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The Crack in the Wall: Vulnerabilities on "Damages"

"Life is complicated... We live in the grey areas." - Arthur Frobisher

On this week's episode of Damages ("Drive It Through Hardcore"), written by Glenn Kessler and directed by Tate Donovan, we received a few tidbits of information about the two overarching mysteries this season as Patty and Tom sought to learn the truth about what really happened on Thanksgiving (and how it involved Tessa Marchetti) and we're given another look at just what happens to Tom Shayes in the future storyline. (I'm still sticking by my theory even with last night's seeming revelation.)

Meanwhile, Ellen had to contend with more family drama and Arthur Frobisher met with Terry's producing partner in an effort to bring his life's story to the silver screen, bringing them face to face with Patty Hewes herself.

So what did I think of this week's episode? Let's discuss.

The season's two timelines are now nearly touching one another as the gap between the present and future continues to slide together, with only two months now between them. Given that things still seem to be cordial between Tom and Patty, I'm curious to see just what leads to the breakdown in their relationship in the next few weeks... and just how some of the grander character explorations--such as Patty's recurring nightmares and Frobisher's seeming redemption--fall into the larger picture.

This week's episode didn't give us too much to go on with regard to the future storyline, save for two scenes that seemed to shed some light on the aforementioned bust-up between Patty and Tom and the final scene which offered a potential twist in Tom's murder, one that I'm still trying to wrap my brain around. Instead, the episode focused on four distinct storylines: the Tobin case, Patty's nightmares and her estrangement with son Michael, Ellen's family drama, and Arthur Frobisher's nascent movie career.

The Tobin Case. This week, we learned that everyone in the Tobin family would appear to be a pathological liar by nature. Tessa Marchetti lied to Patty and Tom when she said that she hadn't spent her Thanksgiving holiday with her mother, instead claiming that she spent it with friends upstate. Why Tessa would lie--and why Danielle would instruct her to--remains to be seen, given that what Tessa would appear to be covering up (at least from Carol Tobin's perspective) is that Leonard Winstone stopped by the apartment and collected Louis Tobin's things--removing all evidence of the affair between them--and then throwing them into the dumpster behind the apartment building he owns.

Those items would appear to be the custom monogrammed cowboy boots and a burner cell phone that Louis used to communicate with Danielle. Yes, Leonard acted quickly to build some distance between Louis and Danielle but why was it so essential that the removal of the evidence be done that night, by Leonard himself, and why would everyone lie about it, given that Patty already uncovered the objects themselves weeks ago? Hmmm... And, given that Danielle made Tessa promise to lie, there must be something bigger than all of this going on, something that reveals just how Louis and Zedeck were able to hide the money in Antigua. Interesting.

Carol Tobin, meanwhile, is cracking under the strain as she attempts to come to grips with the fact that she murdered Danielle Marchetti. Not helping matters is the fact that she's a virtual prisoner of the apartment where Joe has hidden her and that the only person she has any contact with is Leonard Winstone. Finding her in the bath with a knife, he convinces her to see her psychiatrist... but forbids her from discussing Danielle Marchetti.

But Carol's visits to Dr. Samuels open her up to a confrontation at his office by Patty and Tom, who question her about Thanksgiving and she tells them about how she and Leonard drove to see Danielle Marchetti that night and disposed of her father's belongings. While she identifies Tessa as having been there, Patty doesn't reveal that she wasn't Danielle's housekeeper, as Leonard claims, keeping Carol in the dark that Leonard is lying to her about that night. (Clearly, it's an effort to keep Tessa's existence a secret and therefore preserve their means of keeping the fraud and the secret fortune alive.)

Interesting too that Marilyn would be attempting to create some familiarity between herself and her dead husband's illegitimate daughter, as we see Marilyn and Tessa share a coffee and Marilyn reach out and touch Tessa's hand when Tessa tells her that she's been talking to Patty Hewes. Just what is Marilyn after exactly? Why attempt to form some connection between them now? How much does Marilyn know, really? (It's the first scene together for the two since Marilyn turned up as Tessa arrived home the night of Danielle's murder.)

Ellen. Poor Ellen once again got sucked back into the nightmare of family drama as her junkie sister Carrie got arrested with an ounce of meth on her and was booked for intention to distribute. Once again, Carrie attempts to (A) lie, (B) deny, and (C) basically blame Ellen for landing her there and not doing anything to get her out of this situation. I'm beginning to think that jail might be the best place for Carrie as she desperately needs to face up to reality and admit that she has a problem. Instead, Carrie is so quick to attack Ellen that it's no surprise that Ellen wouldn't want to put herself out there and help her sister, a fact that their mother plays up in her typically histrionic way, saying that Carrie "never had a chance." Ugh.

Was Ellen right to tell Carrie to plead guilty and throw herself on the mercy of the court? Probably, especially because her logic is somewhat sound as Carrie doesn't have a record and is a first-time drug offender. She certainly can't represent her as she works for the D.A.'s office and Gates even goes so far as to tell her that she should hope for the nastiest prosecutor ever because there would then be no whiff of favoritism. They can't get involved.

