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Turn of the Screw: New Clues and Secrets Revealed on "Damages"

Is it just me or does FX’s superlative series Damages get more and more trippy from week to week? I don’t know about you but the legal thriller has become appointment television for me, a shining beacon of hope in a summertime filled with Pirate Master and Age of Love.

In last night’s taut installment (“A Regular Earl Anthony"), we saw the fallout in Ellen and David’s relationship from Katie’s accusation-laced departure from Manhattan. While we weren’t shown exactly what went down between David and Soda Skank (thanks to Televisionary reader Jane for that moniker), things between the lovebirds haven’t exactly been all wine and roses lately (more like whine and stinky cheese, if you ask me). Though it does appear that it’s not Katie’s breakdown and perjury that drives the final wedge between David and Ellen… so is Soda Skank to blame, after all?

Katie. Speaking of the liar incarnate herself (you can catch my interview with actress Anastasia Griffith here), I’m glad to see that she’s finally coming clean to David and telling him what actually went on during that fateful weekend in Florida, even if it means sharing a few unpleasant truths along the way. Still, she comes clean about Gregory Malina to David, who promptly turns to Ellen with the incriminating name. Oh, Katie, once again you’ve played right into Patty’s hands and delivered them the necessary subpoena; Patty was just waiting for Ellen to discover that particular name. I’m not sure why Katie feels the need to blame Ellen for her misfortune. After all, it was Greg who forced her to lie under oath during the deposition, not Ellen. But I guess that’s the point of having a scapegoat: it’s not always the right person to land the blame.

Greg. I’m not sure what Greg’s game is at all. He forced Katie into perjury but keeps calling her in a misguided attempt to apologize. He’s definitely in the employ of the mysterious Baby Carriage Man, albeit against his will, who this week ramped up his threats against Greg by luring him into a honey trap at a dive bar and then having two goons beat the hell out of him as BCM watched, dressed in a rather dapper tux. Who is this guy? While I thought that he was Frobisher’s broker, there’s something definitely shady going on here and he seems outright, er, connected, if you catch my drift. Greg is obviously as much a pawn as Katie. My only question is how long it takes BCM and the others to realize that they’re far safer with Greg dead than alive. Still, was he the mysterious dark-haired man who later tries to kill Ellen? Hmmm….

Patty. I love how we’re teased little bit of information about Patty from week to week. In this week’s installment, we learn that the real reason Patty became a laywer in the first place was to protect the little people against bullies like Frobisher. It would appear that Patty herself was bullied (physically? sexually? psychologically?) by her father, which led her to her current profession. Is this a convenient excuse or some actual rationale behind her icy behavior and cutthroat tactics? Is Patty slowly becoming the person she once feared? Or does she believe that the ends truly justify the means, whether that means killing Katie’s dog Saffron or knowingly humiliating Katie during the deposition. Just who is the bully in this picture, after all? Is it Frobisher or Patty Hewes?

Tom. D’oh! I wish Tom had had the courage and conviction to stand on his own two feet. Or at least accept Martin’s offer to join his firm as a named partner. I knew that he wouldn’t find a better deal anywhere else, but he’s so completely enraptured with Patty after ten years that he still can’t see what a co-dependent mess they’ve become together. The fact that Patty wouldn’t even fight for him—and then showed up at his home to tell him that he’ll never be anything better than her Number Two—should have snapped him out of it and sent him running as far from Patty as possible. Did he really think she would ever put his name on the door next to hers? It’s Hewes and Associates and Patty’s ego will never, ever allow that to change.

Still, I couldn’t help but cheer when Tom didn’t fall into Fiske’s trap and ask for a reduced settlement and instead said that he wants to see the case go to trial. After all, what jury wouldn’t believe that billionaire Frobisher is a crook. The look on Fiske’s face made Tom’s later failings worth it. If Patty has taught her protégé anything, it’s to never back down from a fight and never to show weakness.

Best line of the night: “Man, I’ve eaten too much.” I love Frobisher and Fiske together and this scene was one of their best dining room conversations. Frobisher does seem awfully convinced of his innocence but bribing one of his employees (which, come on, will eventually come out) to do his bidding? Not exactly the moves of an angel, even one who professes to want to protect his good name and reputation.

Did anyone else find it hard to believe that that woman was Ellen’s mother? Or am I just crazy?

