Damages: Season 2 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
THE second season of Damages was as densely plotted and exciting as its award-winning predecessor, adding new characters, a new storyline and further moral complexity surrounding its central players.
As ever, Glenn Close shone brightest as reviled high-stakes litigator Patty Hewes (a character we love to hate), but she’s more closely matched this time around by a more assured Rose Bryne (as protege Ellen Parsons) and incoming supporting player such as William Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden and Timothy Olyphant.
Each episode required some following, but patience was rewarded with another exhilarating season finale in which all the strands effortlessly came together to answer most of the questions posed, while simultaneously setting up the traditional cliffhanger.
The story picks up in the aftermath of the events of season 1, as Ellen Parsons (Byrne) returns to Ellen’s law firm while still struggling to cope with her fiancé’s murder.
With the help of the FBI, however, she sets her sights on those she holds responsible, including Arthur Frobisher (the ever excellent Ted Danson) and Patty herself.
As Ellen helps the Feds to build a case around Patty, she’s also drawn into a separate legal case involving expert witness Daniel Purcell (Hurt), who has come to Patty for help in exposing a large energy company’s dumping of toxic waste.
What begins as an apparently straightforward business lawsuit soon turns into something much more sinister, however, as Purcell calls on Patty a second time to defend him when he’s suspected of murdering his wife.
As the case unravels, so too do the secrets of their longtime association, leaving a complex conspiracy where nothing is as it seems.
As the various players work every angle to shield their own misdeeds while undermining friends and foes alike, Ellen is drawn deeper into a series of traps in which loyalty and trust are sacrificed and Patty pulls all the strings as she seeks justice for her clients.
As complex as the above sounds, Damages consistently managed to avoid making each episode too impenetrable thanks to the quality of its writing and the strength of the performances.
You have to pay attention, but its refreshing to find a drama that’s willing to treat its audience as adults, and with a degree of intelligence.
And, of course, the rewards are plentiful. Watching actors of the calibre of Close, Hurt, Haden and Olyphant going up against each other is always a pleasure, but particularly so when they have such complex, meaty material to sink their teeth into.
The twists, meanwhile, are so well protected that even if you think you can see certain things coming, the writers will always manage to pull the rug out from under you at certain points.
Hence, an opening scene in which Ellen apparently shoots Patty is not what it seems… and far from it. While many of the key players are seldom to be trusted, even though their motivations aren’t always as clear or as vindictive as they may seem.
Without giving too much away, this is exemplary stuff and material that’s worthy of an approaching third season. Trust us, with television this good you’ll need the box set to relive what you missed, and spot the clues that abound.
Damages is unmissable viewing that deserves to take its place alongside the very best that American TV currently has to offer, whether that’s The Wire or True Blood. Don’t miss out!
UK DVD Release: August 31, 2009