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"Shame on You": The Finger of Accusation Points at Everyone on "Damages"

Yes, I'm still in the UK but thanks to the Herculean efforts of one London-based Televisionary reader, I was able to watch this week's installment of FX's stunningly brilliant series Damages only a few hours after you lot.

I'm so lucky that I didn't have to wait nearly a week to catch up with Patty Hewes and Company. If I hadn't already been dangerously hooked on this series, this week's episode of Damages ("Sort of Like a Family") would have done so in a heartbeat. In a single hour, this serpentine legal drama advanced the plot and made us question each and every character's motivations and allegiances. Is Tom starting to come round to Ellen's side? Perhaps. But what shocked me more what what Ellen had the guts to say to Patty Hewes. (You go, Parsons.)

Ellen. Our little shrinking violet has transformed herself into a red-blooded lion over the last few episodes. I was completely gobsmacked by what Ellen said to Patty (my fiancee had to pick my jaw off the floor) but it's been quite a long time coming, in my opinion. I'm glad that Ellen didn't just willingly take a backseat on the Frobisher deposition and resign herself to doing paralegal work on a less profile case. Yes, it was a risk meeting George Moore (f.k.a. Baby Carriage Man) on her own, but it worked: she found a possible link between BCM and Frobisher, learned that Moore wasn't actively working to investigate Frobisher, and that he was less than four hours away from Palm Beach the same weekend Frobisher was there. Do you think, if you were in Ellen's stylish shoes, you would have left that file with for Patty if she had fired you mere moments earlier? (I don't know that I would have.) For Ellen, it was definitely a calculated risk; at best Patty would quickly rehire her once she saw the contents. At the worst, it would prove that Patty was wrong about Ellen all along.

Patty. Talk about an icy heart. (She makes Miranda Priestly look positively... saintly in comparison.) After all of Ellen's hard work, Patty is perfectly willing to cut her loose now that she's served her purpose: Ellen delivered her Katie, who delivered Gregory Malina... but now that Gregory is dead, Ellen's outlived her usefulness. (Or so Patty thinks.) Still, there is that hugely incriminating tape that Gregory made right before his murder still lurking out there, until Katie discovers it among his things. At least Patty realized what she might have thrown away and called Ellen to reconsider her hastiness.

Loved that Patty got to Holly Frobisher's divorce attorney (who wasn't, thankfully, Holly's lover) and used the impending divorce--which Frobisher found out about right before the deposition--to break him during the procedings. (And break him, she did.) Canny, cunning, and dangerous: that's our Patty.

Speaking of which, just what was with the drop of blood on Patty's driving shoes? Was she at the scene of Ellen's attempted murder, did she help to cover up the crime, or is it evidence of another crime altogether? Just what did Ellen mean when she told Tom that she knew things that would destroy Patty? Did they kill someone and that's why Patty's on the run, as it were? Or is Patty freaking out because she's now attempted to commit the ultimate crime and failed? Curious...

Ray. I thought the scene between Patty and Ray at the restaurant was pitch perfect. The entire exchange played out as a civilized post-prandial converstation between warring attorneys until talk turned to Gregory Malina. I loved the way Patty watched Ray's reaction like an eagle: steadfast, never blinking, eye on the prize. And when Ray finished murmuring his surprise and indignation and his, er, "hopes" that the police would catch this "hit and run" driver that ran down Gregory, Patty turned to him with her steely gaze and cut Ray to the quick with her words: "Shame on you." Is there anything this woman doesn't know? And how on earth can Ray live with himself now that Gregory's blood is on his hands? Still, he's not coming clean to Art anytime soon about giving Gregory those 1000 shares of stock... or about telling him to dump it on the same day that Frobisher was unloading his shares. I can't wait until this little gem comes out.

Frobisher. I never thought he'd settle out of court but then again I never thought Holly would leave him as suddenly as she did. I could not believe how he pulled out that three-iron (which she had recently given him to take as good luck) and smashed her windshield. He's become a broken shell of a man but it's hard to feel sorry for him. He's an inhuman monster, no matter how much he might smile or cry. I'm glad that Patty didn't accept the $500 million settlement offer. She's not letting up until, as in his dream, she has obliterated all of his good works. Question though: who is Frobisher's second wife and the mother of his children? Is it a mere coincidence that he and Patty both have mysteriously absent first spouses? Hmmm...

