Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Damages Season 2, Episodes 9 and 10

First, a housekeeping note: Someone recently visited this blog, searching for an explanation of Ellen and Patty’s relationship.

I’d have to go with “complicated.” But if you’re talking strictly work-related, Ellen works for Patty’s firm.

Second, I had a thought yesterday. Well, two thoughts that tie together.

The first is that this show is finally out of good guys. In the last season, you could argue that Ellen only did what she thought was right, so maybe her. And Nye did as well as can be expected. And David, though the show led you to think otherwise for a while, never cheated on Ellen.

But Nye hasn’t been in an episode in a while, and doesn’t appear to be coming back. And David is dead.

Even Phil, who seemed to be trying to do the right thing, is both cheating on Patty and perhaps making deals Patty wouldn’t approve of.

And for eight episodes now, it looks like Ellen is going to shoot someone at the end of the season.

Which leaves the show with something of a rooting problem. Who do you choose to root for? Can you really root for anyone, when everyone seems to have an agenda, and not necessarily an honorable one?

You could argue that Ellen is seeking justice, and that people don’t want to see folks who did harm to others behind bars. They really want to see “justice,” and if that means putting a bullet in someone’s head then so be it. But I don’t think that’s the case.

Perhaps I’m wrong.

More importantly, this led me to my other thought: TV writers can no longer just think about what happens on their show from week to week. In days of yore, a lot of the time they’d have to carefully repeat information, because if someone missed an episode, there was no way to see it again.

Today, of course, an episode airs, and then a few hours later it’s online. Sometimes for free, sometimes for pay, but it’s always there. And a lot of cable companies are even making episodes of various TV shows available for perusal without leaving the comfort of your couch.

What this means, of course, is that you can watch a show in compressed form. Instead of watching a show week-by-week, you can watch it over a couple of days. And TV writers have to take that into consideration. Repeat too much information, and watchers get bored. They don’t need to be reminded of what happened three weeks ago, because they’re watching on DVD or the internet and it “just” happened, in their mind.

This also means that hard-to-take character turns, like Ellen with her gun, can get difficult to watch. Catch the show once a week, and Ellen seems like a woman bent on getting justice. Watch every episode over the course of a couple of weeks, and she seems a little less likeable. A little too driven. A little harder to take, since she’s constantly pointing that gun at the screen.

We’re near the end of the second season now, sitting on the back five episodes, and it’s going to take a lot of justification to explain Ellen and those gunshots.

Episode 9

Damages Season 2, Episode 9 on Television Without Pity

Then: Ellen goes to meet with the FBI. She tells them that the FBI is no longer just targeting Patty – Patty is now targeting the FBI.

Patty talks to Tom and Ellen about the FBI. Tom is angry that he’s just finding out about it now.

2 Months Later: Tom goes to the office to visit Patty. He’s told that he’s not allowed in the building any more. Tom tells the guard at the front door that he tried to warn Patty, and that he’s filing suit against Patty for wrongful termination.

Tom gets a gun. He gives it to Ellen.

Ellen holds the gun on Patty, while Patty says, “It’s not who you are.”


Then: Walter talks to Dave while Walter golfs. Dave wants to increase the number of transactions he and Walter are having.

Tom goes to talk to Patty, and tells her he’s upset about not knowing about the FBI. Tom says he’ll make a call because they need information.

Tom asks his sister, a US Attorney, to find out what the FBI knows.

Dave talks to Finn. Dave tells Finn about some new transactions. Finn tells Dave he kicked the nose candy and the lady-friend to the curb. Dave says that’s a good thing. Finn gets belligerent and reminds Dave that Finn is the only one who can do what he does.

Wes plays pool with Katie. And loses. Ellen is there. It’s “girl’s night.”

Patty, at her house, stands and thinks about something. Phil asks how she’s doing. Phil thinks they should cancel their dinner party. They talk about Pete. Then Phil tells Patty to drop the UNR case. Patty says she thinks the FBI killed Pete.

Ellen talks to her group counselor. The counselor is concerned about Ellen and Wes, and their developing relationship. She wants them to go to different groups. And Wes has agreed.

