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'Damages': A somewhat satisfying season finale

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Damages_l

Damages_lAs I mentioned last Friday, I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of enjoyment from the first season of Damages. Even during its most implausible moments, the Glenn Close legal drama has showcased several Emmy-worthy performances and delivered scads of wicked twists (most of which I never saw coming). Yet while last night’s hour provided a satisfying conclusion to the season — or perhaps, the entire series — I wasn’t completely blown away, either. For that, I’m blaming three things: The baby, the shooting, and the pen light.

Indeed, saddling the audience with a last-minute revelation that Pattylost her newborn daughter back in 1972 seemed like a cop-out, a bizarreeffort to redeem our steely, win-at-any-cost heroine when, really, welike her just the way she is. So what if Patty committed blackmail,bribed a district attorney, and ordered the (unsuccessful) killing ofher young associate? She scored a $2 billion settlement for Frobisher’semployees, and delivered that death-blow to her nemesis — “If I don’thear from you by the end of the day tomorrow, I’m gonna treat somefriends of mine at the justice department to dinner and a movie” –with a nifty, self-satisfied twinkle. (By the bye, thank heavenstwo-faced Larry blurted the final settlement figure during thatdeliciously cruel scene where his cohorts cut him out of the proceeds;for a minute, I thought the writers were going to leave the number toour imaginations, which would’ve been unacceptable.)

Unfortunately, Larry popped up again later in the episode, gunning downFrobisher in the middle of the open field from which he’d hoped torebuild his company. (You know there’s probably a diamond mine or oilwell smack in the middle of it.) While we may never know if TedDanson’s corporate devil lives or dies, I’d have far preferred to seehim thinking standing there grinning, convinced he’d never see theinside of a jail cell; it would’ve made Patty’s subsequent handoff ofthe smoking videotape to the D.A. all the more mouth-watering. I alsowish the pen-light subplot was left on the editing-room floor; teasingus that Ellen (Rose Byrne, pictured) might find it and finger David’s killer,only to get a last-act shock that Frobisher’s goon is actually an NYPDdetective, pushed the episode one extra twist past my threshold ofdisbelief.

On the plus side, though, I loved revisiting that scene where Ellenconfesses to Patty that she regrets what they did; with just a slightwidening of her eyes, Close tipped us off to Patty’s nefariousintentions. I’m not sure I completely buy that a powerful litigatorwould’ve risked a murder rap to silence a possibly untrustworthyunderling (why not offer her a fat bonus check to buy her silence?),but hey, nobody ever said Damages was the most realistic show ontelevision. One thing I know, Close’s Emmy reel ought to include that perfectly timedpause between Ellen thanking Patty for clearing her of murder charges,and Patty asking, “Now, where’s the tape?”

And while I’ve never been the biggest fan of Byrne, her somber momentsitting alongside David’s coffin definitely broke my heart a little. Personally, Iwouldn’t want to hinge an entire second season on Damages‘ finalzig-zag — with Ellen agreeing to return to Hewes & Associates as aruse to help with the FBI’s secret investigation — but it could makefor a juicy little subplot if FX decides to gamble on quality overratings, and renew the series.

But here’s my question to you, Damages fans: Do you want FX to pick theseries up for a second season, or is it better to stop now, after 13terrific episodes, and leave it at that? And if the show comes back fora second season, should Patty get a brand new mega-case, and abrand-new associate as her chew-toy, or is there more juice left to besqueezed from the Patty-Ellen-FBI-Frobisher lemon?