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Crimes and Misdemeanors: Things Fall Apart on "Damages"

Oh. My. God. Am I the only one completely and utterly blown away by last night's episode of Damages ("I Hate These People"), which didn't so much as introduce a plot twist as it did shove it brutally before our eyes?

I'm still in shock after everything that happened last night and I don't even know where to begin my analysis of this week's installment. While Damages has always been a series that judiciously revealed just a smidgen of its serpentine plot each week, it went wholly against type last night to almost completely bring down the shaky house of cards (a.k.a. Hewes v. Frobisher and everyone in between) it had constructed. While Ellen might hate these people, I'm finding that I can't get enough of them and can't believe that the season is almost at an end (only two episodes to go!).

Patty. It's been clear now for a while that Patty is in shock after committing a crime, but I never anticipated just what that crime was or her involvement in it (not to mention Ellen's, to boot). Sure, we knew that "a man is dead" in the future storyline but I had assumed that Patty had perhaps dispatched him as brutally as she did poor Saffron. Instead, she and Ellen push a man to his brink via blackmail and then Patty recoils--physically, emotionally, morally--when the blood hits the wall. Clues had been pointing last week that the spot of blood seen on Patty's pristine shoe was connected to Ellen's attempted murder, but it turns out now to belong to Ray Fiske, who kills himself right in front of Patty. Thus, the scotch-throwing bender at the beach house and fleeing the state of New York, but we're still not seeing the entire picture here.

Thus, a few questions remain: given Patty and Ellen's involvement in Fiske's death (well, indirectly causing it), do this dynamic duo cover up their involvement and point the finger of blame towards Frobisher? And does Patty seek to silence Ellen--who knows about the blackmail--by having her eliminated? Hmmm.

Ellen. I loved the scene between Patty and Ellen at her apartment, in which Patty begrudgingly admits that she may have been hasty in firing Ellen and offers Ellen her old job back... which she promptly refuses. The haughty/icy look Ellen gives her former employer was definitely learned at the source (or as Tracy Jordan might have succinctly put it, "The manatee has become the Mentos"); I loved the way that the tables have now turned and it's Patty who's hoping to glean something from Ellen, namely the connection between George Moore and Arthur Frobisher. Still, I had no idea how deeply Ellen had slunk into the darkness: it's HER idea, rather than Patty's, to blackmail Fiske after they gain proof of his insider trading crimes with Gregory Malina. Proof which she steals from the still-warm body of the murdered George Moore. Has Ellen truly become a mini-me clone of Patty Hewes? Or has her morality just temporarily evaporated? After all, it's she who questions Patty if she regrets what they did. And what they did led straight to a man's death (and perhaps several others).

Lila. Um, hello crazy? Just when you thought Cassavetes-adverse Soda Skank Lila couldn't get any creepier, she topped herself in all respects. Sending your pretend boyfriend a slinky negligee with a note saying how much you miss him? Classic stalker material. But sitting in your pretend boyfriend's apartment in the dark and watching his fiancée walk around her apartment before slinking out? That's just psychotic. I thought for sure Ellen would catch her and they'd brawl, but that wasn't the point of the visit; instead, it was Lila testing the boundaries and sniffing out the competition. (Shudder.)

Best line of the night: "She's kinda hot." - Teenager Michael to Mama Patty.

R.I.P. Baby Carriage Man. Slimy George Moore has met his demise, courtesy of a bullet straight to his head whilst sitting in his car 500 feet from an arranged rendezvous with Ellen Parsons. As for who killed him, it's obvious that Fro's side had the opportunity, knowledge, and motive to commit murder. They had Moore under surveillance and knew he was meeting with Ellen and had betrayed them, tipping off their enemies about Arlington, in order to save his own skin. Still, it would have behooved the murderers to search the corpse, as they would have found the evidence tying Fiske to Gregory Malina. Kudos to Ellen, however, for rifling the body AND wiping down the car interior to remove fingerprints.

Fiske. Poor Ray. I had wondered whether he'd top himself but didn't think he'd actually go through with it, especially with two more episodes to go! (Though Tom's words to Ellen in the future storyline do finally make sense: "Fiske really got to [Patty].") We finally learned the history of his "relationship" with Gregory Malina, who seemed to prey on Fiske and subtly encourage his obvious feelings towards him, only to reject him when Fiske made a move (and pushed him into a tree, no less). The kissing scene was downright creepy as I couldn't help but think of the description of Ray as a vampire from a few weeks ago. Still, it's clear Fiske made some monumental errors that could now derail Frobisher's whole case: he paid Gregory to set up the condo but Greg brought Katie back to the house, where she was seen by Moore and then told him to dump the stock he used to reward him with on the same day as Frobisher unloaded his. Ouch.

