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Power Plays and Dinner Parties: Death and Deception Served Up on "Damages"

Ruth Rendell, in her dozens of crime novels, explores how murder spreads inexorably outwards, infecting everyone from the victim to everyone the crime touches, spreading outwards until no one is safe from the contagion of sin. Damages works rather the same way and, if next week's scenes are to be believed, not one or two, but all of the characters' lives will be, well, damaged by the war between Patty Hewes and Frobisher.

In this week's installment of Damages ("She Spat at Me"), the plot shifts forward again as controlling Gregory Malina (Peter Facinelli) becomes an even bigger advantage to all involved, Ellen and David's relationship hits the skids, and we see the skull beneath the skin of Arthur Frobisher's blustery arrogance. All this and repeated nightmares which might finally add some depth to Zeljko Ivanek's icy Southern lawyer Ray Fiske. Color me enraptured.

Frobisher. Um, hello? This guy is completely unhinged. Yes, I get his struggles with adversity (dyslexia, poor upbringing, absent dad unable to help with Boy Scout tasks), but he's turned out to be both a royal ass and painfully pathetic. I knew that his "brilliant" idea to have a ghostwriter tell his side of the story would blow up in his face but I had no idea that he would be the one to explode. The scene in which he drunkenly showed up at George Berber (Josh Pais)'s apartment, armed with his childhood trophies, only to insult George's "immigrant" girlfriend and smash him in the nose with a model car, had my jaw on the floor. The perfect coda? Cutting to Frobisher the following morning, typing with two fingers as he "writes" the cover page for his Important Autobiography. I am astounded at how polluted his soul is...

Ellen and David. David has either got to get with the program or ship out. Sure, he's angry at Patty for what went down with his sister Katie, but it wasn't Patty that forced Katie to commit perjury, after all. Instead, he attends dinner with Patty and oenophile hubby Phil but clams up altogether, leaving Ellen to scramble and apologize to Patty. I'm not sure I buy that Ellen is that forgetful that she'd leave the television on during the day and forget to lock the door at night (kudos, BTW, to David for using the eventual instrument of his destruction as a potential weapon), but the lovebirds did finally kiss and make up during a candlelit bubble bath, while Soda Skank (a.k.a. Lila) watched on, obsessively, from the shadows. Speaking of which...

Lila. The Cassavetes-adverse Soda Skank made a sudden return to David's life, claiming that her grandfather (whom he treated at the hospital) had died the weekend before, and enlisted his help to take a look at some medical equipment the EMTs suggested she sell on Craigslist. Not the most romantic excuse for bringing someone up to your apartment, Lila, but it worked... and Soda Skank used the opportunity to palm the keys to David and Ellen's flat. Despite her claims to the police investigating David's murder that she and the good doctor were dating for four months at the time of his death, I totally think that Lila is off her rocker. I had previously wondered whether Patty had put her up to seducing David but now, given that (A) her grandfather is not dead at all and (B) Soda Skank has a penchant for watching her target bathe with his fiancee, I do think she's a stalker, plain and simple. And she may have been the very person who killed David and attempted to frame Ellen. After all, it's our own assumptions that indicate that the two murders (Ellen's attempted murder and David's) were linked...

Gregory. Greg finally decided he's ready to play ball, but only after Ellen inserts herself into his life (taking a page from the Patty Hewes playbook, are we?) and makes contact with him herself, offering protection that she can't provide. Greg finally calls Ellen and arranges a meet, but gets too spooked before he can say anything crucial. However, he does say that everything going on with Frobisher goes beyond a meeting with a broker ("Forget about the broker," he tells Ellen.) and seems to imply something even bigger--and potentially more illegal--is at stake here. LOVED the scene in which Greg flees down a darkened street from the bald thug tailing him, only to have said thug pull a gun and shoot a woman who approaches Greg, a fantastic twist in which the putative assassin turns out to be a bodyguard in the employ of Patty Hewes. Oh, and that woman? She's the real killer, sent by Frobisher and Baby Carriage Man, to eliminate the loose end permanently. So what does Greg do, after seeing a man kill a willowy blonde woman in the street? Run right to Ray Fiske. Curious, that.

Fiske. Just what secret is Ray Fiske keeping to himself? Hmmm... I loved the repeated dream sequences, each one more disturbing than the prior, in which Fiske dreamt that his teeth were falling out (the grossest had to be the one in the therapist's office). If we do believe that it's a symbol for a secret getting out, then just what is Ray Fiske's secret? And is it in any way connected to that rather lingering hand-on-hand contact between him and Gregory at his front door? Methinks there's more than meets the eye there and it could answer many a question as to what exactly is going on here. It was definitely more than mere beseeching and loaded with implication. After all, why turn to Frobisher's trusted lawyer in the middle of the night for help?

What are your theories about what's really going on here? Mob involvement? Conspiracy? What are the dark forces at work here and where was Baby Carriage Man's baby this week? (Traded, apparently, for an ill-used Popsicle.) And just who is BCM and why did it seem as though he worked for Frobisher?

Next week on Damages ("We Are Not Animals"), Patty goes to desperate lengths to keep Gregory Malina alive and get his deposition, Ellen and Tom--fearful that Patty is manipulating them--conceal vital information from her, and the pieces begin to fall into place as the audience learns what's really at stake here.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Wow. Reading your post was almost as exciting as watching the show!

