In what was arguably the best episode of the season, Damages put the Tobin case on the backburner this week, and got back to doing what it does best – reveling in the dark, twisted relationship between Ellen Parsons and her mentor-cum-rival, Patty Hewes. The formidable foes spent the majority of the episode in a deliciously catty pas-de-deux, with poor, naÃ¯ve Alex caught in the middle, as usual! The episode constantly teetered on the edge of daytime soap opera silliness, threatening to turn into a cheesy, Sapphic subplot from The L Word. But Glenn Close and Rose Byrne play it up with such intense ferocity, it’s truly terrifying. And like any two lovers on a trial separation, they ultimately can’t deny their unbridled passion for each other.
The episode opens with an impatient cell phone buzzing, and Ellen groggily waking up from what I can only imagine was a torrid night of love-making with hottie reporter Josh Reston, since he is lying naked in bed next to her. (Note to the editors: Don’t leave fun scenes like that on the cutting room floor next time!) Ellen answers her phone, and is surprised to find Patty calling her at four in the morning. “I woke you up!” Patty declares unapologetically, while voraciously licking the cream out of an Oreo cookie at her desk. Gross! You know it’s the double stuff kind. And you know she nicknamed that cookie “Ellen.” Patty invites Ellen over for a dinner party on Thursday, and Ellen accepts. She hangs up, then does that cocky, little smirk when you think your ex is trying to win you back. But careful, Ellen! These Jedi mind tricks have only JUST begun!
She loves me not? She loves me!
Tom flies down to Antigua, and does his best to go incognito as he tails Danielle Marchetti’s flight attendant daughter Tessa to the Antiguan Royal Bank. Unfortch, his hat and sunglasses are a dead giveaway. Plus, he is the only white guy for miles around. He gets “made” by a bank employee named Cornrows, and scurries off. Meanwhile, Tessa signs a couple of forms and receives a hefty package of cash, refusing to check it, since it’s “always all there.”
He’s a what? He’s a what? He’s a Music Man!
Tom calls Patty and whines that he wants to come home. Mother Goose tells him that’s out of the question. He has to stay in Antigua and try to get Tessa to talk. Meanwhile, Zedeck receives a call from a mysterious informant in Antigua, named Mr. Accent, who informs him that Thomas Shayes has turned up and is poking around. “He needs to be watched,” Zedeck tells him gruffly. “Anyting for you, mon!” Mr. Accent replies cheerfully.
Don’t worry! Be happy, mon!
Cut to an office full of weird, African tribal masks and artifacts. Patty is at Leonard Winstone’s office to discuss seized assets. She doesn’t know if she’s more horrified by the dÃ©cor or the fact that he let Marilyn Tobin decorate it herself. Patty has a deal for Mr. Winstone: She wants to see how many bitchy comments she can politely snarl at him in one scene. Up first: “Walk away, before this case destroys what’s left of your reputation.” Mee-ouch! Next: “You probably think you’re like family to them!” she scoffs, as he squirms uncomfortably. And then finally, the kicker: “Keep acting like a Tobin, and I’ll punish you like one.” Dayum! Them’s fighting words, Patty! Too bad he’d probably like that! Winstone just sits there taking it, hoping she’ll make good on her words and bend him over her knee like he’s a naughty, little school boy.
I’ve been a bad, bad little boy, Ms. Hewes.
In the next brilliant scene, Ellen shows up at Patty’s for the dinner party with a giant bouquet of flowers in hand. Laying it on a little thick, are we? Much to Ellen’s chagrin, no one is there, except for Patty. At first, Ellen wonders if Patty tricked her into a romantic dinner for two, but Patty laughs that she is a day early! They squabble over whether Patty told her Thursday or Friday, and I went back to the first scene to check for myself: Patty most certainly said Thursday!! That tricky, little minx! Adding insult to injury, Alex conveniently pops out of the kitchen with a bottle of wine in tow and sits down at Patty’s right hand. Ellen is mortified to see Patty with her new girl, and Patty is loving every minute of Ellen’s pain. “Sorry about the mixup!” Patty tries lamely. Sure you are, bitch! She asks if Ellen will be back tomorrow. “We’ll see!” Ellen chokes out through gritted teeth. PRICELESS!! Ellen leaves and Patty takes a victory lap around her brandy snifter. Alex confesses that she likes Ellen. “You must miss her,” she says. Patty glares. Oh, Alex! You are so hopelessly stupid! You are nothing more than Patty’s chew toy. And this bitch is about to spit you out for good!
Oh, no you didn’t!
Oh, yes I DID!
Cut to “3 Months Later.” Vic is interrogating Ellen about the bloody purse. “I have one just like it,” she says. How ironic! Because this blood-spattered purse has your driver’s license in it, too! Coincidence much? Vic wants Ellen to explain how it ended up in a homeless man’s shopping cart, but she can’t. “It was stolen,” she reveals. Dun dun dun!
