Damages – But You Don’t Do That Anymore (Filthsposition)
And so ends Damages. I liked the show. I liked the femininity of the show. Like Deer, it does make me think of Breaking Bad to an extent, Ellen/Patty remind me of Jesse/Walt in some ways. But the female angle makes the show stand apart from other crime sagas. I dug that. I loved the acting in the show, each season was full of actors that made the most of their roles. This show was a class-act.
The show was also, for me, one of the best on Television in its first three seasons on FX. I thought the consistency there was outstanding. Some people call Season 2 a weak link- not me. I thought that Season 2 was messy and unfocused, but that it made up for that in other ways. I absolutely f*cking love Seasons 1, 2 and 3 in equal measure, but all for different reasons. However, when the show moved to the Audience Network for Seasons 4 and 5, it lost something. It became “Damages-Lite”.
I still enjoyed it enough to keep watching, and I will still miss having the show around even in that neutered form. But it was sad to see the show dramatically decrease in quality. The visual invention decreased (dream sequences became the only points of visual invention, whereas the earlier seasons had surreal scenes that weren’t dreams). And there was a feeling of lessened passion in the writing, like the writers were trying to make 5 hours of story fit into 10 episodes in both of the final two seasons.
So a great show became merely a decent show. But as an overall five-season saga, I loved Damages. Even though I feel that it should’ve ended while still at its peak, some part of me will be sad not to have a sixth season to watch next year.
Here are my episode-specific, spoiler-filled dot points about the finale:
* Rest in Peace, Rutger Simon. At the start of the season, I found the character bland and uninteresting. Which was a shame since I’ve always loved actor John Hannah due to his charismatic performances in The Mummy and in Spartacus. However, in the second half of the season he started to shine. Both his character and performance became very memorable for me. So the scene of his death was particularly disturbing to watch. I guess it was karma biting him on the ass for sort-of suggesting the murder of Naomi Walling in the first place, but I still wanted to see Rutger get away. Instead the sad sad man suffered a particularly sad fate. A card that Damages has played before, but it’s always effectively tragic.
* Speaking of Naomi Walling, I don’t get why the show played her death scene again. We didn’t learn anything new from seeing it again, did we? This was part of a trend this season, as I think Deer suggested.
* It’s a shame that there was no comeuppance for Torben and Hirschoff, two of the most villainous characters of the season. No comeuppance for Patrick Scully either. I wanted to see all of those f*ckers pay for their crimes. The show was probably making the point that some villains escape without punishment. Which is an effectively potent idea and I guess it’s also realistic, but it wasn’t completely satisfying on a narrative level.
* In the end though, the show seemed to suggest that those tertiary characters really meant nothing. That this season wasn’t about the bigger picture, that it was just about the conflict between Patty and Ellen. Which makes everything else seem like a bit of a waste of time in retrospect, even though I can see why the writers needed it all to fuel that Patty/Ellen conflict. I guess that I just think the two sides of the season (“big picture” and “small picture”) could have been balanced in a far superior way throughout the whole season. I can’t even remember what the final scene with Channing McLaren was, which is a shame since he was supposedly such an important character this season.
* Ellen’s descent into corruption in this episode was interesting, though I think they could have played that out better over the whole season too (and indeed over the whole series). Instead to me it seem like most of her transformation occurred over this one episode. But that point is probably very debatable. It was an inevitable transformation and an interesting one, just one that I think could probably have been handled better.
* I thought the scene between Patrick Scully and Michael was remarkably tense, because it was obvious what was coming. I was on the edge of my seat in a way that I hadn’t been with this show for a long time. However, the scene doesn’t make complete sense to me. Why wouldn’t Scully just testify anyway, even if Ellen was dead? Wouldn’t it be easier than having to cover up yet another murder? Which he didn’t even have time to cover up at all. So even if Ellen had died, wouldn’t the cops and Ellen’s Private Detective already know enough to incriminate Scully in Michael’s murder? This is probably more a case of me being dumb than of the show dropping the ball. But from my perspective, that scene really delivered on tension but not on logic.
* Also, while I can see the appeal in directly showing us Michael’s death to really f*ck us up, I wondered if less might have been more in this case. If they had stopped at just showing Ellen screaming at something off-screen, without proceeding to show us the murder and the corpse. That might have had an even more unsettling effect for me.
* The final jump to “A few years from now” was unsatisfying for me. I liked that Ellen quit the game in order to keep some degree of her morality. And the final shot of Patty’s haunted face was very effective. But I guess I was just hoping for a more conclusive fate for both characters. That they would both wind up dead for their crimes. Or that they would be forced to share a prison cell together for the rest of their lives. That would’ve perhaps been contrived but oh-so-much-fun as an ending. I chose to ignore the subtle implication that Chris and Ellen were back together in the future. I think her comeuppance should’ve included losing him forever at the bare minimum, and preferably a whole lot more than that.
* Shame that there wasn’t a final scene with Judd Hirsch too. He really wasn’t an important character, but I loved him anyway.
Overall the finale was good. It didn’t reach the heights of being amazing like I had hoped for, but at the same time it was a whole lot better than I had feared it would be. I can live with that.
Good show overall, despite the flaws. It was time for it to end, in fact it was probably well past time. But nevertheless, I will feel its absence and I will miss it.