Damages – Add That Little Hopper To Your Stew
In a show known for its shocking twists and turns the biggest surprise this week came from outside the plot, after seemingly slipping further and further down their own rabbit hole with each week’s effort the show looked set to soon hit bottom, but instead, out of nowhere comes this simple – in structure and content- but superb episode.
What really sold me on Add That Little Hopper was John Goodman’s land grab sup plot in which he attempted to purchase an old upstate farm lot for use as his new HighStar training center. This was classic Damages stuff, in fact it may very well have been a direct callback to Season One’s plot line in which Frobisher wanted to buy a block of land to build a Day Spa on, but more than in that literal way, it also managed to display the emotion that the shows second perspective is all about. It seems to me that this season has gotten a little lost in all the espionage and action when it is this inner turmoil that truly set the show apart in the first place.
Give us a villainous war profiteer to sneer at and yes you are giving us what we want, but you’re also giving us something that we already have; by making him human though, by getting us onto his side, if only for a minute, than you are challenging us. This is what Danson did all those years ago and finally it is what Goodman is starting to do now. IN this way the episode was as close to a Mise-En-Abyme as TV can likely get: we saw his good intentions shot down by public perceptions and then his devolutionary backlash to this, down the path of evil. It was constantly compelling television and really got me a lot more invested in the character for the coming episodes.
Our other two billing leads were given a considerable amount of character work this week, but to much lesser success. Patty’s paternity suit is certainly intriguing enough, no matter how unnecessary it seems at this stage, but then I could watch Glenn Close death stare her way through any material in this role. Ellen’s emotional stuff on the other hand has been a weak link this season; it didn’t break this week and so nothing was brought down because of it but I still fear that this may occur, consider it foreshadowed.
As for the actual case? It was not as exciting as any of this personal stuff, to be sure. There were a number of solid to strong moments – the Changing of the Guard was a tense highlight – but for the most part we seem to have stalled somehow. This new ten episode structure was supposed to bring with it a newfound fecundity and briskness of pace, and it did for four weeks at least but since then the show has thrown on the brakes somewhat, which is a shame.
So while the entree’s have been hit and miss this first foray into the seasons’ meaty main course has been an appetizing one; admittedly the dish is being carried by it’s sauce, sides and garnishes but who cares so long as it still tastes good. Bring on desert.