Glenn Close, <EM>Damages</EM> Glenn Close, Damages

Has Arthur Frobisher snorted his last line off a hooker's bosom? Was Patty truly behind Ellen's attempted murder? And how does Patty's ill-fated teen pregnancy fit into it all? Shortly after the first-season finale of FX's Damages, asked the series' creators — Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler — to fill in some blanks. Plus, the latest word on a possible Season 2 pickup. First up, Arthur Frobisher — is he dead?
Todd A. Kessler: It all depends on whether he is able to make a phone call there in the field and save himself. But we were so thrilled with Ted Danson's performance that if we're fortunate enough to get a second season [pickup], we very much look forward to having the opportunity to bring him back, as the storyline affords us that ability. It offered closure to that storyline, but I'm afraid that too much dies with him if he is dead.
Todd: Yes, like the plotline of Ellen attempting to prove who killed David....
Glenn Kessler: I will say this — you're involved in the Internet and a lot of conversations that have gone on on the Internet about the show and everything, so you know there was a period of time where people were saying, "There couldn't be a second season, these women could never work together again." "It will strain credibility." "There's no way out of this mess." We're storytellers, so there's a solution to every proposition. And there are also, ideally, surprising solutions. Of course people are asking, "Did Frobisher die in the field?" I would say it's just not as simple as that.
Daniel Zelman: We have storylines in our head that include Frobisher dying in the field, and we have storylines that include him not dying in the field. We haven't decided yet which of those storylines would satisfy us the most. Was David's stalker, Lila, purely a red herring, or was she somehow tied in with Frobisher's gang?
Todd: No, she was not tied in with Frobisher's gang at all. As far as we're concerned, she played a pretty crucial role in that she had an impact on David and Ellen and their relationship. And plotwise, she had keys to their apartment, so when she came to see David sleeping in the second-to-last episode, she left the door open, which left the bearded man and the pockmarked man able to gain access without having to break in and potentially alert David. Would Season 2 have some sort of flash-forward/flashback element, or was that simply a device to get the series off the ground?
Daniel: It's a signature of the show that we play with time, and we don't really want to give that up. At the same time, [Season 2] may not be as fully dependent on the time-jumping as the first season was. But it's safe to say there will be some element of it. It may not be flashing forward; it may be flashing back to something....
Glenn: The season finale for us was an attempt to accomplish a lot of things in terms of closure and in terms of launching a second season. The idea that the feds have shown up and have been investigating Patty — and it was stated that they'd been investigating even before the Frobisher case — [gives us] reasons to go into Patty's past. As Daniel said, we have options in a lot of directions, but what was important to us was that we come up with an organic way to move through time again if we want to. Let's talk about Patty's past. Is there anything the less-astute viewer might not have surmised from the reveal about the unborn child she lost? Is there a deeper meaning along the lines of "Ellen is the daughter she didn't have..."? Or was it more about something you have planned for Season 2?
Todd: One thing is that as of this phone conversation, we don't have a second season. But we worked over these characters and storylines dozens and dozens of times in terms of how we would love to proceed, because to us these people are living and breathing. In terms of what happened with Patty, it was very much a domino effect for that character. She experiences significant trauma with Ray Fiske killing himself in front of her, and what happens in those kinds of circumstances is it shakes people truly to their core, and different things emerge. Paranoia, extreme emotional response.... She may have merely been revisiting other losses from her life.
Todd: Yes, and also she needed to be able to have an emotional breakdown. Going back to that child she lost, a seminal moment in her life, was a way for her to access that. What we hope, and you've kind of tapped into it, is that for Patty, Ellen represents more than just another associate. She sees herself in Ellen as a younger female who has proven her mettle over time. There's a lot to tap into in their relationship.
Daniel: Really, that story movement is about Patty's character and psychology. It's not about plot in any way. OK, so it's not like the baby was Frobisher's, as some have speculated.
Daniel: No, it's just a real event in Patty's past that deeply informs who she is.
Todd: One of the challenges of serialized storytelling is that it's fun to have the audience guessing or speculating — "Maybe Patty was sister to the girl in Arlington?" The notion of this series, as introduced in the pilot, is one that we don't try to force-feed [information]. We hope it's not frustrating when you aren't accurate or when you are accurate and you're like, "I knew all along that was going to happen."
Glenn: It's been thrilling and gratifying that people have taken Patty's words to heart to not trust anyone, and they have been looking for links and motives for everybody. People have given themselves over to the show in such a way that they're adamantly trying to scour everything put in front of them and make sense of it all. Right, like how I thought that when Tom opened the bookend at the police station, he might leave the tape inside and claim it wasn't in there.
