Tuned In

Damages Watch: Family Affair

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SPOILER ALERT: Before you read this post, watch Damages. And check your mail. Carefully.

So of course the week after I decide to do a Watch on Damages, the show serves up an episode that… well, I don’t have that much to say about. That’s maybe the peril of writing about a series that’s more plot- than character-driven; this episode moved the ball down the field a bit and repeated some of what we already knew about Ellen (driven, torn between work and home), Arthur (ruthless and hiding something) and Patty (still scary as hell).

This was a mainly Patty-centric episode, which may have been partly what threw me; we all know Close is great in the role, but I liked the interplay in the first two episodes between Team Hewes and Team Frobisher. (I have the next episode but haven’t watched it yet. What am I, a machine?) It was intriguing to see Patty interact more with her family, and to handle her problem son with the same hard-nosed dispatch as her litigation targets. (Maybe my plot-dar was broken last night, but I didn’t expect her son to have been the grenade-mailer.) And her reaction to opening her explosive package was priceless: “Oh, God, it’s going to be a sh_tty week.” But I don’t think the storyline about the threats to Patty added much to our understanding of her, because it was simultaneously obvious (of course her enemies hate her) and over-the-top (I’m trying to picture a convicted Enron exec wilding out with a knife after his trial). I still find Patty most interesting, and most menacing, in the subtle hints and glimpses we get of her characters through work, as when–having ordered her staff to work nonstop on a brief–she passive-aggressively tells Ellen, “I like that family’s important to you.” Patty is scariest when she’s being nice.

Meanwhile, the flash-forwards are getting more interesting, although, let’s be honest, the only way I could imagine waifish Ellen actually having killed David was if she had been secretly trained as a killing machine by the Alliance. Thoughts? Theories?