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Review: Damages - Your Secrets Are Safe (season premiere)

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Jan 26th 2010 12:55AM
Glenn Close as Patty Hewes on Damages
(S03E01) "Do you think this could have been done to you on purpose?" - Det. Vic Huntley

Patty Hewes for the people? No way. In tonight's season three premiere of Damages, Patty (Glenn Close) may have been appointed by the government to recover billions of stolen assets from scheming financier Louis Tobin (Len Cariou), but let's be honest here -- this is Patty Hewes.

When her name is on the line, you better believe that's all that matters. She's set on finding all that money, but it's to make her look good and has nothing to do with the welfare of Tobin's thousands of victims. With a stellar record as of late (Frobisher and UNR), losing this battle would be a huge blow to Patty's public image. So, knowing all that, what do you think about Det. Huntley's question now? Could someone have tried to kill Patty on purpose?

It's been ten months since the UNR case wrapped up and Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) bolted from Hewes & Associates for a public defender's position at the D.A.'s office. But as luck would have it, Ellen's new boss Curtis is determined to put Lou Tobin away immediately for his ponzi scheme crimes. The only problem with that? Patty needs Louis out of jail for as long as possible if she ever wants to find any money he may have hidden for his family. Talk about competing interests. Looks like Patty was right, though, because Ellen is back in the mix.

For the most part, tonight's premiere was a lot of set-up for what's to come in the season as a whole. We saw Ellen putting her law degree to some honorable use for once by trying to put away a drug dealer, but now that her boss knows she has ties to Patty, it's doubtful that she'll be doing anything other than work on the Tobin trial.

Much of the hour was spent introducing the Tobin clan, from Lou to his wife Marilyn (Lily Tomlin), son Joe (Campbell Scott) and daughter-in-law and Joe's wife, Rachel (Reiko Aylesworth). All of them claim to have no knowledge of what Lou did and have been subjected to endless public humiliation. Patty seems to think otherwise, though, and in an attempt to gain some leverage on an already queasy Joe (Campbell Scott is nailing his part of the conflicted son and reluctant new family patriarch), she has one of his father's victims pick a fight with him. Again, though, Patty says this is for the good of all the victims, and yes it is, but what's it really about? Patty's reputation, and that means doing whatever it takes. Ironically enough, probably the same mantra Louis Tobin followed for all those years.

The twists and turns were plentiful as Damages' signature time-shifting storytelling technique took us, and Patty, on quite the ride. In six months time, Patty is in a car accident where a mystery assailant drove right into her. She escaped with only a few bumps and bruises, but the fact remains -- someone tried to kill her.

The car was registered to Tom (Tate Donovan), which immediately sounds weird since six months prior, Patty finally made him a partner. But in the future, we saw Tom living in a tiny apartment with nothing more than a mattress, empty water bottles, and lots of documents all over the floor. Where was his wife and son and his townhouse spread? And ... who killed him? Huntley followed the homeless guy that was watching Tom's apartment, and Tom's body was found in a dumpster near where the homeless guy slept. What's the connection? Could it have anything to do with Roger's (Michael Gaston) assertion that this Tobin case is going to be bigger than any of them thought?

More observations and questions:

  • When Patty looked in the car that hit her, there was a small Statue of Liberty on the passenger seat. It looked an awful lot like the bookend that killed David Connor, Ellen's murdered fiancee, in season one. Why would what be in Tom's car? Ellen claims to have forgiven Patty, but has she?
  • On the Thanksgiving that Louis told his family the truth, he made a phone call. Joe supplied Patty with that number and when she called, the homeless guy who led the cops to Tom's body picked up. How did he get that phone and who was the original owner?
  • Same goes for the purse that Patty gave Ellen -- how did the homeless guy have that and why was it covered in blood?
  • What's Julian Decker's (Keith Carradine) connection to all this? Right now, he's just a guy hitting on Patty at the restaurant she frequents, but he surely has to have an interest in her beyond small talk. Is he really an architect as he says? That title has a lot of meanings...

[Watch clips of Damages at SlashControl.]

