Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Damages: Drop the bomb

Damages this week was all about Patty – her work, her family, and her past – and that's just the way I like it.

(Watch out for spoilers.)

The big story was that someone mailed a grenade to Patty at her office. Oh, all right, it was Frobisher, trying to derail her brief. Even Fiske, Frobisher's lawyer, seemed to disapprove of this tactic. You know, I think I might like Fiske if it weren't for his triple-thick, chicken-fried accent – it's just a teensy bit distracting. Anyway, the grenade did succeed in rattling Patty, specifically because Patty was attacked ten years ago by another disgraced CEO. It was great to finally see some real vulnerabilities and fears from Patty, and I'm assuming that they were real because the story of the attack was corroborated by the cops. (Think about it: how many shows have you ever had to watch where you needed a corroborating witness in order to believe something? This is a very easy show to get obsessive about, not that I'm complaining. At all.)

With the bomb threat forcing work on the brief into Patty's apartment, there was more to see of Patty's relationship with her husband and son than ever before. We saw Patty in family therapy and Patty in a vulnerable moment, confessing her worries to her husband Phil. Then there was a subplot involving Patty's son Michael, who was having trouble at school and seemed to be proof that the manipulating apple doesn't fall far from the tree. To wit: he gained control of the school's computer system, passed off one of Patty's dreams as his own, and claimed to be controlling his mother. So, with her son making a run at her "Most Manipulative Person in New York City" title, Patty did the only thing she could do: staged a kidnapping and carted her son off to reform school. I had been waiting for a payoff to the Michael subplot all episode, and that was it – yes, Patty would really do that to her son. You would think I would stop being shocked by the nasty things Patty does at this point, but apparently not.

One of the things I really loved this week – not anything huge, just a little touch that added something special – was the awkward question of boss etiquette that Ellen had to wrestle with. Did she invite Patty to the engagement party or not? It's a tricky question even in the best of situations, but when your boss is Patty Hewes, it's impossible. Sure, Patty seemed to be angling for an invite, but then she did everything in her power to keep Ellen from making the party herself. Is it all a ploy to sever Ellen from her loved ones? In any case, Ellen's tentative invitation was a deliciously awkward moment, and proof that this chess match between Ellen and Patty isn't all about briefs and witnesses. Truly, Patty's power to make Ellen twist in the wind so completely, with just a word or a look, is awesome to behold.

In non-Patty related developments (yes, some things happened that didn't involve Patty, but no, they weren't as fascinating), Katie's old flame, Greg, is both her current flame and married, and Ellen of the Future claimed that someone tried to kill her before she found David dead. The question is who, and is it too obvious to say "one of Patty's minions"? There are two people on Damages who may be capable of such a thing – Patty and Frobisher – but, it must be pointed out, neither of them has reached the point of actually having a person killed. Patty has only had a dog killed, and Frobisher called off his hit. Technicalities, I know, but so far important – neither of them has passed the point of no return.