David. Um, what was with that dream about Patty and Ellen? Wow.

Doorman. Okay, is anyone else completely and utterly freaked out about the doorman in Patty's building? He's always been a slightly shadowy figure lurking on the periphery of Patty's life but last night he came into shocking focus. He has access to Patty's apartment and literally materialized out of nowhere when Tom was snooping around. He claimed he was there for a water delivery and had entered through the service elevator, the perfect means for getting a corpse out of the building without anyone seeing. He's obviously not the killer but was he involved in cleaning up the mess? And does he work for Patty or George Moore, who warned Ellen to watch herself? Creepy. But at least someone was putting food down for the dog...

Tom. At least Tom has finally come around to Ellen's perspective and begun to believe that Patty is involved with something... nefarious. He's not totally seeing the big picture (Patty had secrets from him too) but he's beginning to twig the fact that Ellen's not lying. And his discovery--thanks to the dog--that there was blood on that piece of decorative coral has made him believe that there really was an attempt on Ellen's life and a cover-up. Does he think Patty had anything to do with it? We're not sure but the state of the beach house in last week's episode goes a long way to describe Patty's state of mind.

Still, is Patty a murderer? What dangerous secrets does Ellen know about her and is it enough to have her permanently silenced? At the end of the day, we're finding out that everyone involved in this case is capable of anything... even murder.

Me, I can't wait for next week's episode as as the countdown to the finale begins!

Next week on Damages ("I Hate These People"), Patty and Frobisher both ramp up their war against each other with the stakes higher than ever, Ellen's new information about George Moore could help Patty but what is it worth to Ellen?

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); Friday Night SmackDown (CW; 8-10 pm); Pushing Daisies (ABC); Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (FOX; 8-10 pm)

9 pm: Moonlight (CBS); Friday Night Lights (NBC); Primetime: Medical Mysteries (ABC)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS); Las Vegas (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Doctor Who on Sci Fi.

This week on Doctor Who ("Last of the Time Lords"), one year after The Master has tseized power, Martha Jones is now a wandering folk hero who must try to save the world when the Doctor is imprisoned.

8 pm: Pushing Daisies.

Missed Wednesday's premiere of forensic fairy tale Pushing Daisies? Here's another chance to catch it tonight!


Unknown said…
As a daily televisionary reader I have to admit that I fell off the Damages wagon a few episodes ago. It's a good show, though not great. It feels like it's treading water much of the time and not really moving forward much. One large flaw for me is a main character, Ellen, that is so unlikable. She consistantly makes choices that are so messed up, yet I have no sympathy for her in the outcome.
Anonymous said…
Dont forget Friday Night Lights is on tonight and you SHOULD be watching it.
Media Maven said…
I LOVED this week's Damages. I've liked this show since the beginning and now it's really picking up steam. David, now would be a great time to jump back in as there are only a few episodes left. I too used to hate Ellen, but she's really come around nicely of late. For once, I find myself rooting for her.

And how freakin tense was it when she told off Patty?! Awesome.
Unknown said…
Now that there are a few episodes left, I'll probably jump back in. I want to see how most of this resolves. Thanks, Media Maven.
Anonymous said…

I think you are probably right that it is a 'good' show rather than a 'great' show. It is sort of a one-trick pony, in that it has gone for a very convoluted twist 'n turns plot that really is the essence of the show, the uncertainty and unpredictability about what is really happening and who is onside with whom.

That doesn't really leave an awful lot of time left for serious character development - I think the characters are actually very well drawn to the extent that they can be when they are so subsidiary to the plot, but it is hard to care that much about them. I think Damages is handling the character/plot trade-off heaps better than something like 24, though. Thank god it isn't going to last 24 episodes, though, I want answers soon.

And what I still really want to know is what the scene last week where Ellen ponders with Patty whether they pushed David too far means. To me that suggests he still has a bigger role to play than victim of wrong-place/wrong-time violence, though his time is running out.
TxGowan said…
I honestly expected Ellen to look at Patty after her tirade and say, "Are you done now?" and then tell her what she had found.

When that didn't happen, I so wanted to see Ellen shove that red folder into a conveniently placed shredder.
Anonymous said…
That doorman could not have been any creepier. He made my skin crawl!

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