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Review: 'Damages' - 'Flight's at 11:08'

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Feb 9th 2010 11:25AM
Glenn Close as Patty Hewes on FX's 'Damages.'
(S03E03) "Tonight's been educational." - Patty

Educational it was, both for Patty Hewes and viewers alike, as last night's 'Damages' proved that it can tell one helluva narrative without any of those pesky "six months from now" flashes. 'Flight's at 11:08' isn't the first episode to put the back and forth, past/present/future jumps on the back-burner, but it is the earliest it's happened in a season. Normally, those narrative devices don't fade away until the climactic moment later in the season when everything collides. What we got instead was a bit of different angle for 'Damages' as last night's episode was driven by the characters and not the over-arching plot.

In many ways, the whole point of the hour was to lead us up to that final moment when Ellen called Patty. Despite Ellen's feelings, these two of more alike that she'll ever admit. On one side, we had Patty doing whatever it takes to find Danielle Marchetti while Ellen did all she could to focus on her family and distance herself from her work. It didn't matter, though, because by the end of hour Ellen was only concerned about the same thing Patty was -- did they get Danielle?

When it comes to Ellen's family, for the most part, they've always been an afterthought. In the past, Ellen helped her dad when he had the car accident, we've seen her mother visit a few times, and the biggest moment was in the pilot when Ellen passed on her interview with Patty to attend her sister's wedding.

Her parents (played to "oblivious to everything" perfection by Gordon Clapp and Debra Monk) obviously mean well, but more than anything, this episode served as an in-your-face reminder of the conversation that Patty had with Ellen at that wedding in the pilot -- family always means well, and even though they may worship you and your accomplishments, at the end of the day, they're always going to disappoint you.

So it came as no surprise for Ellen to see her mother in the dark, her dad perpetually angry, and her sister addicted to crystal meth. As guilty as it makes her feel, Ellen has risen above them and Patty knew it from the second she met her.

While all that was happening, Patty put on a tour de force performance as she expertly out-lawyered Leonard Winstone. The look on Martin Short's face when Leonard realized he had been played was priceless -- he's more involved than anyone ever knew, until now. Kudos to Tom as well, for putting two and two together with the glass full of ice and realizing they had probable cause to pull over Joe Tobin's car with the busted taillight.

Tom's the same as Patty too -- his life is falling apart and he's broke, but all he could think about was the case. Now all they can do is hope that Danielle doesn't die from her injuries or else it's back to pulling teeth with Joe "I slept with Danielle first(!?)" Tobin.

[Watch clips of 'Damages' at SlashControl.]

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Linda

Another great episode with Patty and Ellen. Here is one analogy I thought right away when Ellen found her sister's drugs, she immediatley called Patty......her drug of choice!!!...hmmmmm

February 10 2010 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Linda's comment
Elisabeth

Good point. Ellen just can't help herself. And she is exactly like Patty but doesn't want to admit it.

March 23 2010 at 8:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

This epsiode fell kind of flate after the first two, but it was nice to see a couple of "NYPD Blue" alums playing Ellen's parents.

February 09 2010 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
charles melrose III

Fine review of an episode I found to be filler, moving along neither the plot nor the characters far enough to justify a full hour of a limited arc season. As challenging as the time flashing can be to a viewer, I missed it this week because I didn't get to work things out as the hour moved along. That's an appealing feature of this show.

As to the Martin Short comments above...he's doing a masterful job of crafting a sleazy fixer character with body language, dialogue and all the other tools. He's also a star of the Broadway stage, an accomplished feature film actor, a master of sketch and improv--and all these clowns can remember is one, albeit excellent, performance based on a funny accent. Very discouraging.

February 09 2010 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to charles melrose III's comment
Fruit_loopz

OMG that was such a good episode (and great review!). The back and forths rarely add much, aside from yelling 'EXCITEMENT' and 'SOMETHING IS HAPPENING.' The only disappointment so far is how little they're using tomlin...i was really looking forward to seeing more of her!

February 09 2010 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ac

I would like there to be more moments with the family like Ellen had tonight. It could really expand her character more and give us personal character development. We need this for Tom as well before he winds up in the dumpster in 6 months.

February 09 2010 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dkcincos

I don't know about anyone else but I cannot get used to Martin Short in a serious role. I keep waiting for him to bust out in a "Fronk" accent and talk about decorating.

February 09 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to dkcincos's comment
doris

YES! I totally agree with you about Martin
Short. All I could think of was the decorator!
Some people are not meant to cross over.

February 09 2010 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Elisabeth

Totally disagree. I love Martin Short's performance. My husband, who never watches TV shows with me, was also impressed. ("Hey, is that...?") He's doing a great job: his expressions tell stories.
Good for him for crossing over.

March 23 2010 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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