I've mentioned Howard Erickson and Arthur Frobisher quite a bit in my recaps of this season, because in many ways, they're the same character. I was reminded of this in last week's episode, particularly compared to season one's "I'm Worried About My Dog," where Frobisher was already buying land and mentally sketching out blueprints for his next company before the case against him was even settled. Here, we find Erickson desperate to get his new training facility off the ground, even as Chris Sanchez is still being held captive and Ellen and Patty's case against High Star refuses to die. In the world of Damages, entrepreneurship is a compulsion. Men like these have to always be building something, creating something, affecting change, planning the next big score. Their self-worth is only as large and thriving as their businesses are, so when something threatens the company, it isn't just about money. It's about shielding their overinflated egos. The added layer to Erickson is his raging jingoism and his refusal to entertain the idea that the war in Afghanistan could have caused more harm than it prevented.
I've given kudos to John Goodman many times over the course of this season, but I don't feel like it's overstating things to say that he's just fantastic. Erickson's scene with Sanchez might be my favorite of the season. (I loved his scenes against O'Malley too, so basically any scene where Erickson slowly but surely loses his shit is quite alright with me.) What's important to Erickson is protecting his men, completing the missions, and helping to keep the country safe. Sure, there's plenty of scrambling to get lucrative contracts secured, but the money seems secondary, if that. And on some level, I'm sure he'd love to believe that the men who work for him share his beliefs and his passion. So when Sanchez says that the only reason he and his fallen comrades worked for High Star was for the money, Erickson bristles. A few exchanges later, the man he was trying to bargain with and ply with peanuts and beer is on the ground with Erickson kicking him in the ribs. It was terrific and yet another reason why I'm praying the move to The Audience Network won't work against the show's favor come Emmy time. Goodman certainly deserves it.
The rest of "I'm Worried About My Dog" wasn't quite on that level, but it was a pretty good episode. For some reason, though, I'm still not convinced that we're hurtling toward a satisfying conclusion. I've always been slow to warm to the alternate timeline story because even if the guy we saw being killed in the season premiere is, in fact, Chris Sanchez (even though it almost certainly isn't), that wouldn't be much of a shocking conclusion. If it's anyone other than Sanchez, then chances are we've gotten to know that person even less than we've gotten to know Sanchez. If you're going to make a mysterious death part of the central mystery, it has to be someone we've spent time with. Some commenters last week suggested it could be the reporter Ellen dispatched to find Chris, but I certainly hope that's not the case. (I suppose another possibility is Bill Herndon, and that might pack somewhat of a wallop.)
Though I'm not sure exactly how this would work, I guess the dead guy could also be Boorman. Ellen's emotional response doesn't necessarily have to reflect sadness so much as being freaked out over finding a dead body, and given that Boorman is about to turn against Erickson, Erickson would certainly have the motive. Speaking of Boorman, I complained last week about his having been inadequately sketched out as a character, and "I'm Worried About My Dog" corrected that for me. Between his uncomfortable flashbacks to that dreaded final mission, his pleas to the mystery captive, and his discussion with his French lady friend about children, I saw a humanity and a vulnerability from Boorman that I hadn't seen before. Of course, Boorman's gotta be himself, so elsewhere he was ordering a hit on Bill Herndon's CIA contact who was close to smoking him out.
That plot was kind of time waster. The CIA contact was alive in one scene and dead in the next without having accomplished anything. So Patty gets the drop on Boorman by folding a dossier on him from the French secret service into the settlement on the pharmaceutical case we've seen chunks of all season. The whole thing was kind of odd and expedient. I knew there was a reason we kept coming back to that case, but my assumption was that it would fit into the theme of Patty's inner-conflict about her faux-parental relationship with Ellen. It was clear the drug trials case was a major one, and I anticipated that Ellen's case against High Star would begin to encroach on Patty's, but I thought it would be a situation that led Patty to question just how much she's willing to sacrifice to help Ellen. It wasn't a sacrifice at all, though, since the Boorman dossier was the cherry on top of a billion-dollar settlement. So much for that tension.
As some of you guessed last week and as the episode sort of telegraphed from the beginning, the little Afghani boy from the alternate timeline is Boorman's captive and is presumably hard to crack. Apparently enhanced interrogation of an adorable kid is beyond even Boorman's limits. But we now know for sure that whatever we've seen in the alternate timeline is taking place here, not in Afghanistan.
- Patty’s really getting the hang of therapy.
- I usually hate the dream sequences, but Erickson’s wasn’t so bad.
- Michael and Patty’s war over Katherine continued, this time with a tiny stuffed panda as the weapon of choice.
- “The law is not the fucking truth!”
- Loved the scene between Patty and Boorman. “Ms. Hewes, you’re wrestling with the wrong gator.”