“Damages” Season 4 starts tonight

On my second or third viewing of Bridesmaids, during the toast-to-the-bride scene when Helen was trying to one-up Annie, my friend leaned over and said, “Who is that?” “Ellen Parsons, you know, Damages.” “Of course!”

Not many people outside of Damages and Star Wars fans knew Rose Byrne before the summer’s best movie. And with the start of a new season of Damages Wednesday evening, she will have a new audience of people recognizing her — this time from the big screen.

In case you’re new to Damages, a fan has made a video to help you catch up. In less than three minutes, you get three seasons worth of story. Don’t blink.

If you’re a DirecTV subscriber — and that’s the only way you’ll get to see the new season — you can watch the previous three seasons online in HD. I am officially jealous that you get to see what’s behind this look.

As Season 4 starts, three years have passed since Ellen told Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) that she was going to work for the firm she originally turned down to work at Hewes & Associates. She’s gained a lot of confidence to go with her ambition and then comes across the case of a lifetime: A wrongful death suit against a very powerful contractor. Byrne talked to DirecTV about Ellen’s role in Season 4.

Patty, meanwhile, is still in top form, about to win a huge lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company. Her personal life is a bit more complex — she is raising her son’s daughter. “Grandmother” is a role we certainly never expected for Patty. Yet, she’s still as ruthless as ever in her career. Close catches us up with Patty in this DirecTV video.

Ellen comes to Patty for advice on the case against Howard Erickson (John Goodman) and his military contracting company. Close finds the season’s central case to be quite relevant to what’s happening in war zones around the world.

The relationship between Patty and Ellen is friendly, but guarded. So much has happened between them that trust won’t come easily. But in a series that’s as much about the relationship between Patty and Ellen as it is about the season’s legal case, tension is what makes for good drama. Byrne and Close talked about their rapport both on and off screen.

(If you can’t watch the embedded videos here, you can find them at DirecTV’s YouTube Channel.)

I am counting on the kindness of friends with DirecTV to let me watch Damages Season 4 so I don’t have to wait in suspense for the DVD. I suggest you do the same — this may be the best season yet.

Season 4 of Damages starts tonight 10 p.m. ET on DirecTV channel 239. Will you be watching?

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