I actually did think he might go for Patty's plan--to tank his own case defending Frobisher (even though he'd been all but neutered by his firm's senior partners) and take a job working for Patty after everything had blown over--but had a crisis of conscience at the last second. I don't think he arrived at Patty's office intending to kill himself but ultimately wanted his death to be as painful and real a bitchslap as possible to Patty, who had sunk him into an even more untenable position. Thus, blowing his brains out right in front of her. Or does he finally, in his own way, repent for his actions?

The Realtor. I'm now completely freaked out by the Realtor (Californication's Damian Young), caught by David in the act of... bugging their apartment? Rifling through their possessions? I'm not entirely sure. It's clear he works for Patty (possibly in some sort of fixer capacity) and was shady when he found them this place but I do not believe his line about fixing a leak as a reason for him to be in the apartment without authorization. (Someone else who has a key, no less.) I believe that he did bug the apartment--on the orders of Patty--and now was removing any proof of surveillance now that Ellen has been fired. Or is something else even more nefarious going on? Curious.

Katie. I was shocked, shocked, shocked to see Katie smoking in the darkness outside Ellen and David's apartment. I had assumed for a split second that it was Lila lurking there until I caught a glimpse of blonde hair. Just what is she doing there and why did she avoid seeing Ellen? My theory: she discovered the confession tape Gregory Malina made before his murder, waited for Ellen to leave, and took it upstairs to David. Which means Katie was in the flat the night of his murder and didn't reveal this information to the police. I believe Katie played the tape for David and when Frobisher's people learn of its existence they go out of their way to arrange the death of anyone who may have seen the tape. That includes David (who was then murdered to ensure his silence) and possibly Ellen. But how does Katie manage to escape this fate in the future storyline?

Which means Lila is very much the red herring I've long thought her to be and David was killed to either (A) extract the tape from his possession or (B) to keep him quiet after he watched the confession. So who actually committed the murder? (Frobisher himself? His hitman?) And is David's murder connected to Ellen's attempted murder... or is that a different crime altogther? Perhaps payback for her involvement in Fiske's death?

I'm breathless already for next week's installment.

Next week on Damages, the past, present, and future collide as the disparate storylines finally come together right before the season finale; Gregory Malina's taped confession surfaces, Frosbisher learns of Fiske and gets a visit from the police before issuing an order to obtain the tape at any cost, Patty tells Ellen about Fiske's suicide, and Ellen expresses regret at the line they crossed.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Kid Nation (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); Pushing Daisies (ABC); Back to You/'Til Death (FOX)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS);
Bionic Woman (NBC); Gossip Girl (CW); Private Practice (ABC); Kitchen Nightmares (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Life
(NBC); Dirty Sexy Money (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Pushing Daisies.

It's the moment I've been waiting months for--ever since I first saw the pilot of ABC's groundbreaking new drama "Pushing Daisies"--episode two of this amazing series. On tonight's episode ("Dummy"), Ned suspects that foul play may have ended the life of an automotive expert who died in a traffic accident while Chuck pressures Ned to reveal how he brought her back to life.

8 pm: America's Next Top Model.

On tonight's episode ("The Girl Who Goes Bald"), it's makeover time as the girls are remade by some top stylists, but one girl isn't too pleased when she's told she needs to chop off all of her hair. Hee hee.

8 pm: Back to You.

A former network president I was talking to a few weeks ago called the Kelsey Grammer/Patricia Heaton series "time capsule television," and I'd have to agree. It definitely seems like a throwback to a different time in TV but there's something vaguely comforting about that. On tonight's episode ("A Gentleman Always Leads"), Chuck launches a scheme to steal the evening's top story from Kelly, while Marsh steals Montana's intern.

9 pm: Gossip Girl.

On tonight's episode ("Bad News Blair"), Blair is thrilled when her mom chooses her to be the face of her new clothing line but quickly finds herself thrust back into Serena's shadow, while Nate and Chuck have a boys' weekend after Ivy Week.

