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

Damages: "It's Not My Birthday"

Illustration for article titled Damages: "It's Not My Birthday"

This episode of Damages reminded me of an interview with the show’s creators I read in the trades towards the end of season two. They were talking about how one of their biggest regrets in the show’s execution was relying too heavily on dream sequences. They said the dream sequence as a narrative device was trite and lazy, a direct violation of the “show, don’t tell” rule writers kill themselves trying to keep. In season three, they promised, dream sequences would be jettisoned. Then I looked up from the magazine to find a child version of myself standing before me, just staring, his hands covered in what looked like black tar. “You can’t let it happen again,” said Young Joshua. “Also, don’t forget those fragrant lavender-vanilla dryer sheets when next you go to the grocery store.” And then I woke up.

One of my trifling concerns with Damages is the use of the dream sequence, if only because I’d like Patty to get a decent night’s sleep every now and then. But they returned full-force here, with a pony and Uncle Pete and lots of blood. I don’t happen to have my guide to Jungian interpretation at arm’s length, and I also kind of don’t care that much, so if anyone wants to analyze Patty’s dream life in the comments, I’d welcome that. Now onto the real world business.

The Tobin clan continues to watch helpfully as their once carefree, tony lifestyle disintegrates before their eyes. They have to bury the family patriarch, while vultures shoot video and upload it to YouTube. It’s a good thing for sensitive Carol they weren’t close enough to get some audio, or else they’d have heard her cursing her father’s greedy investors, the real criminals, to let her tell it. It was a rant so oblivious even Marilyn and Joe couldn’t seem to take it. It was intriguing all the same though, and I’m glad the scene was written this way. It only makes sense that someone in the family would refuse to think less of Louis no matter what, and would contort themselves into any position necessary to keep their pristine view of their father. Turns out, that’s not all Carol was capable of, but more on that in a bit.

At Hewes, Shayes and Associates, Patty continued toying with Curtis Gates as though it’s a hobby rather than a job. I love how she devoured a muffin during their meeting; it’s as though she’s constantly on the hunt for new ways to make her adversaries uncomfortable, and even a baked good can find its way into her arsenal. But this is not Gates’s first rodeo. He’s still smarting from Patty’s withholding of information with regard to Danielle Marchetti, and he and Ellen stop her cold as she’s about to try to bogart the deposition. So Danielle gets a deal, cooperate and avoid jail. But Patty is offering a better deal: stonewall the DA’s office, and when I find Tobin’s fortune there’s some cash in it for you and your daughter, the daughter for whom Louis apparently left a trust, since he was her father.

Now I gotta say, all this Marchetti business has gotten a little convoluted for my taste. That isn’t to say it won’t all be ironed out in the coming weeks, but at this point I don’t know which way is up. Joe was dating Danielle. Louis was dating Danielle. Danielle got pregnant, allegedly by Louis, and not very recently either as the daughter, who we saw briefly, has long outgrown her Garanimals gear. Added to this the theory floated by a commenter that Danielle is also the mother of Joe’s son, I don’t quite have all this untangled. It’s increasingly sounding like you’d need a Spirograph to draw the Tobin family tree.

Joe, who has become quite the steamroller, went with Winstone to meet an associate of Stuart Zedeck, the man controlling the Tobin largesse. The envelope that Louis left behind for Patty was information about how to find the money, and naturally Joe couldn’t let that happen, so he tries to go to Zedeck himself. Turns out Zedeck is concerned about the Marchetti business (I’m concerned about it too, in that I think it’s really quite gross) and won’t disburse any of the money until it’s settled. Joe’s attempt to muscle Danielle into cooperating fails after Patty offers her deal, but Danielle’s victory was short-lived. Carol stopped by on a super-awkward social call, and to kill Danielle using the rest of the poison potion mixed up by Uncle Pete 2.0. Seems now the only path to the Tobin fortune is through Louis and Danielle’s love child and the mysterious Mr. Zedeck.

There wasn’t a whole lot of flash-forward info to shed light on Tom’s death, but we do now know that there was quite a struggle between him and the person who put those terrible wounds on him, that he had time to make a phone call to someone before he died, and that, unless their taste in gloves is just very similar, Zedeck’s assistant and the man who dragged Tom’s body to the dumpster are one and the same. This is getting deep.

Stray observations:

  • I missed Tom Noonan this week, but my grief was mitigated by the zesty subplot surrounding Alex Benjamin, Ellen’s possible replacement. The Patty interview scene was perfect, but I don’t think Alex has a future at Hewes and Shayes. She’s a yes woman; Patty likes her, but could never respect her.
  • Tom Shayes was practically licking his chops when the Tobins were looking over their soon-to-be-auctioned bric-a-brac. Can’t blame him.
  • Ellen now bakes cupcakes, but probably doesn’t eat them. Also, I sure hope she finds another stable relationship soon. Sex with random character actors starts to feel empty after a while. I’m curious as to what role Josh Reston is going to play in all this.
  • How old do we think Danielle’s daughter is? I guessed about 16.
  • Patty’s feigned shock upon “learning” of Louis’s suicide was classic. Perhaps she failed to mention that he called her that night. That Lou Tobin sure loved to talk on the phone. R.I.P.