This week’s episode of Damages played a lot with leverage. Yes, it’s a legal show, so it’s unsurprising that such a concept would get tossed around, but I’m talking more about leverage that the characters lay upon each other. Power plays, double crosses, all routine Damages.
As Ellen builds up her up-and-coming firm, exposed brick and all, she meets a key player in such leverage: Kate Franklin, dazzlingly played by Janet McTeer. Kate bounces back and forth between Patty and Ellen, leaving us to wonder whose side she’s really on, who she wants to double cross, and who’s going to fall for it. Her loyalties do seem to end up with Ellen, but Kate inadvertently plays conduit to part of Patty’s ingenious scheme of the week. With Ellen’s growing paranoia regarding a judge who plays favorites, Patty simply acts as if she’s in the man’s good graces when Ms. Parsons is looking. This, in addition to letting Kate causally hear that Patty’s expecting a personal phone call from Judge Glasses, results in Ellen taking the steps to gain leverage over Judge to remove himself from the case. Unfortunately, Ellen did exactly what Patty wanted, casting away a judge that doesn’t like Patty, and allowing a new one who seems to like her just fine.
Ellen feels particularly stupid for doing so, which only means she’ll have to cook up some sort over-the-top Walter White-esque plan that only ends up working because it’s on narrative television. And we should be completely excited. The Road Runner / Wile E. Coyote relationship that’s emerging will be delightful to watch unfold — even if the Ryan Philippe case isn’t yet. That’s not to say that it’s a total lost cause, as we are only in our second hour yet, but the case still feels like it’s background material for the Patty and Ellen war. Those two may view it that way, but we as viewers should be engaged in the case and the Patty / Ellen feud.
We’ve seen a good deal of paranoia with Channing McClaren — who, by the way, is one of the show’s most Damages-y names yet. It’s a refreshing bout of humanity from the young guy. Between throwing laptops and F-bombs at his hip young computer staff, drunkenly smoking in bars, and wearing wigs to avoid recognition, McClaren wants his tracks to be covered now that he’s finally hit his first career speed bump. And rightfully so. This wig allows Ellen to recognize hotel security footage of McClaren off to meet Naomi, meaning they do in fact have a previous connection. A connection that Patty is desperate to figure out. I liked that McClaren was trying to learn more about Ellen’s personal life, claiming that he just wants to know his defender better. Ellen is quick to brush this off, as such a dynamic is not appropriate. And when a man he meets in a bar claims to have the full story to the suicide of Naomi, McClaren refuses to pay, as he’s used to gaining his information at no cost. Once again, McClaren’s age and ego highlights his lack of experience in his current mess.
In the future, we see Patty trying to call Ellen, who doesn’t pick up as she’s still seemingly dead. Not much else new content, aside from a figure staring down the building, trying to see if Ellen made it the ground or something. The big question, of course, is who arranged to have Ellen killed (if she’s of course dead)? Is it someone on the opposing side, which means Patty would have inadvertently gotten involved with Ellen’s apparent assassin? Is it someone in McClaren’s own circle, like Rutger Simon, who’s all too helpful with Ellen? Or is there something larger at bay, that has ties to the case in a totally different manner than anything we know thus far?
Alternate Damages Episode Title of the Week: “I Ate a Bad Burrito and I’m Gonna Go Drop a Bomb in the Can.”