DAMAGES – 201 – I Lied too.

I am thrilled to announce that Rev will be providing us with summaries of each episode of season two of Damages.

The previous season of Damages was very near to being a masterpiece work, it span a wonderful tale of mystery, intrigue, deception and murder with a competency that was close to perfection. But it did fall down in a few aspects and as such I’m left hoping that the second season will close up these issues.

The first of these is in the characters themselves, Ellen Parsons was a rather weak character and Rose Bryne was left struggling with the weak, hapless, confused kitten role. Compared to the positive mountain lion that we call Patty Hewes she rarely managed to make a serious impact on screen. Often it felt like she was bumbling in a confused manner from one moment to the next until the final episode aired and we were shown something of a transformation.

Well good news everyone, season two Ellen is twice as interesting as she was in season one. From the opening scene where a very dangerous, confident and borderline deranged Ellen monologues at an unseen person before brandishing a gun we’re shown an entirely new Ellen. One with a mission, she’s filled with rage and tamping at the bit to both bring Patty down and avenge her fiance by getting back at Frobisher. Now the important thing here is to avoid having her become too one dimensional in the other direction, fortunately “I lied, too.” attempts to swerve around this by having her see Frobisher in his bed after being shot and not take revenge. Unfortunately this showing of mercy is somewhat tempered by having her apparently shoot someone in the final ‘present day’ scene at the end of the episode. As long as Ellen grows as a character, doesn’t devolve into a facsimile of Patty and remains interesting we’re going to be OK on this one.

The second issue was the shooting of both Ray Fiske (Zeljko Ivanek) and Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) late in the previous season. They were both mammoth characters who shouldered their load of the plot with a great deal of realism and dignity. The second season has tackled this by having Frobisher’s gun shot to not be fatal, bring Zeljko back for a superb guilt/haunting of Patty and bring in not only William Hunt, but also Marcia Gay Harden and Timothy Olyphant. The performances of the cast were key in the first season and these actors should be more than able to shoulder the load. I’m very pleased Ted Danson has remained in the show, he’s shown himself to be more than just his Cheers persona here and he deserves more screen time.

The third issue is of course Patty herself, but we needn’t worry here. Glenn Close is more than up to the job and Patty’s even been given some extra dimensions beyond the first few. Showing genuine guilt over the actions that lead to Ray’s suicide and her ordered attempt on Ellen’s existence last season. We have nothing to worry about where Patty Hewes is concerned, she’s every bit as manipulative and brilliant as ever despite her troubles as her actions surrounding her charity and Arsenault hint at. Patty is still Patty.

The final issue is the biggie, Damages works by throwing about thirty plot balls up into the air and then keeping as many of them in motion as possible. Dropping the odd one here and there to provide suspense and mystery about what the final outcome will be. But the problem is, the first season was pretty much ‘made up as they went along’. Which might sound cool, but it actually creates a somewhat soulless entity, when the writers and actors don’t really know what’s next and why their characters are doing things it can take the edge off the story and leave it all a little lifeless.

Right now it’s this final point which leaves me a little concerned, the first episode is amazing. From the initial punch with femme fatal Ellen and her gun, through the scenes where Patty and Ellen both go eye to eye with lies, from Daniel’s problems bringing up old personal issues for Patty, to Ellen’s attempts to come to terms with the murder of David and so much more the episode just delivers pitch perfect Damages just how you’d expect it to be.

Future episodes will reveal more about the FBI’s sting operation involving infant mortality, Daniel’s data and his personal involvement with Patty, Wes’s involvement with Ellen — is it friendship? Is he a P.I. hired to keep an eye on her? Or is he a “stalker” red herring? — and how Frobisher will tie into the new story lines.

An excellent first episode and a great start to the season. If you’re not watching Damages, you should be.

Rev

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