So much happened in this episode. I couldn't believe it when Frobisher showed up at the ghostwriter's place with all of his childhood trophies in tow. How sad that he still has them! He was so pathetic in that scene. And scary.

Equally as interesting were Patty's pointed comments to Ellen about marriage and Soda Skank's crazy ruse. Is she working for someone? Or is she just demented?

And just what exactly was going on between Gregory and Fiske?!
"...absent dad unable to help with Boy Scout tasks..." too funny!
Jon88 said…
Plot hole finally (partially) filled: Why hasn't Gregory been followed by someone from Team Hewes before this? They should already know about Peter Riegert....
Anonymous said…
oh my god. i was RIVETED to last night's episode.

i thought the scene where frob busted into george's apartment was hilarious [call me cruel if you want]. i didn't take it as much as him being crazy at all...rather i found him to be more "human" than patty or even fiske. how many of us would be able to handle our multibillion dollar empire, built by conquering poverty, a learning disability, and familial distress, crumble at our feet? i know i personally would not be able to maintain a cool, graceful facade for long. hell, i would've been first in line to blow lines, down booze, beat up dorks with immigrant girlfriends, and bang hookers.

and Writer George annoyed me for some reason. i LOLed when his nose got busted. and when the immigrant girlfriend didn't come running when she heard the ruckus.

i found frob using the hunt-and-peck method of typing quite endearing for some reason.

OMG. fiske's dreams - wow, dreams where your teeth fall out are freaky indeed. i've definitely had dreams where i open my mouth and blood and teeth pour out; or i pull out my teeth with pliers. so hmm, fiskie certainly has some deep secret(s) that are sure to come out at some point. interesting to wonder what they may be......could he secretly be playing frob? could he be on patty's payroll? could he be the one setting this whole thing up???

for some reason i thought the sleep therapist was going to be really hot and try to seduce fiske - to get some color in his deathly-pale complexion.

david sucks. it is completely unfair of him to punish ellen & patty for katie's downfall and really, he could at least try a little bit to seem like a worthy partner for ellen at the dinner. neither ellen nor patty forced katie to perjure herself so he really needs to get over himself and stop being such a baby. he is weak - and is definitely going to fall prey to Soda Skank, using his failing relationship as an excuse.

ahhh, Soda Skank. i knew her grandpa dying was bull as soon as she said it because she didn't seem disturbed by it at all, especially after we found out she was raised by the guy. sorry, but using your grandpa's death to get nookie is just sick, which is what she is. palming david's keys to use as an excuse to see him again would've been a bit, well, much, but she took it to the next level by spying on david and ellen's romantic and intimate evening.

soda skank is going to be a much trickier adversary than i initially thought she'd be. she's wily and crafty enough to use her looks to get what she wants - telling the cops that they were going to move in together ["he even made me a set of keys", using the keys she stole from david's jacket pocket] and convincing them that ellen's recorded threat was that of a jilted woman bitching to the "newer model" instead of telling a psycho to stay the hell away. i wonder if david and ellen managed to patch up their relationship and soda skank was not going to sit there and be rejected???? could that be the reason why she might be david's killer? sort of like Marky Mark in Fear.....or a character channeling Glenn Close's role in "fatal attraction." whatever - i am LOVING the whole Psycho Soda Skank angle.

ok. greg and BCM...greg and fiskie... i am so confused. i have too many theories right now, hopefully i will catch a rerun soon so i can hash those out. but yeah, greg as a potential victim by his blonde planted hookup was HUGE. because the hookup was PLANTED by frobie and BCM. wow.

so nobody is really safe in this whole mess. what are fiskie's secrets? are he and Greg lovers? [the whole hand-on-wrist thing was definitely NOT a desperate grasp, but a gesture that one lover pulls on another] going along that line, is fiskie pissed that Greg had a fling with Katie? and really, who the hell is the real BCM??? he is SUCH a bigger character than he is right now, but i'm just dying to know HOW he plays into the whole story.
Unknown said…
Fiske and Gregory are/were totally doing it. I thought the hand contact made that obvious. This is Fiske's secret, so I think that fits.

I agree that Skank is "just" a stalker, but what a weird coincidence.

I think Frobisher's almost human (except for the coke-fueled murder contract), but he's still an abusive megalomaniac. And what a pathetic attempt to tell everyone about the real Frob. Besides, didn't anyone tell him it'd be a year before the book was printed. Why not a magazine article?
Anonymous said…
Completely agree that Gregory and Fiske were/are having sex. I think that's what Jace was implying, skst. A really interesting twist in a series that keeps getting better and better.
Anonymous said…
Jane: David is "definitely going to fall prey to Soda Skank"?

I don't think so. I reckon he has been tempted but (saved by the bleeper, maybe) resisted temptation. Soda Skank being a bunny boiler after rejection following a fling with David is just too Fatal Attraction, and the writers are much smarter than that. I think David has to come good so that we care about him being killed by the time it happens in real time rather than thinking good riddance.

And, generally, I'm a bit confused about the Ray/Gregory thing - not because it is unlikely per se, but if Gregory is really gay (doesn't seem to be from the chat with his baseball buddies, being chatted up in the bar by the blonde etc) it would suggest that his meeting with Katie in Florida in the first place was not accidental but some kind of set-up, and that is just stretching things too far, no? Or did I miss something in one of the episodes?

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