Josh is cooking Ellen dinner, and she nonchalantly asks him what he has dug up on Alex. Whoa! Hold the phone! Asking your boyfriend to investigate your ex’s new flame?? Josh tells her that she was born in the UK, (I figured as much form her British accent, dude!) she went to Princeton, and she graduated from Yale Law. “So, she’s an idiot?” Ellen laughs. Cheap shot. And so transparent! “You’re not jealous?” Josh asks, hitting the nail on the head. Ellen lies and tells him that in fact, she wants him to write a puff piece on Alex. Hmm. What is she up to??
Revenge is a dish best served cold … with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
Joe is putting on his socks and tennis shoes like he’s Mr. Rogers or something. Winstone pays him an uncomfortable visit to tell him that he has to leave town suddenly to visit a sick friend from law school. Joe falls for it hook, line, and sinker, but I smell a huge pile of dung.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!
Tom’s undercover again, and his latest ruse is even worse than before. He seems to sense that I am laughing maniacally at his expense, so he takes it off and sits down with Tessa Marchetti to ask her some questions about the Antiguan Royal Bank. Turns out she is a citizen of Antigua, with dual citizenship. Also, she gets paid by the airline through the bank, which makes her sign three forms. Tom gets extra squinty. This means he’s on to something!
Maybe after Damages wraps, I can do a guest stint on Burn Notice?
Josh meets with Alex under the guise of profiling her as a rising star in the legal world. Alex gushes at his cheap flattery. What a rube! Her only conditions are that she can’t discuss Patty or the Tobin case. What? Snore! What’s left to talk about then?! Fish and chips? Her overbite?
Joe visits Zedeck at a bar. (Sidenote: who makes a recovering alcoholic meet them at a bar? Especially when they’re about to drop a huge bomb on them?) Zedeck asks if Marilyn got the sable yet. Enough with the damn fur coat! Then Zedeck informs Joe that Patty sent her partner down to Antigua for some sleuthing. Joe is pissed. “How does she know?” Zedeck tells him that Louis was using a family member as his courier for the money. When Joe doesn’t comprehend, Zedeck breaks the bad news that Louis had a daughter with Danielle Marchetti. Joe looks like he wants to imbibe the entire bar. Someone must have spilled the beans to Patty. But, who?!
Tom calls Patty to say he doesn’t think Tessa realizes what she is doing. Apparently, only two forms are needed to be signed by the bank, not three. Patty deduces that the third is to move the money! Now they’re really making some progress!
Alex meets Ellen for a drink and Ellen warns her about a “nosy reporter” from the Observer who’s been sniffing around. Alex takes the bait and admits she sat down for an interview with him. Ellen feigns sympathy, but says that Patty won’t like the article one bit. She suggests that Alex nip this in the bud by taking the article to Patty herself and admitting her mistake. “It’ll be fine. Trust me,” she says, then takes a big gulp of her drink and all but cackles maliciously.
Seriously, for all of Alex’s book smarts, she’s not very street savvy. If she had gone to UC Santa Barbara like I did, she would have spent her afternoons watching Days of Our Lives, and she would have learned a very valuable lesson: Anyone who says something and then takes a grandiose swill of their drink is NOT to be trusted!!
Here’s a little tip, courtesy of The X-Files.
Winstone is in a hellish waiting room at some old folks home, clutching a white teddy bear and a prickly plant. Some crazy man next to him likes birds. Random! He’s there to visit Barbara Wiggins. “Wouldn’t want to miss her birthday,” he tells the nurse, who is sorry to inform him that she passed away almost five months ago. “Why wasn’t I notified?” he demands. Apparently, her husband Albert Wiggins saw to all of the particulars. Winstone seems genuinely upset. I’m guessing it’s his mom?
Ellen’s dummy co-workers are struggling to link the deaths of Louis Tobin and Danielle Marchetti. The only common denominator is Joe. They want to call him in for questions, but Ellen wants to catch him off guard instead.
Lily Tomlin, aka Marilyn, is back (ugh!) and throwing herself a pity party at Joe’s hotel minibar. She drunkenly tells her murderous daughter, Carol that she’s losing too much weight. Beer goggles, much? Carol leaves to get cigarettes, and Joe flies off the handle at his mother, asking her if she blabbed to Patty Hewes about Tessa. “Yes. So, what?” Marilyn slurs back. “There’s no point in protecting him anymore!” Joe comes at her with a garment bag and I thought he was going to kill her and stuff her inside of it. Instead, he pulls out that damn mink and tells her it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more money where this came from! Lily Tomlin’s eyes brim with tears of joy, as if someone just told her that David O. Russell had died a very painful death.
Did he suffer much? Good!
Tom is once again approached by Cornrows, this time to cut a deal. Cornrows will get Tessa’s account information in exchange for Visas to the US so he can seek medical treatments for his sick daughter. Tom is all for this too-good-to-be-true deal.
