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

Damages: "Tell Me I'm Not Racist"

Illustration for article titled Damages: "Tell Me I'm Not Racist"

At the risk of being overdramatic, I’m going to go ahead and declare this episode of Damages a return to form – at least a return to season three form – if only due to the complete absence of Frobisher’s maybe non-sequitur, maybe jaw-slacking-twist-in-the-making subplot. There were no flashback scenes, and no massive download of information, but there was, at least, a focus on current, relevant plot lines, and thank God for that.

That’s not to say the narrative is focused overall. This episode, like the last few, is kinda like So Patty and Tom are getting closer to finding Tobin’s money by working with Tessa and – Oh look, a dog! Aren’t you cute? Who’s a good boy? You are! You are! – anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Ellen’s sister. I get that the show has to have ancillary plots, but it seems so late in the game to still be dealing with the fallout from Carrie’s meth woes. There was some purpose to Carrie’s presence, though, since she confirmed Ellen’s suspicion that her Dream Mom is significant enough to warrant a visit. (Another similarity between Patty and Ellen: they both have fascinating subconscious lives.) While I think it’s as odd a time at which to introduce this story as it was to introduce Frobisher: The Movie!, I’m at least curious to see where Ellen’s journey goes.

And it sort of related to the rest of the episode, in that desperation seemed to link all the characters. Marilyn is desperate to see her “children” but is denied, lest she besmirch the charity’s good name. Ellen has always wanted to put distance between herself and her bridge-and-tunnel family, and now that it seems she might have a lead on her real life, she’s so desperate to follow it she drives out of town in the midst of a looming professional crisis. A crisis caused by Tom, who is so desperate to get his family’s money back that he corners Tessa and tries to get her to cooperate with him simply by yelling. Speaking of cornering Tessa, there’s Joe accosting his half-sister in the most awkward family introduction of all time, and handing her an envelope of cash as a thank you for helping the Tobins with the cover-up.

Tom is the wildest of the wild cards though, with the pressure of his financial hardships continuing to mount. But at this point, doesn’t it seem like it would be much simpler for Tom to just tell Patty he lost his life savings to the Tobins? Patty, let’s recall, is the woman who will stop at nothing to get justice for her clients. She doesn’t strive to keep emotion out of her work, and in fact, she prides herself on her ability to ride a crest of rage all the way to victory. It seems that Patty would be all too thrilled, or at least understanding, of Tom’s personal involvement in the case and his passion for seeing justice done. I’d think that if Patty knew how screwed Tom was because of the Tobins, she would be even more invested in finding the money, and more apt to listen to Tom’s suggestions.

But Tom instead of admitting his personal stake to Patty, he goes rogue, questioning Tessa without even a scintilla of evidence that implicates the Tobins in Danielle’s death. Dude, she’s obviously going to believe her generous half-brother over you. The hail mary, while foolish, finally brought the escalating tension between Ellen and Gates to a head. When Ellen gets back from making marinara with Dream Mom, she’s going to have a lot of ‘splainin to do.

Stray observations:

  • We got an episode countdown tonight: “Only two episodes left before the season finale.” Not that that necessarily equals a renewal, but there you go.
  • More Winstone hooker action! Ewww!
  • There must be some significance to the fact that Ellen’s Dream Mom was cooking in Patty’s kitchen, yes?
  • “I got a mailman, name of Chung. Now either I’m a racist, or he’s been stealing those checks you’ve been sending.”
  • I didn’t love the intimation that Nick ratted out Ellen because she wouldn’t go out with him. Why couldn’t he just be a company man?
  • “Ellen, my husband is gone, and my unemployed teenage son is about to father. I think you ought to ask someone else about family advice.”
  • Will Winstone's eventual involvement with Tom stem from his father's demand for some of the Tobin booty?