Patty Hewes is the type of character that viewers find hard to resist. She lives by her own set of rules, even if they’re ethically questionable or downright illegal. Call characters like her whatever you want — villains, anti-heroes — no label is ever truly appropriate. For five seasons, Glenn Close has portrayed a powerful attorney willing to win at any cost, a woman who takes the term “cutthroat” seriously. In that time, Patty Hewes has constantly raised the bar of viewer expectations with every decision she’s made, both inside and out of a courtroom.
As Damages comes to a close this week, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be some of the most intense, character defining decisions Patty has made throughout the show.
5. Playing Nice With Judge Haring
When season 5 finally delivered a setup that allowed for Patty and Ellen to go against each other in a courtroom, the stakes were set higher than ever. Patty threw the first punch by taking advantage of Ellen’s paranoia. She made Ellen believe, through a series of clever moves, that the judge assigned to their case would be biased in Patty’s favor. Ellen went to great lengths to find information to blackmail the judge into recusing himself from the case… only to find out that Judge Haring actually hated Patty and would have been a great asset to Ellen. This was one of a string of occasions that showcases how Patty often knows her opponents better than they know themselves.
4. Turning in Jill
When Michael, Patty’s son, began dating a much older woman even though he was still technically a minor, Patty was less than pleased. She did everything she could to discourage the relationship, even going so far as to try and pay Jill off to leave Michael alone. When Jill turned out to be pregnant by Michael, Patty used the results of a genetic test to prove that the baby had been conceived when their relationship was illegal. She had Jill arrested for statutory rape and took custody of Michael and Jill’s daughter to raise as her own. This moment showcased Patty’s version of mercy — well, she did give Jill the option to leave…
3. Theft and Bribery
This is a double whammy. In season 2, Patty had her team actually steal an SUV. The vehicle was being used by UNR, the corporation Patty was taking on in court, to pass coded messages that were used to manipulate the markets. Since the evidence was obtained illegally, Patty couldn’t get it brought into court… unless she bribed the judge. She actually had it all set up for Ellen to be arrested for the deed, too. But, turns out that was all part of Patty’s plan. Without giving away the slightly convoluted adventure of it all, Patty succeeds in taking down her opponent once again, and the judge she bribed in the process. Oh, by the way, she managed to stay calm while all this was going down, even though she’d just been stabbed.
2. Blackmailing Ray Fiske & Maybe Putting a Hit on Ellen
The single most important moment in the series was in season 1, when Ellen is attacked in Patty’s apartment. It has defined Patty and Ellen’s relationship and driven most of the important decisions Ellen has made throughout everything. This event has recently been called into question, and it remains to be seen if after all this time Patty really did decide to have Ellen killed or not. However, if in the finale it is affirmed that Patty was behind the attack, it marks a moment in time where she was so invested in covering up her own choices that she was willing to take the life of an close ally.
Ellen’s attack would stand alone as #2 if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s somewhat up in the air. Thus, the intense scene where Patty blackmails opposing counsel Ray Fiske will share the spot. This is the only thing on the entire list that I believe Patty actually regrets. Then entire season we wondered how far Patty could go before she became worse than Arthur Frobisher and his dirty dealings. When she got evidence of Fiske’s involvement in some less than legal activities, she used it to blackmail him into throwing his case against her. Instead of going with Patty’s version of a “win-win” scenario, Fiske shot himself in front of Patty in the middle of her office. This event would haunt Patty for a long time. In the end, however, Patty won the Frobisher case. It just cost the life of a person she respected.
1. Killing Saffron
Saffron was the beloved pet of Katie, a key witness in the main case of season one. If you’re wondering how death of a dog rates higher on the list than anything else, let me school you.
This happened in the PILOT.
I repeat: Patty put a hit out on a dog in episode one of Damages.
Though the character’s motivation for carrying out the dark deed was to frighten Katie and manipulate her into testifying for Patty, this move was more directed at the audience. By killing Saffron, the show runners sent everyone a message — Patty Hewes don’t play. From that moment on, nothing was off limits. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t imagine her doing to get her way. There would never, ever be a moment where you would have to ask yourself “Does Patty have it in her?” The answer would always be yes, yes she does. And why do we know that? Because Patty Hewes put a hit out on a dog. It’s also interesting to note that one of the most repeated images throughout the series is that of Patty’s own dog barking on the patio, a subtle suggestion to always remember the dog. Blackmail? Theft? Murder? Sure. In less than an hour of story, that single decision told us all we ever needed to know about Patty Hewes.
In a way, Patty Hewes is a lot like Dexter Morgan and Walter White, with only a little less blood on her hands. She makes the audience constantly question themselves — can you root for a someone this brutal? Does wanting her to win mean you approve of her tactics? When Damages ends this week, it takes with it one of the finest, most underrated characters of all time. It will be sad to see such a challenging figure leave our screens. It has been a privilege.
DAMAGES comes to its conclusion this Wednesday on DirectTV’s AUDIENCE NETWORK. Check local listings for times.
What are your favorite Patty moments? Share in the comments.