This is it. The last episode ever of Damages. There’s only one question on everyone’s mind: did Ellen finally beat Patty? Let’s dive in, shall we? This will be a very long review, because there is a lot to discuss, and the episode was actually close to 70 minutes long.
The episode begins with another creepy dream from Patty’s perspective. As they have been a staple of the show for a long time, it wouldn’t feel right without one. This dream was more of a nightmare. Patty came downstairs in her apartment to find her dead father holding a shotgun. He asked her about what happened to her poor little girl. Patty thinks he’s referring to the stillborn daughter she had years ago, or perhaps Catherine. Instead, Patty’s father points to Ellen, in her bloodied clothes from the night she was attacked. Ellen is suddenly in the possession of the shotgun, and raises it against Patty — just in time for Patty to awaken. Such a strange and sad scene, knowing how convoluted Patty’s own feelings are about the people she cares about.
The super-sized episode was broken into several parts.
PART ONE: Part one starts with Ellen at the doctor’s office getting the results of some tests. While the doctor doesn’t blatantly say why Ellen is fatigued and anemic, it’s heavily suggested that (as many have already guessed) Ellen is pregnant. However, the remains unconfirmed for the moment…
Later, Ellen meets with Michael and his lawyer, assuring them both that she is still planning to testify against Patty. She hints at evidence involving Patrick Scully, but doesn’t give it up just yet. Later, Ellen meets with Simon and McClaren to discuss the trial. Simon is acting weird, and with good reason — he’s just been to see Patty and Bill to be prepped by them, and found out that Patty plans to pursue a case against Torben & Herreshoff for their involvement in the Princefield scandal.
There’s also an interesting scene between Kate and Patty, who have been revealed to be sisters. They discuss their father, and Patty asks Kate what kind of man he was to her. She tells Patty that he became better when he stopped drinking, but was still always a bit of an ass. Kate encourages Patty to see him again and to try and forgive him, for herself. Patty expresses a desire to have one last discussion with him.
Meanwhile, the leaked military medical tapes that Chris Sanchez had a hand in delivering to McClaren’s team has earned Ellen and McClaren a visit from military lawyers. They threaten to arrest McClaren if he doesn’t give up his source. Ellen then has to decide if she will find the man who gave Chris the tapes and turn him in, or let her client be arrested. David appears to her in the form of a conscience and talks her through this decision, telling her that he never knew how much winning meant to her. Ellen tries to defend herself by reminding him that he wanted to be a doctor when he was alive, but David’s spirit corrects her, saying that all he wanted was to be happy. What affect did this imagine conversation have on her choice to turn in McClaren’s source? She doesn’t have much time to reflect on David’s words as the military lawyer returns for her decision.
PART TWO: Many flashbacks of a revealing nature. Apparently, the emails that were leaked from Naomi’s computer were actually part of a long term plan created by Simon, Herreshoff, and Torben to create a situation where McClaren would look a fool. Her emails were stolen at a different time than the file swap, and purposefully uploaded by Simon.
Patty comes to Ellen to rub it in that Simon has switched sides, even though he’s really the guilty party. To say the least, Ellen gets a little angry. She meets with Torben the next day and tells him about Simon testifying for Patty. In an interesting move, she spells out for Torben just how screwed he’ll be if Simon is used in court. Another flashback shows Naomi demanding a payoff from Simon in order for her not to implicate Herreshoff in the theft of her emails. Instead of wanting to keep her quiet, it seems as though Simon and Torben decided to silence Naomi for good with her faked suicide.
Simon, Torben, and Herreshoff meet. Simon makes it seem like no big deal that he’s going to testify for Patty. They aren’t as fond of the idea as he is, sure that Patty will use something he says to come after them. They part ways, but Simon looks to be making plans to flee the country.
Finally, it’s the first day of court. Yes. Ellen and Patty… in a courtroom… on opposing sides. Glorious. BUT! Looks like the fun is… halted. Just as things begin, the stop dead in their tracks. Patty finds out that Simon has fled the country. Calmly, Patty informs the judge that she will be withdrawing her case against McClaren, since she simply doesn’t have one. Whomp whomp…
Reactions, Ellen/kate, mcclaren, why do people hate you so much when you tell the truth? patty.
PART THREE: Ellen goes to find Chris, who has moved out. She decided to turn in Chris’s source. He is furious with her, but she is unapologetic, but promises to make things right. First though, she has to deal with the biggest loose end of her life: closing the book on the night of her attack. Patrick Scully and Patty share a scene where he blackmails her, asking for money to keep him from testifying for what he did to Ellen on her behalf. Little does she know that this is all being recorded, and Ellen lets Michael listen to the tape. While upset that his mother is capable of doing these things, Michael seems to feel like Patty can’t hurt enough for the attack.
