There's nary a snifter of future teaser scenes in this week's Damages, but the plot continues to develop and twist throughout "I Knew Your Pig", some revelations have the potential to be surprising, others are to be expected. On the whole the episode is a slow paced one, but remains interesting enough to keep up with the superb performances provided by the cast. I'm going to keep things brief because I'm still suffering from the effects of paint fumes (the flat below mine was painted and not properly aired, additionally I was not warned about this so I was caught off guard and I'm still feeling pretty sick).
Read about a dead sow, bottled water and impatience beyond the link...
"I Knew Your Pig" was a very slow paced episode overall, it's clear the episode was designed to lay foundations for later episodes. The main new elements introduced is the reporter and his experiences 'lost in the woods' as he wanders around farming/mining country checking out dying animals and contamination from a mine of some sort. Those scenes felt rather strange, almost as if they didn't fit into the rest of Damages at all, I'm not sure what it was which made them so jarring but they had the style of some disaster movie before a deadly contaminant begins to wipe out all living life (and maybe the dead rise up for good measure). It's possible I felt this way not just because of the scenes themselves but because of the forced introduction of the reporter character. We had him inserted into the episode long before there was any indication of his relevance, yes the episode eventually revealed that he was involved with Daniel in some way, but I do wish they'd linked the involvement first and then allowed us to follow him around afterwards.
The big moments this week are all centered around Patty and Daniel and I think it's fair to say these two characters are almost as ambiguous as each other. Daniel seems to get sketchier and sketchier every moment he's around and it's hard to tell if he's either a bad person or just a complete idiot. I'm sure the story is attempting to shed doubt on him to keep us interested and William Hurt is managing a great job at doing this. But I found quite a bit of the later sections in the episode a tad frustrating. This is in part a problem on my end caused by the aforementioned paint fumes and I think in part because of the rather circular nature of the episode, by the end of it we've not actually learnt that much -- despite the episode's slow pacing and appearance.
One of the other big development is the appearance of The Wire's Major Rawls -- John Doman as Walter the CEO of Ultima National Resources. It's great to once again see another Wire alumni arrive in another quality show. I'm sure he'll play a larger role as things progress. Likewise Marcia Gay Harden is great as Claire Maddox, her involvement with Daniel is just going to make things more interesting as the plot develops.
And the last big moment is the revelation that Mike is Daniel's son, as I suspected last week Patty and Daniel indeed had a history between them. I didn't realise it was this large a history, but that's because I sort of thought Patty's husband was Mike's father. Still Daniel has known about this for around ten years and not done anything, it's curious why that's the case, but I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.
Ellen felt rather sidelined this episode, but I was actually very happy we didn't have any more present scenes involving her this week. The ones from the previous episodes have left me feeling a bit ambivalent about her, there's no doubt her character is a hundred percent more interesting than last season. But the present scenes involving her this season have just not been as good or as teasing as the ones used last season. I'm just not sold on Ellen with a gun.
The main points of the episode and the plot boil down to just a few facts:
‣ UNR are certainly up to something involving contamination and have been for a long time
‣ Patty was the only person to manage a successful lawsuit against UNR (I think I'm extrapolating here from events as they were portrayed, was it explicitly mentioned that she managed this?)
‣ Daniels has a conscience -- he threw his case against Patty not for money but because he felt it was the right thing to do
‣ Patty & Daniel have a son together -- Mike, who is unaware of the connection between him and Daniel
‣ The reporter (no idea what his name is yet) still has the bottle of water despite losing his camera and phone
‣ Daniels was cheating on his wife and she did know, they either argued before or after the dinner on the night she was murdered
‣ It appears Daniel did not kill his wife, and I'd be surprised if he did. Because even if he does have an unstable temper strangulation is not the kind of method of killing I'd expect to see from someone in a domestic situation.
‣ Ellen seems unwilling to take her time over getting Patty, she's a lot more vengeful than I thought she would be
‣ Claire convinced Daniel to flee, but it was Patty who shopped him to the police. Is this because Patty had him watched (like Ellen is watched) or is there some deeper link?
Overall I think 'I Knew Your Pig' was a decent episode, it certainly provided plenty of food for thought and a couple of moments which were quite interesting. Hurt's interview scene with the detective near the beginning of the show was probably the stand out moment, but I was on the whole a lot more satisfied with this episode when compared to the previous one. It's shaping up to show some promise.
• I do like Tom's role as exposition man and Patty's number without much character beyond. It's good that the show has a character like this, not everyone has to be complicated and mysterious.
• Very happy to see Katie again even if it was for just a moment, a show shouldn't abandon it's past characters just because it has no immediate use for them.
• Speaking of Katie, it's likely her boyfriend will turn out to be important because we were denied a clear look at him. We only got to see him distorted in the mirror.
• I think I actually preferred watching the first season in one big batch, I'm finding it difficult to keep all the facts and character names in my head when watching this on a weekly basis. As I watched the previous season over an entire week I was better able to follow everything. As such I suspect Damages is a show best watched on DVD (like The Wire).