Friday, September 14, 2012

What I’m Watching: Damages (Series Finale)

Damages: Season 5, Episode 10 “But You Don’t Do That Anymore”

There’s a point at which red herrings become overwhelming. After seeing carefully-composed shots of Ellen lying motionless in an alley, Patrick looking out over her, and Patty being brought into an interrogation room all season, it was quite a letdown to see Ellen simply collapse as a result of fatigue (and pregnancy), very much alive. More unfortunate is the fact that the trial ended in such a disappointing resignation, caused by Rutger’s departure. The obsession the show has with Patty constantly one-upping Ellen went too far, as she dramatically revealed that she never cared about winning, rather pushing Ellen to the point of having a man killed just to win a case. Something tells me Ellen wouldn’t want to win that way either. The most puzzling development of the finale was Patrick’s decision to kill Michael. The fact that Ellen was the only person who could tie him to her attack was incorrect, mainly because of the blood match the police had, but also was much less damaging than the new murder he committed which at the very least Waleed could pin on him. It also felt manipulative that Patty had just come around to liking her son again. It was decently informative to learn that Rutger was the one who had Naomi killed, but there wasn’t nearly enough Channing-related resolution. Even Chris’ intense fury at Ellen seems to have been pacified by her pregnancy. This season was intriguing throughout but just didn’t lead to anything satisfying, which is a shame. I think this series was always more interesting in terms of its guest characters – Rutger, Naomi, and Herreshoff, in this season – than its regulars. That’s why, unlike most people, I believe that seasons three and four were by far the strongest. This show will be remembered for Glenn Close’s performance, but I think it should instead be noted as a strong legal drama with terrific casting and a penchant for getting ahead of itself in terms of its flash-forwards and character clashes.

Series finale: C+
Season grade: B
Season MVP: John Hannah as Rutger
Series grade: B-
Series MVPs: Martin Short, Chris Messina, Dylan Baker, Marcia Gay Harden, John Goodman, Timothy Olyphant, Campbell Scott
Best Season: Season 4
Best Episode: “The War Will Go On Forever

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