Patty meets one last time with her father. Pardon my French, but Glenn Close acts the shit out of this scene. She gives the old man hell, and offers no forgiveness for the way he treated her growing up. The cold, collected, determined delivery of the lines in this scene make it one of the best Patty moments of the entire series. Afterwards, Patty seems to be feeling a little more generous towards family, and lets Michael finally meet with Catherine. She even offers 50/50 custody, but Michael, knowing what he knows, declines the offer, wanting a judge to settle their case. Patty has never seemed more vulnerable.
The day of the custody trial arrives. With Ellen 2 hours late for their meeting, Patrick and Cooper (Ellen’s investigator) are worried something has happened to her. Patrick believes Patty may have intervened, as he knows first hand how far she is willing to go to get her way. They get the two detectives that have been helping Ellen with the Patrick case involved to arrest Patty, explaining the flashfoward scenes we’ve come to know all season.
That means one thing: we’ve finally caught up with the flash forwards. Cooper and Patrick decide to check the roof for Ellen. When they call her phone, they hear it ringing from over the side of the building. The lean over the edge and see Ellen lying in the street below, passed out in the road. ALL IS REVEALED! Indeed, Ellen is pregnant, and from the looks of an ultrasound seen in a flashback, she has been warned that she could lose the baby very easily. She has collapsed in the road due to stress and dizziness brought on by the pregnancy.
While everyone is distracted in trying to help Ellen, Patrick decides to make his escape. Before he can, he encounters Michael, who threatens to also identify him as Ellen’s attacker. In a stunning move, Patrick shoots Michael in Ellen’s office, killing him. This is what Patty’s punishment looks like.
A final pier scene. Ellen gives Patty her condolences about Michael. She brought with her a briefcase filled with all the evidence she had that Patty had her attacked. Ellen has decided that while she could still have Patty arrested, Michael’s death is worse than prison. Patty is not in any mood to discuss her life’s karma, but instead congratulates Ellen on winning the McClaren case. Patty is allowed to throw one final punch, assuring Ellen that winning that case really meant nothing to Patty. She was more interested in seeing how far Ellen was willing to go to win, and she got what she wanted.
Patty knew Ellen would take the information that Simon was one of her witness to Torben. Revealing that Simon was actually killed the night before their trial, Patty applauds Ellen for finally getting her hands dirty and getting in the game, suggesting that Ellen knew Torben would have Simon killed, and encouraging him to do so. She tells Ellen that she’s finally in the game now. “You did what it took to beat me.” It begs the question — did Ellen really win if it meant becoming Patty in the process? Ellen seems to wonder that herself as she walks away from Patty.
A FEW YEARS FROM NOW: Damages ends with a trademark flash forward a few years into the future. Patty runs into Ellen and her daughter in a store. The two briefly make eye contact, but do not speak. As Patty gets into her limo, she imagines Ellen stopping her to introduce her to her daughter, taking a moment to thank Patty for all that she did for her. The moment passes, and the heartbreak on Patty’s face when it’s revealed to be a fantasy says more than any words. Ellen and her daughter leave the store together, never speaking to Patty. Ellen’s daughter wants to know if she knew Patty, and Ellen says that she did, from the time when she was a lawyer. The young girl’s reply, “But, you don’t do that anymore” is a little bit chill inducing.
It seems that Ellen finally found the only true way to beat Patty Hewes — by completely removing herself from the game. If there’s one thing Patty loves more than anything, it’s having an opponent worthy of her time. Just as she believes she has molded Ellen into a formidable foe, Ellen steps away from the law. The final shot of the show is a simple closeup of Patty’s face, so many expressions crossing over it just before the credits roll.
This lengthy review doesn’t do the five seasons of Damages any real justice. Complex, dark, intriguing, it was one of the only shows I can think of with two female leads that didn’t seem to pander an idea of a “strong female character”… Patty and Ellen were instead strong characters that happened to be female. That by itself shouldn’t be an accomplishment, but it really is. They shared one of the most complex relationships in all of television — friends, enemies, partners, familial — bringing out the best and the worst in each other. It has also been a treasure to watch a truly engaging law drama. So many come and go through the years, the major elements exhausted time and again. But, Damages always seem to go bigger and smarter than the rest. There may never be another quite like it, which is unfortunate. As made obvious by Patty Hewes, being something exceptional is lonely.
The club of superb television has lost a fine active member. To Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, all the writers and producers — to everyone who has made this show what it was, I salute you.