Damages: Think of the Fake Dead Babies!


Burn It, Shred It, I Don’t Care
Season 2 Episode 2
Life is good.

Cleavage-bearing rivals, thwarted treachery, sonograms, late-night bonfires, and stalker-shrines have the Cogs of Exposition jamming so loudly we can barely hear Patty’s zingers. As Vengeance rests up for future battles, the trickster arm of Justice (the poetic and dramaturgical kinds) prevail, and from this unexpected meta-ness we emerge with questions both philosophical and pragmatic.

• Why did Patty ever suffer a shlub like Daniel? Seeing her lovingly fetch him orange juice at the scene of his wife’s murder (he’s diabetic, just like Shelby in Steel Magnolias!), we can picture it: the ambitious, volatile ice princess, and the brilliant nerd who evokes her pity and maternal instincts. Still, Daniel’s melting effect clearly embarrasses her; is Daniel the unknowing father of Patty’s son Michael, who is also a source of shame? A dork and a love child: humbling Justice.

• Will this phony class-action infant-mortality suit designed by the FBI to entrap Patty ever get off the ground? Think of the fake dead babies! Tom (Tate Donovan) almost compromised his integrity (and $60,000 of petty cash) for the pleas of a fake plaintiff; when Patty yanks him off before he can fulfill his career-killing payoff, the FBI returns to square one. There’s a weird cyclical Justicehere, too: the FBI’s plan is as dirty as it is hare-brained, and deserves squashing. And poor Tom, too bland to be corrupt, continues to be a cipher, albeit a cute one.

• How uncomfortable are birthday parties at Hewes & Associates? Tom’s wife is pregnant again, and Patty tells Ellen via an ominous envelope containing a sonogram. Ellen’s cover hasn’t been blown, but she must hug Tom and express excitement. Relatable office awkwardness: Justice.

• An energy company probably killed Daniel’s wife (Vengeance!) because Daniel wouldn’t prettify a toxicity test for a new chemical compound — intended for what? The spray starch that renders Patty’s shirts so crisp? The moisturizer that gives Ellen her dewiness? Like Patty — in it for the glory and billion-dollar payoff — we only care about the corporate malfeasance in an abstract way.

• Exactly what kind of crazy is Wes (Timothy Olyphant), Ellen’s group-therapy crony? He has a locker filled with Frobisher clippings and firearms. In the color-saturated flash-forwards, he is, unsurprisingly, Ellen’s snoopy lover. Is he Patty’s spy, another Frobisher enemy, or just a quick-study stalker?

• If sassy, bosomy Claire Maddox (Marcia Gay Harden) is chief counsel for that corrupt company, why did she get into a car on a rainy night with Daniel, the company’s target? Why must driving on rainy nights always signify affairs and conspiracies? Just as important, when can we expect a cage match between Dionysian Claire and Apollonian Patty?

• Not to sound sexist or anything, but this impending catfight is distracting us from Ellen. Her twin quests against Frobisher and Patty have already veered into wan, snippy ambivalence over what her dead fiancé would have wanted. That’ll change within six months, though, when Ellen shoots some unidentified liar off-screen. The look in future-Ellen’s kohl-rimmed eyes? Vengeance.

Damages: Think of the Fake Dead Babies!