Monday, July 18, 2011

What I’m Watching: Damages (Season Premiere)

Damages: Season 4, Episode 1 “There’s Only One Way to Try a Case” (B+)

There’s something about a year-plus gap and a network switch that increases my excitement about this show exponentially. I feel strongly that each successive season of this show has been considerably better than the previous one, and if this premiere is any indication, I have a feeling this is going to be the strongest season yet. I like the idea of a complete cast change-up each season, with only Glenn Close and Rose Byrne, whom I’ve grown considerably fonder of this summer, sticking around as excellent actors are added to the ensemble. John Goodman is superb as Howard T. Erickson, revealed via television footage rather than a direct conversation, clearly angry, vicious, and desperate, but smart and controlled enough not to be willing to harm his own men. Dylan Baker’s Jerry Boorman, on the other hand, seems more than ready to do what needs to be done, killing the therapist simply because Chris told him the truth. I’m thrilled to see Chris Messina playing a darker role than usual as Chris Sanchez, almost unrecognizable in the promotional photos, upset and disturbed by the illegal final mission which led to the death of his fellow men. Also popping up in the pilot are Julie White as Congresswoman Donna Chase, interrogating Howard on the stand and then trying out guns with him, and Tom Noonan, back in a new role as a private investigator hired by unavailable mother Patty to track down her absentee son. Not much has changed aside from the major case, with Patty still trying to replace Ellen and the two still working together on the side without being directly involved. The flash-forward at the beginning of the episode is only three months ahead, and I’d presume that it’s Chris under that hood. The final moments of the episode reveal a familiar sight: Ellen showing up devastated to a pool of blood. This season is definitely going to be good, and now that the show’s on DirecTV, there’s a possibility for the occasional swearing, and it makes sense that its first invocation would be Patty getting cursed out for doing something slimy.

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