As an episode, “I’m Afraid Of What I’ll Find” had the primary responsibility of moving the final pieces into place leading up to the two culminating installments. But it had a larger responsibility for me personally, which was to pull me back on board after the knife-twist ending of last week’s episode. As I wrote then in the comments, I absolutely want Patty to screw with Ellen’s head, but when it comes to the writers screwing with my head, I need that to be done with great care and discipline. To leave the question of whether or not Patty was truly involved with Ellen’s assault unanswered any longer would have certainly caused me to check out, or at the very least, invest much less on an episodic level than I would normally. But even with all the sleight of hand Damages dishes out, I can say with confidence that Patty’s reimagining of Ellen’s assault is no longer being presented as a credible account of the events, and thank God for that.
Now we can focus on the more interesting question, which is not whether or not Patty tried to have Ellen killed, but why she would recant her admission to Ellen. Is it simply a case of Patty being Patty? Employing psychological warfare for the hell of it? Is she trying to take the wind out of Ellen’s sails leading up to the McClaren trial? Ellen’s rage at being made to feel scared and vulnerable fuels her to eviscerate Patty, a fact that would be as obvious to Patty as it was to Ellen’s therapist. Judging from the Patty stuff we got in this episode, though, it seems like Patty’s behavior stems from an emotional place, not a tactical one. She’s wracked with guilt over having Pete arrange for Ellen’s murder; even for the woman who had a dog killed with near-glee, this move was over the line. In the flashback that opened the episode, Uncle Pete tended to Ellen’s would-be killer as he recovered from his knife wound. “It’s a lot tougher than killing a dog, right?” he says, a line he probably should have repeated to his boss at some point. But it isn’t enough to prevent Patty from agreeing to pursue a seat on the Supreme Court, and in fact, it’s the opposite. Patty has to keep succeeding, has to keep achieving new heights, because otherwise though she would still be emotionally gutted by the choices she’s made, she just wouldn’t have anything to show for it.
Ellen’s reaction to the conversation in Maine is, appropriately, one of skepticism. From a story perspective, the purpose of having Ellen’s ideas of what happened to her assailed gives her a new motivation to figure out what happened to her once and for all, rather than continuing to have horrific nightmares about it. To that end, she decides to try to find out more about her assailant in order to tie him to Patty, so she can decide whether it’s time to let go, or make Patty pay for her crimes. A visit to Stefania, Pete’s widow, proves fruitless as Stefania pretends to know nothing. But thankfully, the detectives originally assigned to the case (who seriously must not have that big a caseload, seeing as how they behave as if they are Ellen’s personal homicide detectives) could be persuaded to run the DNA from a corner of Hollis Nye’s bloody business card. Now, at least, Ellen has a name—Patrick Scully—but unfortunately, Scully is back in New York and has far more information about Ellen than she does about him.
There were lots of interesting developments in McClaren World, with McClaren still bristling after finding out that Helmut Torben is responsible for the information Fund 23 was using to make its illegal trades, and also his site’s biggest donor. After initially continuing to feign ignorance of Torben’s involvement, Rutger finally admitted bringing Torben into the fold, which seems to be the beginning of the end of their relationship. McClaren and Gitta want to pursue Torben immediately, while Rutger wants to protect him, and Ellen wants to do whatever will enable them to win against Patty. With this many warring agendas, it wasn’t a huge shock when Gitta tipped Patty off to Torben’s involvement, but that clearly means the particulars of Rutger’s relationship with Torben (and apparently with Herreshoff as well) won’t stay secret for much longer.
Perhaps that means Ellen will lose against Patty after all, but maybe that’s what needs to happen, since Ellen is still letting her integrity be destroyed in order to win this case. It wasn’t just her willingness to let Torben slide, lest their rocking the boat make an enemy of him at an inconvenient time. It was the conversation she had with Chris when he got back into the car with her after getting the upload codes from Rutger. When he expressed some hesitation about leaking the information he’d gotten about the military’s treatment of psychologically troubled soldiers, and mentioned not wanting the leak to hurt her case, Ellen didn’t say “Never mind about the case; this is about you and your life, seeing as how you’re committing a felony and all.” She was quick to point out that the good publicity from the leak would be a boon to her case at a time when she really needs it, essentially goading him into doing it for his own reasons while providing the benefit to her as the last bit of push he needed to go through with it. It was a small moment, but it was further heartbreak for anyone hoping Ellen will be able to pull out of her nosedive of her own volition.
As much as I enjoyed a lot of what went on in this episode, it was little too scatter-shot to really enjoy as an episode. But I was impressed with how much it managed to pack into such a short time (I didn’t even go into the return of Grandpa Lyle, for example) and how it pulled me back from the precipice of all-out indifference following last week’s magic trick.
- As many of you had speculated early on, Patty and Kate are half-sisters.
- It’s hard to watch this episode without wondering how it might have been different if Tom Aldredge was still alive. I’d imagine they would have wanted to put some new flashback footage in with some never-before-seen Uncle Pete antics.
- Did Stefania give Patrick the pastries Ellen brought for her? Really tacky, Stefania. You don’t take pastries from the victim of an assault and give them to the perpetrator. That’s basic etiquette.
- Patrick is the mysterious man peering over the ledge at Ellen in the alley… and he meets with Patty at the dog park! I wouldn’t have assumed from this alone that Patty was, in fact, responsible for Ellen’s attack without any of the other stuff we got in this episode, but it was interesting all the same.
- I can't officially change my grade on the episode, but now that I know the Patty-is-innocent thing isn't meant to stick, my hindsight grade for "The Storm's Moving In" is an A-.
- Potential alternate titles: “You Made Her What She Is,” “Hating Him Is Enough,” “That Armenian Girl With The Big Tuches.” It’s a shame the official episodes titles aren’t as whimsical as they used to be.