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Nothing Is a Sure Thing: Actions and Consequences on "Damages"

"Girls have secrets; men have honor." - Barry

"You are only as happy as your saddest child." - Ibrahim

"When I look at you, all I see is guilt." - Patty

This week's taut and engaging episode of Damages ("The Dog is Happier Without Her"), written by Aaron Zelman and directed by Matthew Penn, advanced the parallel plots in the present day and the six months in the future timeframe, offering a number of intriguing twists even as the plot continued to uncoil itself.

But while the episode's focus was piecing together the various mysteries that confront both the Tobin family, the district attorney's office, and the lawyers at the newly minted Hewes Shayes & Associates, the specter of the past had a way of showing up in the form of Patty's ex-husband Phil Grey (Michael Nouri). With only the utterance of two words ("Ray Fiske"), Phil has a way of ripping through Patty's armor in a way no one else can. Could it be that she does still regret what they did all those years ago to poor Ray?

This week's installment found Patty and Tom inching their way closer to the truth about the Tobin case, aided by Ellen Parsons. That Ellen would be the one to do what neither Patty nor Tom could do (track down the person to whom the initials DMM belonged) is rather ironic. Or, should you believe Patty to be the ultimate gamesman, only fitting, really.

So what did I think of this week's episode? Let's discuss.

This week's episode, the season's second, was another superlative installment that ramped up the tension and kept the various plots moving at a breakneck pace. While we see more of the fallout from Patty and Phil's divorce (as well as a host of regrets), the Tobin case becomes more personal for Tom and Ellen finds herself being increasingly drawn back into Patty's orbit.

Crash, Redux. In the future storyline, Detective Huntley continues to investigate the automobile collision involving Patty, and makes a number of shocking discoveries this week, many of which revolve around Tom Shayes himself. For one, he's discovered a connection between Tom and the "residentially challenged" Barry (Michael Laurence) as the two appear to be associates who helped each other out from time to time. Barry is still wearing Tom's expensive watch, which he exchanged for the monogrammed cowboy boots he spied in Barry's shopping cart... boots which happened to be custom-made for Louis Tobin himself.

Barry is also the same individual who answered the burner cell phone that Patty called at the end of last week's episode. A cell phone that was tossed into the dumpster next to which Barry resides and in which Tom's corpse was discovered. Why toss the boots and the cell phone there? Curious...

Detective Huntley, or "The Welshman" as Barry calls him, believes that Barry murdered Tom but that's clearly not the case. Barry is loath to discuss anything about Tom, other than saying that he was a "good egg." Not only did the bloodstained $3000 Chanel bag discovered among Barry's things belong Ellen but it contained her driver's license as well. Just why was it dumped there? Whose blood is on the bag? And what happened that night?

Barry also maintains that Tom and Ellen were seeing each other, a story that seems to check out when Ellen visits Tom's widow Deb (Jennifer Roszell) and asks her who else knew about her and Tom? Hmmm... If Tom was murdered, then mightn't the killer also be after Ellen? Is that why Ellen is seemingly panicked after she learns of Tom's death and needs to know who else knew about the two of them? And were they actually involved? Or is something else going on here?

But it's the final reveal this week that's most intriguing as the medical examiner's report shows three superficial wounds on Tom's body, none of which were actually the cause of death. Instead, we learn that it wasn't the collision that killed Tom Shayes: he drowned to death. Just what that means and what Ellen is thinking as she stares out into the ominous waters of the Hudson River remains to be seen...

Patty. Loved this week's storyline with Patty being reunited with her soon-to-be ex-husband Phil, an emotional rollercoaster that started with Patty blindsided by Phil's line about Ray Fiske and which culminated with Patty laughing telling Phil--after she had won him over with their lonely dog and several, meaningful drinks--that she didn't need him and didn't want him back. The journey from Phil looking to punish Patty to him looking to get back together with her was masterfully manipulated by Patty herself. She wound up not only getting the apartment and keeping their dog but also putting Phil in his place. Nicely played.

Tom. Tom is, of course, more deeply invested in the outcome of the Tobin case than he even knew. The look of horror when Roger (Michael Gaston) tells him that he is one of the thousands swindled out of their savings by Louis Tobin is compounded by his admission to his wife that they've lost everything and that the "sure thing" he poured their money into was a scam that ensnared all of their relatives as well. While Joe is concerned about how he'll support his family, the Tobins have destroyed countless others. The usually unflappable Tom was a zombie when Ellen ran into him in the street; while her info helped advance their case, it's meaningless now that he's lost everything.

The Tobin Family. Joe, meanwhile, agrees to use the funds ("enough for generations") that his father has secretly hidden and promises to take care of the entire family. It's no mean feat, considering that Patty continues to have the family's assets frozen and their palatial Manhattan apartment seized. Joe's wife Rachel (Reiko Aylesworth) wants to take their son away from the chaos to her parents (one can't blame her) and Joe is beginning to unravel, seeking out his AA sponsor Ibrahim (Souleymane Sy Savane) for a pep talk and looking for some way to get his family out of the situation his father has created.

It's a situation that's even more volatile now that the identity of DMM has become known. With the help of Ellen and the DA's files, Patty and Tom learn the identity of DMM: Danielle Marchetti (Madchen Amick), who received a call from Louis Tobin on Thanksgiving, accepted a gift of a $2000 shearling coat, and who just happens to be Louis' mistress.

But Danielle isn't just the receptionist at the health club where Louis Tobin plays squash; it's quite apparent from Joe's evasive behavior when questioned by Tom and Patty and his anger towards his father that he's extremely familiar with Danielle. And that, given the hostility he displays at Danielle's house (which once belonged to his own sister) that their history goes back further than we might think. I'd go so far to say that Joe and Danielle were romantically involved at some point before her relationship with Louis. His needling her about the "old Tobin charm" and his smashing of the photograph speak of an intimacy that wouldn't be there if the two had never met. It's a further betrayal of Joe by Louis, one that leads him to begin drinking again. And if he hadn't been drinking, he may not have run over Danielle in the driveway...

While we're clearly meant to think that Joe's inadvertent killing of Danielle will pose some problems, it's actually a good thing for Louis Tobin. Concerned that Danielle would be subpoenaed by Patty Hewes, he had arranged an expedited passport for her and she was meant to be on a plane that night. But Joe may have done Louis and devoted family lawyer Leonard Winstone a favor: she's now been silenced permanently and whatever Danielle Marchetti knew she took to her grave.

What did you think of this week's episode? Just what did Danielle know? How far will Joe go to clear his family's name and to cover up his crime? Are Tom and Ellen going to have a secret affair? Who murdered Tom and why? Discuss.

Next week on Damages ("Flight's at 11:08"), Patty races to prevent a key witness in the Tobin case from fleeing the country; Ellen learns a dark family secret.


rockauteur said…
I don't think Tom and Ellen are romantically involved - from the look of Tom's secret apartment, with the mattress and the water bottles and all the official papers strewn everywhere, I bet they were working on the Tobin case (or another one) secretly together... and thats what she was referring to when she talked to Tom's wife... I think their secrets liaisons were strictly professional and Tom was silenced for their investigation.

Great season so far. No clue how Ted Danson will figure into all of this.
Alexis said…
That scene between Patty and Phil was brutal. I almost felt sorry for her for a moment (thinking that he was going to take the dog away) and then she just guts him. Ouch.

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