Damages: Bite-size Guide to a Great Episode


Hey! Mr. Pibb!
Season 2 Episode 4

Mr. Pibbs, Darrell Hammond, West Virginian characters edited out of Deliverance, Jungian dream theory, country-music seminars, corn-rowed prison assassins, and jittery Asian masseuses keep proceedings lively, even pleasantly wacky, this episode. And though the air reeks of burning animal corpses (thanks, toxic-water cover-up!), we also detect, to our delight, smoke coming out of Patty’s ears. In a night that (finally) establishes the pungent viscera in store and brilliantly turns audience incredulity on its head, there are numerous highlights.

A Bizarre Dream
It figures that creepy Daniel has a dream that will haunt ours: giggling, going all “out damn spot” on a soapy dish as his wife swings on a tire outside by the lake, entreating him to come play, as a hooded bogeyman (her murderer, we think) inches close. Cheesy, but we love Shakespearean overtones.

A Jerk’s Revelation
Without the involvement of complex financial instruments or bailouts, this season’s corporate controversy (a secretly malevolent chemical called Aracin) is rather quaint. But Kendrick, UNR’s corrupt CEO, is a lovable stand-in for Thain et al as he relays the history of golf on the greens: “Some hunchback prick with a stick hit a rock, and now it’s a $40 billion business!” Kendrick is played by John Doman — Rawls from The Wire. (Jerk.)

A Musical Metaphor
Tom, in a GPS-challenged car out in the sticks with Ellen, parses the difference between bluegrass and old-time country music: In old-time country, the background instruments accompany the melody; in bluegrass, each instrument has a turn playing the melody. Then, an analogy about Damages’s loudening symphony suggests itself: Who’s playing whom, and whose melody? (Patty played Danny; Danny played Patty; UNR played Danny.) But then we got confused about whether that was bluegrass or old-time country. Still, metaphor alert!

A Betrayal
Eager for closure with her son’s father, Daniel, and the megabillion-dollar UNR case to which he is attached, Patty had morphed, to our disappointment, into a bland mensch with a few bitchy, passive-aggressive tics. Thanks to the shockingly stupid junkie-ring-hocker seen at the scene of Christine’s murder, she helps Daniel get acquitted — only to be left out to dry. Daniel dumped a water sample procured by Ellen and Tom; in court, Daniel goes back on his word, denying any wrongdoing by UNR on the stand. He also colluded in his wife’s murder, after all. Daniel’s motivations for betraying Patty include unlimited wire transfers, and, perhaps, Patty’s reluctance to share their son with him years earlier. As for Christine’s murder, the man’s got rage issues, and a rather possessive view of fatherhood.

Well played, Daniel and UNR thugs, but beware: Nobody makes Patty a patsy and gets away with it.

A Happy Ending

SNL’s Darrell Hammond, as a pie-faced lackey-accomplice, nearly broke the mood entirely. In a splendid interlude with a superior in a massage parlor, gawking at the masseuse, asking his boss for some clarity: “I respond to instructions.”

Damages: Bite-size Guide to a Great Episode