Damages - 204 - Hey! Mr. Pibb

Category: , , By Rev/Views

Sometimes watching Damages is like being on the worlds greatest roller coaster at the same moment the construction team have decided to add additional loops and drops to onto it. As such the experience -- which should be incredible and the highlight of your gravity defying lifetime -- turns into something which is just trying too hard and might even make you feel a little queasy. The core ride is just fantastic, but you're left feeling that they need to stop tinkering and stick with the original blueprints laid out. This week was one of those episodes.

Read about bluegrass, golf and burning livestock beyond the link...

Damages has this amazing cast and quite, quite gripping storyline, but it still feels the need to keep bolting on more plot twists and shocking moments. This is the same thing 24 ended up doing and we know where that went -- Season Six *shudder* -- when there the show leans so heavily on plot shocks as a device you just know something has gone horribly wrong.

The show just shouldn't need to be like this, it's got an insanely good cast all round, one of the best opening sequences ever (so good I suspect The Beast deliberately ripped it off) and Glenn Close. It doesn't need to try and deliver twist after twist each episode while trying to undermine what the viewer previously understood about the situation. It just feels, gimmicky and honestly takes the edge out of most twists, if you want a shocking moment to remain shocking it needs to be sudden and rare.

Now if this is beginning to sound like another round of ragging on Damages, you'd be half right. There's still plenty I liked about this episode, the moment where Ellen and Tom are talking about the difference between Old Country and Bluegrass music was a great piece of characterisation for them both. It's good to see the two together and interacting in a personal position, not just because Ellen was willing to sell Tom to the FBI and is now basically lying about her friendship with Tom but because Tate Donovan's performance as Tom is pitch perfect for his character. Likewise the golfing scene following was just breathtaking to see, funny and provided great exposition.

The episode's best moments are all like this, character driven 'little moments' that keep things grounded and it's these moments which I come to the show for. The 'big twist' moments like Purcell recanting his previous promises and disposing of the water on the other hand felt artificial and forced. I honestly wasn't shocked or even particularly moved by it because I've been pretty much conditioned to expect moments like that one.

The episode had great shots, great dialog, great cast, great performances but was let down by a pretty shoddy plot. Instead of being left excited and hooked, I felt like I'd just seen the umpteenth episode of 24 where several characters have switched sides and Jack's life is in "danger" again.

Left disinterested and tired...

Other Thoughts:
-- This episode marks one of the few times the show has entered a courtroom for a scene. I do appreciate the way this show is able to deploy all of the legal without leaning heavily on courtroom drama.

-- Why on Earth would Patty hinge everything on Daniel? Handing him both the water and positioning her entire case around him just really wasn't in character for her. This is a woman who has access to other experts and as such could get anyone else to analyse that water. Yes she's had a child with Daniel, but this is Patty we're talking about, she's supposed to be the best at her job. Unless a different bottle of water turns up later on which Patty held back I'm going to be permanently annoyed by that.

-- Just repeating myself here, Tom's explanation of the difference between Bluegrass and Old Country was a fantastic moment. Tom is fast becoming my favourite character in Damages.

-- No Ted, No Timothy. I wonder how and when they're going to make their returns to the show, neither feel particularly relevant right now.


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