9 pm: Bionic Woman.

David Eick's reimagining of classic TV series Bionic Woman, starring Michelle Ryan, continues. On tonight's episode ("Sisterhood"), Jamie is assigned to protect a defense contractor but her allegiances are torn when she is forced to decide whether to help Sarah Corvus exorcise her inner demons.

10 pm: Dirty Sexy Money.

Primetime soap Dirty Sexy Money continues. On tonight's episode ("The Italian Baker"), Nick contends with a blackmailer armed with a sex tape involving one of the Darlings, Patrick breaks up with Carmelita, and Jeremy tries to keep his trysts with Juliet's enemy Natalie a secret... leading to a red carpet catfight.

10 pm: Top Chef.

Watch what happens when the contestants of Season Three of Top Chef come together one last time to dish some dirt about this past season.


Unknown said…
"Kudos to Ellen, however, for rifling the body AND wiping down the car interior to remove fingerprints." Really? She committed a very serious crime by doing that. She deserves not only jail time but disbarment. I don't blame Nye for not hiring her--he knows how far she's sunk.

"I don't think he arrived at Patty's office intending to kill himself..." Sure he did--that's why he brought a revolver with him.

At this point, I feel certain that Frobisher's people kill David to get the tape back, and Patty's realtor kills Ellen to isolate Patty from the blackmail. (Although it seems a *bit* extreme.)

We'll see...
I *knew* we hadn't seen the last of creepy realtor guy!

And that ending? F**king hell! Those bloody hands in the title sequence holding the bag handles - that's Ray's bag.
Unknown said…
I love this show, and I really look forward to your blog the next day! There are so many twists and turns that I use your blog to help me figure out what I've missed.

You frequently mention something I either didn't catch, or forgot about.

Jane said…

i was catching flies for practically the entire episode.

i'm almost relieved that patty wasn't freaking out that she murdered ellen but from seeing fiskie blow his brains out right in front of her. that would probably be enough to send anyone reeling. and it's sort of amusing that my first thought upon seeing the blood on her loafers was, "shame that blood won't come out of those nice ivory tod's driving shoes."

i think that patty and ellen were discussing "did we go too far" concerning ray's suicide. while they both wanted to push ray into folding his case, neither of them wanted or expected him to eat his gun.

and once again, patty's son brings just the right touch of humor to bring the scene back down to earth: "she's kinda hot."

soda skank really needs to get a restraining order [or twelve] slapped all over her psycho ass. i was half expecting a dead animal in the box instead of slutty lingerie.

yes, RIP BCM. and i wuold not have had ellen's balls to go rifling through his pockets for the documents and wipe down the car.

i actually feel bad for fiskie. very bad. i dont think he was an "innocent victim" by any means [and i'm starting to think that about katie, too] i think he was definitely played by gregory: "oh, you're married?" then gregory shoving him away. yeah, the sight of fiske coming at me with a full-on makeout turns my stomach, but greg definitely led him on.

jace i definitely agree with you that the realtor and co were debugging the apartment. creepy.

i wonder if one of the sides will discover Soda Skank and use her as a scapegoat for david's murder and ellen's attempted murder.....
Anonymous said…
I was going to say what skst said, re: Fiske having a gun w/him. I think he intended to go over there and do exactly what he did. Poor Fiske. Not mr innocent, but still - I feel for the guy.

Oh - it's the guy from Californication! It was driving me nuts.

Katie standing outside Ellen's apartment? WTF?

I would have thought there would have been a lot more deterioration between Ellen and David before the climatic "we're through" - give-back-the-ring scene. Nope - just a couple days earlier they were going over seating arrangements.

Last night's ep was cuh-razy!
I also feel bad for poor Fiske, even though he was kind of creepy at times. But I think Patty saw him as a worthy opponent and perhaps she recognized a bit of herself in him which was why she was so traumatized by his death. (Oh, and because she was partially the cause of it.)

I still think there's more to Soda Skank than meets the eye. But the scene where she was sitting in Ellen and David's apartment watching Ellen sent chills down my spine.

