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"Everybody Has an Angle": Talk Back for "Damages" Episode Two

Bet you didn't see that coming, huh?

I'm talking of course about this week's episode of FX's Damages ("Burn It, Shred It, I Don't Care"), in which the mystery surrounding the murder of Daniel Purcell's wife Christine deepened, new alliances reared their heads, Tom was nearly tempted into making a life-altering decision, and Wes did some cutting and pasting.

You've all had a chance to read my advance review of the first two episodes of Damages' second season but I'm excited to get my hands dirty talking specific plot points about the second episode of the current season and see what you all thought of this week's installment.

So, take off your tie, pour yourself a tall one, and let's discuss.

Once again, the ground rules: I've already seen next week's episode of Damages, but I promise not to reveal anything below that occurs in that episode. Deal?

This week, the mystery surrounding Christine's murder definitely deepened. It's clear that Ultima and Wayne Suttry (Brett Cullen) are playing for keeps and they even have an EPA regulator Earl Jacoby (John Rothman) in their pocket, to boot. Meanwhile, who else was creeped out watching Suttry spy on Purcell as he checked into the hotel, flanked by what seemed like ten of Patty's best bodyguards?

Still, it's a little too easy of an answer that the ambiguous baddies killed Purcell's wife. Sure, Suttry threatened Purcell in last week's episode but to go from a fairly innocuous (and vague) threat of retaliation to killing Purcell's wife that night? Seems a little far-fetched on the surface. What's more troubling to me is the fact that there are no witnesses to the murder, Purcell can't explain how he got that cut to his head, and Patty clearly knows that he has a violent temper, as evidenced by her line of questioning about whether he ever hit Christine and, well, the fact that she knows first-hand that he has a temper. Something tells me that Inspector Huntley (Tom Noonan) definitely has one murder suspect in mind...

Ellen. Six months in the future, we see that Ellen and Wes (Timothy Olyphant) are involved in a sexual relationship. I say sexual because it's also clear that Ellen doesn't really have much in the way of feelings for her former companion in grief counseling, as evidenced from the way she told him that she didn't want to find him in the hotel room when she got back... after receiving a rather mysterious phone call. Later, Ellen meets up with Tom who retrieves a gun from underneath a desk and hands it to Ellen wrapped in a towel. Hmmm... could it be that Ellen DID take Wes' advice after all and invest in a gun to use against Frobisher? Or is her intended victim Wes himself? [Editor's note: in rough cut of the episode I saw, Ellen takes a gun, wrapped in a towel, out of her purse and furtively places it inside her hotel room safe, as Wes stands outside the door, seemingly waiting. Only time will tell if this scene makes it into the series... or if it got shifted to another episode.]

Wes. Speaking of Frobisher, enigmatic Wes certainly seems to be keeping tabs on the former billionaire and likely has been doing so way BEFORE he ever met Ellen in grief counseling, which goes a long way to following through on the theory that Wes and Ellen's meeting wasn't at all an accident. In a locked wardrobe at his apartment, Wes has assembled not only a mean clip file about Frobisher's past--including newspaper articles about his indictment for fraud and embezzlement, his release from the hospital, AND a piece on David's unsolved murder (hmmm!)--and also a gun collection that might give The Punisher reason to pause. It was, after all, Wes who gave Ellen the number to obtain a gun but Wes has been a very busy boy himself, gathering a collection of some mean-looking firearms that could outfit an entire revenge-minded militia. Just what is this guy playing at?

Patty & Tom. I love the fact that Patty had the office bugged and regularly has her investigators listening in on conversations in the conference room. (Classic.) I was wondering if Tom would take the FBI's bait and flip, saving himself (and possibly alleviating any jail time) after paying a defendant in order to turn against Patty. But he was saved from making that decision--and wrecking his career and life (further complicated with a baby boy on the way)--when Patty called him seconds before he was to hand over $60,000.

I was curious to see just what Patty would do with that information, whether she would save Tom or let him swing. The fact that she doesn't let him go through with it shows me that either (A) Patty does have a heart after all and values Tom's loyalty and skills too much to watch him wreck everything he's worked for or (B) Patty suspects that the cash payoff could have been part of a larger investigation and wants to shut it--and the infant mortality case--down right away.

Something tells me that it's more (B) than (A). Patty is ruthlessly protective of herself and her interests so I believe she was got suspicious. And her conversation with Ellen when Ellen "informed" Patty about what happened with Tom signals this as well. Besides, wasn't it Ellen that brought in the infant mortality case in the first place? Hmmm.

After all, as Patty says, "I think anybody is capable of anything."

