Damages – I’ve Done Way Too Much For This Girl
Given the shows structure it seems somewhat appropriate to begin the discussion of this sophomore ep with its ending. Damages is a very complex, very cerabral show and one that requires all of your attention at the best of times but I think that this may have been the first time in its history that I was actively confused. Was that entire final minute a part of the flash forward or are we actually up to that stage – In Afghanistan, with the votes changed and RC turned, etc. – in the present day? I honestly don’t understand what happened there, though it was a pretty powerful moment nevertheless and one that really worked well to cap of another solid episode.
Dylan Baker’s Boorman is the man who delivers that final line, ‘See how it all works out when we do things my way?’ and this is not only a nice piece of visual irony – flashing as it does then to the mysterious tortured man – but a great summary of the episode as a whole. Everyone here wants to get their own way, as they all sincerely believe that their way is the best for everyone, no matter how much harm they must cause to get it. This is no better shown than in the stunning waltz’s between Patty and Ellen, each unwilling to budge or bend in front of their, supposed, closest friend. The relationship between these two has always been the highlight of the show and this is probably one of their best episodes yet; not much is said on the surface but every look, twitch and silence speaks volumes.
They’re not the only great pair though, in fact this entire episode is based around a series of duets. The show has this magnificently massive ensemble cast that it can utilize but chooses instead to show us only two characters at any one time: Patty and the PI, Patty and the PhD, Goodman and Boorman, Chris and RC, Boorman and the Arab etc. This is a bold technique but one that works remarkably well here because of the shows high quality of writing and deliverance. Having only the two characters in a scene allows the show to really break them down and focus upon the many hidden conflicts between the two; the secrets that they are keeping from one another, the games that they are playing with each other and most importantly the differences between their ‘ways’. In this way they are less like duets then and rather more like duels.
While this character work is always the most important material of each episode it would be a whole lot less exciting without the catalysing context of the season long case and this years is turning out to be one of the best yet. Having High Star as the focus was a wonderful idea as it really raises the stakes in a believable way; Frobisher going to these lengths would seem silly but there is seemingly little exaggeration when it comes to what Military contractors would or would not do to protect themselves. So it gives the writers a lot of big and intense stuff to play around with but also allows them the same opportunity for flawed character writing as the smaller, family cases did – Goodman’s CEO is every bit as fascinatingly conflicted as say Martin Short was last year – and this binary juxtaposition is really paying dramatic dividends.
So it was all going remarkably well until the ending, where it jumped off all of a sudden and left me too far behind; but I’ll be back for the next episode where it will all make sense again.