'Damages' season premiere: Murder, lies, and gunplay!

Damages_lHow thoroughly awesome is Glenn Close? I mean, yes, you already know that if you’ve seen Fatal Attraction or Jagged Edge or pretty much anything she’s ever done (ever), but last night’s second-season premiere of Damages drove the point home for me all over again. (Read Ken Tucker’s A- review here.) And while the story arcs that took center stage look like they’ll actually improve on the already quite good season 1, it was the smaller Patty Hewes moments that brought me the greatest joy. My three favorites? The way Patty glanced downward, like she was about to choke on her own bile, for just a millisecond, when Arsenault began his explanation for pulling funding from her charity with a puffed-up "let me tell you a story…" The way her eyes lit up with evil glee just a few minutes later, after discovering Arsenault’s daughter had earned herself a spot at Yale. "Well that’s quite an accomplishment," Patty cooed, as the initial seeds of the girl’s downfall were sown. And then, of course, there were her completely insincere instructions to Uncle Pete that he quit spying on Ellen, which ended with my favorite line of the night. "Fine. Watch her. I’m concerned about her well-being." (Ha!) Yes, Patty might be troubled by the memories of trying to have her young associate killed off, but since everyone’s still breathing and (semi-)functioning, might as well stay on top of their exact whereabouts and motivations.

addCredit(“Craig Blankenhorne/FX”)

Of course, if Ellen’s being followed, maybe she shouldn’t be holdingall her meetings with those federal agents in parked vehicles,sometimes in broad daylight. How long before Patty gets wind of herprotégé’s traitorous intentions? And what will she do to make her pay?Then again, given last night’s starting point of Ellen holding someone– Patty? Frobisher? One of the feds? The stalker dude from griefcounseling? — at gunpoint, and presumably bound and gagged (sincethere was no responding/struggling/escaping going on), it looks like ourlittle law associate might be gaining the upper hand as the seasonprogresses. And I was glad to see Rose Byrne, while alarmingly thin,seems to have exponentially increased the number of facial expressionsin her repertoire. I gave her grief for too many blank stares lastseason, but this episode, Byrne was able to hold her own alongsidethe rest of the heavyweight cast, particularly during that scene whereEllen passive aggressively questions Patty’s intentions for startingthe children’s hunger charity. That said, do power attorneys reallywear sleeveless blouses with giant bows at the neck (not the one pictured here, BTW)? Legalprofessionals, weigh in!

Speaking of the show’s all-star cast, I loved seeing Ted Danson’sFrobisher bed-bound and incapacitated, but still grotesquely scheming.(Asking his nurse to reinsert unnecessary nose tubes to garner sympathywith his wife? Day-um!) I was not as pleased, however, to see theterrific Zeljko Ivanek (who completely deserved his Emmy last season)return in a macabre and kinda silly flashback/daydream sequence. Ninety-nine percent ofthe time, I think it’s cheap and stuntish to bring back deceased TVcharacters, and seeing good ole’ Ray Fiske taunt Patty from the beyonddid nothing to change my mind. As far as newcomers go, William Hurt wasquietly effective in a role I expect will get bigger throughout theseason (given his wife’s brutal murder!), while Timothy Olyphant was creepy/sexy as Ellen’s stalker/loveinterest. If I have to quibble, though, if adude from your therapy group (the one for folks who’ve lost loved onesin violent ways) learned your last name and how to find you on anyrandom weeknight in Manhattan, wouldn’t you call the cops rather than engage him in a discussionon whether/how to purchase illegal firearms?

Anyhow, I leave it to you guys to discuss the remainder of theextremely packed premiere. But I do have to give a shout-out to Patty’sterse "Except for the vagina" as the episode’s best line. Also:  Dohospital doors have locks on the inside? And which made you giddier:Patty’s victorious appearance with Regis and Kelly or Ellen’s bloodyrevenge fantasy about Frobisher? Reveal all, people!

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Comments (52 total) Add your comment
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  • Eric

    I thought Damages would lose some of it’s first season luster. Wow, was I wrong. Slezak already highlighted a lot of my favorite things about the premiere. I will give mad props to Rose Byrne though. She’s really stepped up her game. I can’t wait to find out who’s on the other end of her gun muzzle. She really does need to eat though. She’s dangerously close to Lara Flynn Boyle territory.