Patty Hewes’ apartment. Ha bloody ha! To all the naysayers out there who wouldn’t listen to me these past few months as I kept saying that Ellen was attacked in Patty’s apartment (and not her own), I feel especially vindicated. We now know for certain that a mysterious dark-haired man (Greg? The real estate agent?) tries to murder Ellen right there in the ultra-modern apartment. But I was stunned when police went to Patty’s apartment and couldn’t find a body… or any signs of a struggle, even. Ellen’s been in custody maybe a few hours or a day at the most, so who hired the cleaners? Either (A) Ellen was unsuccessful in killing her attacker or (B) Patty or someone even more nefarious (Baby Carriage Man?) cleaned up the mess, disposed of the body, and made the apartment look pristine and spring fresh. I’m going for the latter here, which indicates a much bigger conspiracy than I originally had imagined. Just how evil is Patty and what lengths is she willing to go to get Ellen under her thumb? Makes you kind of wish Ellen had taken Hollis Nye’s offer in the first place…

Damn it! Damages isn’t on next week. (Grr!) Anyway, in two weeks on Damages (“She Spat At Me”), Patty pursues Greg to gain valuable information before it’s too late, Frobisher launches a rather unusual strategy, Patty has dinner with our favorite lovebirds, and the enigmatic and Cassavetes-adverse Soda Skank (a.k.a. Lila) suddenly reappears in David’s life. I cannot wait!

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Power of 10 (CBS); Most Outrageous Moments (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); According to Jim/According to Jim (ABC); Anchorwoman (FOX)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS);
Last Comic Standing (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); Primetime (ABC); Bones (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Dateline (NBC); NASCAR in Primetime (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Anchorwoman.

Oh, go on. You're going to end up watching this regardless of what I say. In the premiere of this "reality" series, a swimsuit model becomes a local news anchor. Hilarity ensues.

10 pm:
Top Chef on Bravo.

On tonight's episode of
Top Chef
("Second Helping"), it's Part Two of the fabled Restaurant Wars, as the teams must work together to relaunch their individual eateries and win over some notoriously picky diners and judges alike while the judges make a very unexpected decision... like maybe sending two chefs to pack their knives?


Jane said…

what an episode. so riveting was it that i didn't even think twice about watching it back to back.

jace i hope you got my email with the real-time commentary - it's just too long to post here!
Anonymous said…
Wow - another stellar episode. Great work from Tate. Nice to see Tom shine in an ep. But almost heartbreaking, in a way, that he ends up back with Patty.

How I love Peter Riegert. But he'll always be the pickle man, to me.

I just want to shake Katie and say, "Don't blame Ellen! She's a pawn! You're all pawns!"

My favorite line came in the same scene as yours (I think) when Fro said, "Aw, why'd you have to do that? We were having a nice lunch here." I love that Fro.

Also, this? "8 pm: Anchorwoman.

Oh, go on. You're going to end up watching this regardless of what I say."

No Jace. No. I absolutely will not. There is zero temptation.
Frobisher and Fiske. A new buddy comedy, perhaps?
Anonymous said…
The entire cast is excellent but it's been really fun to see Tate Donovan and Ted Danson in these roles. I do have to agree with you about Ellen's mom, though. It just felt forced. Not sure if it was the actress or the way the part was written but I did not believe that Ellen had sprung from that woman's loins.
Sooz said…
I liked what Katie said to her brother, "Hell, for all I know you're on his payroll too." Because everyone new is suspect.

Tom's millionaire friend last night totally made me think he is working for Patty.

Also, what about Patty's husband as the man who attacks Ellen?
Anonymous said…
I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Patty actually orchestrated Martin's offer to Tom as a way of bringing him back into the fold without garnering the suspicion of her other associates, with the added benefit of reminding Tom of his place below her.
Unknown said…
Ha! I said to my wife that woman wasn't believable as Ellen's mother. (I think it was the fact that she's twice her size and blond.)

Has anyone considered the ultimate twist: that Frobisher is actually innocent (of the crime he's charged with anyway). I think it'd be very interesting for Patty to be the "bad guy" this season.

Were the viewers supposed to be surprised that the body wasn't still in the apartment? Was I supposed to gasp in surprise? We've all seen TV before. This was so obvious, I called it when they cut away from the police station.

Unfortunately, we couch potatoes and avid mystery readers know far too much about modern forensics to believe that the cops wouldn't find any physical evidence to confirm Ellen's story. The window was re-glazed. Blood on the knife can be detected, not to mention the blood on the rug and/or floor. Some of the blood on Ellen herself won't match Ellen, plus hair and fibers. C'mon, writers. This is by far the most obvious and unbelievable And The Body Had Disappeared! plot device I've ever seen. Very disappointing in an otherwise well-written show.
rockauteur said…
Why aren't the Bravo and FX shows on next week?
Anonymous said…
I love this show but I have to disagree wholeheartedly, last night's episode was terrible. Made me wonder if they were trying out a new writer because the dialogue was completely off, and the storytelling was rote. This is show that usually excells at showing, not telling, and last night everything was spelled out in gruesome, insulting detail. Hopefully the regular writers will take over next week.
Kevin Sole said…
Thank you for introducing me to this show. :)

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