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Interview with the Vampire: Patty and Fiske Circle the Star Witness on "Damages"

I don't know about you but I was absolutely riveted to my television set while watching last night's episode of FX's legal drama Damages.

The promos for last night's episode ("We Are Not Animals") had promised that the separate storylines would start to come together this week and I do believe that that's just what we got, as we near the final stretch to this gripping, serpentine drama. And maybe I'm wrong but I do believe it was the first time we didn't get a visual notification of how far in the future the Ellen storyline was. Perhaps these two disparate timelines are finally going to be merged, perhaps even before the finale?

Patty. If there's one thing that's surprised me last night, it was the focus on the storyline between Patty and her irascible son Michael, whom Patty had kidnapped and sent to a rehabilitation center in the country. Michael does give Patty a certain sense of humanity, even if it is of the decidedly tough love variety. It's clear that Patty does love Michael in her own way (after all, they are rather painfully similar to one another) but I never envisioned quite the lengths Patty Hewes would go to to win, even in her own personal life. Giving your kid emancipation papers and just hoping for the best? Either Patty is a mastermind of uber-Machiavellian proportions or that was the most foolhardy thing she's ever done. Still, Michael didn't sign the papers and he did come home, so Patty got what she wanted in the end. Hmmm, giving someone an illusion of free will and still getting your way? Seems rather like the way Patty's been leading both Ellen and Tom down the garden path...

Ellen. Obviously, the cops were going to find Ellen's fingerprints on the murder weapon (still love that it was a Statue of Liberty bookend, particularly apt given the overall theme this week), but let's put that aside for now. What interested me was the sequence of events that transpired that day. We now know that Ellen and David had had a fight (about/because of Soda Skank, a.k.a. Lila?) and Ellen went to stay at Patty's apartment. Patty, meanwhile, was out of town and was the only one who knew Ellen was staying there. Which brings up several questions: did Patty arrange a hit on Ellen and, if so, why? And if not, was Ellen meant to be the target of the murder or was someone trying to kill Patty? Was it a coincidence that Patty picked that time to leave Manhattan, after "Fiske got to her," as Tom claims? Curious. In any event, Ellen struggles with her attacker (who seemed to have keys to the apartment), kills him, slips out of her clothes in the hallway, and runs out into the crowded Manhattan streets. Her mission: to get to David. But when she does, he's already dead and the apartment has been ransacked. But before Ellen can even think, there's someone at the door. (Police perhaps?) She locks the door and scampers out of the bathroom window, leaving it open for that rather friendly pigeon to get in later.

My question is: was she going to David for protection or did Ellen believe that he too was in mortal danger? And is her murder attempt linked to his killing... or is it just another coincidence? In any event, Ellen turns to perhaps the only person she can trust: Hollis Nye, who warned her in the pilot against getting involved with Patty in the first place. But there's no sign of a struggle in Patty's apartment and Patty herself is nowhere to be found. Patty mentioned this week that Frobisher isn't the only one with resources, so is she behind the coverup of the murder? Or has she just saved Ellen's skin now that the corpse has disappeared? Curiouser and curiouser.

Greg. I'm still completely baffled by Gregory Malina. He turns to Ray Fiske for help; it's now patently clear that the two of them have some sort of past together, though I do find it hard to believe that Greg's relationship with the "vampire" was in any way sexual, though he could be playing off Ray's feelings for him, especially with the inference that Ray is a closeted homosexual. But when the gaunter-than-gaunt Ray can't protect him any longer (thanks to the fact that Patty knows about his stock sale the same day Frobisher dumped his stock), Greg tries to take off and instead runs straight into Patty's enforcer (Baldy, who saved his life last week). I thought the scene between Greg and Patty in the limo was perfectly done as both size one another up; Greg really can't trust anyone but he knows that once he gives his deposition, he's useless to Patty as well. Still, I didn't see his attack on his handler coming. Instead of turning up for his deposition, Greg books it, but Beardy Weirdy (Frobisher's go-to assassin/fixer) is right on his tail. Hmm, did Greg just leave the frying pan for the fire? I guess we'll have to wait until next week to find out.

