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Always Blame the Victim: Ellen Slips Over to the Dark Side on "Damages"

Desperation makes men do some dangerous things. Just take a look at Arthur Frobisher, desperate to prove his good name, who's willing to stoop to new lows of malfeasance in order to do so. Or poor, poor Larry, willing to do to the same in order to secure financial security for his family. Or even Ellen's father, so desperate to tell the truth in his deposition that he's put their entire future at risk.

Of course, desperation isn't necessarily a bad thing, either, depending on your point of view. Just ask Patty Hewes that. So desperate is she to win this case at any cost, that she's chipping away pieces of her soul to do so. Is her pathological need to win this case altruistic or is it just that she needs to win every hand, every time?

Last night's episode of Damages ("Blame the Victim") upped the ante on several levels as the bigger picture came into focus really for the first time. I've been pondering on Gregory Malina's word for the last few weeks about forgetting about the broker but even I never thought that just what that might imply. It also subtly advanced Ellen's character development and provided a few more clues about just what happened that fateful night in Ellen and David's apartment.

Frobisher. Art really doesn't get it, does he, that he keeps digging a deeper hole for himself every time he meets with Larry? Perhaps he hasn't heard of obstruction of justice, even if Larry does remind him of his father. (I thought that scene was perhaps the creepiest of the night for some reason.) And, even after giving him $20 dollars for a cab and acting surprised about Larry's accusations regarding the disappearance of Gregory Malina, Frobisher still thinks this guy is on his side, after he wiped out the poor guy's life savings. Frobisher really doesn't have a clue and still agrees to meet Larry one final time, even after Fiske screams at him for doing so. Is it hubris that makes him think he's somehow above the law or outside of it?

Patty. I thought the scene in which Patty went to Larry's house--during dinner, no less--and confronted him about leaking the $175 million settlement to the other side was heartbreaking. Patty is right to be so callous; after all, Larry colluded with the very man that he and his other plaintiffs are litigating against. Still, it gave me chills to see the way she casually stormed into his home and told him in no uncertain terms that any member of his family who used any of the Frobisher payoff money over the next hundred years would be humiliated and risk jail time... in front of the man's family. Sure enough, though, her ploy worked and Larry came right around into Patty's corner, now working to take down Frobisher. She's a crafty one, this Patty. Just look at the way she cannily "suggested" to Ellen that she fire her new assistant, without ever commanding her to do so. Still, I loved seeing her humanity during the family breakfast scene where, despite none of them saying a word to each other, it was clear just how significant the meal was to Patty, even if she didn't glance up from her cup of coffee when she said goodbye to her son Michael.

Baby Carriage Man. Ding, ding, ding. We finally have a name for the mysterious Baby Carriage Man: SEC official George Moore. While it was obvious halfway through the episode just who the SEC official would be, it was nonetheless shocking that the whole mystery of the weekend and its subsequent cover-up had little to do with Frobisher meeting with his broker, but that the billionaire fat cat would be involved with dealings with the Securities Exchange Commission. Personally, I love the fact that Moore is the guy that was supposed to be taking Frobisher down "pretty aggressively." Obviously, he, er, had a change of heart along the way, but it's now clear why he's taking the risks he has in order to keep his name out of this investigation. Still, even he urged Frobisher to look into how Fiske knew Gregory and just why Fiske had put him in charge of organizing a condo in Palm Beach. The mystery thickens...

Confession time: I understand why the writers felt the need to bring Ellen's parents into it this week: (1) to introduce them in the current timeline so that we see their shock and horror when Ellen is brought into court to enter her plea and (2) to give Ellen some emotional involvement as she slowly transforms before our eyes into a raven-haired clone of Patty Hewes as we see more clearly where she came from. Still, I just do not buy that these two people are Ellen's actual parents. Sorry, it's not necessarily the writing but the actors themselves, who not only don't look right but (let's be honest here) aren't really fantastic actors. Sorry if that's a little hostile, but the scenes last night between Ellen and her dad were driving me insane; the walls of Hewes & Associates had great big teeth marks from where her dad had been chewing the scenery.

Ellen. Anyway, I did think it particularly apt to use this week's episode to push Ellen further into the "darkness" of Patty's shadow. The way she callously chided her father and told him that this was how the "real world" operated was jaw-dropping, considering her naivete and sweetness just a few episodes earlier. And it was absolutely chilling to me to see how well Patty had molded her protege when she casually fired her assistant as the elevator doors closed. Learn that from Patty, did you, Ellen?

We got a few more clues about the night of the murder from this week's installment. Interesting to see that Ellen and David were fighting about her job and that, given an ultimatum, Ellen chose her career over her engagement with David, storming off after their fight and leaving her engagement ring on the hall table. (Where, later, the police find it on the floor.) Cut to David, frantically trying to find Ellen and apologize but he's interrupted by a knock at the door. Just who was on the other side of that doorway? We don't know but David doesn't live long enough to warn Ellen, either... which makes me think that Ellen was the intended target. The killer came for her at her home, surprised David and killed him, and then tracked her down at Patty's apartment. But why? And who is the dead men that David and Ellen argue over? Gregory Malina? Or someone else altogether?

Next week on Damages ("Do You Regret What We Did?"), the mystery behind Gregory's disappearance deepens as a videotape he made about his knowledge of the case surfaces; Frobisher's team brings in a secret weapon; Ellen discovers some shocking information; someone is hit by a car; and Patty's whereabouts after David's murder are discovered.


Anonymous said…
"Perhaps he hasn't heard of obstruction of justice, even if Larry does remind him of his father. (I thought that scene was perhaps the creepiest of the night for some reason.)"