And yet... Ellen's mother once again works her guilt mojo on her, leading Ellen to ask Patty for help. Which is always a big mistake as Patty hates weakness, she hates vulnerability, and she doesn't do anything for free. A favor now means one in exchange down the line and it means that Ellen now owes Patty. Which makes me very nervous, given Ellen has already crossed a line for Patty and Tom regarding the Tobin case and withheld evidence from Gates about Carol's involvement in Danielle's murder. It's only a matter of time before Ellen loses her job at the district attorney's office, given the subterfuge and unethical behavior going on.

Not good.

Patty. I'm glad that Michael finally came clean to Patty about what's really going on in his life, telling his mother that he is expecting a baby, is a painter, and is living with Jill. He claims that he lied to her at that dinner they had because he didn't want her judgment; she then responds by asking if there's any possibility he isn't the baby's father. (Um...) But Michael isn't there for a fight; he wants her to fill out some paperwork on their family's genetic background and poses some questions that take us back through the last two seasons.

Loved the mention that his biological father is in prison and his question about previous babies, once more dredging up the corpse of Julia Hewes from her grave. We've never fully gotten the entire truth about Patty's prior pregnancy, so I can't help but wonder if we'll learn something more about Patty's past before the season is over. After all, the recurring nightmares about horses continues apace. After Michael leaves, Patty throws a bowl against the wall, leaving a nasty gash there. (A chink in her armor, perhaps?)

Patty, being Patty, later takes a hammer to the wall and smashes it up, rather than let architect Julian Decker do it properly. During her latest dream, she looks through the hole she made and sees a horse looking back at her. Just what does the horse symbolize? The idealized version of her life that she left behind in childhood? An emotional truth that's buried beneath the surface like the true beauty of her apartment? Like her home, Patty needs someone to smash down the walls built up over the years and reveal the truth that lies there, the skull beneath the skin.

Frobisher. This week's character exploration dovetailed quite nicely with the latest scenes with Arthur Frobisher, who has become so focused on his redemption that he wants Terry and his producing partner to make Patty Hewes the hero of the piece rather than the Machiavellian villain; he's fully aware of his crimes and wrongdoings in the past and wants a fair and balanced approach to the story. (Fro's son, meanwhile, offers a more nuanced perspective of what happened, rightfully acknowledging that Patty attempted to destroy Frobisher.)

Patty isn't interested in appearing the crusading hero or playing a part in the ongoing redemption of Arthur Frobisher. She turns the tables on Frobisher's little meet-and-greet at the office with the Hollywood types, belittling Frobisher and attempting to humiliate him for his weakness, vanity, and foolishness. "The Arthur Frobisher I know is a despicable bully," said Patty. "He stole from his employees, then he manipulated the system to escape prison with a slap on the wrist... Do what you want; I don't much like movies."

The effect brings back the old Frobisher we know and (sort of) love: he's done with any attempt at balance and fairness in this film. Patty can be the villain and he can be the protagonist who overcomes obstacles, makes grievous mistakes, but redeems himself in the end. Oh, Fro, you've just fallen prey to a revisionist history, exactly what you sought to avoid. Maybe you are just as vain and foolish as Patty said you were. Or maybe you're just as mercenary as you always were.

Two Months Later. The episode is bookended with two scenes from the future-set storyline. In the first, Tom hands in his resignation from Hewes & Shayes, clearly as set-up for launching his own firm with Ellen. If Patty is surprised, she hides it extremely well (she did, after all, almost convince Michael she didn't know about his baby) and Tom doesn't exactly give her a reason for why he quits. Could it be that she learns that he's personally invested in the Tobin case and was himself swindled out of money? Or does she once more ask him to cross a moral line that he's unwilling to cross? Hmmm...

Meanwhile, the final scene puts another spin on Tom's murder. He's seen once more bloody and staggering over to a pay phone, calling someone--Deb?--and telling the recipient that he loves them. This time, we see a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge as something dark plummets from the bridge into the waters below. Tom's body? Does he kill himself? Is he pushed? I'm more than a little confused by this as there doesn't seem to be a hard connection between the pay phone scene and the bridge. (Would he really make a call from a public payphone on a bridge? Why would there by a phone on the bridge?) And if Tom jumps or is pushed from the bridge, why would anyone fish him out of a huge body of water and then dump him in a dumpster nearby where someone would find the body? How could anyone locate a corpse in that much water?

To me, it's a red herring, at least as far as Tom's murder goes. I still maintain that the fluid in Tom's lungs comes from waterboarding, which would again explain the vast quantity of empty water bottles littering the floor of the apartment. Which would mean that it's not Tom's body but something else that's thrown off of the bridge. It's not the bag of cash, because that's found in the trunk of that car registered to Tom.

My initial response is that what goes into the river is Leonard Winstone's body as he jumps off the bridge. Knowing that the truth about his real identity will come out (given that his fingerprints would likely be found at the scene), Leonard kills himself before he can be exposed as a fraud. The season's been rife with suicides--from Louis Tobin's death to the mention of poor Ray Fiske last night and Carol almost slitting her wrists in the bathtub--so it might only be fitting that Leonard leaves his world in the same method that his father figure Louis did: at his own hand.

