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Damages – The Final Season

Damages – The Final Season

By Jonahh Oestreich • July 30th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release date: July 15th, 2013
Running time: 500 minutes approx.

Created and executive produced by Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler

Cast: Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Ryan Phillippe, Judd Hirsch, Zachary Booth, M. Emmet Walsh

Damages Season 5

“The best revenge is to be unlike him who
performed the injury.“ ~ Marcus Aurelius

As far as lawyers go, Patty Hewes of Damages has both affirmed and foiled virtually every cliché about her profession. Over five seasons, Glenn Close portrayed the woman as a ruthless and egomaniac attorney who literally stops at nothing to win a case. Yet she’s also a vulnerable human being with a complex character and a troubled past, and we can never be quite sure where the seed of pure evil in her soul came from.

In the final season, Patty’s egocentric paranoia and craziness cross the point of no return. From the first episode, there’s this end-of-the-line feeling, a foreboding that something terrible is going to happen. Not only is the legal case more high-stakes than in previous seasons, the mental and physical violence the players resort to in order to win is more extreme as well. None of the participants seem to be willing to accept less than total victory, and some of them will pay the ultimate price.

Few drama series have reconciled deep psychic profiling and edge-of-the-seat suspense in a compelling way over several seasons. In its five-year run, Damages did just that — with archetypal characters, stories based on actual cases and the willingness to explore the most nightmarish recesses of the human soul.

The show also convinced with absorbing storytelling. The characters seemingly developed between numerous flashbacks and flash-forwards, many of which added mystery to the story and, not least, mislead the audience. It was virtually impossible Damages Season 5to figure everything out too soon and up to the last episode, Damages skilfully played on the adage that noting is as it seems — and passes with a viscerally shocking twist.

Early into the final season, we see Patty Hewes get arrested and interrogated. Her ex-protégée, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), due to testify against her in the custody trial over Patty’s granddaughter, is missing. We also see Ellen lying on the ground with open and empty eyes — apparently pushed from a roof top, apparently in a hit ordered by Patty Hewes. This brings us back to the first season where Patty actually ordered a hit on Ellen which failed and from then on determined the dysfunctional relationship between the two women.

Ellen Parsons’ transformation from a protégé who admires her mentor Patty to a self-confident attorney who stands her ground is the second linchpin and driving force to Damages. While in the first four seasons she becomes Patty’s adversary, Damages Season 5she ultimately turns into her former mentor’s enemy and to a large part the last season is the story of two strong women who desperately need “to end this once and for all”.

Patty and Ellen face off in a wrongful-death lawsuit against the owner of a Wikileaks-like website, Channing McClaren (Ryan Phillippe) whose character is loosely based on Julian Assange. The website — intentionally or not — outed the whistleblower in an insider trading scandal, Naomi Walling (Jenna Elfman) who is then brutally “suicided”.

Patty plots the case in her favour with typically Machiavellian deceit and manipulation. She convinces Naomi’s daughter Rachel (Alexandra Socha) to sue McClaren who she made sure is represented by Ellen. The coup seems to work out as Patty’s son Michael (Zachary Booth) can’t call Ellen as a character witness in the custody case over his daughter.

This time though, things appear to get out of hand for both Patty and Ellen; not only because the case turns out to be an utter imbroglio. Both are haunted by their past: Damages Season 5Patty finds herself confronted with her father (M. Emmet Walsh) and the hit order she put out on her protégé four years earlier. Ellen is forced to face her abusive father as well and ends up pointing a gun at him in defence of her mother.

While we see Patty succumbing more and more to her paranoia and obsession with Ellen, latter somewhat becomes Patty. It almost hurts to see how she sometimes “goes ballistic” the way Patty does, and betrays her own principles. The two women go through a final transformation, one that in hindsight appears inevitable. Patty and Ellen can’t seem to get over each other without their characters somehow converging.

Damages’ final season is more focused and more intense than the previous seasons. There’s only one episode (The Storm’s Moving In) that breaks the atmosphere and the pace of the story, but this may as well be the “delaying factor” of classic drama Damages Season 5where it looks like the final stand between the enemies could resolve peacefully. Obviously, it won’t.

Once more, Damages is also the story of the people who pay the price for the vengeful animosities of the major players. This time though, the ultimate victim is as unexpected as it makes the legal case fought by Patty and Ellen seem meaningless. You could see this as a trenchant comment on present day reality but when all is said and done, Damages has explored the human condition in ways that may remain unequaled for some time to come.

Jonahh Oestreich

Jonahh Oestreich

One of the Editors in Chief and our webmaster, Jonahh has been working in the media industry for over 20 years, mainly in television, design and art. As a boy, he made his first short film with an 8mm camera and the help of his father. His obsession with (moving) images and stories hasn’t faded since.

You can follow Jonahh on Twitter @Jonahh_O.

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