The Feds. There's something very shifty about Agents Werner (Glenn Kessler) and Harrison (Mario van Peebles), no? While I trust Hollis Nye, who put Ellen in touch with the FBI agents, I can't shake the feeling that there's something not entirely on the up-and-up with them. Perhaps it was that strange phone call Werner got from his soon-to-be-ex-wife, which made him jump out of the car and take the call away from Ellen. That in and of itself wouldn't be enough to raise my suspicions, but why would Werner wear his wedding ring on a chain around his neck? If he's going through a messy divorce, why be reminded of his marital status by wearing it close to his heart? And why symbolically toy with the ring when he's nervous or shifty, as he did while he and Harrison waited for Tom to take the bait? Something's not right here.

Claire Maddox. I'm thrilled that we finally got to see the introduction of Claire Maddox (Marcia Gay Harden), Ultima's chief counsel, who clearly relishes the opportunity of going head-to-head with Patty Hewes in a legal battle over Purcell's toxicity study files. Yes, Claire played right into Patty's hands by getting that court order to retrieve the documents (and didn't inform the mysterious Mr. Kendrick, per Suttry's wishes, in the process) but I didn't for a second predict the fact that she and Purcell would be involved in a romantic affair. (The plot twists just keep on coming, people.) Just what Purcell and Maddox are playing at and why she will continue to come at him publicly remains a mystery but it's clear that these two have been plotting something for quite some time now.

The Elevator. Speaking of Purcell, did anyone else find the scene in front of the elevator at Hewes & Associations between Purcell, Patty, and Patty's son Michael extremely charged, shall we say? Could it be that Purcell recognized Michael from someplace? After all, he did certainly seem startled when Patty introduced Michael as her son... and Michael seemed to recognize Purcell as well.

Fire Walk With Me. Just what did Daniel Purcell burn at the end of the episode? Certainly not the files as Patty is likely to have made and hidden copies but what was so important that Purcell dug a hole, poured on some fire accelerant, and burned something to ashes? What paper trail is he trying to bury? And why is he keeping so many secrets from Patty, who is doing her utmost to defend him from attacks from multiple angles?

I'm curious: What do you think Daniel was burning? What's up with Wes? Do you trust the FBI agents? How much does Patty know? Talk back here.

Next week on Damages ("I Know Your Pig"), Patty suspects that Purcell is withholding vital information about the case, while Ellen uncovers a decades-old secret from Patty and Purcell s past.


Anonymous said…
Whoa. I didn't see this in last night's episode--at least not the version FX aired on the east coast:

"Later, Ellen furtively removes a towel-wrapped gun from her purse and nervously places it in her hotel room safe, as Wes stands outside the door."

Is that in next week's episode or was this a cut scene?
Anonymous said…
Ditto - didn't see the above, although I may have gotten distracted.

I'm continuing with my "death of baby Julia as Patty's motivation for everything" theory. I suspect that Purcell is Julia's father. There was a tense moment not just when Purcell met Michael at the elevator, but also when Patty was watching Purcell interact with his daughter. Maybe both are thinking what Julia would have been like had she lived. Also, her questions about violence, etc., might have to do with her past relationship with him - did he abuse her? I think the link between Close and Hurt here may contribute to the idea I'm having. My 2 cents.
Jace Lacob said…
Aha, the scene WAS cut from the broadcast version of this episode. (I had watched a rough cut of the episode.) But it was replaced with the scene of Tom handing the gun to Ellen. Mystery solved.
Anonymous said…
I interpreted the elevator scene differently. Patty looked very nervous that her son showed up while she's with Purcell and the way Purcell looked at him I think Purcell recognizes the son... not the other way around. Could he be Purcell's son and Patty didn't want them to meet?
Anonymous said…
I also though that Michael could, perhaps, be Purcell's son and that's why the elevator scene was so tense.

And I knew there was something shifty about Wes but never expected him to be hiding a Closet of Doom and an obsession with Fro.

And I love that Purcell and Claire Maddox are (or were) involved and can't wait to find out more about their relationship.
Anonymous said…
@AskRachel and Mrs. James Ford: I thought the same thing! I definitely think he's Daniel's son and that's why there was weirdness there.

@Jace: Wonder why FX cut that scene you mentioned and replaced it with the Tom one.
Jim said…
Up to this point, I thought Wes might have been planted by Uncle Pete as a means to keep Ellen under surveillance. Now, I'm not so sure of that.
Anonymous said…
Late to the party, but I absolutely agree with a few noters vis a vis the elevator scene. I immediately thought that Purcell saw himself in the boy and thought, "could this be my son?" And Patty's reaction to the two of them meeting played right into that.
Unknown said…
Yes, Daniel's totally Purcell's son. They even shot the scene so Purcell was seen over Daniel's shoulder. Very artsy.

My guess is that Werner's wife was killed by Patty's actions (or inactions). Why else wear the ring on his neck?

Ellen shooting Patty in 6 months is too obvious. So, whom else? Wes?

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