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Damages Season Finale: A Highly Satisfactory Hearing of the Evidence

What's black, white, and graying blond on top?

Patty is healing nicely, looking very Grey Gardens with her headscarf and shades in the Hamptons. Ellen is talking to her fiancé’s grave about a new job offer and boyfriend, and forgiving Patty; the gravestone looks aghast. Patty knows that Ellen will be back. Off camera, we imagine flowers budding in Aracite-free West Virginia as Kendrick gets acquainted with his cellmates. How did we get here? For this thrillingly comprehensive, pungent, psychologically satisfying finale — we forgive you, falsely stagnant mid-season — we follow up on some of last week’s penultimate questions in the song-shuffle fashion favored in the Damages editing suite.

Will Daniel Purcell’s admission of guilt in his wife’s murder expose UNR and bring down Kendrick?
No, Purcell is totally useless. When Patty visits him in prison, he speaks only platitudes about peace, accepting responsibility, prioritizing life and family over work, and lies and betrayal. (UNR finished the job with Mrs. Purcell, but never mind.) Patty grimaces through most of this, but tenses up when he says that “Michael doesn’t have to be like us.” It’s a wonderful scene — Patty’s self-protective brittleness scraping against Danny’s mushy mélange of bullshit and insight. Their son isn’t a favorite topic, either. This twerp’s explanation for never sending out his college applications? “You need a man in your life, and you have no one left but me.” We cheer when Patty kicks him out by sending all his stuff to his Demi Moore–like lady friend, cooing, half drunk, to them both, “When I want a man in the house, I’ll go out and find myself a real one.” Damn straight!

In their divorce trial, will Patty make Phil cry?
Phil has been relegated to Patty’s men-are-poker-playing-dogs dream, smoking cigars and drinking with all of her other dudes invading her glassy living room: Kendrick, Michael, Fiske, Tom, Uncle Pete. “Everybody hates you,” dream-Ellen says from the kitchen, clutching a more feminine wine glass. Patty is such an abandoned orphan in those slouchy pj's.

Will Wes attempt to kill Ellen again? If he doesn’t, will Detective Rick do it himself?
Love conquers all. Wes meets Rick on a chilly playground and says that he’s “not gonna do it.” Rick, suddenly less menacing, more pathetic, introduces himself to Ellen as an honest cop looking to capture a dirty cop (his accomplice, in fact) for the crime. Before she can meet up with him again, Wes shoots Rick, with brains splattering on the windshield. Then he goes over to Ellen’s and they make love. Great rebound.

Will Ellen ever get Frobisher and avenge David’s murder?
Guess we’ll be seeing more of Frobisher, witnessed building a green, LEEDS-approved complex for something in season three, because this plot is the only major loose thread, and something for which Patty and Ellen can bond over. And Ted Danson is funny, and Curb Your Enthusiasm cameos just aren’t enough.

Did Patty order Ellen’s (failed) murder?
Yes! In the finally-explained-hotel-gun-whiskey-slow-jams scene, Ms. Hewes spills it at last. Patty admits that, way back in the Paleozoic era of season one, she was traumatized by Fiske’s suicide and worried that Ellen “knew too much,” about Frobisher-case details that we’ve long forgotten. Traumatized enough to let her paranoia and distrust overwhelm her. Freaked out enough to, yes, order Uncle Pete to kill Ellen. Earlier, Uncle Pete’s widow approached Ellen, with incriminating photos concerning his role in Ellen’s attack, and spouts that all of Pete’s wrongdoings were in service to Patty. Far be it for us to defend Patty Hewes and pile on a cute old lady with an oxygen cannula (she was Magda on Sex and the City!) but … we’re pretty sure Uncle Pete was stealing stuff off of trucks long before Patty joined the debate club. And Fiske’s suicide still haunts us, too; it didn’t force us into taking out hits on underlings, but still.

Did future-Ellen actually shoot Patty?
Nope. Ellen, tremendous markswoman that she now is, shoots a few inches over Patty’s shoulder to take out the FBI’s surveillance camera in order to have a super-private girl talk about, you know, stuff. (See above re: attempted murder.) The private meeting, which Ellen preps for like it’s a sex date (lowered blinds, baby-making music, whiskey) was ostensibly intended for the pair to finalize the bribery deal.

But what about those flashes of bloodied Patty in the elevator?
Naturally, Finn Garrety knifed her on the way up, because Kendrick beat up his hooker-lady and Patty reneged on her request for him to testify. (During that earlier exchange, Patty’s line of the night: “I’ve been having a really shitty month, and someone’s gotta pay.”) Patty, determined for things to go as planned, goddamnit, quietly held that gut wound, concealing it with her coat, while Ellen grills her. Which explains her especially pained, chokey sobs. Ellen, oblivious, emboldened to sultry confrontation by drink? Patty, tougher than a zombie army of Bloods and Crips? This was all consistent with the women we’ve come to know and love.

If Ellen bribes a judge based on Patty’s say-so in order to accept inadmissible evidence (from stolen SUV), will that finally entrap Patty?
Patty met with Pell (in a church) and found out about Ellen’s FBI informant status. In exchange for a mutually protective deal, she says she wants Ellen to be arrested making the bribe. Ellen, in turn, doesn’t want to entrap Patty after all, because she knows the FBI investigation is corrupt, doesn’t want Patty in jail, and wants Patty to confess privately. Patty doesn’t actually want Ellen to go to jail, either, because she recorded her conversation with Pell to entrap him, and enlisted the Assistant D.A. Tom Shayes’ sly sister, to arrest FBI Agent Werner, Pell, and Kendick. So, in truth, Ellen and Patty protected one another, despite their multiple betrayals of each other. We accept this let’s-torture-ourselves-in-hell-and-fight-for-justice mother-daughter thing, and believe it will work in season three.

Photo: Courtesy of FX