In the Season 2 premiere of Damages, Ellen Parsons took significant steps in her missions of vengeance against boss Patty Hewes and fallen corporate titan Arthur Frobisher. Patty, meanwhile, ended her "sabbatical" to hear out a troubled old friend (William Hurt), ponder a huge new case, and put the screws to a waffling charity donor. Here's the full recap!
Who is Ellen talking to? Damages kicks off its sophomore cycle with that question, as the legal eagle who went through so much (the murder of her dullard fiancé, an attempt on her own life) during Season 1 asked an unseen person, "Maybe truth will set you free?" Perhaps to lubricate said truth, she fingers a gun. No, Ellen is not happy. And ... "Six Months Earlier."
Two of this TV season's busiest "guest stars," Regis and Kelly, welcome Patty Hewes to Live, where she's reflecting on the Frobisher case/win and talking up the hunger-fighting charitable foundation she is forming. Patty then gives props to no, not Gelman, but Ellen Parsons, who waves to the camera meekly from off-stage. "I would be absolutely lost without her," Patty professes.
Yeah ... Ellen's isn't buying what Patty's selling. As she tells the FBI agents, "A month ago she tried to kill me; now she's acting like my best friend." She tells the feds, "You just want to arrest Patty. I want to destroy her." Someone's in a dark place.
Freshly shot out on his isolated undeveloped property, Frobisher crawls to a neighboring cabin to find help. Instead, the door opens to reveal a shotgun-toting Ellen, who promptly unloads buckshot. Yet it's just a revenge fantasy being entertained by Ellen - in the midst of her support group meeting, no less. Does Ellen wish ill of David's killer, she is asked. "Nothing comes to mind," she lies. OK, make that a dark, dark place.
At the law firm, Uncle Pete addresses the elephant in the room, and thank goodness someone did: Can Ellen be trusted, given the suspicious and often Patty-condemning events of Season 1? Patty claims to be concerned with El's welfare, but gives Pete the OK to keep an eye on her associate. Tom arrives to ask Patty if she's ready yet for her next big case. She defers, but agrees to review the top three at hand.
Somewhere at a large corporation, William Hurt is NOT happy. He barges into a meeting to slap down a folder and declare, "This is horses**t. This ends today." And we all go, "Hmmmm."
Patty checks in with Ellen, asking how the counseling is going and offering her time off. Patty also inquires as to any developments on David's murder. Ellen says that Frobisher apparently is in critical condition SOMEWHERE, though his exact whereabouts are unknown. Cut to a bearded, leonine Ted Danson reclined in a hospital bed. His caretaker notes that Fro has undergone four surgeries in a month. Arthur seems appreciative of the doc's care: "I'm the most hated man in America ... And you're being nice to me." Actually, Arthur, Bernie Madoff now wears that title, but this was filmed a while ago.
Time for passive Patty to sharpen her claws. Buddy Sam Arsenau had decided to rescind his offer to back Patty's foundation, saying that it conflicts with his bid to get the GOP nom for governor. (The Republicans apparently though understandably loathe Patty.) This news of course does not sit well with Patty, and you kinda have to wonder if Arseneau has a death wish. Soon enough, Sam's Yale-bound socialite daughter is caught by the paparazzi being friendly with the cocaine. What. A. Coincidence. Tail between his legs, Sam begs Patty to help schmooze the D.A.
Time to pick up the William Hurt/Purcell storyline. Patty gets a box delivered to her at the office. Still skittish about unmarked packages (after last season's bomb scare), she asks Pete to open it. (Pete must have some sweet benefits plan.) All that's inside are some charts and data sent over by Purcell to his old friend. Ellen will later ask about the box, only to have her hot-and-cold boss growl, "Last time I checked, we were in MY office." Reeeeer!
The FBI makes its move by seeding Ellen with an irresistible infant mortality case. Tom calls it a "grand slam" opportunity. Later, we realize just how haunted Patty still is by her recent misdeeds, as she has a nightmare about Pete reporting to her on the Ellen attack, "It's done."
It's late at the Purcell home when Purcell's kid wakes him up, saying there were noises. Purcell investigates and realizes that his home office has been ransacked. If only the "scare" ended there....
Uncle Pete has found Frobisher, and tips off Ellen. Speaking to his doc, Frobisher says that the bullet he took was "a wakeup call." Apparently, his wife left him after the court case loss, taking their kid with her. Speaking of the Mrs., she's supposedly on her way over to pay her hubby a visit. Fro rethinks his plan to shave and defers further pain management. Dude's looking to play the sympathy card. Little does he know that his tactic may save his life, as his next visitor is not actually the wife but a duplicitous Ellen. Spying her fiancé's sleeping, bedraggled executioner-by-association, she thinks long and hard, flashing back to David's death. She does nothing. At her next counseling session she declares that only having David alive will make her "feel better," and "that's not going to happen," so she storms out.
Back to Purcell, whose wife (Paige Turco, you never acknowledged the roses I sent you in 1991!!!) says that if his company is making people sick, he has to stop them. Purcell approaches Patty, saying that he's in trouble and maybe she can protect him. Patty apparently walked away from him once in their past, and now she owes him. Later, Patty is literally haunted by Ray Fiske, though her suicidal former opponent tells her, "What's done is done" and that feeding hungry children won't change anything.
Ellen is approached by Wes (Deadwood's Timothy Olyphant), a guy from her group. She accuses him of stalking her, when in actuality she had simply left her cell phone at the meeting. He tells her he knows what she feels, that he himself knows when his girlfriend's killer gets out of prison, but doesn't know what to do with that information. The options are forgiveness or revenge, and he hasn't picked one yet.
Patty invites Ellen out for a drink, saying that she hasn't explained everything that happened during the Frobisher case. Anticipating a confession, Ellen totes an FBI tape recorder disguised as a PDA. Patty, though, only reveals how much Ray's death rattled her and made her "lose control." She also shares that she once had a stillborn daughter (ergo the visited headstone last season), and wonders how she would have turned out different if that girl had lived. If she had lived, Patty says, shed want her daughter to be like Ellen. Patty also posits that the attack on Ellen was meant for HER, and apologizes. Later, the feds tell Ellen it could take two to three years to nail Patty.
Arseneau has lost his GOP backing, and asks back into Patty's foundation to regain some cred. Patty squeezes him for double the dollars, and puts her name first on the org. (Turns out that Patty got the coke-snorting Arseneau daughter tip from her son. Ha!) Patty agrees to take the (FBI's planted) infant mortality case.
Purcell's wife is found dead, murdered, in their home. (Paige, we hardy knew ye.) Talk about a Big Chill.
Wes gives Ellen the number of a guy who can hook her up with a gun. If need be. She says that revenge is not who she is. And yet as we flash-forward to the present, we see El telling her unseen victim. "It seems like you're not going to tell me the truth after all. That's OK. I lied, too." She then raises her gun and fires two shots.
So, Damages fans both returning and new, how'd you like the premiere? I know this first recap was a bit dense with detail, but I thought it important to lay a firm groundwork for those especially reliant on a recap. Let the speculating begin!
P.S. If you haven't checked them out yet, here are some Season 2 video Q&As I've done with Damages stars Tate Donovan, Anastasia Griffith and Noah Bean, and William Hurt.