Watching last week’s premiere of Damages, I thought that the villain of the piece was going to be Patty Hewes. And she is pretty bad, but she’s by no means the only shady or morally ambiguous character on the show. In fact, the only really good, honest character is Ellen’s fiancé David, and it’s no coincidence that he’s also the most boring character. At this point, I’m begging for some dark secret to come out of his past, if only so that I have some other reason to care that he ends up dead in the future. The only one I have now: he’s pretty. That’s not enough.
Patty’s biggest competition for the gold medal in the No Conscience Olympics is, of course, Arthur Frobisher, and this week he sunk even lower than Patty’s dog-killing exploit of the premiere. When a guy offered to take care of Katie "permanently," nudge nudge, Frobisher balked at first, refusing to take an innocent person’s life. But after thinking about it, spending some time with his family, and then screwing a hooker and snorting some coke down at the docks, he decided to do it. Really, I don’t know why this show is TV-MA; there are some good lessons here. Sex and drugs lead to bad decisions, kids. If you don’t want to end up ordering a hit on someone, stay away from hookers and cocaine. Anyway, Frobisher just ended up calling off the hit — but only after Katie signed the confidentiality agreement, so it’s not like he’s totally off the hook for it. But even with all of his dastardly deeds, we still saw a lot of Frobisher the family man this week, dealing with his wife’s worries and playing with his kids. It brought a lot of depth to him that we hadn’t seen in the premiere, and I’m really loving Ted Danson in the role. He’s a worthy antagonist to Glenn Close. I can — and probably will — spend the entire season happily watching them circle around each other.
As for the wide-eyed young innocents, Katie and Ellen, they were not so innocent, and not as easily manipulated, as they seemed. Katie realized she was being followed and chased away her would-be killer, and she went toe-to-toe with Patty Hewes. This was where we learned that Katie was a practiced liar (just like Patty!), and that she was concealing a one-night stand she’d had on that fateful weekend in Florida, one that ended in pregnancy and, probably, abortion. But that’s what Katie said, and as she was brazen enough to lie to Patty again, telling her that she didn’t know how to contact the father, what else could she be lying about? (By the way, I am seriously impressed by Katie now. Lying to Patty? Twice? That’s taking your life in your own hands.) Ellen, meanwhile, showed the first vestiges of cunning, refusing to talk to Tom about the Frobisher case — a smart decision, as Tom had been sent to cultivate Ellen’s trust.
Speaking of Tom, Damages spent this entire episode making us think that Patty was using him and some shady guy to perpetrate some nefarious scheme on Ellen, when, really – she was buying Ellen an apartment. Oh, come on. That can’t be all, can it? I mean, there must be cameras or listening devices there or something. Or, since they spent so much time dwelling on the pigeons outside the bathroom window, maybe the pigeons are Patty’s evil minions, much like the Wicked Witch’s flying monkeys. I refuse to believe that Patty gave Ellen the apartment just because, and I’m putting my money on evil robot pigeons.
In The Future, not much happened. There were a lot of close-ups of pigeons that were up to no good, and the murder weapon — a Statue of Liberty bookend — was revealed, and Ellen was holding it while standing over the body. Frankly, what fascinates me about the future scenes is not the murder, but Ellen herself. She seems like a completely different person sitting in the interview room at the police station, and I’ll be extremely interested to see the progression, over the course of the season, from the naïve Ellen we know now to the sullen Ellen of The Future.
This being the second episode, the burden was on Damages to show that it could take off from the pilot and keep the good momentum going, and it did. The mysteries are just as juicy, the characters more so, and while I’m not hooked into the mystery yet, it doesn’t really matter. I want to keep watching just to see what the characters are going to do next. If I get invested in the murder mystery along the way, great. But I’ll still be watching anyway.
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