After shunting Daniel Purcell aside and basically ignoring his part of the story for several episodes, “Damages” brought this key player back front and center in a big way this week, dropping several pieces of the puzzle into place along the way.
First I burned the spoilers, then I buried them, but the dog still found them.
This week’s episode, the penultimate one of season two, featured some of the most effective flashbacks of the season, as well as some Hewes family drama and a pretty effective (and downright heartless) improvisation on Ellen’s part to keep the FBI case going. One by one:
Daniel’s back: After a brief appearance last week, William Hurt comes back to the center of the action after his dog digs up the charred remains of … a universal remote? It’s the thing he burned and buried in his yard early on in the season, and whatever its significance, it — along with Kendrick showing up at his house for some unannounced menacing — spurs him to go back to Patty and offer whatever help he can with the UNR case.
He’s useless as a witness, what with the perjury and all, but he knows about Kendrick manipulating the energy market and figures out how to crack the GPS code, giving Patty a possible leg up in the case.
And then — oh yeah — he goes to the cops and turns himself in for his wife’s murder. The show finally circled back to the event that set so much of this season in motion, giving us a full picture of what happened the night Christine Purcell died: Disgusted by both her knowledge of Daniel’s affair with Claire Maddox and the fact that he sold out to UNR, she threatens to call the EPA and blow the whistle herself. No you won’t, he says.
Yes I will, Christine replies, and she punctuates her words by beaning Daniel — with the aforementioned remote. An enraged Daniel chokes her to the floor, then realizes what he’s done and panics, calling Kendrick’s middleman Wayne for help. Kendrick then sends in Creepy Darrell Hammond (or, OK, the Deacon, if you must) to make the scene look like a robbery — only unbeknownst to anyone but CDH and Kendrick, Christine is still alive. So Daniel is turning himself in for a crime he didn’t actually commit.
Patty vs. men: “You’re a man, you cheat. I get it,” Patty tells Phil at the start of what turns out to be a pretty epic blow-up that ends with both of them yelling and talking about divorce lawyers. Because not only did Phil cheat, but he also “bet against” her by buying UNR. But even in the midst of their fight, Patty gets hold of something she can use — namely, that Dave Pell fed Phil the information about UNR.
The moment she brings his name up Kendrick, he asks her for a settlement number. No sale, she says — you’re going to clean up the aracite, pay the victims and leave UNR. And, by the way, I have some GPS coordinates that will help seal your fate in court. Like hell, Kendrick replies — that evidence was stolen, and you know you can’t use it. Yet Patty says she’s feeling pretty confident, because …
She’s playing dirty: Patty dispatches Ellen to sound out a judge (“He didn’t try to grope you, did he?” Patty asks. A real prince, this jurist) who might be amenable to being bribed to admit shaky evidence. It’s a perfect setup for Ellen and the FBI — except that Patty (whose son has just noted that everyone close to her “either leaves you or dies”), out of either guilt or suspicion, tells Ellen she can’t be the one to do the actual bribing.
Ellen correctly figures that she’ll have Tom make the offer, and convinces Werner to pinch Tom for his almost-illegal act in the fake infant mortality case and get him to flip. It all goes down as Tom is on the way to the hospital to be with his wife, who’s delivering their baby — as if Ellen selling out Tom, who’s generally tried to do right by her, weren’t bad enough on its own.
Ellen’s plan also involves Tom telling Patty he can’t make this particular bribe, which she hopes will then make Patty come back to her. It might, but given everything Patty’s just been through with the other men in her life, Tom’s reluctance also leads her to fire him (which would explain the scene from a few episodes back where Tom is barred from the Hewes offices).
“Damages” has 90 more minutes this season (next week’s finale runs long) to tie up a lot of plot threads — Patty’s pursuit of UNR, Ellen’s pursuit of Patty, Detective Messer’s pursuit of Ellen (via Wes) and the question of whether Daniel will discover that he didn’t actually kill his wife are the biggest ones. After watching tonight’s episode, it at least feels like the show will get to everything. Will it all make sense in the end? We’ll find out in seven days.
What do you most want to see resolved in the season finale of “Damages”? And do you think anyone will ever discover that Daniel’s not his wife’s killer?