What do you think? Do you agree with the above theory? Disagree? And what did you think of this week's episode? Discuss.

Next week on Damages ("Tell Me I'm Not Racist"), Patty's clients want her removed from the Tobin case; Tom Shayes makes a risky move that jeopardizes Ellen's job with the district attorney.


Hadley said…
I like the parallel between Ellen's family and the Tobin family. Both Ellen and Joe like to think that they're good people but they bend the rules when they need to and they both have sisters who are screw ups and needy mothers.

Not good that Ellen asked Patty for a favor. That will definitely come back to haunt her!
Anonymous said…
"... Ellen to ask Patty for help. Which is always a big mistake as Patty hates weakness, she hates vulnerability, and she doesn't do anything for free."

Yes, but Patty truly cares about Ellen; you can see it in her face when Ellen is having trouble asking for help and Patty says, "What is it?" Her voice is tender and her eyes seem to be filled with genuine concern. I think Patty's assistance will come with no strings attached.

Since Patty once paid someone to MURDER Ellen, I don't think Ellen will owe Patty a single thing after the favor. The way I see it ... Ellen owes Patty a few hundred or so favors in order to make up for the end of season one.
hc95 said…
Once again this is a great Damages review, Jace. You provide, by far, the best Damages content out there.

I love your thoughts about that being Winstone jumping from the bridge. We know that he is involved with Tom and that apartment, so this is entirely plausible. I agree that it's not likely that Tom jumped to his death.

Patty's dead baby from S1 is going to be important at some point. I can't help but feel that Ellen is Patty's daughter and was put up for adoption. The baby's tombstone might be a red herring.

In regards to Patty's "walls" and her architect, I say get on with it. Keith Carradine is way too good an actor to be wasting with these repetitive scenes. This could be a really good storyline. I just wish they started to develop it back in episode 3 instead of waiting until now. The show is more interesting when you see Patty's personal interractions. This season she seems like a robot. Part of that definitely is caused by the botox.
miss egg said…
It sound plausible that it's Leonard Winstone jumping of the bridge. Yet that would make two attorney dying in three seasons... I don't think he would jump because of being afraid to be discovered. More because of he any longer can't handle the chaos and destructiveness of the Tobin's, leaving him with all the blame and fall to come (Patty warned him to leave as long as he still can, din't she? even if this was more a thread than a well mend advice).

Tom, I rather think his resignation is part of a plan to not get Patty or the firm involved in something Tom is busy with or the case needs to be solved. I found Tom Shayes way too loyal so far to act out a crunch (or so) against Patty; more on his own crusade to a) get his money back and b) get the Tobin's. By all means.

What did Ellen's mother mean by saying she isn't strong enough, wasn't strong enough to protect her? Just what kind of abusive family secret might there be revealed for Ellen?

It's interesting that in season three Patty, Tom and Ellen are without the emotional support of a loving partner (due to different reasons) and are more and more emotionally shaken by the "demands" of their families - Patty is blinded (by guilt ?) in her obsessive control of her son's life, Ellen's strong position in the beginning of the season is wiped away by the favor she has to ask Patty due to her guilt-tripping family and Tom has to provide for his. All three of them on their own, depending on each other, caring for each other, yet not trusting each other, being busy keeping up the facade by saying "I'm fine" most of the time. It reminds me of the "chair-game" where you go round and round a certain amount of chairs (one less than the people going around) and when the music stops you fight for a seat and the last one who didn't get one is out. Well just some thought... Can't wait to see the next episode!

Oh, and, what is it with those boots? i do understand the phone, but boots to move money?? grin.
LoriLynn said…
This blog is amazing -- love your analysis and the subsequent comments! Thanks for taking the time to do this! I'm wondering -- does anybody else stop and take the time to re-watch the upcoming previews frame-by-frame on their DVR? Because I have discovered that they sort of "bury" a lot of "one-frame" images in each week's preview, some which seem to be feeding us specific clues (and you can't even see some of these frames at ALL when watching it at the normal speed). For example, this week I noticed a couple of frames that showed Ellen handing over a piece of paper to someone (who we can't see), and she's standing right in front of a light-colored Cadillac, which has the rear license plate DQF-8093 (NY State). Have we seen that plate before? Why is it significant? Is that the car that hits Patty? I can't remember the make/model of the car that was registered to Tom. Hmmm...and I agree 1000% that Tom isn't the body that falls from the bridge. That would seem to make no sense for multiple reasons. And if it IS a body (could be something else?) falling into the water, it's most likely a suicide, as nobody's going to try to inconspicuously drop a body off a busy bridge in broad daylight. So, that said, the most likely candidates seem to be Carol Tobin or Leonard "Wiggins" Winstone...

Can't wait to see next week's episode...and your updates/analysis! I love this show!!
ricdarulah said…
Don't worry guys Ellen is a big me she knows what she is doing in going to Mrs. Hewes for 'help'.

As we all know, you can't follow the sequential future scene clips...because they are definitely leaving out vital parts. Of course to be very misleading. Rest assured the story will eventually develop.

What's up with the horse???

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