  • Jay

    The episode was amazing. I thought the hallucination was terrific because Glenn Close was (naturally) terrific. I love this show.

  • curt

    This show rules. Captivating from the 1st scene to the last. I agree whole-heartedly w/ the review & look forward to another great season with Patty & Co. Please don’t let them kill my Glenn Close.

  • Casey

    I have to confess, I loathed the Regis and Kelly bit, which went on far too long. Yes, it was supposed to show the star quality of Patty, but it is extremely unlikely that R&K would have an attorney on the show. It was silly, unnecessary, and completely took me out of the show. Other than that, I thought the episode was fantastic, and has me eager to see more!

  • Jelana

    Yay — we have Slezak! So far, I’m happy with how this season looks like it will go. You’re right about Rose Byrne, she’s actually starting to seem like she may belong in this cast, and she does need a few cookies. As for what power attorneys wear — Patty Hewes was right on the money, Ellen wasn’t completely off. Generally, if you want to know what female big firm associates wear just flip through a Banana Republic catalogue. Oh, and a serious shout out to whoever is currently styling Glenn Close’s hair. Fantastic!

  • Erin M.

    This show deserves the full-on EW TV Watch treatment. Great premiere! Love how the new characters mesh so seamlessly with the regular cast (Timothy Olyphant = YUM). Wish Rose Byrne would eat something, though.

  • Todd

    I seriously wish everyone would drop the weight comments about Ellen. She’s not sleeping, and under extreme mental stress over everything that’s going on in her life.

  • tonisha

    Loved this episode. Loved the dream of Ellen killing Furbisher. I was really surprised she didn’t confront him in the hospital room. Not kill him–just confront. I’m sure their paths will meet again. Love Glenn Close. She’s fierce. I’m really excited that W. Hurt has joined the cast, it can only get better. I do agree, how long will Ellen be able to meet with these detectives w/o being seen/caught? So Patty was lying about the guy coming for her instead of Ellen, right? B/c I remember she was on the phone with the old guy, he’s like her right hand man, and he said it was done…I guess she’s playing mind games with her. Or just wanted to play it safe. I’m wondering too who is it that she shoots in the forward flash. Will it be Furbisher or Patty? or someone else altogether? Can’t wait!

  • Lin

    Compared to the savagely compelling season opener last year, I thought this one was kinda slow and boring. Still, looking forward to future shows. Why are reviewers so hard on Rose Byrne? I think she’s terrific — not as good as Glenn Close, but who is?

  • Joseph Brownell

    I think that Timothy Olyphant’s charachter is a plant who is spying on Ellen and will be at the end of that gun. Glenn close and Ted Danson are too predictable.

  • Lucy

    I have to agree, loved Glenn’s hair, hated the Regis and Kelly bit and not sure who is in front of Ellen’s gun! Damages is off to a great second season.

  • Gina

    Why do people say “she needs to eat” about someone who is on the thinner side? I look exactly like this woman – but shorter in height probably – and I eat regularly and mostly fast food, tv dinners and the occasional big meal with steak and whatnot. I’ve just always looked like this and yes, occasionally get the same kind of ignorant comments about needing to eat. Do you all not realize that is hurtful? You are more or less claiming thinner people are starving themselves or making themselves sick other ways.
    Now, as for Damages – I still have the pilot episode sitting in my iTunes from a year ago. Sounds like I need to get to it and catch up. I am always hearing wonderful things about this series.

  • jfms777

    Did you really need to get so much “work” done, Glenn? OK. Just don’t go the “Sally Field route,” with regular touch-ups.

  • Kiki

    On the subject of Ellen’s wardrobe: as a law student, I can say that lawyers, especially lawyers who work at firms, wear suits or business casual at the least. The wardrobe people should remember Ellen is not a fashion editor. I found her clothes distracting. And does Ellen’s hairstyle have to change in every scene? She’s looking like too much of a Hollywood star and not enough of a young lawyer. Also, I think Rose Byrne has lost half her body weight since she was in the movie Troy.
    The show is great, but I think it has lost a little of its mystery from the first season. Last season, I always felt a little off, a little confused, a little in the dark. This season seems a little more straightforward.

  • James

    “And I was glad to see Rose Byrne, while alarmingly thin”…..I noticed also!

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