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Maximize Your "Damages": Intense FX Legal Drama Is Back
January 7, 2009  | By David Bianculli

Now that we know what tricks FX's Damages is capable of pulling -- time shifts, loyalty shifts, stunning plot relevations, character assassinations in both the figurative and literal sense -- is there any way for a second season to live up to the first?

Based on the first three episodes, absolutely, resoundingly yes.

Season one included murder, suicide and duplicity galore. Powerful people and scheming underlings were everywhere, like a modern Shakespearean drama peopled only by Othellos and Iagos.


Patty Hewes, the ice-blooded litigator played by Damages star Glenn Close, spent the first season targeting corrupt tycoon Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) in the legal sense. He, meanwhile, was having people targeted in a more literal sense, and so was Patty. In the end, her law-firm protege, Ellen (Rose Byrne), was found bloodied and in shock, her fiance killed and herself, in a separate incident, barely escaping being murdered too.

And as a shocking side note, Frobisher's attorney Ray Fiske, played by Zeljko Ivanek, confronted Patty in her office, pulled out a gun -- and shot himself in the mouth, dying instantly.

It's a complicated description, made more befuddling by the fact that the climax of the drama -- showing blood-covered, disoriented Ellen exiting a ritzy building and being picked up by police -- was the start of the first episode of Damages. From there, flashbacks, episode by episode, slowly worked their way up to the present, until the timelines merged and the drama was resolved.

For season two, there's another time shift. This one begins, again, with Ellen, but this time she's much more in control. As seen above, she's speaking directly and forcefully to the camera -- we don't know to whom -- and the mysteries instantly pile up. Who is she talking to, and why? What is she threatening, and does she mean it?

And then, as with season one, we're back from the future, following a plot line as it works its way forward.

This season begins with Patty wallowing in the fame and riches from her successful lawsuit against Frobisher, and deciding which case to take next. One she's not interested in taking involves a man from her past -- Daniel Purcell, played by William Hurt -- but their collaboration seems inevitable. Hurt, like Danson, shares a co-starring past with Close from long ago, and their scenes together are imbued with texture and context as well as power and fire.

Earlier this year, both Close and Ivanek won Emmys for their roles here. This season, other juicy new roles are played by Marcia Gay Harden as a rival attorney and Timothy Olyphant, from my beloved Deadwood, as a member of Ellen's therapy group. I've seen three episodes from the new season, and each one, at some point, made my jaw drop.

Don't miss it.


1 Comment


John NY said:

With all due respect,on the front page for this blog title you have Damages listed as a TNT series instead of it being on FX. TNT has great series but FX takes the glory for this one. (Whoops. I'm Sleepless, and not even in Seattle. Will fix immediately. Thanks! -- David B.)

Comment posted on January 7, 2009 12:18 PM
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