Damages: The Complete Fourth Season - Review
Preview by Jack Foley
FOUR seasons in and legal thriller Damages shows so sign of losing its power to grip.
Employing the same fascinating combination of flash forwards and flashbacks that made the first three seasons so compelling, this latest offering also continued to explore the push-pull relationship between Glenn Close’s Patti and Rose Byrne’s Ellen.
And it posed another corket of a legal case, this time involving a private security firm involved in a wrongful death suit following the death of soldiers in Afghanistan on a reportedly illegal mission.
The main players this time included one of the surviving members of the fateful unit, Chris Sanchez (Chris Messina), whose past relationship with Ellen and continued guilt over the outcome of the mission, opens the door for the first successful legal challenge to be brought against the firm.
But standing in Ellen and Patti’s path are the formidable likes of John Goodman’s company CEO Howard T Erickson, whose political clout and connections to the CIA allow for plenty of background manoeuvering, and Dylan Baker’s Jerry Boorman, a shadowy mercenary agent capable of doing a lot of the dirty work needed to keep the firm functioning at every level.
As ever, the twists and turns flew thick and fast, with the case against the security firm struggling to gain any real traction throughout most of the first half of the series.
But while Rose continued to climb the legal ladder, Patti began to show signs of personal weakness. Her decision to take Ellen back and throw the resources of her firm behind her seemed a curious one, while her own estranged relationship with the son who tried to kill her at the end of season three had begun to take an emotional toll, particularly as she had been left in the care of his daughter.
As ever, Close delivered a masterclass in ambiguity. We continued to love to hate Patti and yet there was plenty to sympathise with as well.
Byrne’s Ellen, meanwhile, continued to display the ruthless efficiency that has seen her emerge as one of Patti’s biggest potential rivals. Is her decision to take her back as much founded in the idea of keeping an enemy close as it is out of respect?
Strong, too, were Goodman’s tough, patriotic Erickson, a conflicted soul who became increasinly desperate to keep his empire from crumbling, and Baker’s superbly sinister Boorman, whose covert ability to keep the firm one step ahead of Patti made for some compelling twists along the way.
As ever, the series began with one of those scenes that showed one of the main characters in a scene of distress – on this occasion Ellen discovering the bloody remains of a man, possibly Sanchez, in a warehouse.
But the discovery of that person’s identity, as well as their path to getting there, continued to grip and underlined the show’s ability to show how nothing is ever as it seems.
The conclusion, meanwhile, left a genuinely lasting impression, making the prospect of a fifth and final season an extremely welcome one indeed. This is a show that’s still very much at the top of its game.
Episodes/Running time: 10/480mins
UK DVD Release: July 16, 2012