In the throbbing-neck-vein universe of Damages, mundane social rituals assume epic dimensions of private pain and suffering. Last night brought on the fun.
During a girls’ day at the spa, with poor Ellen (seething despite the tranquil setting and Big Gulp goblets of Chardonnay), Patty states the obvious: Like an instinctive gardener, she’s a nurturer. Of rage! And how Patty’s garden does grow of late, with an unabated streak of public humiliations and disappointments related to the UNR case (it was all about a merger) and percolating suspicion of Ellen.
At a meeting in Ellen’s hotel-room-a-terre, the humorless, useless FBI guys refuse a thoughtful offer of beer from their hostess. God forbid you lighten up, Mario Van Peebles! Later, Ellen does their job for them by maintaining her cover by pretending to blow her cover to Patty.
It’s Tom’s tenth anniversary at the firm, so Ellen has to suffer through an out-of-office company party — even though Patty says it’s a “friendly” thing — at Patty’s fabulous, Richard Meier–inspired duplex palace. Plus, that’s the same apartment where Ellen was attacked by an anonymous, knife-wielding killer (later that same day, of course, she found her dead husband). Cheers! We hope that Champagne’s Veuve.
Later, Patty grills Ellen in her office about the fishy particulars of the dead-baby case. Then she thanks Ellen for coming to her party, Terminatrix grin affixed. “I hope you had fun!”
As he explains to a pajama-clad Patty (sooo cute!) one night, Michael wrote his college essay about his long-lost father, Daniel Purcell, now Patty’s sworn enemy. “You’re human,” he says. “Get over it.”
On one of those activity-centered dates that only happen on reality TV and lady-revenge movies, Ellen and Wes visit a shooting gallery. Ellen breaks the phallic-fun mood by mentioning how she was almost murdered that one time.
At a Fat Cats Friars Club roast of some kind, Kendrick dons customary drag and suffers through some seriously brutal material from his roaster: jokes about Claire Maddox’s vagina, West Virginia, his “fag” grandfather, etc. He beats up the emcee in the bathroom, and meets with a lieutenant of his own: Lester (Clarke Peters) from The Wire! Maybe it was a The Wire reunion, but this episode strikes us as particularly potty-mouthed, with startling flashes of violence. Not that we’re complaining.
And so, as the show settles into its darkly comic side, the duplicities continue to multiply and intertwine. The week’s headlines:
• Wes is in cahoots with the bearded, Frobisher-hired detective who (successfully) murdered Ellen’s fiancé. Five months hence, he rocks a leather motorcycle jacket, beds Ellen in her hotel room, and later commits some unidentified mischief.
• Shuffle-prone Daniel Purcell probably killed his wife in an apoplectic fit because she threatened to tattle on him and UNR to the EPA. He continues to aid in UNR’s corruption, he explains, to provide for his daughter, and because he was promised that the toxic mess down in West Virginia would be cleaned up. So complex: corrupt, greedy, paternal, and gullible all at once.
• Uncle Pete, a live-action a Scooby Doo villain, arranged for Ellen’s (failed) murder without Patty’s knowledge. Although Patty is a champion of salty Passaic County types, we find her blind trust of Uncle Pete implausible. But if Patty didn’t arrange for Ellen’s murder, is Ellen’s revenge quest just deluded grief? Is Uncle Pete the object of future Ellen’s sexy, murderous gaze? Gross.