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September 19, 2014

Damages: Pilot (series premiere)

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Jul 24th 2007 11:02PM

Ted Danson as Arthur Frobisher in the series premiere of FX's 'Damages.'

(S01E01) "If you were a man, I'd be worried." - Patty Hewes

Granted I saw this episode about two weeks ago, but after watching it again tonight I think it's pretty clear that FX is on to something big here. On paper, the numbers proclaimed Dirt to be a minor success for the FOX owned cable station. Let's be honest though -- Damages has Dirt beat by a mile and then some. It didn't take much for Patty Hewes (Glenn Close as good as she's ever been) to knock Lucy Spiller off of her tiny throne but it appears that FX has a new reigning female lead. Frankly, I'm terrified of her.

Patty Hewes. The beginning, middle, and end when it comes to law in this twisted tale of deception, lies, loyalty, and death. From the very beginning when we first meet a bloody Ellen Parsons (played by Rose Byrne) right to the end when she calls for a lawyer, you're constantly asking how Patty fits into the whole mess. We were given plenty of clues. Some subtle and some not so much (Saffron's dog collar was about as in your face as you can get). But I truly loved the way the story unfolded, especially through the flashbacks.

Some shows use flashbacks only as it suits them. They're peppered erratically throughout the show, only used when it fills a hole in the story. Damages has a bit of a twist on this usage. The flashbacks are the true story, whereas the present day stuff (where the real mystery lies) feels almost like a flash-forward. It doesn't feel forced either. The difference is that rather than being quick blips on the radar, the flashbacks are the meat and the present day stuff is lacking. Whenever a scene from the present day popped in, it was solely because something in the past triggered it. There was always something to tie it in. It was a nice touch and it made the entire episode flow much more smoothly despite the fact that we were moving back and forth from six months ago to present day. It felt seamless and a lot of shows (films, too) using that technique don't achieve that feel as often as you'd like.

OK, enough about the style of the show. The short answer is that it works and it works well. On to the characterization. Rather than dissect everyone, let's just look at Patty and Frobisher (Danson is about as far away from Cheers and Becker as you can get in this role). I feel like it's still a bit too early to take apart Ellen, suffice to say that I love how we were introduced to her as the victim only to find out immediately that she's actually an integral part to the entire story.

I love the connections between Patty and Arthur. They're almost the same person. Dedicated, successful, and extremely good at what they do. As I mentioned at the end of my Early Look post, by the end of the hour I wasn't sure which side I was rooting for. They're both ruthless, but at the same time they both have families that they're trying to look out for and provide for. It's a dichotomy that just happens to be full of similarities. That sounds completely contradictory, but I hope you get what I'm trying to say.

The one thing I don't get is why try and paint those two so similarly? Frobisher is supposed to be the classic Enron-esque bad guy. Of course you want to introduce things that make him seem wronged and innocent. Why not play against stereotypes and actually make him the genuine good guy and Patty the legit bad girl? For a while I thought they were going this route until we found out that Patty was indeed married, had a son, and she was deeply troubled about her family. So she has a soft side. Fine. I just think it may have been better to save that tidbit for a few episodes. The longer she seemed completely heartless, the better. Although, the final few scenes did save some face in that regard.

Other stuff on my mind:

  • Why is Frobisher trying to buy out a settlement if he truly says he did nothing? Well that's a dumb question. Obviously he did it. Or does he actually just want this behind him so he can get on with his life? You could make a good argument for either scenario.
  • Again, with Frobisher. Why is he invested in Katie's restaurant? Sounds like a conspiracy to me. Something is being covered up. The question is what did she see or hear that fateful weekend in Florida?
  • Did anyone actually believe that Patty really fired Tom? By doing so, she created a shoulder for Ellen to cry on. He would be too valuable to lose since Ellen trusts him.
  • Finally, where does Hollis Nye play into Ellen's life? She turned down his job offer, but it appears that she kept in touch with him.

The biggest question? Check out the poll below and check out my review of the second episode of the season ("Jesus, Mary, and Joe Cocker") next Tuesday. Damages... thoroughly impressive.

Do you think Ellen murdered her fiance David?
Yes61 (10.7%)
No507 (89.3%)

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31 Comments

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Jen

Hey, love the show.. does anyone know the song that was played during the sex scene?

November 25 2007 at 8:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sr_jean

Great show and very addictive--lots of twists--don't rule out Patty's son, Michael, as a BAD boy. Patty scares me and I would choose NOT to work for/with her. Ellen beware.

September 19 2007 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Reeseman0

The 10:00 shows on Tueday-Thursday are absolutely great.

Love "Damages" on Tuesday.

Totally addicted to "Rescue Me" on Wednesdays...

As for Thursday, if you've yet to catch "Mad Men" on AMC, you may be missing the best new show since we bid a fond farewell to my all-time fave ~ "Six Feet Under"

August 11 2007 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bobby Burns

FANTASTIC WONT MISS IT GLEN CLOSE WOW

August 09 2007 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ken

Does anyone know where I can find an episode of the Pilot online? All I've been able to locate so far was Episode 2 (on iTunes). Thanks!

August 04 2007 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob

Could it be that Frobisher and Kate were the ones who had an affair, and that Kate had a baby that is hers and Frobisher's?

August 01 2007 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob

I think Frobisher had an affair with Kate, and that there is a baby out there that is Kate and Frobisher's.

August 01 2007 at 7:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tammy

>>What else has Uncle Pete done at Patty's behest?
>>>Why is Tom Shayes so loyal to Patty, seemingly on the 'inside,' but not even aware Patty would 'fire' him as part of her plan?

I was throwing around the idea that maybe Tom WAS initially fired but maybe Patty (snooping possibly) found out that Ellen had been visiting him outside of the office decided to pull him back in. I'm wondering if he knew what the money to Uncle Pete was for since he never opened the collar when Uncle Pete handed it to him and that Patty didn't dispose of it until she was alone.
Just a thought.

Also, the website mentions "clues" hidden in the scenes. Does anyone know about that? I tried watching the clip they gave (the trade of the money for the collar) to see if I could spot something. The only thing I could possibly guess at was the text of the newspaper when Uncle Pete opened it, but I couldn't get a clear view of all of it.

Just wondering.

BTW, great show. I love the legal and thriller aspect of it.

I too noticed that Ellen was wearing the coat that she had purchased while running around the streets.

July 31 2007 at 8:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen

Ok, I too like the show & am hooked so far. Only complaint I have is the character of Ellen. She's supposedly so incredible that she's being head-hunted by the best of the best, yet she appears vapid, inarticulate & totally unimpressive in most of her interactions with just about anyone. Where's her fire, passion, intellect -- all those things that supposedly made her so attractive as a potential hire??? Sorry but her theoretical credentials don't match her on-air personality...

July 31 2007 at 8:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

I waited a week to watch the pilot and was blown away.

Then I came here expecting some great discourse and was sorely disappointed.

Re: the song during the love scene ... it sounded like Annie Lennox to me, but I read on another site that it was a band called Phontaine.

I am looking forward to future episodes -- and some more astute TV Squad reviews.

July 31 2007 at 12:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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