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'Damages': Knee deep in this mess

March 30, 2010 |  9:55 am

Damages-fx-tom-ellen-review If you’re one of those “Damages” fans who dislikes the nonlinear format and flash-forwards, this was the episode for you. I don’t believe there were any in this episode. I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong.

I have to say that I agree with some of your comments regarding the quality of this season’s storylines. The writing has been uneven and the storylines lack the dynamics of previous seasons. I fear that with only three episodes left and the possibility that this may be the last season of “Damages” due to low ratings, we’re trading all of this character development for a rushed solution of the Tobin case and the series that we’ve all become addicted to since Season 1. I should have more faith, right?

In this episode, many of the characters realize it’s time to pay up for past wrongs – not necessarily their own but also for those of the people close to them.

Ellen is attacked from all sides

Poor Ellen. She really got the shaft this week from both the personal and professional sides of her life. First, there are the dreams of the woman in the kitchen. We later learn her name is Annie. They haunt Ellen for several nights before she discovers a picture of her. Neither her mother or her sister gives her much information, except for their obvious discomfort in discussing the woman at all. When she turns to Patty’s guy, Malcolm, for help, he comes up with an address. As soon as she’s able to, she’s off to find the woman from her dreams. Obviously the question is, was Ellen adopted? Could that be the piece from her history that would make her feel more complete? Will it explain her physical and emotional differences from the rest of the family? Will it explain her attraction to Patty as a mother figure?

Before she leaves on that trip, though, there’s the issue of her sister’s arrest for selling drugs. When Malcolm returns with the intel on her sister, it’s clear she has been lying to Ellen about her history with dealing drugs. As Malcolm put it, she’s “knee deep in this mess.” I can’t help but think that the discovery of Annie is part of the reason that Ellen decides not to help her sister and lets the courts punish her. And not only has her sister lied to her about her dealing, but she's also keeping the truth about Annie from her.

Finally, there’s Tom. He’s getting increasingly agitated by the Tobin case and his own financial misfortunes as a result of the Ponzi scheme. I found him to be terribly unlikable and an obvious loose cannon. Despite Patty’s orders and with the case on the verge of being pulled from the firm by the judge, Tom approaches Tessa Marchetti. I’m still unsure what he felt he would gain by doing so and by telling her that the Tobins killed her mother. It was obviously too much for her to handle, so instead of going to the crazy guy and Patty’s firm, she walked straight into the D.A.’s office for answers. When she said that it was Tom who approached her, she basically exposed Ellen’s involvement with Patty in the case. Ellen’s job at the D.A.’s office is obviously over.

Patty’s case is threatened
As I’ve already mentioned, Patty is in danger of having the Tobin case pulled from her. Her clients are unhappy that she hasn’t found more Tobin money or distributed the proceeds of the Tobin estate sale. Without even giving Patty a chance to talk them out of it (a smart move if you ask me), they’ve already requested that the judge remove her from the case. When Patty meets with the judge, he tells her that he agrees with the clients. She is able to buy one more week pending the results of Patty’s investigation into Tessa. It was an interesting move when Patty basically told the judge she would use all her tools to uncover the money. While his mouth said he would have her disbarred, his eyes showed some respect for the woman’s ambition.

They’ve discovered a couple things about Tessa. In the last episode, they realized she lied about spending Thanksgiving with her mother. In this episode, they figured out that Tessa couldn’t have been transferring the money, since her flights to Antigua started very recently. Both those new discoveries say that Tessa knows more about the money than she has led them to believe and that she wasn’t transporting money to Antigua. She was transferring it back out. So she remains the missing link of information that could lead Patty to where the money is now.

Of course, that door was closed by Tom’s shortsighted decision to approach her. After tipping off the D.A.’s office about Ellen’s involvement with Patty, they realized Tessa was important. Even though Ellen was able to get Tessa headed back toward Patty, the D.A.’s office arrested her en route to Patty’s office. Patty has already said she’ll do anything to keep the case and find the money. I can’t wait to see what Patty does now that her most important witness is gone.

Leonard’s past comes back to haunt him
We already know that Leonard is actually a former grifter who somehow managed to become an attorney. Does anyone wonder if he’s really accredited? Anyway, for years he has been sending money to his mother. After her death, the checks stopped, despite his father’s threat of exposing the true Leonard publicly if he didn’t continue sending the money. Leonard decided to call his father’s bluff. His father decided to call on him in person, during a meeting with Marilyn Tobin, to prove he could easily carry out his threats. He knows the Tobins have money stashed somewhere and he wants in on it. Will Leonard give in? I don’t think so. I think his father will soon be the late Mr. Wiggins.

Marilyn isn’t going to Africa
Finally, Marilyn Tobin is paying for her husband’s sins when the charity to help African children that she has been involved in for a decade bans her from their upcoming trip and rejects her donations. She is clearly emotionally racked by the exclusion as she says that those children are all she has left. Poor thing. She then mentions Mr. Zedeck. He’s on the charity’s board and she believes he can help her and dispatches Leonard to contact him. Later, Zedeck becomes the deciding vote on whether to reinstate Marilyn’s membership in the organization. He surprisingly votes against it. Why? My theory is that it's no accident that Zedeck, the man entrusted with the Tobins’ hidden stash, also serves on the board of a charity with international reach. Of course, he doesn’t want Marilyn Tobin (and those who would snoop around Marilyn) to have any connection with the charity.

It seems many of our characters are in dire straits and it’s about time for the ride to get bumpy again.

How do you expect the characters will rebound?

-- Jethro Nededog (Follow me on Twitter @TheRealJethro)


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Photo: Tate Donovan and Rose Byrne in "Damages." Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / FX