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Damages: Dangerous Liasons Meets The Godfather

This show can be all over the place: The tonal shifts from one episode to the next — absurdist dark comedy here, humorless procedural there — are haphazard. The pacing can lurch and lag. And yet, we endure.

Tom Shayes’s Fall From Innocence
Tate Donovan has always played the adorably innocuous type — the apathetic boy pilot in Space Camp, Rachel’s Ross rebound on Friends, deadbeat dropout dad on The OC. Even cavorting (chastely) with hookers, the nicely dimpled actor continued this trend as clueless, affectless Tom Shayes ... until now, maybe? He’s furious that Patty left him out of the loop about the FBI investigation. And, in two months, Future Tom, now an ex-partner at Hewes & Associates, can’t even get past a security guard at reception without losing it. (He warned Patty, he screams about ... something.) Next, he delivers a pistol, wrapped in an oily towel, for Ellen to brandish against Patty. Boring to badass in two months!

What FBI investigation?
As Tom discovers through his sister, the assistant D.A. (funny coincidence!), no official records exist of an FBI investigation into Patty and her firm. This is news even to Ellen’s still-hapless FBI handlers; their cranky boss tells them it’s just a cover-up, just a safety precaution, but we’re not so sure.

Grief Sex
Despite the protestations of their group therapist, despite Wes’s feigned interest in dumb-as-bricks Katie Connor, Wes and Ellen finally get it on, ending months of fraught interplay, at a shooting gallery. This is the least surprising event ever. More unexpected, we guess: Ellen’s rugby-playerlike foreplay. It was almost like Buffy and Spike’s sadistic scenes back in the day. Wes, working for the bad guys, has fallen for Ellen — but now he’s been ordered to kill her, as she’s connected a private security firm and a cop with Frobisher and David’s killer.

Fake Presidents Have Appointee Problems, Too
The U.S. Energy Secretary had a heart attack at his wedding and died. Pell aims to install an ally for UNR into the newly vacated seat; they need a dirty capitalist who puts on a let’s-be-regulatory front. Their first candidate, Patty’s frenemy Sam Arsenault, praises Bill Richardson (look, topicality!), has a pedophiliac beard, and sings “Danny Boy” at Patty’s party (he was an a cappella singer at Brown). Since this clearly won’t work out, Pell’s next idea is Patty’s husband, Phil, who’s been begging his wife to drop the UNR case. We have a feeling Phil will be singing in a castrato’s high soprano should he accept this political appointment.

Patty: Power to the Smelters and Hookers
Her own version of low-key as she mourns Uncle Pete, Patty continues to revel, perhaps disingenuously, in her blue-collar roots, mocking the “to the manor born” types she’s fighting against, raising a glass of cognac to the son of a smelter (Pell, ironically), helping out a hooker in need (in exchange for intel, of course). Accusing the FBI of culpability in Uncle Pete’s murder, she gets all Dangerous Liasons meets The Godfather: “I don’t make threats ... This is war.” We’ll never suss out whether Patty really cares about social justice or simply likes finding new enemies to devour, and maybe that’s the point.

Photo: Courtesy of FX