of Samurai Seven’s (Bill Camp) murder. In fact, call me oblivious as I didn’t even see the murder coming! Ultimately, I think it served the overall narrative well – it got rid of the dead weight (arguably, once the information was provided to Glenn Close’s Patty and/or Ellen, there’s really no need for Seven to stick around). I always love it when we can streamline and really get into the meat of things. And let’s face it – the meat of Damages has always been Patty vs. Ellen. Plus now, the plot has thickened with juicy questions: Who the hell killed Seven? How did he/she even find out that Seven would be meeting Ellen? Where is he/she now? These very topical questions factor prominently in this week’s episode.
We open with Ellen and Patty meeting in Ellen’s new digs. I seriously can’t get enough of these two actresses together. It’s almost a shame that we don’t get more screen time between them, but we need to see each woman’s journey in order to properly enjoy their meetings. When we know information that they don’t – it’s pretty darn entertaining. Case in point: poker faces abound as neither Ellen nor Patty reveal a single thing about the Samurai Seven information. It seems like Ellen is finally on equal footing with Patty without the moral depravity (more on that in a moment).
Ellen’s demeanor isn’t the only thing she shares with Patty: it seems as though both women are haunted by Ellen’s attack in season one. We see this via Ellen’s current nightmares – flashbacks of her ordeal in Patty’s apartment as she narrowly escapes her assailant. But there’s a small change this time around: as Ellen stumbles out into the street, bloodstained and traumatized, she sees Patty coming out of her town car, the older woman staring smugly at her behind designer sunglasses. We’re treated to this nightmare two more times throughout the episode, which practically screams “Pay attention!” We’ve always known there was unfinished business between our protagonists, so expect the attack on Ellen to factor significantly into the remainder of the season. I’m not certain how it will come out, but something tells me all this setup courtesy of Patty and Ellen’s dreams means we’re going to get a pretty explosive scene between the two of them sometime soon. Personally, I can’t wait. I love how we’re returning to the loose threads from S1, and I’m looking forward to some definitive closure.
Speaking of Patty’s skeletons, another big revelation this week is finally meeting the ominous “him” (M. Emmet Walsh), which Kate (Janet McTeer) mentioned at the end of 5×03 ‘Failure is Failure’. The obvious assumption is that this man is Patty’s father, but the idea that Patty and Kate are sisters feels like a stretch. “His” interaction with Kate doesn’t give off a father/daughter vibe – there just isn’t much affection there. How did I come to this conclusion? Based solely on her hands. Considering we’ve been told repeatedly that “he” is on the verge of death, wouldn’t Kate touch “him” in a reassuring manner? Instead she takes pains to keep her hands to herself, even when giving “him” the magazines. Throw in the Tupperware of cookies she gives to Patty and we’ve got a number of interesting layers to consider. Is Kate perhaps Patty’s stepmother as our commenter Mary suggested? If that were true, wouldn’t there be more affection between Kate and “him”? Maybe she’s really just his lawyer? Discuss below.
**SPOILER ALERT**After consulting the mighty interwebs, I got confirmation that Walsh’s character is indeed, Patty’s father. I suppose that isn’t much of a shocker when Patty gets all defensive when the he mentions her mother. I think there’s quite a bit more juice to be spilled from this. Ultimately, the back story reinforces the fact that Patty has a hard time “letting people in”. The vitriol she shows toward her father is an obvious indication of deep-seeded daddy issues. Although this plotline deviates from the central McClaren (Ryan Phillippe) case, I don’t find it at all distracting (I think it’s actually rather quite complementary). Getting any information as to why Patty is the way she is only makes seeing her ruthlessness that much more enjoyable. **END SPOILER**
Thankfully Patty’s ruthlessness is out in spades! First off, she gets caught red handed, right in front of Judge Gearheart (Michael Kostroff) for lying about the Samurai Seven information. Props to Ellen and her “guy” (Gbenga Akinnagbe) for finding Seven’s girlfriend, Blackbird (Angel Desai) who shows the Judge that Patty transferred funds and received information. I was shocked that all the Judge does is order Patty to turn over the information (he even gives her 24 hours to do it!) It is infuriating. She flat out lied in front of him no less than 10 minutes earlier! And it doesn’t stop there…
While scrambling to get the upper hand on Ellen, Patty discovers that Princefield Investments’ CEO, Bennett Herreshoff (played by the always lovely Victor Garber) was investigating Naomi Walling (Jenna Elfman) prior to the leak. Now that investigation is in the hands of the SEC, helmed by Clark Reinsdorf (played by yet another excellent character actor, Geoffrey Cantor). Patty successfully blackmails Reinsdorf into delivering evidence that would help Ellen’s case: an incriminating recording between Walling and Herreshoff that proves they were having an intimate affair. By successfully manipulating Reinsdorf like her own personal puppet, Patty leaves Ellen high and dry. I have to say, watching Close blackmail someone with such calculated ease and confidence is a thing of beauty. All this supports the notion that any further insight into “the making of Patty Hewes” simply cannot be superfluous content, but rather welcome insight into a terrible woman.
Some other odds and ends:
- Although I did not see Samurai Seven’s murder as obvious, the eventual discovery of Blackbird definitely got my eyes rolling. Hey, she has a blackbird on her backpack – OMG! It’s Blackbird! Clap. Clap. Well done.
- ‘Original Becky’ (yes, it’s unfortunate that Alicia Goranson will always be associated with that name for me) clocks in an impressive guest performance as McClaren’s ex, Sally. Although I appreciated her acting, I thought the domestic interlude between her jerk boyfriend, Jeff (Dominic Fumusa), McClaren and her son with McClaren, Charlie (Henry Kelemen) is an exercise in momentum-stalling filler. So far we’ve had no reason to care about McLaren, so why do we suddenly care about his personal life? There’s simply not enough investment on the outset to feel anything but annoyance for this subplot.
- McLaren meticulously organizes his cigarettes three up and one down. We are shown this in close-up twice during the episode. Think it will factor more significantly into the case? My gut says yes as it’s far too obvious not to, but the more subtle viewer in me sees it as a correlation between Charlie’s “different” sensibilities – linking father and son.
- McClaren’s groupie (Claire Byrne) shows up again and proves to be the worst one-night stand/fling ever. After asking McClaren to “say her name” mid-copulation, he loses the…um…mood, and she proceeds to ask him the worst follow-up question: “Have you even been in a serious relationship?” Face-palm. So awkward.
- Did anyone else find it a bit disconcerting that McClaren so easily hacked into Jeff’s email account? Remind me never to piss off Julian Assange.
- It’s amazing to me that Rose Byrne hasn’t aged a day from her S1 flashback. On top of this, it looks like Glenn Close has gotten younger. Damages has been good to these ladies.
- Since I didn’t get to talk about it last week: the American Lawyer piece is entitled ‘Monster or Mom’? Ouch. That’s a pretty severe headline, even for Patty.
So what did you think, viewers? Any guesses as to what the true relationship is between Kate and Patty? How will Ellen get her hands on that recording (because we all know she will)? And do you have a theory about the cigarettes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Damages airs Wednesdays at 9:00pm EST on DirecTV’s Audience Network and on Netflix in Canada.