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'Damages': Now you don't owe me nothin'!

October 24, 2007 |  6:22 am

Close_jqbsrlnc_250_2 That, folks, was a season (series?) finale. No Journey, no cut to black, no stupid Meadow trying and failing to parallel park.

After last week's episode, I was crabby that "Damages" seemingly took the easy way out, with assorted henchmen being responsible for David's murder and the attack on Ellen.

But here's the thing: Assorted henchmen were responsible for those crimes -- but silly me, I underestimated Patty's deep, deep need to win, no matter what the obstacles.

Here's the wrap-up -- and trust me, all of this was unveiled as breathlessly as it sounds here: Frobisher's henchman who killed David is actually NYPD, and managed to weasel his way back to the apartment to pick up the flashlight left there while ransacking the joint for the tape. All evidence, then, still points to Ellen, but Patty gets the murder charges dropped, in exchange for handing over Gregory Malina's damning tape for the district attorney to use to pursue criminal charges against Frobisher during the heat of the next election cycle. After showing Frobisher the tape (and, of course, promising it will never again see the light of day -- naughty, naughty!) Patty convinces him to settle for a cool 93% of his net worth -- $2 billion. His former employees are ecstatic, except for double-crosser Larry, who finds himself both cut out of a payoff for weaseling to Frobisher and cut out of the settlement for being the leak. Larry tracks down Frobisher in a field where he intends to build his next empire, and shoots him in the gut, venting that "now you don't owe me nothin'!" Is Frobisher dead? Mayyybe. Maybe not.

Take a breath here. No, we're not done yet.

After reconciling with Katie at David's funeral and celebrating with Patty over the settlement, Ellen is dragged into the back of a limo with Hollis -- and two FBI agents. It seems as though they've been investigating Patty for all sorts of bad news: fraud and obstruction of justice, among other misdeeds. They want Ellen to go back to work for Patty, and report back to them about the shadiness that goes down in the office. As of this point, Ellen had no intention to return to work, despite Patty's solicitous offer that she'll keep her office open just for her. But then, abruptly, Ellen agrees to go back and become an FBI informant. Why?

Well, as she tells Patty, she doesn't believe in the law anymore, but she does believe in justice.

Ellen figured out that Patty, with the assistance of elderly badass Pete, actually set her up to be killed when she was alone in the apartment. Apparently Ellen's admission that she regretted what the duo had done to get Frobisher -- namely, blackmailing Ray -- was too much for Patty to take. Flash forward a few days, and it's only through Ellen's mad knife skills that she managed to escape the hit.

Yeah, really!

So let's hear it for "Damages" -- they managed to provide a convincing, entertaining and rewarding conclusion to a multilayered story. It's deeply depressing that what makes the show so compelling -- it's not dumbed-down, it doesn't give the predictable plot twist -- is what is cited as scaring off viewers. I, for one, was conditioned to expect less from a show with this many dangling ends. Here's one that actually pulled it off. Remember that when you're foaming at the mouth when "Lost" comes to a conclusion in a few years.

There is one lingering question: In flashbacks, we saw that Patty miscarried in 1972, and the grave she was visiting was actually that of her daughter. The quick cuts at the end implied that after Patty ordered the hit on Ellen, she had the freakout on the deck chair, and then drove to visit the grave. Was it because she had a sudden attack of guilt that she was now going to be responsible for the death of a woman she took a motherly interest in? Or ... does the lingering glare Patty gave to Frobisher in his apartment indicate that her loathing of him has a much more personal root? Like baby-daddy kind of loathing? (You really think Frobisher remembers the early '70s?) Am I too quick to blame Frobisher for everything?

C'mon FX, you gotta bring "Damages" back. Inquiring minds want to know.

P.S.: Best use of James Brown over the closing credits, ever. Take that, Journey!

-- Ann Donahue

<b>(Photo courtesy FX)</b>