This penultimate episode of Damages season 3 had, it seemed last week, an impossible lane of hurdles in front of it. Between the Tobin case, Frobisher’s sudden reappearance, Patty’s equine dream world and Michael and Jill crib shopping in the periphery, it seemed like, with only two episodes left, the finale would either leave some stories dangling in the wind, or would call for a heck of a lot of narrative shenanigans.
In order to avoid either fate, “You Were His Monkey” had to do a whole lot of heavy lifting in the span of a normal-length episode. Was it an unqualified success? No. Was it overstuffed? Yes. But I can say that while the whole thing felt a bit rushed, I do feel confident that everything we need to know could be summed up with one more 90-minute episode, especially if next week’s episode goes at the same relentless clip that this week’s did.
Let’s start with the biggest developments. At long last, Patty found out Tom was one of the Tobins’ victims when she was handed a file folder full of information much in the same way Tom was when he first got the news. Someone tipped off the judge to Tom’s conflict of interest, so he had no choice but to not only remove himself from the case, but to resign from Hewes & Associates. We’d been led to believe that Tom’s resignation was rooted in finally growing weary of Patty’s non-stop mind fuckery, but as with everything on Damages, there was far more to it than that.
Between Tom’s resignation from the firm and Tessa Marchetti’s forced resignation from the physical plane, Patty was almost defeated. “Maybe it’s over,” she told Ellen in a rare moment of vulnerability. “Maybe I’ll never find the money.” But after a quick pep talk from Ellen, Patty was restored to her factory settings. The only way they’d find the money now, she says, is to tear the Tobin family apart. There are loose seams to spare in that family unit, what with Joe having unknowingly commissioned his daughter’s death, a truth so horrible even black widow Marilyn can’t bear to look it in the eye. But Patty doesn’t know about those Tobin secrets, so instead she goes after the weak link: Winstone, the Tobin who isn’t really.
Then again, he isn’t really Winstone either. Turns out, Leonard Winstone was a law graduate whose identity Lester Wiggins stole, and what probably started out as a long con turned into something else as Lester found in the Tobins the family his creepy father left him wanting for. When Wiggins Sr. gets arrested for solicitation, a favorite Wiggins past-time, Lenny shows up to bail him out. Josh Reston appears long enough to connect A to B, and bam, Patty and Ellen have leverage again. When Winstone is exposed to Joe, it’s suddenly over, after three decades of service as a pretend lawyer. And once his honorary Tobin status is taken from him, he tries to do what any sane person would do, which is to distance himself from these soulless, bloodsucking ticks.
A shaken Winstone finally agrees to meet with Tom and offers him a deal. If he can get Ellen to wrangle an immunity deal, he’ll deliver the money Tom lost with the Tobins, in cash no less. Tom, whose been kicked out of his home by an exasperated Deb, finally gets to be the hero. Turns out, he leaked his own conflict of interest to the judge in order to facilitate a deal with Winstone. But the convoluted plan didn’t seem to work on its own. Winstone’s deal with Tom seemed more a result of having his true identity exposed rather than anything Tom had done on his own, which is why Winstone was originally reticent to take a meeting with Tom. Sometimes, even the worst laid plans end up somehow working in your favor.
Meanwhile, the Frobisher stuff that seemed random for so long appeared, finally, to bear some kind of fruit. Terry Brook meets with Patty to discuss Frobisher! The Movie, and tries to get Patty to help him separate Frobisher fact from Frobisher fiction, because…no one knows Frobisher better than Patty? So much of this didn’t work. I didn’t buy that Patty would take another meeting with Terry, or that Terry would go to her for that kind of information. The introduction of the Terry Brook character is a naked deus ex machina, spread over a few episodes as if to soften the blow. I would have at least gotten a kick out of the twist floated by a commenter last week, that perhaps Terry Brook was knowingly working undercover to help nail Frobisher. But no such luck. Instead, we get a super-clumsy way to finally nail Frobisher for David’s murder. At least it wasn’t all for naught. Right?
- Still no word on a renewal, but it’s clear the writers have prepared a finale that could work either way, if need be.
- Why exactly did Tom see fit to sleep in Winstone’s apartment rather than go to Howard Johnson? You weren’t that broke to begin with, Tom, and you just got handed a big ass bag of money. Get an extra room for Homeless Man.
- Joe has completely lost his shit. He went ape on Zedeck, then again on Winstone. I kept waiting for someone to angrily mention that he had his daughter assassinated, but that’s way too low a blow I suppose.
- Patty’s horse dream is back, this time with Julian Decker. So…yeah, there’s that.
- I was delighted to see Al Wiggins impersonate Stuart Zedeck. Father and son con men are pretty adorable.
- How is it that Ellen kept her job again?
- OMG, how beyond screwed is Jill?