Damages review – 5×08: ‘I’m Afraid Of What I’ll Find’

Courtesy of DirecTV

Things are wrapping up on Damages are we inch closer and closer to the finale. This week we cover a significant amount of ground – both about Ellen’s (Rose Byrne) fatalistic future, as well as whether or not Patty (Glenn Close) was truly responsible for the hit on her protege’s life.

Let’s bitch it out…A large portion of this week’s episode concerns both ladies’ attempts to reconcile their discussion in the airport last week, during which Patty dropped the bombshell that she was not - in fact – behind Ellen’s attack back in the finale of S1. In the seven days since 5×07 aired, we’ve had some really good debates about whether or not this is Patty Manipulation 101 (one astute commenter even suggested that this was Patty defusing Ellen in anticipation of the forthcoming custody that will inevitably follow the McClaren case).

In my mind, the events of 5×08 suggest that Patty was responsible for the attempt on Ellen’s life, as we’ve suspected for four seasons. My proof: Patty seems to be once again suffering from a guilt complex (she has multiple flashbacks to the events of both 1×13 ‘Because I Know Patty’ and 2×13 ‘Trust Me’). My proof is flimsy, however, since Damages has never played entirely fair with its non-linear storytelling; the truth is never as simple as what we see  presented, which is why we spend each season breaking down seemingly insignificant elements until the “truth” of the flashback/flashforward is revealed as something completely different than we had anticipated.

We’re not quite at that point in S5. As it stands, for the time being we’re still under the assumption that Ellen will be dead in two weeks.  There’s a nice moment about half-way through ‘I’m Afraid Of What I’ll Find’ when Ellen, unable to focus on her work because of her suspicions about Patty, escapes to the roof of her office. As the camera spins around Ellen, we see a familiar sky and an even more familiar winged harbinger of doom – the death penguin that has haunted so many episodes this season. It’s a startling moment because even though we know that Ellen is not in danger yet, we’re seeing her place of doom in the present for the first time.

Thanks to the events set in motion in this episode, we also now know who creates this place of doom: Patrick Scully (Jeff Binder). Interestingly it’s Ellen’s own investigation that we now know brings about her destruction. Her suspicions of Patty and Uncle Pete (Tom Aldredge) led her back to Uncle Pete’s widow (Lynn Cohen), who alerts Patrick that Ellen is asking questions about him. This leads the man who attacked Ellen so many years ago back to NY and – in two weeks – to the roof of her building and a meeting in the park with Patty.

Since this is Damages, however, I doubt it will be this simple.

Courtesy of DirecTV

Other Observations:

  • In my notes, I affectionately refer to Gitta (Gillian Alexy) as Blonde B*tch – and she proves herself to be just that! After Rutger (John Hannah) comes clean to McClaren (Ryan Phillippe) about his relationship with Torben (William Sadler), both McClaren and Ellen recommend sitting on the connection because Patty’s case is weak. Blonde B*tch is indignant, however, since she believes the information could exonerate McClaren and focus on Torben, who she whines is “the real criminal” (I love how Ellen helpfully reminds her that their campaign took money from that “criminal”). In a colossally stupid move, Gitta goes rogue and slips the information to Patty, who then uses it against Ellen in discovery. It’s another ingenious tactic by Patty and proves that Gitta deserves to hit the road. If she thinks this will clear McClaren, then she’s even dumber than she looks. As Patty tells Kate (Janet McTeer) in another scene: “I don’t care”…and that’s how she’ll feel about taking McClaren down to get to Torbin. Gitta’s been playing in the big leagues for a while now, but she clearly still doesn’t know who she’s playing with
  • The icy-cold relationship between Patty and Bill (Judd Hirsch) that I highlighted back in 5×04 ‘I Love You, Mommy‘ continues to play out in uncomfortable ways. Before Gitta makes her big f*ck-up, Patty openly criticizes Bill in front of the entire group, prompting Bill to warn her that she’s putting 30+ years of experience on the line to go head-to-head with Ellen. Remember when these two used to be friends? Yikes!
  • It’s amusing to me that Patty actually believes that she could still go up for Supreme Court judge after everything she’s done. And yet there she is, telling Roger (Michael Gaston) that she wants the spot
  • Unless I missed it the first time around, we have official confirmation that Kate is related to Lyle Hewes (M. Emmet Walsh). After revealing himself to be a crochety old man during his day trip to Patty’s childhood home with Michael (Zachary Booth), Lyle likely kicks the bucket directly in front of Kate. She frantically identifies herself as his daughter as a nurse ushers her out of the room. I think it’s fair to assume that she’s Patty’s step-sister (or does Michael also have an aunt he never knew about)?
  • There’s an interesting discussion to be had about the similarities between Lyle and Patty. He boasts to Michael that he “made her” and that he “toughened her up”. He’s obviously not a gentile person (he also calls his daughter the “c” word), but then Patty’s no wallflower, either. This all invites us to question what these generations of Hewes’ have done to one another? The way that she manipulates Michael is akin to the way that Lyle treated her as a child. Clearly this is all one big effed up family
  • While I appreciate how well Chris’ (Chris Messina) case ties into both S4 and helps to bolster McClaren’s financial situation, it still feels shoe-horned into these final few episodes. With so much going on, I don’t see how this can play out in a satisfying way. It seems as though it’s gone about as far as it can go
  • Finally, I like that we get to see McClaren’s team work their magic. While I’m unsure that we needed an extended montage of the group decrypting Chris’ files, it was nice to see how the leaks are processed and cleaned up before they hit the web

We’re down to two episodes. Do you think that Patrick Scully is the one who pushes Ellen off the roof? Did Patty order it? How will the McClaren case turn out (or do you care)? Interested in finding out more about Patty’s relationship with her father and what will happen with his will? Sound off your theories below!

Damages airs Wednesday nights at 9pm EST on the Audience Network in the US and on Netflix in Canada

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

4 thoughts on “Damages review – 5×08: ‘I’m Afraid Of What I’ll Find’

  1. I assume, too, that this episode suggested that Patty was responsible for the attack. As I wrote last week, it wouldn’t make no sense if they’d deny it.

    I’ve a new theory for the finale though: Ellen stages her death or an assault with the help of Patrick. She wants to punish Patty, he wants to protect his new life. Don’t ask me how this will play out exactly, but Ellen’s unable to let go of her grudge and so she fakes her own death. She uses the two cops to get them on Patty’s trail and Patty will end up behind bars for a crime she didn’t comitt this time, but comitted years ago. Would be quite poetic, I think :)

    • Interesting theory Kim :)

      And with the history of Damages it’s hard to believe that Ellen does actually die at the end of this season even though it sure looks like she does with what we’ve seen so far….there’s always a massive twist with things not being what they seem…. then again it IS the final season…so I guess it’s all about wrapping up the character’s journeys and so Ellen actually dying is a real possibility..

      In the end, Patty Hewes and Ellen Parsons are 2 of the most fascinating television characters ever…have LOVED this show from season 1 til now…so classy in every department: Cast, guest stars, acting, writing, everything first class :)

  2. I feel like the scene where Patty is on the phone and accepts (or insists on?) the Supreme Court nomination is supposed to be an echo, for example, of the first season scene with Frobisher in the car with the hooker when he orders the hit–every season has a moment when the main villain has to assert his/her power because they feel too vulnerable, and it’s always that action that spells their unraveling.

  3. What could Lyle have done to his daughter Patti who he described a “scared of her own shadow” in order to make her hate him so much and have made her become so hardened to all as an adult?

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