Yes, totally the creepiest scene of the night, and so, so good. But I don't believe for a second that Larry really DOES remind Fro of his father. I thought it was yet another tactic to try and keep dim Larry on his side.

The scene of Patty going to Larry's house was brilliant.

I happen to love the actress who is playing Ellen's mom, but not so much on this. :)
Jane said…
UGH i had this whole comment ready to post and then IE crashed.

anyway. Ellen's parents seem so one-dimensional to me. It's like they were not only hastily written in, but hastily cast as well. Like an afterthought. They seem almost cliched. I'd have a better time believing David Caruso in the dad's role.

BCM, or as my husband calls him, Boon from Animal House. There must be more to him than just being an SEC official. I just don't buy that for some reason. He's too shady and too slippery with his fingers in too many pies for that. Is he going to actually spill the beans on Fiskie getting frisky with Greg?

Jace, what do you think?

Ellen was totally right in firing her dolt of an assistant. I can understand him making a nervous mistake or two, but this guy was totally inept. Yeah, she pulled a bit of a Patty by firing him the way she did, but the guy was such a complete moron that he deserved it. And plus I thought it was kind of hot that Ellen became a little viperish. Now if only she could do that with David.....

Speaking of David, I wonder what Soda Skank is up to? There has to be more to her than what we've seen.

God, waiting a week for the next episodekills me. Moreso than Lost!!!
Anonymous said…
Agree on all points left above...

Ellen's parents don't even look like they could pass as her parents. I know adopted kids who look more like their parents than that.

Larry and Art were extremely but what was even more so was the way Fiske was talking down to Fro (as Televisionary reader Ally refers to him). It was like watching my dad yell at my brother!

But the point that still remains to be addressed...

Who's baby did George Moore (nee BCM) have in that carriage the night he originally appeared?
Unknown said…
Frobisher and pride - Art Frobisher is ALL ABOUT pride. So is Patty Hewes. And that fact becomes clearer every week. Frobisher can't see past his pride and of course, as in all tragedies, that will be his downfall. And yeah, he clearly thinks he's above the law too. Very O.J.

Ellen's parents were brought in to show that they wouldn't be able to bail Ellen out -- I think that's the only reason for their presence.

I loved the twist of finding out who Baby Carriage Man is and that he was an SEC official. Really good twist and I'm looking forward to seeing how he plays Tom Shays and Ellen.
Anonymous said…
Did anyone else notice the fine breakfast that Patty's son made for himself? The presentation was fabulous. Patty and husband are sitting there eating bland meals, watching television. Patty's eyes were averted to her son briefly but I thought she would have noticed his plate. Perhaps a skill learned at the bad boys concentration camp?
I can't believe Frobisher's dealings with Larry! And the fact that he still met with him even after Fiske's warning. Is he really that dumb? Or so arrogant that he thinks he's untouchable? (I'd say the latter.)

It was great watching Ellen transform from a sweet girl into an icy Patty clone this week. Her assistant totally deserved to be fired but the way she did it was so cold.

I don't mind the storyline with Ellen's parents but do agree that they should have been cast better. It's just odd because the rest of the casting is so pitch perfect.
Mark McCormick said…
I agree that the episode started on just the right note with Michael's perfect breakfast. For me, all of the interesting "plot" on this show is psychological. Are we to believe that Michael has really changed; did Patty win the battle or the war by sending him to camp?

I don't think you can say that Patty is any one thing--ruthless or self-serving, or heartless.1 What makes this show good is that everyone, except Frobisher who is evil incarnate, is morally ambiguous. That's what made the Soprano's good. The scene with Patty at Larry's house: that had the same emotional punch as a gangster slaying.

Ellen is getting in touch with her shadow--a shadow that has been brewing since she was born probably. Patty did not invent that side of Ellen so much as draw it out. With parents like that, any kid would develop a serious dark side. That poor assistant was caught in the crossfire of her id and superego.
Unknown said…
My wild-ass guess is that Frobisher is the dead man Ellen and David mention. I think that'd be interesting.

I wonder if the person at the door is someone David knows. We didn't see much reaction, but if David knew Ellen was going to Patty's, perhaps it was someone he knew who got him to tell them.
TxGowan said…
Am I the only one who thinks it's obvious that the Stalker Girl from the hospital killed David?

She comes over, he lets her in, she sees the ring and makes a move on David. He rebuffs her, she gets violent, they struggle and she kills him and put him in the bathtub because that's where she saw him and Ellen. That's where she sees his "betrayal" of her.

I can see where Ellen would think "They went looking for me at my apartment first. Oh no, what if they hurt David?" but really that's much much too pat for this show.
Anonymous said…
Exegete: Perhaps a skill learned at the bad boys concentration camp?

Or working for a catering company or in a restaurant, I wonder?
Anonymous said…
Bit late with my two penneth, but I still find the main flaw the fact that these brilliant attorneys seem incapable of arranging a test of the blood that was plastered over Ellen and would corroborate her story when it was shown not to be David's.

I know that would kill the story, but this is an audience accustomed to watching CSI, where pretty much any crime can be solved by hitting the enter key on the lab computer and waiting a few seconds for a match and the face of the villain to pop up.

The other bit of poor casting - or was it poor writing - was Ellen's assistant, who was just too hapless and useless, or maybe that was the point, he was like a cute puppy and it was all the more cruel/ruthless/Patty-like to put him down.

Otherwise, great show as always! Does anyone know, btw, how many episodes this is slated to run for in its first season? When can we expect to get our questions answered?

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