Dave and Phil talk. Dave wants Phil’s opinion on who to put into an energy seat in the White House. Phil suggests Sam. You remember Sam, right? From the start of the season?

Wes and Ellen practice shooting. Ellen is improving. A lot. Wes apologizes for asking Ellen out. He says they shouldn’t get involved. Wes asks if he can ask Katie out. Ellen gives Wes Katie’s number.

Wes meets with Rick, and says he has nothing to report yet. Rick tells Wes to deliver some guns to Jersey. Wes says no. Rick says that Wes is going to do it.

Finn meets with Susie. Susie’s got the nose-candy Finn wanted. Finn asks about Tom. Susie says she’s been ignoring him.

Tom meets with his sister, who says there’s no official FBI file on Patty and/or her firm. There’s no investigation.

Tom, Ellen and Patty talk about the lack of file.

Ellen confronts the FBI about their lack of file. The FBI guys tell Ellen that they had the file pulled, because they know Patty has contacts at the justice department. Ellen leaves, and the FBI guys talk about Ellen.

Susie has a visitor. It’s Patty. Patty wants the story on the arrest of Susie and Finn.

Patty and Phil have a dinner party. Dave talks to Sam about being the energy secretary.

Later, at dinner, a bunch of people ask Phil for advice on investing.

Ellen and Katie talk. Katie asks if it’s okay to go out with Wes. Ellen says she’s fine with it.

Back at the dinner party, everyone convinces Sam to sing “Danny Boy,” while Michael plays the keyboard. Patty warns Dave about Sam being something of a spoiled brat.

The FBI men talk to their boss. He says that the file on Patty has become need-to-know, because the case could make or break his career.

Walter meets with Wayne. They talk weather. And energy strategy.

Susie meets with Patty and Tom at the office. Susie tells Patty about the SUV and Finn.

The Messenger goes to the SUV and puts in some numbers.

Phil and David talk. Dave talks to Phil about going to Washington and taking the energy job. Phil says he’ll think about it.

Patty goes to visit the FBI men’s boss. She tells him that she holds the FBI responsible for Pete’s death. Patty says the investigation is corrupt, and that when she proves it, the guy’s career will be over.

The Boss makes a call and asks what the person on the other end of the line wants him to do.

Wes and Katie have a date. Wes asks Katie why no counseling? Katie says therapy is not for her.

Then Wes asks if Katie thinks Arthur killed David. Katie says Arthur DID kill David. Then she spouts a bunch of information she probably shouldn’t. Katie also tells Wes that it’s obvious that Wes wants to be with Ellen, not with Katie.

Finn goes to the SUV and gets the numbers.

Tom sees the SUV, and Finn, and takes down the SUV information.

Later that night, Ellen goes to visit Wes. He asks if everything is okay. She say’s it’s fine. And she knows that Katie called off Katie and Wes’s date. Kissing happens. Then more than kissing happens.

Wes goes to see Rick again. Wes tells Rick that Ellen knows about Arthur’s security firm. Rick tells Wes to take Ellen out, and make it look like an accident. If Wes does that, he’s “done.”

Episode 10

Damages Season 2, Episode 10 on Television Without Pity

Then: Ellen meets up with Wes in a park. Ellen left without saying goodbye. She’s “confused” about what happened. Wes asks if Ellen wants to get away for the weekend. Ellen says she needs some time.

The FBI keeps on looking for information on Patty, but they aren’t having any luck. One of the FBI guys gets a call from his “wife.” He’s in the middle of a divorce. Only one problem – the person on the other end of the phone is a man.

Now (Six Weeks Later): Ellen confronts Patty on Ellen’s room. Only now we get to see that the FBI is listening in.

Ellen shoots twice and the FBI dude jumps out of the van.


Then: Ellen talks to the FBI about how Patty is trying to prove that the UNR is manipulating energy prices.

Phil, Michael and Patty talk. Michael is waiting for college letters to come in. Also, they want to meet his girlfriend.

Walter and Dave talk about Phil becoming their energy man. Dave recommends that Walter settle Patty’s case to keep her from finding out any more than she already knows.

At UNR, Walter celebrates 20 years of service from Claire. Along with a whole lot of other people. Including Claire’s dad, who takes off early.

