Saturday , April 20 2024
FX's Damages has some problems, let's look at tonight's episode and examine them.

Damages Is Broken, But Not Beyond Repair

In watching this week's episode of Damages, I can't help but think that the producers are trying to be too clever.  By adding in so many different mysteries they find themselves this week with a twist that is no twist at all, a surprise that fails to in any way be a surprise. 

The entire plot this week revolves around Katie Connor (Anastasia Griffith) and her "one-night stand" in Florida on the weekend of Arthur Frobisher's (Ted Danson) trip down there. 

The other basic problem with Damages should now be apparent.  If you are a regular watcher of the show you know exactly what weekend I am talking about, and if you are not it would take me an incredibly long time to explain it.  It is a basic problem with serialized dramas – a serialized drama needs to generate a high enough interest level on the part of the viewer that they tune in every single week, because missing even one episode can leave the viewer hopelessly behind.  I am not against serialized dramas as such, long-time readers will know that I'm a fan of Lost as well as other serialized shows, but the serialized legal thriller Damages does not generate the same enthusiasm for me.

To be sure, I think Damages is often well-written and well-acted, but I'm just not that enthralled.  To help me explain why I need to, in detail, discuss this week's episode and Katie's boyfriend, so, be warned:


Was there ever any doubt in anyone's mind that Greg, Katie's not-so-married guy was lying about who they saw with Frobisher in the parking lot?  Was it not clear that he was the link?  Frankly, from the moment he first appeared it was clear that he was involved in the whole Frobisher thing, the way he was introduced, when he was introduced, and the secrecy around him made any other conclusion untenable.  I did not know that he was lying about being married, but his being involved in Frobisher's nefarious doings was clear.  Why the producers would try to convince us otherwise I can't fathom. 

Then, this week's writing was actually a huge let down. When Katie was practicing being deposed she has flashbacks of how she got to this point.  We're only four episodes in and the whole case at this point hinges on Katie. I think that we probably could have figured out without flashbacks what exactly is going on in her mind.  It got worse from there though, didn't it? 

When she is actually being deposed she goes off about sex and drugs to Ray Fiske (Zeljko Ivanek).  That was just plain silly.  It was explained to her that the goal was to make her likable to the jury.  Her going off on her sexual and drug escapades does not make her likable.  There is a difference between telling the truth about what happened, which is what she was supposed to do, and flaunting her problems, which is what she did. 

Thank God Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) doesn't need her for the trial, because she would now be a worthless witness.  There are only two possible reasons Patty did not bite her head off at the end of the deposition:  1)  the writer's didn't realize the mistake they made in having her rant as she did, and 2) Patty didn't need her anyway and didn't care, and the writers failed to realize that to be true to Patty's character she would've bitten Katie's head off anyway in order to keep up appearances. 

And, speaking of Patty, she's just plain mean.  There is absolutely no reason that she could not have still recommended Tom's kid for the music school.  She could absolutely have said to her contact "he doesn't work for me any more, we had some professional differences, but Tom is a great person and his daughter cares more for music…" yada, yada, yada.  Her meanness is meant to be excused by the troubles she is having with her son, but it is not.  The way she is treated by others indicates that her attitude goes back way farther than the length of her son's problems.  It's a foolish excuse to be pawned off onto the viewer. 

I should say that I think Damages to be a perfectly fun legal thriller.  I watch on a weekly basis not because I'm obligated but because it is fun enough, it's just not  spectacular.  I think that with some changes here and there it really could be outstanding, and I hope that by the end of the season they achieve that level, but it isn't there yet.  Maybe next week. 

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.

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