BCM. Who is Baby Carriage Man? Why does Fiske make the distinction that he doesn't work for him but for Frobisher? Why does he get in the car with Beardy Weirdy? I thought the scene between Fiske and Baby Carriage Man in the park was fantastic as Fiske states that they have legal options to make the Gregory Malina mess go away without resorting to killing. "We are not animals," he spits at BCM. Sure, you can say that now, Ray, but what happens when your precious quashing of the deposition doesn't come through? Where do you draw the line in terms of your responsibility to Frobisher? I still think BCM has some sort of mob involvement. There's a bigger picture here that we're still not seeing. After all, BCM isn't the mythical broker but something darker and more nefarious.

Tom. Just when I was liking Tom again, he had to go and betray Ellen not once but twice in this episode. No matter how jokey or friendly Tom suddenly became once he secured partnership status at Hewes and Associates, he'll always be Patty's toady in the end. He proved as much this week when he turned around and stabbed Ellen in the back when he finally came clean to Patty that he was trying to poach her for his own shingle. (I nearly screamed at the television in rage.) How can Tom not see that he too is dispensable, that he's a pawn in Patty's grand scheme, and that Patty will likely be the death of him? Grrr. Still, that paled in comparison to the scene in the police station, in which Tom acted all sympathetic to poor, imprisoned Ellen, claiming that no one knew where Patty was and that Ellen was the last person to have seen her. Of course, his sympathy evaporated the moment he stepped outside and called Patty herself, warning her to stay away from Manhattan. Hmmm, so are these two colluding in Ellen's murder frame or are they just indirectly benefiting from it?

Still, Ellen proved this week just how smart she was after Tom's visit. The girl doesn't believe anything he says and she calls Hollis to tell him the smartest thing she's said all season: follow Tom and he'll lead you right to Patty Hewes. Truer words were never spoken...

Next week on Damages ("Blame the Victim"), Patty is forced to develop a new strategy for the Frobisher case now that Gregory Malina is missing (or dead?), while Ellen receives some troubling news from her parents.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Power of 10 (CBS); Last Comic Standing (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); According to Jim/According to Jim (ABC); 'Til Death/'Til Death (FOX)

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

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

What I'll Be Watching

10 pm:
Top Chef on Bravo.

On tonight's episode
("Snacks on a Plane"), the six remaining chefs hit the road as, in a Top Chef first, they are sent an unknown location. But first: a mile-high challenge aboard an airplane and everyone's favorite enfant terrible chef, Tony Bourdain. I can't wait!


Anonymous said…
I say this every week, but this week it's especially true - what an episode!

Even without Fro, this ep was amazing (though, he was missed).

Oh, Tom. Like you, i wanted to throw something at the tv when Tom called Patty and told him he'd offerred Ellen a job.

Loved the very end w/Ellen revealing that she knew he was lying.

Re: Beardy Mcweirdy - are they just bummed they couldn't go back in time and get Richard Dreyfuss circa Goodbye Girl?

Emancipation papers - brilliant!

Yeah - definitely the first time we didn't get a time marker. I thought it was interesting.
Definitely missed Fro but great episode just the same.

Tom really was a bastard in this episode. And he seemed so nice...

And Fiske really did look like a vampire in this episode. I don't think any amount of bronzer would help!
mook said…
I don't know how they'll get there but I'm wondering if next season's storyline will be the defense of Ellen by Fiske in her murder trial.

The show has recently gone out of its way to humanize Fiske and to isolate him from any of the murderous goings-on undertaken by BCM, Beardy McMolesty (as I think of him), and even Fro.
Anonymous said…
I think that Fiske has feeling for Gregory but I find it hard to believe that Greg would sleep with the vampire. Fiske looked terrible this episode but between the dreams of losing his teeth, fears about the case, and his repressed feelings I guess he went easy on the bronzer.

Tom is an asshole.
Anonymous said…
The one thing that bothers me with the present day storyline is that Ellen is covered in blood, but a simple bit of CSI style blood testing/DNA analysis will reveal it to be someone else's and not David's, helping substantiate her story.

Maybe they'll get round to it.

Otherwise, brilliant. I really like that there is next to no flab in this story at all, it all counts, it all means something.

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