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Did Ellen ever open her boyfriend's gift? I didn't see it if she did. What was it??

February 06 2010 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DIMeo

When will season 3 be on Hulu?

January 31 2010 at 9:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The papers strewn around the Tom's apartment could be part of tracking the Tobin hidden funds. My guess is that Tom was involved in hiding the money. The Thanksgiving call was to Tom and the phone was thrown in the dumpster, later to be retrieved by the homeless man. You can get a prepaid phone that can't be traced. Winstone would be too cagey to have the money connected to him.

Tom living in squalor seems to indicate that he lost his position with Hewes & Shays. To assume he was murdered might be premature. It could have been a suicide, though not likely. He could have been silenced for what he knew. But then we could be led to make false assumptions.

I'd assume that Ellen will get involved with the Tobin case after quickly rising up the ladder. The wrecking of the drug dealers Harley could be Ellen's work. Who else knew how much the bike meant to him? Make sure you get a tarp on it before it rains was his main concern. Turning him with that was info only known to Ellen. Patty wouldn't have been aware of that.

Ellen hasn't forgiven Patty and maybe setting her up again, with the ability to prosecute. That would reuse last year's plot where she worked with the rogue FBI.

Looks like we are off to a good start for season 3.

January 26 2010 at 10:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did you notice that Keith Carradine's character actually looked at the phone number Patty had while in the bar? I'm willing to bet it was actually his phone number (or probably ONE of his phone numbers), and he ends up planting that phone on the homeless guy. I'm going to guess that Ellen may give the purse to Tom as a gift when he loses everything to the ponzi scheme, and subsequently his job due to the conflict of interest that would present. Tom ends up moving to that apartment, gets murdered, the purse gets splashed with blood, and his body/evidence disposed of in the dumpster, which is where the homeless guy finds the purse.

January 26 2010 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Two observations, first I don't think that is Toms apartment; it just an address to register the car that hit Patti. In the preview it looks like Tom might have lost everything in the ponzi scheme, but he still has his job which pays well. I assume his wife works, and even if he lost his job with Patti, and his wife is unemployed, he can at least get a job with some ambulance chasing lawfirm, and live in a 1 bedroom garden apartment in Jersey, not a mattress on the floor.

That brings me to observation number two; the cop asked Patti if there was something she wasn't telling him. Well if I was the cop and the man whose car hit Patti was dead, I would assume that someone killed him and stole his car; and then of course fled from the scene. I bet it is more complicated than that but on the surface that is what it looks like.

I think Keith Carradine is behind it (not surprising) but he said he is an "Architect of sorts" (or similar phrase) and I don't think he meant he designs buildings. I think he is the architect of murders and/or frame ups.

All that said, I think this will be another great season.

January 26 2010 at 12:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A solid premiere! I actually liked it better than last year's. Campbell Scott is already terrific.

My only nit is the Keith Carradine character. I have a hard time believing Patty would put up with him as much as she already has.

Can't wait for next week!

January 26 2010 at 8:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

Ellen is definitely not a public defender, which is a different office from the DA--she's probably a deputy assistant district attorney or whatever New York's equivalent is called.

It seems very odd to me that the criminal prosecution of Tobin is being handled by the district attorney's office without him already having been tried by the US Attorney on federal charges--maybe we will learn that he has, and was acquitted.

It's probably unimportant to the plot, but last year Patty was driving a new Cadillac CTS. When she was hit by the other car, she was driving a Jaguar X-Type, a poor-selling model that hasn't been available in the US for several years. While I'm sure GM is probably cutting back on its product placement, it seems like the producers decided that if they were going to wreck a car, they'd wreck an old and relatively cheap used car. Otherwise, I can't see why Patty would have changed to downmarket wheels when she's been so successful--she probably got her husband's car in the divorce, but I assume he replaced his bombed Mercedes with a new one, and not a used clunker.

January 26 2010 at 6:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BC McKinney's comment

It was probably just the show trying to save money and not wreck a $50,000 new Caddy. This isn't the best rated show on cable, yet they always have a big name cast. They need to save $ where they can to pay for those names I guess.

January 26 2010 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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