“Damages” finale delivers

 
 

So, was it good for you?
Damages
ended its first season last night and those (sadly, few)
of us who sat through every twist and turn of this exquisitely twisty,
turny legal thriller finally got to see all the pieces of this complex
moral jigsaw puzzle fit into place. Stepping back and looking at the
finished whole, I have to say wow.

***Spoiler alert, so if you
haven’t finished watching, what are you waiting for?***

The finale managed to both
satisfy and leave you hungry for more. While we found out who killed
David in the penultimate episode, last night’s show answered just about
every other burning question. And while the payoff of finally finding
out who did what and why was great, it almost wasn’t the point. Along
the way, the series has morphed from a classic murder-mystery whodunnit
to an in-depth character study in morality, or, more precisely, immorality.

From the show’s riveting
premiere (which I watched so intently, I almost forgot to breathe) and
throughout its 13-episode run, Damages has never ceased to impress
with its sophisticated storytelling, nuanced acting and operatic cinematography.
But I’ve been most impressed by its inherent trust that the audience
was smart enough to navigate its treacherous ethical minefield. Was
it perfect? Of course not. The stalker girlfriend red herring was unnecessary
and Patty’s lingering grief over a stillborn daughter came out
of left field. But the real treat week after week has been watching
Glenn Close
and Rose Byrne square off as intelligent, powerful
and independent women. And, sure, the power suits didn’t hurt either.

How many other shows have given
us such strong, albeit it morally challenged, lead female characters
as Patty Hewes and Ellen Parsons? Heck, how many other shows revolve
around two female characters, period? And what other series allows its
rich cast of characters to reveal themselves so completely? While it
would be easy to make cartoon villains out of ruthless litigators like
Patty or corporate raiders like Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson,
showing layers never seen on Sam Malone), the series resisted all such
shorthand and instead waded happily into the murky gray area that defines
real life. Seldom are we all good or all bad. Even the most evil among
us have good qualities, and the most virtuous have weaknesses.

FX has yet to renew Damages,
which is a true shame. I don’t know if I’ve seen another finale
that so brilliantly tied up the season’s loose ends, yet somehow managed
to unravel a whole new set to potentially be explored next year. Throughout
this season, I kept wondering how the show could possibly come back
for a second season if the Frobisher case got resolved. Now, I couldn’t
imagine not finding out what happens next. Patty vs. Ellen Part II?
I hope I remember to breathe.

 
 

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