Ellen finds Joe at the diner across from his hotel. She thinks Louis used potassium to commit suicide, but Joe insists that his dad died of a heart attack. Speaking of which, is he really about to wolf down that whole hoagie?! When Ellen mentions Danielle, Joe gets all shifty in the eyes and swears he doesn’t know anything about it. Liar!
What? I’m on the Subway diet!
Tom calls Patty about obtaining the Visas. Just as Cornrows is leaving work, he’s stopped by Mr. Accent, who questions him about his “recent transaction with the American man.” Uh oh! The jig is up! You better run, squirrel!
We cut from the idyllic, warm Caribbean to the miserably cold tundra of some Midwestern trailer park. Winstone is banging on a door when an old man walks up behind him and goes, “Well, well. If it ain’t Prince Shit.” HA! Best line ever! Old Man River turns out to be his father, and Winstone is not only pissed that he wasn’t told about his mom’s death, but that his dad has been cashing the checks he sent for her. Papa Wiggins doesn’t like being called a thief, and says, “I saw you on TV defending that family. You’re a bigger fraud than they are.” He then tells Winstone to keep the checks coming. In fact, double it or he’ll tell the Tobins everything! Hey, what’s a family reunion without some good, old-fashioned blackmail?
Coming soon to a theater near you: Grumpiest Old Men!
Cut to “3 Months Later.” Officer Chubbo tells Vic that forensics came back on Ellen’s stolen bag. Only one print was found on it, and the only match in the system dates back to “a small-time grifter, a petty thief” in 1984 named Lester Wiggins! Who we now know is really Leonard Winstone! Hmm, this is getting good!
Alex grovels as Patty reads her article. Alex looks like she’s been called into the principal’s office. Winstone already got his spanking, and now it’s Alex’s turn to be punished. Patty gives her a stern but bemused glare. “What have we learned here?” Patty asks. “That I have a big mouth,” Alex stammers. “And if someone flatters you, you have a hard time keeping it shut!” Patty snarls. DUH. When Patty discovers that the journalist is Josh Reston (from season two) you know she sees right through this whole, elaborate scheme of Ellen’s. “Do yourself a favor,” Patty tells Alex, “Don’t talk to strangers.” Alex tucks her tail between her legs and runs. Poor thing! You know this season is not going to end well for her!
Ellen tracks down Danielle’s doorman, who is now moonlighting as a mechanic at a bike shop. She shows him a photo of Joe and Carol to see if he recognized Joe at Danielle’s place the night she died. Grease Monkey swears Joe wasn’t there … but his chunky sister Carol sure was!
Yeah, I’d recognize Kirstie Alley any day!
Ellen bursts into Curtis Gates’ office with her new lead in solving the Tobin case. But Gates doesn’t give a rat’s ass about finding the stolen money. He just wants to throw the Tobins in jail. Ellen is completely turned off by his attitude and his cheap suit, and when he asks about the doorman, she lies and says she didn’t get anything out of him!
Cornrows meets with Tom to tell him he can’t be of any use after all, and is backing out of their deal. Tom knows he was threatened. When he asks about the sick daughter, Cornrows replies, “She’s all better now!” I burst out laughing. Cornrows warns Tom to stop asking questions and leave the island. Or else, mon!
Patty is eating dinner at the kitchen counter as Ellen simply watches. “Sorry about the confusion the other night,” Patty says. The hell she is! Patty says that Josh Reston is back in town, and Ellen plays dumb. Patty laughs and says she knows the whole thing! “You’re upset because I’ve replaced you.” Zing! Ellen gushes that she loves Alex. “So, you’re not upset that I’ve replaced you?” Patty hammers back. Double zing! And just as you think she’s twisted the knife in Ellen heart, Ellen roars back with: “Patty, you hired someone. You didn’t replace me.” ZING!!! These two go at it like jilted lovers. But where it differs from the comedic sensibilities of The L Word, Damages exudes a refined maturity, and Patty is unable to look up into Ellen’s eyes because she knows Ellen is a worthy adversary.
Get a room, you two!
Ellen reveals her true reason for visiting. She thinks that Carol killed Danielle, and the reason she didn’t tell Gates is because she wants Patty to use this information as leverage on the Tobins. “It’s time we work together,” she says. Amen, sister! “I thought you moved on?” Patty says, a little wounded, and showing a rare moment of vulnerability. “The case is what matters. I want you to find that money,” Ellen says. Wow. Welcome home! Now, kiss and make up, girls!
Just as you think all is well in the land, Damages throws a delicious wrench into the works. Judge Riley scores Patty a meeting with Horatio Emanuel, the only guy in all of Antigua who can help her get access to Tessa’s accounts. Patty flies down to the Caribbean for a little face time with Mr. Emanuel, who turns out to be none other than Mr. Accent! “I will do everyting I can to help!” he lies, taking a big sip of lemonade. See! What did I tell you? Anyone who speaks and drinks is completely shady! Patty sips her lemonade and stares back, unsure. Trust no one, Patty!!!