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Damages - Season Two Finale

Damages, Season 2

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE season finale of Season Two of the highly acclaimed American legal drama Damages was as riveting and convoluted as you would expect from a series that has constantly maintained exceptionally high standards.

In the hour-long episode entitled Trust Me, Ellen (Rose Byrne) agrees to bribe a judge in the UNR case, hoping that it will incriminate Patty (Glenn Close) and ultimately destroy her. Thus Ellen’s attempted murder in Season One – set up by Patty – would be avenged. Or would Ellen still want more?

Of course we’ve know from the season premiere, I Lied Too, that Ellen acquires a gun. We saw her questioning someone off camera and menacingly producing a weapon and, in a later episode, that person was revealed as Patty. Moreover shots were fired. And recently, we’ve seen a blood bespattered Patty collapsing in a lift and Ellen being arrested.

In normal circumstances, you’d put two and two together and come up with four but that’s just not the case when it’s Damages we’re talking about. However, to say more, would spoil it for those of you who haven’t already seen the episode. And that includes Jack who usually writes IndieLondon’s TV reviews. You see, Jack is away sunning himself on an island in the Pacific but he’ll be curious and will no doubt peruse yours truly’s efforts in an attempt to discover the truth. Sorry Jack!!

But I digress. Throughout the series, Glenn Close has been superb in her portrayal of Patty, a ruthless woman who will stop at nothing to get her own way, even when it comes to close family members. We should despise her and, of course, we do, thanks to Close’s steely performance. Yet at the same time, we can’t help but admire her for making it to the top in what is, in effect, a man’s world. We even pity her and for this full credit must again go to Close who cleverly reveals Patty’s vulnerability – never more so than in the aforementioned scene.

However, it’s Byne who is the real surprise of Season Two. In her hands, Ellen has become almost as ruthless as her nemesis. And if it wasn’t for one thing, I’d go so far as to say that in her, Patty has met her match. But Ellen’s ruthlessness is tempered with compassion and that for me is her saving grace. It certainly makes her a more interesting character and a more likeable one to boot.

Strangely, although Daniel Purcell (William Hurt) has been central to the storyline, we see him only fleetingly in Trust Me, which is a pity. However, one thing’s for sure, he won’t be back – whether it’s murder or attempted murder he’s eventually charged with. Or will he? Surely even Patty won’t be able to save him now. And while on the subject of fleeting apearances, Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) was afforded just enough screen time to convince us that he’s a reformed man. Okay – if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

There are also good supporting performances from Tate Donovan as Patty’s loyal partner Tom, Timothy Olyphant as Ellen’s new love interest and would-be assassin Wes, David Costabile as crooked cop Messer and John Doman as the unsavoury Walter Kendrick.

Full of surprises, intriguing characters (most of whom you wouldn’t really want to know) and acting of the highest calibre, Damages has rounded off Season Two with a satisfactory conclusion, yet left just enough loose ends to pave the way for a third series. And I for one can’t wait.