Walter tells Claire to settle, and to go as high as 50 million.

At the art gallery, we meet Tanya, Michael’s girlfriend. She has multi-colored hair and a whole lot of tattoos and piercings.

The FBI guy with the wife problem gets a call, but he’s not by his phone, so the other one answers… and hears the male voice on the other end.

Ellen and her mom talk. Mom is worried about Ellen.

Ellen goes to Patty’s office – Ellen was late again today. Ellen apologizes. Ellen is about to leave, but Patty has a question: Does Ellen know anything about Michael’s girlfriend? Ellen doesn’t.

Patty is clearly concerned about Michael’s girlfriend.

Patty and Phil talk about the girlfriend as well. Patty says if she has piercings or a tattoo, she’s walking out. Michael introduces Phil and Patty to his, “girlfriend,” Jill. Who taught at Columbia from 1988 to 1992.

And who isn’t that other girl with the funny hair.

Claire has lunch with her dad. She asks how retirement’s been. He says it would be less quiet if he had grandchildren.

She reminds her dad how successful she’s been, and he asks her what she has to look forward to.

The FBI men confront each other about the phone call. They dance around what’s really going on. The “guy” on the phone is, apparently, paying a little something from time to time to find out where Patty’s case is at.

Patty and Michael talk during something resembling breakfast. Patty tells Michael that last night meant a lot to her.

Claire goes to see Patty about a settlement. Claire tells Patty that neither of them really want to settle, so she’s leaving. Patty tells Claire to mention Finn’s name to Walter, and then triple the offer.

Claire talks to Walter. She tells him Finn’s name, and looks for a reaction. Claire is upset, because she went into Patty’s office without all the facts. Walter lies about who Finn is.

Ellen gets ready to go to bed. She has a message on her phone from Katie. Katie tells Ellen to come out for a drink. Ellen goes. She and Katie drink. Ellen kinda flirts with a dude on the other side of the bar.

Then she goes to talk to him. Ellen invites the flirty guy back to her room. Kind of.

Claire meets with Purcell. She tells Purcell about Finn, the guy who trades energy futures.

Purcell notes that UNR has had some unusual power outages. And we get a sort of layman’s explanation of what’s going on. If an energy trader knows when a power outage is going to happen, he can time his trades to make money.

Claire doesn’t think Walter would do something like this, because he could lose the company. Purcell tells Claire that he cut a deal with Walter about the toxic compound.

Ellen, who is now super-drunk, goes back to her apartment. Katie came with her. Not the other guy. Ellen tells Katie that she’s not really working for Patty. Then Ellen passes out.

Claire talks to Walter about Purcell. Walter lies, and says the compound isn’t dangerous, and that Claire needs to stop asking questions.

Patty goes to meet with Jill, the “girlfriend.” It appears she really is the girlfriend. Which doesn’t please Patty at all.

Claire meets with Purcell. She’s finally realized that Walter is a criminal. This makes her angry. So she fools around with Purcell.

Someone is watching their hotel room on a laptop.

The FBI guy who is not taking money wants to meet the money-giver. He wants in. Or so he says.

Ellen goes to visit Wes.

Two men go to visit the FBI guy who is not on the take. It looks bad for him.

Wes wakes up. He’s in bed. Ellen is sitting at the foot of the bed, looking sad. Ellen tells Wes that she told Wes something she probably shouldn’t have. That Patty tried to kill her.

Wes says that’s insane.

Ellen tells Wes that she was approached by the FBI five months earlier. And that she became an informant. In flashback, Ellen gets out of the FBI car, and walks down the street… right past Wes.

Wes meets with Rick, and tells Rick that the FBI is using Ellen against Patty. Wes tells Rick that Rick is safe. Rick agrees: Because he still wants Wes to kill Ellen.

The “bad” FBI guy arrives home and finds that the “good” FBI guy has “died from a drug overdose.”

He meets with Dave. Dave informs Bad FBI that Good FBI reported him. And it turns out that the FBI Boss is also in on this.

Now: And we’re back where we started, with Ellen shooting Patty, and Bad FBI Guy hopping out of the van. Patty steps out of the hotel room. She’s freaked out. And she’s got blood on her hands. She collapses in the elevator.

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