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Fathers and Sons, Lovers and Killers: The Plot Thickens on "Damages"

While everyone is bound to being freaking out over the two-hour fifth season premiere of Lost, I'm hoping that fans of FX's Damages haven't forsaken the legal thriller this week as the series once again delivered a fantastic installment that filled in some of the blanks in the backstory between Patty Hewes and Daniel Purcell.

On this week's episode of Damages ("I Knew Your Pig"), the case against Daniel Purcell mounts as the police--embodied by dogged cop Detective Huntley (Tom Noonan)--clearly thinks he is their prime suspect while Daniel makes a discovery about Christine's murder and Patty learns that Daniel is lying to her about a number of things... and possibly everything. All this and Ellen digging around into Patty's past vis-a-vis a seventeen-year-old case that involved Patty AND Daniel Purcell. Hmmm...

Let's discuss.

Michael. I just *knew* that Michael was Daniel Purcell's son, after that totally awkward and charged encounter between them and Patty in front of the elevator in last week's episode. The oddness with which Daniel looked at Michael made it abundantly clear that he knew him from somewhere and the way that Patty pointedly introduced Michael as her son confirmed it (along with the heightened blond color of Michael's hair this season).

The clues were further spelled out in this week's episode as Michael asked Ellen for help on his college essay and Ellen learned that Patty and Purcell had worked on a case together seventeen years ago. Still, Michael appears to be totally weirded out by Purcell and even went so far as to refer to him as a "creep." Michael's a pretty smart kid so it's entirely possible that he figured out that Purcell was his dad a long time ago... could he have been the guy in the hooded sweatshirt who broke into his office before Christine's murder? Curious.

The Ring. Just when it seemed that Purcell was definitely guilty of murdering Christine (especially after the flashback that proves that they DID have an argument the night of the murder, seemingly after the gala), Purcell happens to notice that Christine's ruby ring--the one he bought her for her tenth anniversary and she always wore--was missing from her hand in the crime scene photos. So why would the stringy haired blonde guy--whom Purcell has fingered as Christine's killer--have taken the ruby ring and left the diamond one? I'd disbelieve Purcell's claim altogether if Patty didn't distinctly remember Christine wearing the ring the night of the murder.

And just when it seemed like Purcell's story was too good to be true, the stringy-haired blonde guy (or SHBG) turns up at a pawn shop with said ring. Why steal a very distinctive ruby ring from a murdered woman and then pawn it shortly thereafter? Could Daniel be telling the truth about Christine's murder? Was Ultima trying to send him a message? Was it a home invasion gone wrong? Or is something else going on altogether? It would be a pretty neat trick if Purcell did kill Christine and give himself a means of creating some doubt in the police's minds by having the ring go astray... and then wind up at a local pawn shop.

Daniel and Patty. Of course, Purcell did undermine Patty's whole defense of him by attempting to leave the country, at Claire's suggestion. Not sure if Claire was really being a supportive secret lover by telling Purcell to flee the country while he's under investigation for his wife's murder but Purcell did just that, unaware that Patty was having him watched... and had her men tip off the police about Purcell's intent to leave the country. Nicely played, Patty.

And we learned that Purcell not only has a violent temper but he actually did hit Christine three years earlier... and his wife filed a restraining order against him. Both were meant to be sealed in family court, so it's unclear how Det. Huntley got either of those files but one can imagine that Ultima is pulling some strings to sink Purcell, even if they didn't kill Christine themselves. Hmmm...

I loved that we were treated to a series of flashbacks this week to see the relationship between Patty and Purcell unfold ten years back. After Purcell was a star witness in Patty's first case seventeen years ago (and their partnership led to the conception of son Michael), seven years later they found themselves on opposite sides of a deposition in an IBC case that was being defended by none other than Ellen's protector Hollis Nye. Under questioning, Purcell buckled and his testimony won the case for Patty when she was able to produce a letter he wrote to his daughter's day care center alleging that 30 parts per million was a fatal percentage, even though his company had produced a report claiming that 100 parts per million was acceptable. Purcell was Patty's ace in the hole and they had colluded on the case. His payment? A photograph of Michael, the son he didn't know existed, which Patty had withheld until Purcell's testimony damned the defense.

Kendrick. This week's episode featured the first on-screen appearance of Walter Kendrick (The Wire's John Doman), the CEO of Ultimate National Resources; Kendrick was previously mentioned by Claire Maddox in Episode Two. After Kendrick gets a call from Wayne Suttry (who himself gets a visit from Claire Maddox while jogging in the park), he orders that security be heightened at all of the company's West Virginia coal plants.

Josh. Which is how reporter Josh Reston (Matthew Davis) finds himself getting beaten to a pulp after breaking in and stealing a water sample from a plant. Seemingly tipped off by Purcell to investigate the contamination levels in the ground water in the area--responsible for killing many local farmer's livestock (including the titular pig)--but Purcell is now not taking his calls. Sure, Purcell's under investigation for murder, but Josh is now putting himself in harm's way without being able to get a hold of the man who sent him down there in the first place. Hopefully, Patty, Ellen, and Tom can get to him before Ultima has him permanently silenced and find out what he's learned so far... and what will directly contradict the report that Purcell and Suttry's company has put together.

The Feds. Agents Harrison and Werner make a brief appearance in this week's episode as they tell Ellen that they are going to cool their investigation of Patty now that Tom has been pulled off of the infant mortality case and didn't end up buying a defendant's testimony. Ellen, of course, is none too pleased with this development and pursues things further, discovering the link between Patty and Purcell and believing (correctly) that Purcell is Michael's biological father. I'm definitely concerned with the fact that the agents aren't more perturbed with the way their case against Patty has gone and why they are playing things quite so cool. Theories?

Next week on Damages ("Hey! Mr. Pibb"), Patty concentrates on defending Daniel Purcell in the murder case against him, while Ellen and Tom travel to West Virginia research the case against Ultima National Resources.


Anonymous said…
I'm so happy that The Wire's John Doman is playing Kendrick. I love it! And I'm really interested to see how the reporter, Josh Reston, plays into all of this mess. Purcell is obviously lying about a lot of things but are his intentions good? It's very difficult to tell. I did like how he scolded Patty for using the picture of their son as a reward for his help. He is one of the few people we've ever seen stand up to Patty (and live)!
Jon88 said…
Speaking of "The Wire" -- that was Seth Gilliam playing Mark, the "I want you to meet my boyfriend" in the bar. Presumably in later episodes, he'll have lines.

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