Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Damages: "All That Crap About Your Family"

Illustration for article titled Damages: "All That Crap About Your Family"

Hey folks, let me start out by apologizing for the huge delay. I was on a date and came home to find that my cable went out and so my DVR didn’t pick up the episode. Most of this explanation is an excuse to mention that I was on a date, if only as proof that misanthropic, sun-starved television junkies get dates too! First dates, anyway.

It took me a while to find this episode, but boy am I ever glad I did. For if I hadn’t, I would have missed some of the weirdest scenes in Damages history. Patty calling Ellen a ruthless climber? Bizarro World Ray Fiske? Tom bucks up on Patty yet again? Where to begin?

I suppose I’ll begin by saying that my idea of how the structure of this season would play out couldn’t have been more wrong. Given all the questions from the season premiere that needed to be addressed, and all the others that have come since, I thought we’d have been done with flashbacking two episodes by now. Lest we forget that in season one, the timelines collided in the eleventh episode. I don’t think there will be any loose threads left by the season finale, but there’s quite a bit to wrap up, no? I assumed this episode would be flashback-heavy, and it was, but the flashbacks had nothing to do with Tom’s death or Patty’s accident, and didn’t tell us any information we didn’t already know. Tessa had in fact spent Thanksgiving with her mother, and was instructed to start signing off on the cash transfers in Antigua. That was already well-established, and the flashbacks didn’t illuminate any new details.

We did find out that, as a commenter guessed last week, Zedeck’s decision to keep Marilyn off the Africa trip was a strategic decision. The money coming out of Antigua is being laundered through said charity. We also found out, as another commenter deduced many weeks back, that Tessa was Joe’s daughter, not Louis’s. What I’m not so sure of is if that definitely means that Louis and Danielle did not have an affair. There was a lot of attitude between Marilyn and Danielle when the latter brought Louis’s medication over. Granted, that could be residual from Danielle’s relationship with Joe, but it seems like two decades would have been enough time to get over it, unless there was a relationship between Louis and Danielle. That would be weird and gross, but it would at least explain why Marilyn and Tessa just started spending time together. Why, if there was no affair, would Louis be involved in his granddaughter’s life and Marilyn wouldn’t? Was Marilyn under the impression that Tessa was actually Louis’s love child until just before he died? In any event, Marilyn’s choices were absolutely chilling, but more on that in a bit.

Ellen visited Dream Mom only to find out that the dysfunctional Parsons are her real family, and while Dream Mom was on the verge of adopting Ellen, her bio-mom had a change of heart. Ellen’s other mother, Patty, chewed her a new asshole. When Patty was telling Ellen how ruthless she was, could she hear the words coming out of her mouth? I half-expected her to end with “I’ve never been prouder!” Instead, Patty says she wants Ellen out of her life. I really felt for Ellen in this season. It wasn’t something she needed to hear, and certainly not the time to hear it. But there was yet another angle from which Ellen was hit, this time from Curtis Gates who benevolently suspended her rather than firing her on the spot.

There was Frobisher stuff but…gosh, the less said about that the better. At least until the finale, when I can determine whether or not the Frobisher scenes were building up to anything. For now, we’re running in place. That said, I’ve probably never laughed harder watching Damages than I did during the deposition table read. Bizarro World Ray Fiske was a hoot, and I’m sure Zeljko Ivanek probably agrees.


Back to Tessa, whose thread yielded some of the most spectacular moments of the season. Gates threw her in jail for harboring an illegal alien—her Antiguan boyfriend—in order to get leverage on Patty. Patty, in turn, used the situation to get Tessa to admit everything and officially come on board. Tessa agrees to head to Antigua one more time to find the routing code for the charity in question, and Malcolm accompanies her there. Meanwhile, Winstone tells Marilyn she needs to tell Joe that he’s Tessa’s father. Marilyn says she did…but she’s lying. A hitman is dispatched to kill her before she can retrieve the document, and Brother Mouzone calls Joe to tell him the deed is done. Marilyn, who started out somewhat relatable but is now even more ruthless than her husband or either of her children, stroked his hair and talked him through having corrected his father’s mistake. The way Lily Tomlin literally gagged on her words put knots in my stomach. Well played.

Stray observations:

  • Yes, David showed up. But…I just don’t like the “talking to dead people” device. I don’t have much to say about it.
  • That was a pretty intense hole in Tessa’s face, no? Cable television, boy I tell ya.
  • I hope Joe will find out that he ordered a hit on his daughter, rather than his half-sister. That scene between Joe and Marilyn will be amazing.
  • Still no word on a season four pick-up. The picture is grim.
  • Another funny moment was Patty’s “Who farted?” face when Curtis said “See what can happen when we decide to work together?”
  • I wondered what would lead to Alex Benjamin’s inevitable dismissal, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so abrupt and unceremonious.