Damages – I’d Prefer My Old Office
Once again The Audience Network have given us an episode that looks like Damages, sounds like Damages and yet is very different to what we would expect from Damages. The flash forwarded story line has not progressed since the brief snippets in the pilot, but it doesn’t really need to because three episodes in and we are already ninety percent of the way there; from three months to three days away. At this rate it will hit next week, and then what? Where do we go from here? To be honest I have absolutely no idea what the rest of the season will bring, but in the best possible way. Some shows are so obtuse or sectioned-off that there is logistically no way for you to tell what is going to come, but the mystery here has been earnt through supremely well crafted storytelling and that makes it all the more enticing.
While it is flash-forward free this episode is not exactly linear; we are given a series of flash-backs in the secondary story that fill in the blanks of what happened to Patty’s son between the seasons and these are very well done, short and stylized as I like them to be. I’m not sure though that I really like the idea behind this plot; I was happy to see Michael gone and Patty moving on but given how well the rest of the arcs are progressing I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt. At the very least it is providing us with a lot of Tom Noonan and, for the first time in Damages history, some nudity too; so how can I complain? The only thing better would be som Tom Noonan nudity.
This sub-plot aside the story is pretty much all playing out in the present with the flashes acting as a garnish, giving a sprinkle of historical context or irony here and there but never dominating the drama like they have in the past. This season we care what is happening on our screens now, not how now may play into the future sequences, and this has added an energy and urgency to the show that I wasn’t aware was previously missing. Something I had missed in the first two episodes of this season though was the shows strong depiction of legal dealings and thankfully this episode provides all the court cases, witness statements and settlement offers you could want. It was very much a moving the pieces episode, but then those are what Damages does best.
Something else that saw a return this week was pet based storytelling. The show has a history of centering story-lines around animals; though i would say it does this more as a more than a crutch. The characters in this universe are often so cold and so calculating that they can never open themselves up to another human being and thus a dog or cat is really the only option available for that occasionally requited moment of emotional catharsis. If it works then I don’t mind them returning to the well and in this show everything usually works exactly as planned. At the moment I am starting to question the Kesslers’ plan for High Star though, only three episodes in and they are already beginning to play as a little too evil for my liking; it’s fine to have flawed characters, great even, but by the end of this episode everything was starting to look a little brown and white for my tastes.
Though I shouldn’t really have such doubt, the show has never succumbed to easy moral positions in the past, but then this isn’t the Damages we know and love and that means both for better and for worse. For now though we’ll just have to wait and see who is under the hood, who is in the attic and what that man plans to do at Hewes and associates; the best of those betters is that with this Damages we won’t be waiting long.