Rose Byrne Rose Byrne

Mamma mia — or should we say Mommy Fiercest? You do not want to mess with the ruthlessly cunning and downright lethal women ruling the roost on DirecTV's wild new Wednesday drama combo.

One of these formidable she-beasts is very familiar: Emmy winner Glenn Close as barracuda lawyer Patty Hewes in the fifth and final season of Damages, juggling one last timely high-profile lawsuit with a personally and emotionally charged custody case involving her granddaughter. The other is someone I guarantee you've never seen the likes of before: Big Love's alluring Chloe Sevigny starring in the gripping British import Hit & Miss as the enigmatic Mia, a brutally efficient assassin-for-hire whose complicated life as a transgender woman still in transition is further upended when she learns she fathered a son 11 years ago. (Damages premieres Wednesday at 9/8c, Hit & Miss at 10/9c, on DirecTV's Audience Network.)

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Patty and Mia are frighteningly good at their cutthroat (in Mia's case literally) jobs, but are they satisfied? If they were, there wouldn't be a story to tell.

Patty is all about power and success, so much so that she has sacrificed a marriage, the love of her estranged son and the loyalty of her protégé Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), who's chomping at the bit to testify as a character witness in the custody case against a mentor whom she feels "belongs in prison." (Well, Patty did try to have Ellen killed during the first season. Kind of hard to get over that.)

Whereas Hit & Miss' Mia lives off the grid — legally, she doesn't truly exist — as she contends with her changing sexual identity (graphically depicted) while coolly executing victims at the behest of her sympathetic boss. Becoming a surrogate mom to a brood of resentful and confused kids in the West Yorkshire countryside was never in Mia's game plan, although she eventually warms to the task, bonding with her confused namesake son Ryan (Mia's real name) while tangling with the family farm's landlord, whose melodramatic threats to evict the family expose Mia's true killer nature.

On Damages, Patty's perils are more self-inflicted, as she goes to ridiculously great lengths to keep her rival off the stand, by sending Ellen's nascent law office a high profile client she is planning to sue: Ryan Phillippe as a controversial Julian Assange-like Internet mogul specializing in corporate and government whistle-blowing. When his latest Wall Street leak backfires on a supposedly confidential source (the glamorously distraught Jenna Elfman), Patty and Ellen prepare for the ultimate legal catfight — in court.

"Come after me where it counts," Patty challenges Ellen. "Prove yourself in a case against me. You hate me. You want to end this once and for all, now's your [bleep]-ing chance."

Damages' endgame is on, and so far it's a doozy — with a fatalistic framework suggesting not everyone emerges alive. On Hit & Miss, the fun is just beginning, and I can't wait to see where this twisted but strangely affecting story goes next.

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