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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Damages: "I Look Like Frankenstein"

Illustration for article titled Damages: "I Look Like Frankenstein"
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I may lose some cool points for this, but I have to admit, I’ve been dreading the inevitable moment when Arthur Frobisher would amble back into the picture. As much as I loved the character and Ted Danson’s performance in season one, I thought the overabundance of Frobisher was symptomatic of season two’s myriad issues. It’s tough to look back and look forward simultaneously, and the obsession with sewing up season one’s loose ends diverted precious resources from creating a rewarding mystery for season two. Plus, there’s always been a shoehorned feeling to Frobisher’s appearances that can feel stiff, even to people glad to see the character pop up. Not since Arvin Sloane in Alias can I recall a show so dramatically contorting its narrative to accommodate a character who clearly no longer has a place in it.

I’d like to assume that Frobisher’s reappearance, which wasn’t rooted in any of the current plot lines, is going to pay off in some way in a later episode, but it’s hard to ever figure out what the Damages team is planning from one minute to the next. (See: Julian Decker.) In fact, see almost anything in this bizarre episode, which is definitely my least favorite of the season so far. Granted, we got some interesting flashback/flashforward tidbits: Ellen and Tom were planning to break free of Patty’s nonsense and start their own firm together; Winstone is the source of the duffel bag of money ultimately found in the car registered to Tom; Joe wasn’t oblivious to Carol murdering Danielle, it was his idea.

But the present-time plots went nowhere, and worse, reflected the show’s tendency this season to repeat previous plot threads almost to the letter. I realize that New York City can feel like a small-town; with so many people crawling on top of each other, it seems like you’re constantly running into acquaintances. But wow, does Ellen really have a knack for bumping into people at ideal moments that reveal crushing secrets about Patty. Ellen stumbled onto Phil’s affair last season, and now here she is again, running into Michael, Jill and their gestating baby. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time we heard anything about Ellen’s sister, she was still denying her drug addiction as Ellen tried to help her recover, and the conversation didn’t end on the best of terms. Now, suddenly, Ellen just has to buy a stuffed animal for her niece in the only store on the isle of Manhattan that sells baby stuff? I was willing to go along with the clumsiness of last week’s episode (the photo of Joe and Carol that Ellen showed to Danielle’s doorman) because the ends justified the means. When it only exists to facilitate a plot that I don’t much care about to begin with, it’s much harder to swallow.

The more baffling choice, however, was the inclusion of Arthur Frobisher in a way that didn’t appear to involve…anything else at all. He’s trying to get his wind-power initiative off the ground with help from Terry Brooke (Craig Bierko), a comedic actor and chief donor. Let’s talk about this folks. Will any of this play into this season’s mysteries, or at the very least, bear down on the regular characters in any meaningful way? For people who are bigger fans of post-season-one Frobisher than I, how did you feel about seeing him? Does he loom so large in the Damages universe that you want to check in with him periodically, even if it has (or seems to have) no relationship to the main plot?

Stray observations:

  • Prior to the season premiere, I was excited to read that Reiko Aylesworth and Sarah Wynter had joined the cast. I only wish they’d been given a little more (and better) to do.
  • Even though the Michael and Jill plot drains me, I do like seeing Patty’s fleeting moments of vulnerability. My heart broke for her a little when she watched Michael from the limo.
  • If the goal was to get me to hate Michael more than I already do, having him name his art show "Emancipation" was a good way to accomplish that.
  • That traffic jam of flashbacks near the end was really irritating, no?
  • Marilyn on Carol: “She has tragic taste in men. Where did she get that?”
  • In the opening scene, when Frobisher is announcing the Whirlwind Initiative, I thought the fundraiser was taking place in Patty’s apartment. I’m wrong, yes?