Todd: Right. For us it's very gratifying to hear you say something like that. Like the way you ended your [Damages recap] blog entry — "Let the sparring begin" — Ellen in this first season has in a real way taken exponential steps in a coming-of-age story of how she sees the real world. Can you confirm that Patty did have that man try to kill Ellen?
Daniel: Here's the thing about that: We showed what she showed in the finale, and that is absolutely supposed to speak for itself. But the reality of what we showed is coming off Ellen's feelings about what happened that night. Ellen's been right about everything in the last two episodes. It's not a question you asked, but we would like to clarify that Ellen believes that Patty tried to kill her. But in the second-to-last episode, when Patty goes to see her after Ellen gets out of jail, Ellen says that it was Frobisher's people who tried to do it. The reason she says that is because she needs Patty to exonerate her, so she's playing Patty. And then as soon as she's exonerated, she tells the feds what she suspects about Patty.
Todd: One other thing is that prior to the finale, people had written online, "How can there be a second season?" Or they were concerned that it may not be as good. As evidenced by the way the first season ends, with Ellen going back to work for Patty and now having this Fed connection, there's plenty of story to be told. In your minds, what cemented for Ellen that Patty was behind the attack?
Todd: I think the most global answer is that over the course of the season she started to understand how Patty operated. In the scene we flash back to, where Ellen recalls the conversation she had with Patty and how she in fact put herself in jeopardy by telling her genuine feeling that she did regret what they had done, that crystallized her understanding of Patty.
Daniel: If you go back and put together all these comments that Ellen said in the future story — she told Nye she knows things she can't talk about, she told Tom she knows things that could destroy Patty, she told Nye that Patty is the only one who knew she was staying there — all season long Ellen was telling us why she suspects Patty. What was the significance of Patty's son showing up at the apartment unexpectedly and somewhat mysteriously while Ellen was staying there?
Todd: That's something that will continue into the second season as Patty deals with her son, but it was really one of those moments where, because the audience knows more than anyone about what's to come, you can take an innocent thing and project a lot onto it. The significance of what he was actually doing will be further explored in the second season, but it was not related to Ellen's attack.
Daniel: Also, the significance to us is that he can't be trusted. On some level, it's as simple as that. He said he was going to be somewhere else, and he wasn't.
Todd: For an audience, we've seen Michael deceive Patty, so even if he's telling the truth it's difficult to 100 percent trust him now. Is the FBI investigating Patty for anything in particular, or more a pattern of behavior?
Todd: You're tapping into what the essence of the second season will be. People have speculated, "What will come of the show at the end of a second season if Patty is taken down? Is Glenn Close not going to be on the show?" The reality is there are twists and turns along the way in this investigation of Patty. Glenn Close has signed on for six seasons, as has Rose Byrne, as has Tate Donovan.... It is our greatest desire to be able to do six seasons with that triumvirate intact.
Daniel: You ask if they're investigating general things or a pattern. It was important to us for the audience to understand that what Patty did to win the Frobisher case was not unique for her. The idea that she isn't connected to the Arlington girl or that the child in the grave was not Frobisher's... our point is that this is Patty Hewes. Frobisher was not required to have done something to her in the past for her to behave this way. So in terms of what the Feds are investigating, I would say that she has pursued cases in the past as aggressively as she has pursued Frobisher. There's quite a bit for the FBI to go after. I hope Katie also is a keeper. I thought Anastasia Griffith was terrific.
Todd: Yeah, she was a tremendous find for us and she delivered a stunning performance. She'll be back in a second season. Has FX given you a timetable as to when they will decide on Season 2?
Todd: They haven't. We're hoping that it's soon. We really appreciate your support in all of this, and from the people watching the show. We created a show that we would love to watch, and we appreciate the investment of time that people have put into it. We feel like we have a commitment to deliver to the viewers storytelling and to deliver on plot, and not spin something out where you feel like you've been manipulated and it's unsatisfying. We look forward to delivering on that commitment in successive seasons. Do you think that if you do get a renewal, it might be contingent on skewing the audience younger and giving Ellen a group of hot young friends or something? [It has been reported that Damages' audience leaned a bit old for FX's liking.]
FX has been phenomenal about not doing exactly what you just said but instead encouraging us to make a challenging show. I would be surprised if they start to ask for changes simply to bring in a different demographic.
Todd: One of the things we want to get into in the second season is where Ellen is now in her life with David dead, and how she begins to put the pieces together... or doesn't.

Relive the best moments of Damages Season 1 in our Online Video Guide.

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