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A Friendly Invitation: The Seeds of Anger are Nurtured on "Damages"

Once again, Damages managed to pull another brilliant bait-and-switch and keep us guessing about Daniel Purcell's full involvement in the murder of his wife Christine.

This week's episode of Damages ("I Agree, It Wasn't Funny"), pulled out all of the stops to give us a dazzling installment that made us once again question everything we've seen so far this season.

It also offered further insights into what happened the night of Ellen's attempted murder at Patty's apartment, fleshed out the character of Phil Grey (Michael Nouri), added some additional shading to the truly shady Uncle Pete, and introduced a new player in the mix: power broker Dave Pell (The Wire's Clarke Peters).

All this and a shocking reveal about just what Ellen's new boyfriend Wes is really up to...

Wes. Wow, I did not predict that Wes could be working for Frobisher. Clearly assigned by Detective Messer (who, unbelievably is played by Flight of the Conchords' Doug, David Constabile, who also played Thomas Klebanow on Season Five of The Wire) to keep an eye on Ellen, Wes was planted within the grief counseling support group in order to feel out whether Ellen had any temptation to enact revenge on Frobisher for David's death. When she decides that she wants to use a gun, he's clearly spooked and reports the development to Messer, who also has other eyes following Ellen around town too. They don't seem that concerned with her meetings with the feds but more about her efforts to link Fro to David's death. I'm completely baffled by the scene at the episode's end in which Wes shoots an unseen person in a car five months in the future. Is it Messer himself? Why does Wes cancel his travel plans and move in to Ellen's hotel? Does he have a change of heart that leads him to kill someone? Curious. As for the Frobisher shrine, it now seems more like he was doing some investigation of his target Ellen, rather than Frobisher himself. Know thy enemy, and all that.

Daniel Purcell. I'm glad that we found out that Daniel made a deal with UNR *before* Christine's death and that their argument the night of the gala was based around the fact that she wanted him to blow the whistle on what was happening down in West Virginia. Purcell was smart to decline the head of research gig at UNR, but he is a fool if he thinks that Kendrick will uphold his end of the bargain and clean up the damage in West Virginia. Too late for that, I think. Yes, he's trying to protect his daughter but he's clearly crossed some lines you don't cross. Something tells me Erica wouldn't be too pleased to learn of his involvement in her mother's death.

Whether Daniel did accidentally kill Christine and then call for help or whether he called The Deacon to kill Christine for him after she threatened to call the EPA remains to be seen. The Deacon (Darrell Hammond, sans chapstick this week) tells him to give him 20 minutes in his brownstone: plenty of time to either kill Christine himself or to clean up Purcell's mess. Either way, Purcell is clearly culpable of either murdering his wife and then conspiring to cover it up... or having his wife professionally executed. Not good in either case. Which do you think is the actual turn of events?

Ellen. I really don't understand how Patty and Pete's tails haven't yet caught Ellen speaking with the feds. (It's the one element of this season that continues to get under my skin, given how often and publicly they meet.) I was surprised that Ellen would come clean about the FBI to Patty so soon after Patty was questioning her once again about the infant mortality case but Patty is so rattled and paranoid right now that it might have been the best move to calm her down by offering up that Patty was right: she is being investigated. Still, Patty and Pete are more than suspicious of Ellen, especially after they learn that her defendant, Monique Bryant, wasn't who she claimed to be. So does Patty think that the trap was meant for her or Tom? Or that its target could have been Ellen as well? Has she done a good enough job of deflecting suspicion from her?

I don't think I could have gone back to Patty's apartment, given the circumstances. I'm glad that it wasn't an easy journey for Ellen to make and that she did have some rather disturbing flashbacks to the night she was attacked.

Pete. Speaking of which, we now know just what happened to the body of the man Ellen stabbed that night during the murder attempt. We all assumed that Pete had the apartment cleaned and the body removed in order to cover the trail but now we know that Patrick survived the stabbing and recovered. Which means two things: (1) that there's a loose end that can connect Pete--and therefore Patty--to the attempt on Ellen's life and (2) that Pete isn't telling Patty the whole truth. It's clear that there's a history between Pete and Patrick (vis-a-vis Patrick's mother) and that Pete may have had an affection for the contract killer that trumped his promise to Patty to tie up all loose ends. Still, Pete gave Patrick enough cash to get away for a while, so he likely won't be hanging around Manhattan for long enough for Ellen to catch up with him.

Phil. Loved the reveal that Phil's frequent business trips to London are in fact the cover story for an affair with a younger woman. Not sure who this woman is but it's clear that she has a mind for numbers and a body for sin. How great was it when Patty woke up in the middle of the night and then realized Phil was gone but couldn't remember where he had gone and why he would be back in London again? (For someone so ruthless and exacting, she can be pretty blind at times.)

Dave Pell. Loving Clarke Peters' turn as Dave Pell in this episode and very intrigued to see where his story goes. He's clearly pulling everyone's strings, making sure that the UNR merger does go through, and applying pressure on anyone naive or forthright enough to stand in its way. He'll make quite an adversary to Patty, especially given his calm demeanor and powerful skills of manipulation. His addition to the story points to Ultima's ability to remove any opponents from the field of battle, using whatever it takes, and adds to Kendrick and UNR's sensation of absolute power and privilege. These guys might truly be untouchable, after all.

What did you think of this week's installment? Where you surprised by the reveal of where Wes' loyalties really lie? Do you think Daniel strangled Christine himself or had The Deacon do it for him? Discuss.

Next week on Damages ("A Pretty Girl in a Leotard"), Patty uses the media to launch her offensive against Ultima National Resources, convinced of their culpability in Christine's murder; Ellen makes headway in her efforts to link Frobisher to David's murder; Frobisher warns Kendrick about tangling with Patty.


Anonymous said…
I loved the mini "The Wire" reunion last night. It was great to see Clarke Peters playing someone so nasty!
Anonymous said…
I also find it hard to believe that Ellen has been meeting with the FBI agents without anyone noticing until now. Especially as, in the first episode, Patty did tell Uncle Pete to keep an eye on her. And not only do they meet out in public but the agents also come over to Ellen's hotel room which seems like the absolute worse place to meet.

Also, the scenes with the FBI agents seem sloppily written in comparison to the rest of the show. I didn't understand why the agents would want Ellen to tape the dinner party at Patty's. Obviously, Patty is not going to reveal any major secrets at a dinner party. It just seemed odd.
Anonymous said…
wasn't that Patrick's body that Detective Messer was looking at??
Unknown said…
I think Ellen's meeting the Fibbies so often that watchers assume they're dating.

I still think Purcell killed Christine and just called UNR (or whomever) to clean it up.

The flash-forwards and flashbacks are ruining it for me though. It's like the writers are going out of their way to confuse the viewers. Good writing doesn't need these cheap devices to create a good mystery. (It's not that I can't follow or understand it. I liked Daybreak, for cryin' out loud.)

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