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Damages – Negotiating and Lies

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Something became abundantly clear to me last night while watching Damages — Ray Fiske (Zeljko Ivanek), the lawyer for Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), has never, not once ever in his entire life, conducted any sort of negotiation. We know this because Frobisher has a man on the inside who was able to, allegedly, get the amount Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) would accept to settle the case. Fiske then offered that exact amount to Patty Hewes.

One would think that someone who has performed a negotiation before, knowing what price the other side would settle at, would not go to the opposition and immediately offer up that price. Clearly that would make the opposition push for an even better deal for themselves. No, an experienced negotiator, someone who had at least a rudimentary understanding of how a negotiation takes place, would have tried to finesse the amount. Fiske ought to have offered a price that was more favorable to his side (in this case that would be a lower amount), and then allowed himself to be dragged to what he knows Patty will accept. To immediately offer up Patty her absolute minimum acceptable offer tells Patty one of two things: 1) she can get more and/or 2) Frobisher's side is getting insider information. It was an incredibly stupid mistake, one that I cannot imagine Fiske would actually make. Thus there is only one set of possible culprits, and I have blamed them several weeks in a row, so rather than my calling them out again, check out last week's article.

At this point I think that the best solution for the show may be to have Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) confess to her lawyer that she has been lying about absolutely everything — there was no man in Patty's apartment, she never took off her engagement ring, her recollections of the events leading up to the murder are mainly lies, she did not in fact ever actually graduate from law school, and perhaps a half-dozen other things too. Perhaps it should go as far as a total and complete repudiation of everything the show has put forth as fact. I know, it sounds like an awful long trip, and the false flashback thing is used very, very sparingly in this world, but this may be an appropriate time to go for it. If the false flashback is good enough for Alfred Hitchcock and Keyser Soze I see no reason Damages cannot employ the same trope.

Think about it for a moment. It allows the show to wipe clean the entire slate. Did something happen? Did it not? What of what Ellen said was the truth? What wasn't? When did she lie? Why did she lie? It goes on and on, and, it could make for an absolutely fantastic, completely out of the box second season. When the show returns they could show us what actually happened and how it differs from Ellen's lies.

There is just no way that Fiske and Frobisher would be so bad at negotiating. It has to be lie. The other plot holes, flaws, and silliness from earlier episodes are lies too. It all makes complete sense now — everything we have seen is what Ellen has told us and she is lying.

I think I finally get it and I really like it.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • http://dramatic-personae.net Cariel

    You were right about it being Patty’s voice on the phone last week. I should have watched it more than once =P

    I think your speculations are too contrived (nevermind confusing for the average viewer). The show is about Patty’s manipulations of Ellen and how it affects Ellen’s life and her personality which means how Ellen changed from when she began at the firm, so her lying about law school is a bit too far-fetched for me.

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    the law school bit as well as the whole “it ought to be one big lie” is much more my idea of the only way to save the plot of the show than it is my belief on what the story actually is.

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