'Damages' premiere: Tom pays the ultimate price for success
This season’s spotlight case mirrors the story of our favorite poster boy for financial malfeasance in these tough economic times: Bernie Madoff. Like Madoff, Louis Tobin has pulled off a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme in which people were fooled into making bad investments with his company. Patty’s firm is in charge of finding the money. Martin Short plays the Tobins' lawyer, but we didn't see much of him in this episode. I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing plenty of him sparring with Close in later episodes.
Meanwhile, Ellen is working at the D.A.’s office and investigating some shifty drug dealers. Her new life seems totally disconnected from Patty’s, but it really isn’t. The D.A.’s office is prosecuting Tobin and clashing with Patty. Ellen inevitably crosses paths with Patty in the process.
As usual, there are more questions than answers. This season’s time jump between the present and six months in the future has definitely made some connections but very few explanations. So, I thought I would focus on the questions that were answered.
Is Patty’s car accident really an accident? In the future scenario, Patty gets hit by a car. When she stumbles out to see who hit her, the person has fled. The police track the car back to Tom! Why would Tom want to injure or kill Patty, especially when she has just added his name to the firm’s marquee? Right now, it looks like he didn’t.
The police track a shifty homeless man back to his trash-can domicile and find a Chanel bag (a peace offering Patty purchased for Ellen) and then Tom’s body! My first thought was that it can’t be real, but the body sure looked dead to me.
It also seems like the exec producers have confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that Tom is indeed dead and it's not some misleading twist. Moment of silence … mmm, kay. I don’t mean any disrespect, but we do have him for the rest of the season. So, who killed Tom and what message were they sending to Patty? And how is Ellen wrapped up in all this?
Has Tobin stashed the money somewhere? Of course the money must be somewhere, but Tobin isn’t talking. Billions of dollars don't just disappear (unless it’s a real investment firm. Ba dump ching!). At first, I thought both Tobin’s wife, played by Lily Tomlin (who I’m sure is getting a kick out of acting serious in that big hair and rich-lady drag) and his son, Joe (Campbell Scott), were lying.
By the end of the episode, we see that Mrs. Tobin was the only one keeping secrets. Joe, on the other hand, just wants a clear conscience. At one point, he persuades his mother to tell him whom his father called right after he confessed the Ponzi scheme to the family. Mrs. Tobin kept that to herself in her deposition with Patty. As soon as he has the digits, Joe passes them to Patty.
When she calls the number, the person who answers is the same homeless man who led the police to Ellen’s purse and Tom’s body six months later. We then witness Mr. Tobin telling Joe that the money is indeed stashed away. So, where is it? Will Joe’s inability to handle the fallout of his father’s crime lead him to telling Patty? And, once again, how is it tied to Ellen’s case with the drug thugs?
Like I said, more questions than answers. My hope is that you, the readers, and I can explore the questions that do get answered in each episode. Together, we can make sense of it all. I hope you’ll join me here every week of the crazy ride that is “Damages.”
– Jethro Nededog (Follow me on Twitter @TheRealJethro)
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Photo: The first casualty of Season 3: Tate Donovan as Tom Shayes on "Damages." Credit: Timothy White / FX