Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Damages Season 1: Episode 2 and 3

Due to the fact that we’ve got to get through all of Damages in about 20 days, we’re going to have to kick up the speed of posting a notch. I’ll be running through two to three episodes a day, depending on how much information there is to unpack, and hopefully wind up the blogging juuust in time to start season three.

Which is imminent, so let’s get going.

A couple of thoughts before starting the second episode:

It’s hard to say when the idea of the anti-hero became a buzzword for good TV, but it probably started back with “The Sopranos.” Tony Soprano was a bad man who you had to relate to, even if you couldn’t root for him in the traditional sense.

Patty is in much the same mold by the end of the first episode. She clearly wants to take Arthur down, and will use any means to do it – even if it means hiring someone who won’t show up for an interview. Or killing someone’s dog. But she’s obviously got her problems, which is supposed to make her relate-able.

The show sets her up almost as a villain. But that doesn’t seem possible, since Glenn Close is the star of the show. Of course, so was Tony…

My other thought is that the “good person who does bad to achieve good ends” thread reminded me quite a bit of the movie “Touch of Evil.” And I’ll be curious to see if the season plays out in a similar manner.

Episode Two

Episode Two on Hulu

Episode Two on Television Without Pity

And so it begins, with another long tracking shot of an opening – this time of a window. The window to the bathroom where Ellen’s fiancé, David, is lying in the tub quite dead.

The cops call back to the precinct and let their boss know they’ve got a body, and a murder weapon.

Six months earlier: Ellen blows out the candles on her birthday cake. She gets a few gifts from friends and family – including a set of Statue of Liberty bookends, which Katie gives her.

The Present! The murder weapon is one of the bookends.

The Past! Tom and Patty talk about Tom coming into the office to “clean out his desk” so that he can bump into Ellen again.

At his not-small home, Arthur talks to his wife, Holly, about the fact that a paper ran a story claiming that Holly spent 20 grand on shoes – after which a photographer chased her and the kids and hit her car.

Arthur continues to maintain that, a) he didn’t do it, and b) he’s doing everything he can to make the case go away.

Over at the law firm, Ellen and Patty bump into each other, and Patty asks Ellen to sit in on the meeting with the folks suing Arthur.

Larry is still pushing for the settlement, pointing out that they voted to settle. (Here’s a little math: Arthur is offering to settle for 100 million dollars. Which sounds like a lot, except that Patty’s firm will probably take half of it in legal bills. And since there were 5000 people working at the company that went under, they would each get about $10,000. On a fiscal level, Patty is right. 100 mil is nothing.)

Patty pushes for the time to talk to Katie and figure out if she’s the smoking gun.

In Ray’s office, Arthur and Ray discuss what it will cost Arthur if Holly leaves him – on a financial level, half of what he owns. On a personal level, the media will slaughter him.

And Katie is a wild card.

Katie goes to see Patty. Ellen thought she was going to be in the meeting with Patty and Katie, but instead Patty sends her to Newark to help convince the people suing Arthur that waiting another week is a swell idea.

Ellen heads out with another partner, Andrew, who warns her to watch out for herself.

Patty and Ellen sit down while chatting about olive oil, and then Patty drops two bombs, a) She doesn’t want to talk to Katie, because b) she thinks that Katie is lying about the timeline Katie put together. And until Katie comes clean, Patty isn’t going to offer Katie any help or protection.

The Present: The cops discuss the murder site. Including the fact that nothing was stolen and the engagement ring was lying on the floor.

The Past: Katie and Ellen converse by phone about the conversation Katie and Patty had.

Katie is still being followed by Arthur’s man.

The Man goes to talk to Arthur, and suggests that they might have to use a “Permanent Solution” on Katie. Arthur seems horrified by the idea at first, then asks… “How does that work?” Then there’s more reluctant clucking.

Tom and Patty meet and Patty offers him her proof that Katie is lying – a traffic ticket that Katie got ten minutes after she “punched in” for work while in Florida. Patty wants Tom to dig into Katie’s past. And also, to use some info she dug up on Ellen.

That night, Ellen and David are having dinner when Katie bursts in and grabs some of her stuff. She’s moving out and going back to her apartment.

Out in the middle of nowhere, Arthur has marital relations with a woman who is not his wife, and then makes a call: he tells The Man to, “Do it.” He gets a, “Yes, sir.”

The next day, Tom meets a man, and gives him a file on Ellen and David. The man says that he knows what Patty wants.

In the office, Ellen goes to Patty to ask why Patty threw Katie out. And also why Patty sent Ellen out of the office. Patty is honest about both things.

Ellen meets with Nye, the man whose job offer she turned down in the first episode. He tells her to learn everything she can from Patty, and then get out.

The Present! Ellen sits in a chair and prepares to be grilled.

The Past! A man gets his knife ready and goes for a walk, though who he’s after isn’t clear.

In her office, Patty talks to the father of their kid about the fact that their kid isn’t turning out so well.

In the office, Ellen runs into Tom. They chat.

On the street, Katie gets followed by Man With Knife.

Things look bad until she turns around and confronts him about killing her dog. The man panics and, realizing he’s being seen by everyone, walks away.

Katie goes to Ray, signed confidentiality agreement in hand.

Arthur calls The Man, and tells The Man he wants to call off the Katie killing.

Then he goes to visit Katie, to tell her thanks for signing the papers. And probably to freak her right out. Which he does.

Katie goes to Patty to tell her that she lied. Turns out Katie met a guy, and had a one-night stand. With a guy named Greg. No last name. That’s why she was late, and got pulled over. Patty asks if she saw him again. She says no. She did get pregnant though, and “did what she had to do.” Which is why she left that out of the story.