And the scene where Patty tries to give Ellen her job back was fantastic. I love how she pointedly says "Nice apartment." Brilliant!
Anonymous said…
Ellen is a shifty little character. After seeing a dead man, she has the thought process to actually wipe everything down.
Patty just gets more and more twisted. I regret what they did and I wasn't even there.
And Ray and Gregory - creepy, awkward kiss!
thanks for your theory...I enjoy it and can't wait for the next two weeks.
rockauteur said…
Love the show. Sooo good! I'll miss it when it ends in two weeks and I really hope it gets renewed... though its cast keeps dropping like flies!

Thoughts: Katie obviously is the one who comes to David's door (after Ellen leaves) as we saw evidenced in last week's episode. Perhaps Ellen and David even see each other again for him to give her the video tape - before his murder. They at least talk on the phone. CLearly, David is murdered by someone who is trying to get the tape. Um Frobisher much?

SKST: the realtor does NOT try and kill Ellen because she would have recognized him and she told Nye that she never saw the person before. The realtor may have bugged her apartment, so maybe there's proof that Ellen didnt kill David out there... and Patty did seem shocked that Ellen was even arrested, let alone for David's murder. I hope the realtor wasn't removing the bugs, that would suck.

A great episode as all the pieces start to come together. I'll miss BCM. and I'm glad that the blood on Patty's shoes wasn't from the coverup murder but instead from Ray's suicide... and interesting that Patty's husband (aka Summer's dad) has no clue she is "on the run."
Anonymous said…
As much as i am tempted... i cant read your episode commentry till i see Damages tomorrow, but how come i've seen the second episode of Pushing Daisies before you?? I love the net!!

Episode 2 continues to deliver an excellent episode, full of great writing, superb performances and eye catching designs. They're ideas for this show are so quirky!!Both Lee Pace and Anna Friel make this show. The chemistry is great and who would know that Anna is really english?? And if Kristen Chenoweth sings in every episode from now on i will be a very happy man!! It was nice to see her used more in this epeisode, too bad we didn't get the 'Darling Marmaid Darlings' but sure they will feature again very soon. Lets hope the series continues as well as it has started. 1 minor grip that the story dragged a little 3/4 thru, but it soon picked up toweards the end.

Roll on Damages tomrrow!!

ps - my herculean efforts were nothing, just glad i could help! But i liked the description!!
Unknown said…
"SKST: the realtor does NOT try and kill Ellen because she would have recognized him and she told Nye that she never saw the person before."

Justin: Good point, but maybe she's lying. No, I have no idea why she'd lie. :)
Anonymous said…
Great episode - only just got to see it - and great write-up Jace. Everything was happening so quickly and unexpectedly I could barely keep track of what was happening. Like your theories.

The only thing I don't like is the idea that Patty is on the run because Ray topped himself in front of her. For any normal person it would be quite a shock, but for Patty? OK, she was blackmailing him, but who was to know? The evidence is right there in her office. Dispose of it, problem solved. So her fleeing, it just doesn't ring true for her character at all, and I'm really hoping that something else happens in the next episode to justify it.

So they were removing bugs, not putting them in, right, got it, very good.

If it's Frobisher's men that kill David and try to kill Ellen, I'm not sure I understand how come they clean up the evidence of a missing body at Patty's apartment before the police have chance to come around. The supervisor works for Patty, no?

As far as a second series, I guess that could come about if Patty comes out of hiding to save Ellen, if they can both emerge from it clean.
Anonymous said…
A night's sleep and a few more thoughts on Patty fleeing because of Ray offing himself:

With the fractured timeline it is easy to lose track of things, but now I recall that in between Ray shooting himself and Patty fleeing, we have already seen the scene where she is calmly sipping a glass of wine with Ellen (The "so, David left you, Do you think we pushed him too far?, do you regret what we did?" scene). So, they weren't talking about Ray and there must be more to come to explain Patty's flight.

Phew. Feel better now.
Anonymous said…
Dang it.

They weren't talking about David...
Jace Lacob said…

Nope. I've never thought they were talking about David (different conversation). It's definitely Fiske they're discussing...
Anonymous said…

I had it wrong from the start, although it was easy to be confused: if I remember correctly, they went straight from Ellen and David's fight where he insists she chose Patty or him and she chooses Patty, to the scene where Patty and Ellen are drinking wine and Patty says "So David left you" or somesuch, and Ellen goes straight into "Do you think we pushed him too far?". Presumably that conversation takes place after Ray (who was my favourite character) shoot's himself, and hence my lingering suspicions about Patty's flight being motivated by the shock of Ray's death.

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