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

Damages: "Drive It Through Hardcore"

Illustration for article titled Damages: "Drive It Through Hardcore"

I typically try to refrain from engaging in speculation based on previews for upcoming episodes, but there’s one non-spoilery detail I couldn’t help but notice from the preview that followed tonight’s episode. This is historically the point at which the teasers would be informing us how many episodes are left until the shocking conclusion. Perhaps that’s because the muckety-mucks at FX are still trying to decide the show’s fate, although given that it’s a full-on ratings coup when Damages cracks a million viewers any given week, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the show returns. But let’s say the end of the show is not necessarily imminent. Is that affecting the arcs we’re seeing now? That’s the only explanation I can muster for an episode like “Drive It Through Hardcore” this late in the game.

When this season began, it felt like we were hurtling towards a conclusion, and it was expected that the pace would slow towards the middle, but by episode nine, with so much of the central mysteries still unclear, I thought we’d be ramping back up. Yet here we are, still miring in Patty and Ellen’s respective domestic conflicts, with the former finally getting the truth from her estranged brat of a son, and the latter conflicted about how (or whether) to intervene in her sister’s drug bust. Here we are talking blueprints with Patty and Julian Decker, who is obsessed with knocking some holes in Patty’s walls. (And if their previous conversation on this subject was indeed an extended sexual metaphor, the fact that Patty knocked her own hole in the wall is pretty freakin’ funny.) And yes, here we are working out the details of Arthur Frobisher: The Movie! I gotta say, folks, at this point I can’t call it.

What’s frustrating about this episode is that we’re still getting pieces of a puzzle that mean damn near nothing without context. Granted, this is what the show is all about, but we know that it’s pointless to try to take too much meaning from any one frame of this pointillist image, so whereas earlier in the season those individual details are titillating, by the end it’s gotten exhausting. So now we know that Tom fell into the water from a bridge. But what does that mean? Could he have jumped? Sure, but there’s no reason whatsoever to make that assumption, certainly not just because he made that farewell phone call just before his demise.

Despite the many aspects of this episode I wasn’t terribly interested in, I was somewhat engaged in Carol’s descent into madness. When she emerged from Danielle’s apartment some episodes back, having just poisoned her, I thought she was quite the villainess when I was under the impression she had acted alone. Now I just feel sorry for her. Her guilt appears to be the key to breaking the Tobins, because now that Carol is in league with Patty, there’s no choice but for all of the Tobins to start looking out for themselves.

Stray observations:

  • Patty’s dream horse returned tonight. Ominous.
  • What’s Alex Benjamin working on these days?
  • Michael waiting in Patty’s apartment for her to arrive was so hilariously dramatic. Oh, Michael, you are your mother’s son.
  • I did enjoy Frobisher’s story this episode, in as much as its rumination on heroes and villains mirrors the ambiguity the show has strived from the beginning. Also, a good Patty tongue-lashing is always welcome.