Patty warns Katie that the information will come out, when things go to trial. Katie opts to proceed.

The next day, Patty tells Ellen that Katie talked to her, tells Ellen that Ellen had a good week, and hands Ellen the keys to a new apartment. And tells Ellen that when Ellen needs anything, to come to her.

And then, today’s big twist: Katie runs into a nice man on a park bench – it’s Greg. She says they need to talk.

Close by, Tom witnesses their meeting.

Back at Arthur’s house, it’s barbecue time.

Elsewhere, Tom and Patty think Katie has more secrets. Patty gives Katie a puppy and tells her there will be no more secrets between them.

Ellen and David check out their new apartment. Which is awesome.

The Present! The person grilling Ellen tells Ellen they know she didn’t do it.

Except, of course, the final shot is of Ellen dropping the bookend.

Episode 3

Episode Three on Hulu

The Present! A long, dark trip down a hallway, and into the bathroom… of death! Ellen is holding the bookend.

Then Ellen is about to be grilled – she’s told the lawyer she asked for will be there shortly.

Five Months Earlier:

Patty and Ray go to talk to a judge. The judge hates them both after months of legal wrangling. He demands that Ray hand over every document requested by Patty, and that Patty submit a legal brief by Friday explaining why she thinks she has a case.

She says no problem. Then she tells her staff it’s a problem, and to get on it.

In the lobby, a package marked fragile works its way through the mail process.

Patty gets the package, and opens it – it’s a grenade. Alarms go off. Everyone leaves.

(I’ll admit it – I’m watching this for the first time. Can I bet whether Patty sent it to herself?)

Everyone heads to Patty’s apartment to work on the brief. The Feds talk to Patty, and we learn that she was slashed ten years ago.

In the midst of all this, we also learn that Katie is seeing Greg again, and that Greg doesn’t appear to have any ties to Arthur. And he has a wedding ring, for whatever reason.

Patty’s husband sets up Patty with a former Secret Service agent.

Then Patty and husband go to talk to someone at their son, Michael’s, school about the fact that Michael broke into their computer system. Despite this, they aren’t expelling him yet.

At least, after three episodes, we finally get to see the boy.

The Feds confront Arthur about the bomb threat, and ask to see his phone records and computer. Arthur promises to cooperate, then sends the Feds on their way and tells Ray to stall them.

The Present! Nye arrives to see Ellen and asks why Ellen didn’t ask for Patty. Ellen tells Nye to get her out of there.

The Past! Ellen is at her apartment. David shows up and asks how she’s doing on the brief. She says she has no idea.

At the office, Patty says she fired six people who took personal days after the bomb threat, and that if anyone calls in sick, to not bother coming in again.

At a local restaurant, Arthur and Ray confer about whether or not Arthur is responsible for the bomb. Arthur asks Ray if Ray can guess how much it costs to send a grenade through the mail, and Ray tells him not to say anything else.

Katie meets Greg in the park and tells him that she had to tell Patty about what happened with them in Florida. She asks if Greg wants to testify, and he says he doesn’t know anything and doesn’t think he should testify.

Patty, her husband, and Michael all go to visit a counselor. It doesn’t go well.

Patty goes to visit Ellen, tells Ellen that Michael isn’t going to be expelled, and looks at Ellen’s family photos. And then tells her that her Statue of Liberty bookends are hideous.

Ellen wonders if Patty wants to come to her engagement party. Ellen invites Patty. Patty is somewhat brusque with her.

That night, Patty can’t sleep – she realizes that she’ll always be on the run from people who want her dead.

The next morning, Ellen gives Patty a draft of the legal brief she wrote on Arthur’s case. Patty, in turn, gives it to Tom to rewrite – and they discuss how Gregory went from waiting tables to a consulting firm. There appears to be no connection between Arthur and Gregory.

Patty’s husband goes to pick up his car from a valet, then drives off… only to crash off-screen. At the hospital, he reveals there was another grenade in his glove compartment.

Later, Tom talk to Patty, and hands over Ellen’s draft. It was perfect – Tom didn’t have to change a thing.

Patty tells Ellen to take the brief to the judge – she wants Ellen to deliver it personally. Ellen is excited about this until one of her cohorts informs her that the judge will keep her waiting.

Which appears to be the case.

Meanwhile, Patty has dinner with her son and they do a verbal round-and-round. Michael states that he manipulates Patty, and it makes him sad. Patty said he resents her work.

Patty states, “It has to stop.” Michael asks if they’re done, and he heads out of the restaurant. Some random dude bums a smoke. Then throws him in a van while Michael yells to Patty.

Patty comes out – apparently freaking out.

But, you know, not really. He’s being sent to reform school. Turns out he was the one sending the grenades. (I’m sad that I was wrong about Patty sending them to herself.)

Then Patty gets a call – the secretary who told Ellen to leave the brief on her desk calls Patty and tells Patty that Ellen was still waiting when she left.

Finally, the judge comes out and asks if Ellen has time for a chat.

Present Day! Ellen is talking to her lawyer, and the cops determine that Ellen and David weren’t engaged anymore. They had a big fight.

The Past! Ellen and David dance in an empty bar. She missed the engagement party.

Ellen says they’ll make it up to her family at the wedding.

The Present! Ellen says she didn’t kill David – someone tried to kill her.

Final shot: We’re back at the elevator to Ellen’s apartment, and someone is attacking Ellen with a knife.

These people love their final stings, don’t they?

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